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Barre class will kick your butt — in a good way

It's probably the best workout you'll ever have.

My arms shook and my glasses slipped down my nose as my skin slicked with sweat. Was this plank ever going to end?

But just as I was about to collapse into the pool of sweat starting to collect on my yoga mat, I heard my barre instructor, Dani MacNevin of Starr Yoga in Roslindale, start the countdown.

“Thank God,” I said to myself.

Alas, it was false hope.

Just as she hit zero, we were ordered to stick our right leg out to the side and start pulsing.

My mat was beginning to look even more welcoming.

I was two minutes in, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it to the end of my first barre class.

My only knowledge of barre workouts prior to signing up was when I’d pass people leaving a class on my way into yoga — they looked sweaty, like really sweaty.

As a slightly pudgy almost-30-year-old, all that pizza and beer from my 20s has been starting to catch up, and I was looking for a workout that works.

Walking into barre class was a little intimidating. I hit the treadmill a couple of times per week and do a bit of strength training once in a while, but I worried I’d have trouble keeping up.

In barre, there are straps, balls, dumbbells and, of course, the barre — none of which I had any experience using. 

As the name suggests, barre draws on ballet-inspired exercises to focus on isometric strength training — basically you hold your body still while performing small, pulsing movements. Easy enough, right?

The barre (also used in ballet) is actually just a regular old bar that runs along the wall that you can hold on to when it’s time for legs — but it definitely made me feel a little bit like a ballerina, too.

It sounds easy, but you try holding your leg at hip level for over a minute while pulsing upward. Oh, and don’t forget to point your toes.

I was thankful Dani wasn't the drill sergeant-style instructor that barks orders at the class. She walked us through the hour workout from planks to pushups to arms (don’t be a hero, take the 2-pound weights) to legs and finally to core. She'd occasionally walk around and fix our form, but for the most part, she was working out with us. We even got to take a child's pose or two.

Toward the end of the hour, we dropped down our mats and stretched out.

And then it was over. I’d survived. I felt strong — slightly dehydrated, but accomplished.

Yes, I might have done most of the pushups on my knees, and my legs felt like Jell-O, but I stuck to it.

If you’ve ever experienced a runner’s high, you understand.

Waking up the next morning, I quickly learned that my suspicions that barre would be a good total-body workout were correct.

From my triceps to my quadriceps, foam-rolling barely touched this muscle soreness. But it was the kind of soreness that comes with the satisfaction of knowing you did something good for yourself.

Three days later, I’m still feeling it in my glutes, but I’m definitely going back.

 
 
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