What to expect in Barre class

Unflattering lycra on, and water bottle clutched in hand, I headed out to my first Barre class on Thursday evening. It was actually much harder than I expected. I think part of this is because I’ve been recovering from surgery so I’ve been unable to properly exercise for a few months, and also partly because it’s genuinely hard!

What is it:

  • Developed by ballerina Lotte Berk, in the 1950s to combine her dance conditioning with her rehab
  • Promises better posture, more muscle definition, increased flexibility and balance, weight loss and reduced stress (who could say no?)
  • It’s low impact (not to be confused with low effort)
  • People from any fitness level can get involved and you don’t need any dance experience at all
  • It predominately uses your own body weight to carry out the exercises

What to wear:

  • Comfortable but fitted clothing, so leggings and a T-shirt. Loose clothing will get in the way, it will also make it harder for the instructor to see how you’re getting on
  • I would also go for a slightly more supportive sports bra than you might for a yoga class. As it is more intensive
  • I wore gripped socks, but others in the class didn’t, so personal choice, my class was on a wooden floor but I believe that some are on carpeted floors

What to take with you:

  • Bottle of water, you will definitely need it for the extremely brief resting periods
  • Mat, equipment and obviously barre, were provided by the studio
  • Remind yourself of those ballet positions (first to fifth below)

ballet positions

What to expect:

  • You’ll start with a warm up to get the juices flowing, moving onto some floor exercises, I was already starting to feel the burn in my thighs at this point, especially as a lot of exercises are on the balls of the feet.
  • Moving onto the barre to really work out those legs. I could literally feel it toning my thighs! I didn’t think my flexibility was that bad, having done a lot of yoga, but it really highlighted how weak my legs have become after doing no running for a few months. But even though my legs were shaking, I could keep up, so even if you are a total exercise newbie you would be able to do everything. The instructor, like in yoga or pilates, provides a couple of variations on most exercises as most classes are mixed ability.
  • The final stage was some core work on the mat. Finishing off with a warm down and some stretches.
  • The next day, weirdly it’s my arms and shoulders that hurt and my legs are ok. Even weird musts like my forearms. Shows the important of stretching post workout!

Cost

From looking around this seems to vary hugely and in central London some classes are up to £30 for a group and £50/60 for private. Luckily my classes are £15 for a drop in and £13.50 if you bulk buy ten.

Conclusions

It brought back all the worst things from my personal training classes, yet I somehow enjoyed it. When I’m able to get back to running, I think this would be great complement to build more strength in the legs and add variety to working out. I am certainly going back next week so I’ll keep you updated on the long term benefits!

Photo credit: Richwales, edited under creative commons license 

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