4 Barre Exercises Using a Chair

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

You don’t need to be a ballerina to benefit from these dance-inspired moves! Use them to increase your strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Improving balance is important, but it’s also crucial to build it up in the right way so you can gain confidence without increasing risk of falls or stumbling. Barre, which takes its inspiration from ballet, is all about balance and strength, and borrowing some of those moves is an easy way to boost your own balance.  

“Don’t be intimidated by the word barre,” says SilverSneakers fitness expert Larysa DiDio. “These exercises are for everyone.”

How to Use These 4 Barre Exercises

To do these exercises, you’ll need a sturdy chair with a high back. A kitchen or dining chair is perfect, but you can also do the exercises against a countertop or even a wall.

You can do the exercises barefoot or in your sneakers — whatever you feel most comfortable in. Just make sure that you’re on a non-slippery surface.

If you’ve never done barre exercises before, give yourself a few tries to become comfortable with the movements. “Stick with it, because the payoff is great — these moves feel that good and they’re that effective!” says DiDio.

As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than your regular SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Exercise #1: Wide Second Position, or V

How to do it: Stand facing the back of the chair, feet shoulder width apart and toes turned out. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine. Bend your knees to lower your body while keeping your back upright. Don’t lean forward or back — instead, think about sinking your buttocks toward the floor.

Slowly, with control, stand back up. As you drop down, squeeze your thighs. Continue bending and straightening your legs for 30 seconds.

Once you’re comfortable with this movement, you can try lifting your heels off the floor as you move up and down. Proper form is key: If you feel yourself leaning forward or back, keep your heels down.

Exercise #2: Wide Second Position with Foot Drag

How to do it: Begin with Exercise #1. This time, as you come up, drag one foot across the floor, bringing it behind the other. Bend down, returning that foot to the starting position. then switch legs as you come up again. Alternate legs, squeezing your thighs as you go. Continue for 30 seconds.

Exercise #3: Heel Lift Combo

How to do it: Begin with Exercise #1. This time, after you bend down, stay low and lift one heel at a time. When both heels are off the floor, straighten your legs before lowering your body and dropping both heels back to the floor. Repeat the combo for 30 seconds.

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Exercise #4: Pulses

How to do it: Begin with Exercise #1 or #3 in the drop-down position. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine. Pulse your knees back for 30 seconds.

Bonus Challenge: Two SilverSneakers Classes to Try 

If you’re already working out regularly and are looking for a new and different workout, check out SilverSneakers Yoga Pilates Fusion. This is a fun and unique intermediate-level class that builds endurance, flexibility, and a stronger core through a combination of yoga, Pilates, and barre exercises. It’s offered at participating SilverSneakers fitness locations (review the gym’s schedule for exact times) and through SilverSneakers LIVE.   

Or check out one of our popular SilverSneakers LIVE Bodyweight Bootcamp classes. It’s a 45-minute circuit workout that combines cardio moves with strength-training exercises. See the latest SilverSneakers LIVE schedule and RSVP for classes here

Just getting started with the Make Your Move Challenge? Find this weeks featured 10-Minute Better Balance Workout here. And keep up with the challenge here.

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