Ballet-inspired workout helps Olympic skier bounce back | by
Get Into Ski Shape with a Barre Workout
The 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia marked the first year that the halfpipe for freestyle skiers was an official Olympic event. The U.S. Olympic Team had four skiers poised to land big finishes in this new event, and one of them was Boulder’s own Lyman Currier, a 19-year-old freestyle pioneer. Unfortunately, for Currier, it was not meant to be.
Currier fell during a qualifying round, blew his left ACL and with it, his chances for a bronze, silver or gold. In the years to follow, his ACL problems continued, knocking him out of contention for the 2018 Olympic Games.
Frustrated, Currier knew something in his training and recovery needed to change. Then, his girlfriend suggested he try a barre class, a ballet-inspired fitness class named after the stationary handrail that’s used extensively in ballet training.
“During my first class I quickly realized it was not going to be a breeze,” Currier says, “After struggling through, I almost immediately felt more flexible, but the next day I was more sore than I had ever been, and in places I didn’t even realize I had muscles!”
Barre-based workouts have quietly been whipping people into shape for years and are growing in popularity.
“I’ve got more stamina, am stronger, and more flexible than I’ve ever been,” Currier says, after becoming a regular at The Bar Method in Boulder. The company has locations from coast to coast.
How It Works
“The Bar Method surprises people with how transformative it can be,” says Amy Chesterton, owner and instructor at The Bar Method in Boulder. “And, it’s a great place for people with injuries to come and safely rebuild strength and flexibility.”
Chesterton describes the one-hour workout as a fat-burning, ballet-inspired conditioning, with light weights and many repetitions of small, isometric movements that lengthen and tone muscles.
The barre workout is particularly good for getting in ski shape since skiing is a sport of strength, balance, stamina and flexibility. To be done well, it requires the diligent cooperation of the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, back and core muscles. She says barre fitness classes address all of this in addition to building endurance through the lighter weight and higher repetitions formula.
“The key is that you’re building strength and stamina without compromising your joints,” Chesterton says.
Results for Women and Men
Usually, barre classes are populated by women, but more men are signing up. The latter are often shocked by how hard they have to work to keep up.
Six months after his start, Currier says he’s still challenged by every class he takes and the results are tangible. He visited the Olympic training center in Utah a few months ago and blew the trainers away by scoring higher than he ever had across all of their standard strength tests.
Currier says he’s more flexible than he’s ever been, has more stamina to stay on the mountain, and has gained several pounds of muscle mass thanks to the body weight resistance and high repetition, low weight routine at The Bar Method.
Even his Olympic trainers have developed a new regimen for him that involves regular barre classes, cardiovascular exercise, and agility training. Currier says he’ll never lift another heavy weight again.
Hitting the Slopes
Currier knows there’s a long road still ahead of him, but he’s looking to the 2022 Olympics for redemption. His enthusiasm for The Bar is infectious and he’s encouraging his friends on the USOT to try it as well.
Whether you’re male, female, Olympian, or novice, hitting the barre could be a worthwhile effort for anyone looking to level-up their fitness routine and get into ski shape.
Find a Barre Near You
Barre-inspired fitness workouts are available around the metro-Denver area, such as at The Bar Method, Pure Barre and barre3.
Olympic skier Lyman Currier is now a barre-workout regular. He is photographed at The Bar Method in Boulder, demonstrating some of the exercises that have had a big impact on his ACL recovery and ski readiness.
The “Legs Together Thigh” is good for lower body. Lift heels to recruit the tiny muscles around the knees for stabilization, lift chest, and roll shoulder blades down to encourage good posture. Over the course of two and a half minutes, move up and down, engaging the thighs to build comprehensive lower body strength and overall alignment.
The “Waterski Seat” is terrific for building muscles used in skiing. Grip and tuck gluteals to do micro leg lifts, one leg at a time. The position engages the full body working the gluteals, hamstrings, and all core muscles for five minutes.
The “Chair” strengthens and stretches the quadriceps and works upper and lower back muscles. With a vertical back, activated core muscles, and 90-degree knee-to-ankle alignment, lower and raise seat with small, controlled movements for 90 seconds.
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I have been taking barre fitness for over a year and half. Today I just spoke to a guy in class who joined to prepare for the ski season. It makes so much sense. I never thought of it in that way. It strengthens all the same muscles you use in skiing, plus balance, grace, endurance and more. When you get through that nonstop one hour you feel lIke a hero. It’s the best, toughest, most graceful and fun exercise class I’ve ever taken. I call it military ballet. We also happen a great instructor.I plan to return to downhill skiing this year after over 15 years of just doing cross country. I feel good knowing the barre classes are great training. I highly recommend barre fitness. It’s great!