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FlyBarre turns 4: Is the burn still intense?

It’s been four years since FlyBarre began in New York City; since then the class has spread to Flywheel studios nationwide. To mark the occasion, we checked out a class to see how it holds up among the increasingly crowded field of fusion fitness.

Program director and master instructor Kara Liotta says don’t worry about bulking up with the muscles you’ll build at FlyBarre. “It’s about lengthening muscles and body sculpting,” she says. “The fundamental shapes are dance. But it’s not dance. It’s not yoga or Pilates, but it includes yogic disciplines and lots of core strengthening.”

A former professional dancer with certification in vinyasa yoga, Liotta designed the class with fusion elements in mind. The class comes in three formats: a 60-minute workout with a yoga-style stretch in the middle; a more intense 45-minute blast; and the sports class, with more cardio and heavier weights. “Men often prefer the sports class, because the moves are bigger and more familiar,” says Liotta.

There is a fourth way, though: “People do them stacked,” Liotta adds, meaning back-to-back Flywheel and FlyBarre classes. “That gives maximum benefit.”

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For lesser mortals who still want Flywheel’s intense cardio, alternating the two classes jazzes up your routine and covers all bases.

Two exercise bands, one low and one higher resistance, and hand-held medicine balls are on the barre lining the room. Two sets of weights are also used, with three heaviness options. High reps are an important feature and there comes a moment when “pulsing it” feels less gentle than the words imply, because by that time you’re really working it.

Everything from arms to feet is lengthened and strengthened, kicking up your circulation from top to toe — because you’re barefoot, even your tootsies get a good flexing.

Bottom line:Familiarity with yoga, Pilates and classic dance is an advantage in prepping for the moves, but it won’t make this sweat session any easier. If feels great to discover smaller muscles groups outside the usual abs and glutes. (It’s often the small ones that secretly tighten and cause movement restriction.) Don’t worry, the big guys — butt, arms, thighs and upper core, both front and back — get their turn, too.Because FlyBarre ticks the hot-button HIIT box, you’re soon onto the next move, so exercises don’t become (too) excruciating.

Unusually for a group class, FlyBarre doesn’t feel competitive, and you can work at your own pace. Because of the dance element and intense core strengthening, the class can help with poor posture, which in turn promotes good joint and organ health. Oh, and it makes your figure more attractive, too.

 
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