This week I succumbed to the rising phenomenon that are “barre classes” and went along to Xtend Barre Alexandria to see what all the fuss is about.
While I usually approach fitness trends with a healthy dose of skepticism I was pleasantly surprised.
Walking in to the studio, it felt nothing like a ‘gym’ – decorated in calming pastel hues and smelling like a floristry, I felt as though I’d just stepped my Nike-clad foot inside a luxurious day spa.
Shoes off, grippy socks on, and off we went.
Our smiling instructor (with impeccable ‘dancer’ posture) started the class with a lively warm up that felt like a combination of Pilates / Dance / Aerobics, before we moved on to some upper body work (including tricep dips and tiny hand weights).
Next up was the pièce de résistance – a range of true ‘ballerina’ style exercises at the barre (think leg lifts, plies, arabesques) and it wasn’t long before my face was red and my legs were shaking.
The class finished up with a series of abdominal exercises and yoga-esque stretches.
Best part of all? Even though I was a ‘newbie’, I didn’t feel out of place – the class caters to all levels of experience.
The biggest difference between barre and more traditional gym training is that barre movements are performed in tiny, subtle increments (rather than larger, compound movements that get the heart rate soaring). Nevertheless, while the workout didn’t feel as ‘intense’ as what I am used to, the class left my muscles (especially my glutes) screaming the next day. Not only did I get a full body workout, but I left feeling taller, more graceful and determined to go back for class number 2.