I recently tried a week’s worth of barre classes for the first time, and Studio Barre was my gracious host. I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m always up for trying new workouts and pushing myself outside my comfort zone, so I was ready to give barre a try. After getting guidance from the website on how to dress, I put on fitted pants and a tank and brought a variety of socks with me, not realizing you get free ones to use at your first class! (Note: Grippy socks are very necessary on hardwood floors. Make sure to get a pair! Going barefoot is not encouraged.)
Studio Barre is located in the La Costa area and offers 60 minute barre workouts 7 days/week. A barre workout is ballet inspired with an actual bar, but you don’t have to be a dancer to reap the benefits. (I did, however, have flashbacks to my early days as an awkward ballerina!) The class promises a dancer-like body without years of technical training, creating definition in your arms, giving you a lifted booty, and sculpted lean thighs. This sounded partciularly appealing to me going into bikini season! More importantly, and less shallow of me, I was looking to improve my posture and strengthen my core since these are two areas I need to work on as a runner.
I showed up early to my first class on Sunday, and everyone was very welcoming. The girl at the front desk loaned me some complimentary socks, walked me into class, and introduced me to the instructor. Newbie alert! She helped me get set up with all the necessary equipment: mat, ball, 3 lb weights (you can use more or less), blue band. I also had a bottle of water and towel, both which came in handy. I positioned myself up front next to an instructor who was sitting in on the class so I could copy her moves. There was a large mirror in the front, and smaller mirrors in the back of the room. I started to wonder if I was in ballet class again…
The music started and a very fun and peppy instructor gave us our moves to the beat of a blaring pop song. Definitely not ballet class! The 60 minutes were divided into several sections, and I’m by no means an expert on the structure, but these were my takeaways.
– Standing: high knees with some oblique twists and ab work…gets the heart pumping and abs engaging
– Mat work: Standard pushups, yoga side plank, traditional plank with movement, triceps pushups and dips…gets the arms shaking and the abs still working
– Standing: triceps extensions with weights…puts the arms to shame
…You call that a warmup? I was wide awake after that and pretty humbled. This was going to be tougher than I thought!
2. Main Set broken into several sections (quads, calves, butt, abs)
I took 4 classes (Sun/Tues/Thurs/Sat) and had a different instructor each class, allowing me to experience a little variety in each session. (There are no different types of classes.) Some of the bar work included a ball squeezed between my thighs. Other times, the ball was positioned behind my knee as my leg was lifted in the air. (I kept dropping it.) We did a lot of tucking (air humping), squeezing, holding, and lifting. The movements were teeny tiny but very challenging. I was on my highest tippie toes for a lot of it, and my legs were begging for mercy, sometimes shaking uncontrollably. (Note: Do NOT run before this class.) The instructor was always involved, correcting my form when necessary. A little change made a big difference. I had to stay very focused to make sure I was doing everything correctly, but this made the time go by quickly.
We did some stretching throughout the main set, but I would have liked a little more. My body needed it! When we went into our optional splits, I was so far from a split it was obvious to me that I had developed a runner’s body (aka tight hips). Remember that time when I could do the splits? Yeah, that was a few years ago.
After most of class went by, we got on our mats for ab work. Sometimes there was no equipment; other times I used a band or ball. I couldn’t get through an entire set perfectly and would have to modify or take breaks. Now, this is coming from a girl who used to do P90X Ab Ripper like nobody’s business. Clearly I need to get my abs back!
3. Cool down and stretch
The last few minutes we got to stretch our legs and hips and do a few moves that I remember from my yoga days (happy baby). Class always finished with a big round of applause for all our hard work which I thought was a nice touch.
There was complimentary coffee, water, and light snacks like almonds and apples in the shop area. FREE COFFEE, people! You have no idea how excited that made me.
After my first class, I knew I could get addicted. I was excited to be doing group workouts again after many solo runs and was challenged in each session. I was also having FUN, loved the music, and loved the community of women (and a couple of men) it brought together. The commentary coming from the instructors was priceless, and I could tell they enjoyed being there. (The shallow part of me also wants to see what this will do for my bikini body…Vegas in 5 wks!)
I’m also pretty sure I could fit this into my running regimen a couple of times per week as a strength and core workout. I’ve run before class and after class, and it makes the most sense to separate the 2 workouts by AM/PM or at by least 1 day. The only part that is slightly disappointing to me is the lack of showers, so I can’t get ready there and go straight to work in the morning. It might make more sense for me to try an evening workout, but then I have to suffer through extra rush hour traffic. I need to iron out those details, but I want to make it work.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie like me or a seasoned pro, these workouts will leave you tuckered out and coming back for more. That being said, I need to sign up for some more sessions!
Have you ever tried a barre workout?