I’ve always wanted to be light on my toes…
While I will never be a sublimely graceful ballerina, I have been taking a page out of the prima ballerina’s book and have been taking barre classes the last couple of months.
Now, for those who may have seen “barre” and thought I misspelled my favorite hangout for cocktails, no, no. I have a totally different name for that place.
Barre workouts emerged in the last few years in cities across the country as a hot “new” workout trend, but let’s be honest, this workout has been sweated out in ballet studios across the world for generations. What’ you’ll find in the barre studio in your neighborhood, however, is a workout based on the high intensity exercises that demand crazy muscle endurance and have you shaking from head to toe while focusing on moving your leg “just an inch” for five minutes.
I took one of these classes for the first time a couple years ago, during the time I was training for triathlon and was in the best shape of my life, and it kicked my booty then. Since then, I’ve tried other high intensity workouts like CrossFit, but had trouble maintaining them as they strained my somewhat broken body (thank you high school competitive cheer-leading) and caused old injuries to flare up again.
Spinning is fantastic, but I wanted a strength focused class that would help sculpt me more and that would also be a fun activity to add to my routine.
On a whim, inspired my goal of being more active in my life, I did some googling and landed on Pure Barre in South Tampa. I’d heard of Pure Barre, a national brand, but the reviews sold me on a trial. Luckily this studio, like many, have incredible intro offers. I took advantage of an unlimited 30-day trial and set out to research “sticky socks” (grippy socks that yoga followers will likely know).
Two months later, I’m not only signed up for unlimited classes for the next six months, but I own about eight pairs of sticky socks and am completely loving my barre classes!
And it’s not just because I get to tell N, “Okay, I’m going to the barre. See you in a bit!” every time I go to class (which I do say almost every time and still giggle because I’m really five years old). No, that ‘s fun and all, but I do truly enjoy the class. Just like spinning, I am totally hooked!
In fact, like spinning, the music, which at my classes is always a good mix of new beats, never fails to wake me up and make me want to move. It gets into your blood and makes your want to dance.
Typically a class is around 55 minutes and in addition to the wooden barre that borders the open studio, you’ll only use three pieces of equipment: a small fitness ball (the size of a large grapefruit), a pair of rubber tubes, and an exercise mat.
What starts with some simple, but vigorous warm-ups transitions into concentrated thigh and “seat” (the area below your bottom that connects to the back of your upper thigh) work. Don’t let the 1-inch movements deceive you though. It may look like your neighbor isn’t doing anything, but in fact, the beads of sweat and shaking is not from just holding the pose, but rather those darn 1-inch movements!
Just when your muscles are screaming and you feel as though your legs might simply buckle beneath you (embarrassing!), it’s core work time! Fifteen minutes later you’ll be laying flat on your back in a small (and completely lady-like) pool of sweat on your mat, completely ready for the five minute cool down stretch.
Unlike after some other high intensity classes that left me exhausted and sapped of energy, after a barre class I feel like my whole body is buzzing with energy. I know I have worked hard, and usually feel it within 24 hours in sore muscles, but it doesn’t cause me lasting pain to old injuries.
It’s become more of a hobby than a workout and it’s something that I will wake-up early for (4:50am early).
The results in just two months have included more toned muscles all over my body, better posture, and much improved body awareness. Granted, I’m not going to be dancing in Swan Lake at any point in the future, but I do walk more gracefully in my heels.
Plus, I’ve enjoyed wearing sparkly socks on a regular basis. HUGE perk.