I’ve decided to get back into fitness and in order to achieve some of my goals, I signed up for Barre Method classes. I think Barre will help me tone my body, while the yoga I currently do helps lengthen my muscles. I also consider yoga to be a spiritual activity more-so than a physical one. Not that yoga doesn’t challenge me, it does. It’s just not nearly as intense as the overall conditioning Barre entails.
I also said that I would give a review & provide my impression of what happens during Barre after I had taken a few classes. I have been to Barre 6 times since my last post and have gotten a pretty clear picture of what to expect every class.
Every time I walk in the door, the instructor signs me in. This is important because they do try to learn your name. If you’re performing an exercise correctly during class they’ll say “Good job, *InsertYourNameHere*” It gives the class a more personal feel. And everybody seems happy to be there.
First we started with a small warm up without weights, lifting our arms and legs. Then we grabbed our weights. I have been using the lightest weights, since I’m a newb. We did exercises that worked every muscle in our arms. Then we sat down and did a few stretches. Then we approached the bar and worked on our legs, standing, doing various exercises that mostly involved double loop resistance tubes that look like this:
We would wrap one side around one leg, and the other side around the foot of the other leg and pull with that foot. Standing on one leg for that long was probably the most difficult part. I have been trying to keep the weight on the inside part of the standing foot, it helps… a little. Then, between switching legs we sat down and did some stretches. All the while energetic dance music is playing in the background. It was almost entertaining. If I hadn’t had been in so much pain already, I may have been genuinely amused. After evening it out, and completing the other side, we sat down beside the bar, holding it for stability, and used our “seat” muscles to lift ourselves slightly off the ground, one side at a time. Then it was time for ab work, but not before doing a few more stretches. There were quite a few different abdominal exercises with and without the use of the bar. One such exercise involved squeezing a ball between my thighs while doing sit-ups.
Finally, a 2-minute Superman back workout & a few final stretches to round out the final part of the class before everyone gets up to clean their mat & put away their instruments of cruelty (weights & resistance tube).
I found the instructor to be very attentive and understanding of my newbie status. They even came over to correct my form! Everyone else was really friendly too. And there is so much Lulu Love in those classes. About 75% of the girls in these classes were wearing Lululemon including the instructors.
My main critique is that on the website of one of the more popular Barre Method studios they say that it’s OK if you aren’t tiny. I’m not tiny, but I’m not plus-sized either. However, I AM really out of shape and I could have used some suggestions on how to perform easier versions of many of the exercises we did. I didn’t receive any suggestions for alterations for the first five classes I went to. Then, one day a girl who was plus-sized DID come to Barre. First, I want to say: Good for her. I find it rather intimidating, so I was really impressed by her courage. But the only time I ever heard any instructor offer suggestions for alternative ways to perform exercises was when she came. I used MANY of these suggestions.
Side note: If I ever wake up one day & decide I’d like to be intimidated by the beauty of other women I’ll go to barre, first thing!
One other thing that bothered me was that the instructors are constantly saying “you’re almost done, push through” or “finish strong” or “this is your last chance to work *insert muscle group here,* give it your all!” None of these statements are true. The classes are very challenging, the whole entire time. There is no reason to give me false hope about the workout being almost over, especially with no clocks nearby to tell me the truth.
That said, I do enjoy a good challenge- so I’ll keep up the classes for now! I have 14 left on my pass!
UPDATE: October 11, 2015
I was re-reading this post, and just want to say that I did end up completing that 20 class pass, and purchasing another. I completed that pass (so, 40 classes in all), but did not purchase another. I actually like, but don’t love, Barre. I just never got good at it. While I do enjoy a challenge, I think it’s safe to say that I need to feel results as well. I just don’t think I ever got better at Barre, and I think I’m going to wait until I’m in better general condition before I get into Barre again, but I’ll keep you in the loop!