Hello and Happy Monday!
I posted this on my Facebook page this morning and I believe it’s so true. I love real Mondays because they are my most productive day of the week. I’m up bright and early to begin tackling my to-do list which includes business tasks, writing programs, planning and preparing meals, and training clients in the evening.
MY Monday, which falls on Tuesdays, isn’t quite as productive between morning clients and evening work, however I’m working at attacking it with the same enthusiasm as I do regular Mondays.
I’m fresh off a great weekend after having run the Eastside 10k (with a LITTLE bit of IT band pain but nothing too bad…yay!) and hosting the second Fit Chick Frolic yesterday.
Myself and nine other women headed out for a power walk around the Stanley Park Seawall, and we of course used the benches to our advantage and got some push-ups, dips, and squats in along the way. I hope I speak for the others when I say it was really fun and an awesome way to connect with some other like-minded women.
Jordan and I finished the night off with a delicious dinner at the Afghan Horsemen restaurant and this:
Isn’t it beautiful? I never thought I would enjoy living in the city as much as I do. Amidst all the chaos and noise and crazy people, there’s so much beauty here.
I also never thought I would end up at Barre Fitness in Yaletown, a trendy warehouse district here in Vancouver where people have more fashion sense (and money) than I could ever hope to have. But that’s where I spent three mornings and one evening the past two weeks, which is what I’d like to talk to you about today!
Barre has always kind of intrigued me because I spent many of my younger years as a dancer. From the time I could walk until I was 13 I was taking multiple competitive dance classes each week, ranging from ballet to hip-hop to tap. I loved tap and jazz, but ballet was never my strong point. Memories of my ballet instructor, who easily surpassed the 200lb mark, hitting my bum with a stick to make me kick my leg higher as she rolled around the room on her wheely stool will stick with me for life.
The happiest ballerina you’ve ever seen, right?
Traumatizing ballet memories aside, I do miss my dancing days and sometimes wish I had stuck with it. Barre seemed like a good way to get in touch with my dancing roots, but I was a little skeptical of the benefits they promised. I didn’t know a whole lot about Barre, but from what I’d heard it promised to give you long, lean, and toned muscles.
I heard girls speak of attending Barre classes so they could get long and lean dancers’ legs. I don’t care how many pliés and relevés you have me do, my legs will never be long and lean. It’s just the way I’m built. So these alleged promises of changing the shape and length of your muscles made me a little wary, but I went in with an open mind.
I decided to try Barre Fitness as my first class, “an exceptional one-hour regime of ballet, pilates, strength, and flexibility training using a ballet barre”. I picked the right day to go for my first class, because this location was celebrating their fourth birthday!
There was champagne and sparkling juice and super cute mini cupcakes. While I passed up on the beverages, I figured stepping out of my comfort zone was a great excuse to have a cupcake, even if it was only 10am 😉
I was greeted by Kim at the desk and the instructor Nevada, both of them super friendly and welcoming. I was shown where everything was and was instructed to pick a mat and grab a couple of 2lb dumbbells.
“Oooooookay two pounds”. I thought. But I was quickly put in my place with a ton of isometric contractions and pulses that definitely seemed like they lasted over a minute each. We focused on one muscle group before moving to another, and during many of the sets, especially when we worked the triceps, my muscles were on fire. With just 2lb dumbbells!
After working our arms and upper backs we pliéd and relevéd at the barre then moved onto the floor for glute and core work. I didn’t work up a huge sweat, but I could feel my muscles working for sure. I thought there would be more kicking involved (maybe I just associate ballet with kicking and getting hit with a stick), but I was looking forward to seeing what the other classes had in store.
My next class was Barre Cardio which was taught by Jes. With a combination of strengthening exercises and cardio intervals, this higher-intensity class was totally up my alley. We did mountain climbers and speed skaters and side shuffles, and I decided to give my muscles even more of a burn and moved up to the 3lb weights this time 😉 I left this class super sweaty and invigorated.
I tried an evening Barre Xpress class led by Sarah which was similar to the Barre Fitness class but with a time crunch of 45 minutes as opposed to the regular full hour. Even though the rest breaks were minimal in the previous classes, it seemed like there was even less during the Xpress class. My muscles still got a great burn and I was there and back in just a little over an hour. Talk about efficiency!
My final class was Barre Classic, also led by Sarah. Again, it was similar to the Barre Fitness class, but there was more emphasis placed on becoming aware of our posture and engaging all the right muscles at the right time. Sarah was really great at cuing the tiny adjustments needed to make the exercises more effective, and when I walked out of class I felt as though I was carrying myself just a little bit taller.
I really enjoyed my two weeks there. I have to admit, I went in there with a few preconceived notions about what to expect. I thought for sure I would feel a little uncomfortable with it being in Yaletown – Yaletown girls sometimes remind me of the girls I was never cool enough to hang out with in high school – but everybody there was super friendly. Judgement #1 knocked down.
I was really skeptical of the use of light weights – you guys know I’m all about lifting heavy at the gym. But those tiny little pulses really shut me up, and while I never experienced any crazy post-workout muscle soreness, any time I fully extended my arm I was reminded of the beating my triceps took the day before.
And finally, I was a total non-believer when it came to what I thought was the cult-ish belief behind Barre, that you could lengthen your muscles and develop a dancer’s body with this special selection of exercises. But when I finally read the description and benefits of Barre on the website I found that was NOT what was promised.
The system focuses on sculpting the body proportionally with the use of a ballet barre, exercise balls, hand held weights, and one’s own body weight. It is a low impact, high intensity workout that utilizes small, intricate movements and targets specific muscle groups.
Adopting the principles of interval training, Barre Fitness combines intense bouts of strength and conditioning with powerful, deep lengthening recovery stretching. This specific sequence aids in developing lean muscle mass, while increasing flexibility and range of motion.
Barre™ Fitness is an efficient, one hour, full body workout that focuses on creating a strong, lean, and toned physique. Cross conditioning, in this way, is key in allowing the body to train in aspects of postural balance, flexibility, strength, coordination and grace.
Did it deliver on those promises?
Totally. While four classes was not enough time for me to see any physique changes, I can see how consistent practice could lead to an increase in muscle definition, strength, and flexibility. With the exception of Barre Cardio, it wasn’t high intensity in the way I’m used to, but like I mentioned above, my muscles were on fire! And the deep stretches we held after working each muscle group and at the end of the class definitely help to increase flexibility.
It’s humbling, but I enjoy being proved wrong. It just goes to show you can’t judge a book by its cover, especially when you haven’t really taken the time to see what the cover even says 😉 I really enjoyed my classes there, and while it’s not something that really fits in my with my current schedule and training program, I would definitely go back.
There are so many different ways to reach the same goal, each with their own intricacies and benefits. The best way is the way that fits with YOU and YOUR LIFE, and is one you enjoy. And for many, I can see how Barre fits the bill.
Have you ever taken a Barre Fitness class? What did you think? Ever been totally put in your place about a belief you had like I was? 😉