The description of barre classes is, "where ballet barre meets yoga and pilates".
1) The focus on form. We never rushed through exercises (but also didn't go at a snail pace), and each exercise had a purpose. At the start of each exercise, the instructor gave a brief description of the target muscle group and a few helpful tips on form. Practicing good form in classes can be the make or break in terms of whether you get an overall benefit, and this class did an excellent job!
2) Working the often neglected muscles. I typically do a lot of running, swimming, and biking- none of which include very much abduction. I'm also very prone to muscle weaknesses including the glutes and hips (most women are). Most of the leg work offered in the Barre class focused on hips and glutes, and further, the exercises had a good mix of balance and strength. The ab work at the end of the class got me to work my deepest abdominal muscles (the transverse abdominis) which is really hard to target.
Cheers to getting out of my comfort zone- may be a theme for 2014!