If getting in shape is one of your goals for 2016, you are not alone. Staying fit and healthy was the most popular New Year's resolution in 2015, with 37% of people saying it's their number one goal. After enjoying too many holiday sweets, many people are ready to ditch sugar and get their bodies moving again. Before you purchase a membership at a traditional gym, imagine the countless long runs on the treadmill. It already sounds boring, doesn't it? Barre classes are a great way to mix up your routine and get a challenging workout.

What exactly are barre classes? They are group fitness classes with a mix of yoga, Pilates and ballet. This style of workout uses little to no added weight. The low-impact workouts are designed to strengthen and lengthen your muscles, making you long and lean. Most barre classes don't require any dance background or prior experience. The instructor is there to guide you through each part of the class. Try wearing comfortable clothing that is somewhat fitted, that way your instructor can see your form and alignment easily.

How are barre classes good for your body?

Barre workouts are low impact, unlike other trendy workouts such as CrossFit and kickboxing classes. Barre classes use isometric movements, which are small, one-inch motions. They are the opposite of compound movements, which are used for squats and bench presses. Isometric moves help isolate muscles, and the low weight allows you to do more repetitions.

There are many benefits of going to barre classes. Participants can develop stronger muscles without getting bulky. The workouts target your core, arms and legs, so your whole body benefits. This style of workout also increases flexibility and can help improve your posture. The best part about barre classes is anyone can do them! It doesn't matter what your current fitness level is or how old you are. If you have past medical conditions or are pregnant, ask your doctor if barre is right for you before signing up.

How are barre studios good for the planet?

Barre workouts are low impact on your body and low impact on the planet. While most large gyms are filled with treadmills, ellipticals and other electronic machines, barre studios require almost no equipment. Along with a barre, most studios have a set of soft exercise balls, mats, stretching bands and small hand weights. If you want to bring your own yoga mat, there are plenty of brands that make eco-friendly mats such as Jade, Gaiam and the Original Eco Mat. The only energy required to run these studios comes from the participants!

Get ready for your first class

Barre classes can be found at both large gyms and specialty studios. Once you find a place near you, sign up ahead of time for your first class. Some places require socks while others let you go barefoot. Check with your facility before you go to your first barre class. Most classes are 50-60 minutes long. They start with a warm up, move to a section of arm exercises, then a lower body workout. To finish, there is often a short ab workout. You'll feel the burn throughout your whole body before the hour is up. It may be tough on your first day, but keep it up and your body will thank you.

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