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How to Modify Your Barre Class

The boom of barre classes over the past few years can’t be ignored. But what’s a dutiful dancer to do during pregnancy? Xtend Barre (147 Remsen St., Brooklyn; 718-522-2580;, which bills itself as “Pilates and dance amplified,” is an internationally known version of the trend (there are outposts in 18 countries) founded by Andrea Rogers, a Pilates instructor and professional dancer and choreographer. She is also a mother of two, which means her instructors know how to deal with prenatal modifications that can keep moms-to-be at the barre; we took a class at nine months along taught by a four-months-pregnant teacher. Here, Rogers talks modifications—and how to work out with baby in tow.

Q: What should barre-class fans keep in mind during pregnancy?

A: The most important thing is to listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right you must notify the teacher. Since the majority of our moves are safe for healthy pregnant woman, it’s more important to drink plenty of fluids and take a rest when needed.

Q: What are a few pregnancy modifications that Xtend Barre uses?

  • A: No Twisting: We do not allow pregnant students to fully twist at the torso. We modify by allowing a 30-degree angle of twist, which stays within the midline of the body.
  • No Squeezing the Ball: For some exercises, we utilize a ball to help sculpt the inner and outer thighs. During pregnancy, thanks to the loosening effect of the hormone relaxin, squeezing a ball between the knees can cause instability in the pelvis or hips or even symphysis pubis dysfunction, where the ligaments that hold the pelvis are stretched. To modify, we have the student either hold the ball between their knees with no extra squeeze or eliminate the ball and have them hold their legs together. They are still able to sculpt.
  • Core Work: Depending on the trimester and doctor’s orders, we are able to modify all core work for our pregnant students. We allow these individuals to use a ball behind their lower back to remain lifted through most sequences and we have a go-to exercise list for all prenatal individuals that includes a modified plank: While on all fours, tuck toes under and left knees a few inches off the mat. Hold for eight counts and lower back to the floor.
  • Cardio: Each prenatal student is encouraged to wear a heart rate monitor and stay within recommended heart rate elevations. We use 140 beats per minutes as our guide, but all students are different and we have them discuss it first with their doctor. This may mean less cardio, but we are always offering amazing modifications here. Although it may not be as intense, it’s still a workout.
  • Smaller Range of Motion: As pregnancy hormones like relaxin kick in, so does increased flexibility. We modify with a smaller range of motion in specific series to ensure nothing is overstretched.

Q: You offer a class called Babies on Board. What made you go in that direction?

A: Today’s moms want to get back in shape quickly. They also want to do activities with their baby, but most programs don’t start until children are older. Babies on Board brings mommy-and-me to a whole new level. It is a fabulous workout that uses the baby in every move, so we have weight-bearing exercise and bonding time. We also have the socialization that moms and babies crave. The movement of the exercises gets the babies laughing, cooing and, eventually, sleeping. Everyone wins.


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