Adventures in Exercise Class- Barre Class

I’ve recently decided to start trying different exercise classes in an attempt to diversify my workout routine. I signed up for Class Pass which is allowing me to try all kinds of interesting classes, some that I’ve never even heard of, without breaking the bank. I first dabbled in some yoga, and am now venturing further into the world of exercise classes. As an added bonus, I’ve realized that exercise classes make for good friend dates, which means I have a chance to visit with my friends and they provide me some moral support while I suffer through explore new exercise routines.

My friend Natalie suggested that we try a Barre class. She had tried a pilates class that she liked at a studio that also offered barre classes. and as the studio was on our Class Pass list, we decided to try it out. I had heard of barre classes, but never really paid much attention to them, so I was fairly unfamiliar with what they were about. I knew that they were often based on a lot of small, specific muscle movements to help with toning and muscle strength. Honestly, it didn’t sound that hard, especially because my legs are super strong from triathlon training, right? Spoiler alert: I was wrong. Very wrong.

The class was in a really cute studio with lots of natural light and mirrors and a ballet bar that ran all the way around the studio. It is a shoe-less class, but requires the use of “grippy socks”. I briefly debated on bringing a pair of yellow hospital socks with rubber treads on the bottom (the kind we use to indicate that a patient is considered a fall risk), but I decided to make a good impression so I bought a pair of $20 socks from the studio instead. (They are comfy, but seriously, not $20 comfy).

Natalie and I found our spots along the bar and waited for the instructor to arrive. Upon arrival, the instructor plugged in her iPod and fired up a fun, fast-tempo playlist- I was digging it. As we lined up in the middle of the studio to start our warm-up, I was pumped and ready to go.

“First position,” directed the instructor, as she took her place in front of us. Huh? I thought. I was unfamiliar with whatever this “position” was she was referring to. I glanced at Natalie, who positioned herself with her heels together and toes pointing slightly outwards. Ah-ha, I thought, This must be some kind of ballet reference. I can do this. We squatted up and down a few times like this, we added in some arm movements, so far so good. “And right foot, second position, and first, and second, and first,” chanted the instructor. Whoa, whoa, whoa, WHAT? I’d barely mastered first position and now we were just jumping into second position without warning? I fumbled my way back and forth through the side-squat situation know as “second position”, but I definitely felt like my arms were not doing the open-close move the way everyone else’s was. No big deal, though, I was still hanging in there.

“Alright ladies, and now right foot curtsy” sang the instructor. What the hell is this? Seriously? Curtsy? I glanced around the room trying to figured out what I was supposed to be doing while still trying to bop up and down in time. It’s a lunge! I deduced. It’s literally a mother-f’ing lunge! Why can’t they just call it that?! So I lunged away, mostly keeping in time with the beat, but by this time my arms had gone completely rogue and I assumed I looked a bit like those inflatable used-car lot blow up dancing guys. Whatever, at least I was doing it.

Half way through class we moved to our spots along the bar. It was explained that the bar was really only meant for slight stabilization, and one was supposed to only lightly place their hand onto said bar for a bit of balance. Bullshit. Two minutes in to the bar portion of the class I was white-knuckling that bar like it was nobody’s business. We were in some hellish curtsy move where we only stood on our tiptoes and the instructor kept telling us to “pulse”. My legs were burning and shaking and I was fairly sure the bar was the only thing keeping my upright at that moment in time.

The rest of the class pretty much continued in this manner. I muddled my way through like a three-legged baby rhino in a ballet class. It was brutal. But, did I get a good workout? Oh yeah! Was a sore for the next three days? Definitely! Would I do it again? Let’s not get crazy.

After class Natalie and I went for coffee. We were both sore and felt like we deserved a half-fat-double-shot-foamy-frappe-latte-caffeinated creation. When we sat down for our post-class debrief Natalie casually asked if I’d ever taken a ballet class before (like most people apparently do in their childhood). When I told her I hadn’t she chuckled and nodded. Apparently I didn’t blend is as well as I thought, even with the fancy studio socks…

To recap:

Good: Great strength training, especially for legs and abs. Lots of balance and very specific movements to really fire up the muscles.

Bad: Helps if you have some basic coordination…. or know ballet… or both.

Bottom line: Good workout. I’m not sure I would do it again because I think there are similar workouts that would suit me better, but I would recommend it to others for sure. Would also try a pilates class at the same studio.