Regardless of how you felt about “Black Swan” (I loved it), there’s no denying the fact that it sparked a workout revolution. Woman all over the world were suddenly flocking to ballet studios in order to achieve a dancer’s body, and the phenomenon that is the “barre workout” was born. Barre workouts actually go back over three decades when Lotte Berk created her method, but in recent years they’ve taken on a whole new persona.
So, what exactly is a barre workout? It is a combination of ballet, yoga, and pilates with bursts of cardio thrown in. You will firm, tighten, tone, and streamline your physique without adding bulk. The workout incorporates the use of a ballet barre (or chair) for support and resistance, light arm weights, and depending on the studio, balls and resistance bands. The results are amazing-narrow waistline, lifted butt, lean thighs, and sculpted arms-a dancer’s body.
But let me be clear-this is NOT an easy workout. You will feel muscles you never knew existed. Your legs will shake like jello and just when you think your done with a move, the instructor will cry out to “give me one more inch” and the count begins again. You will be sore, you will want to give up. I know because I did give up, but not any longer. I am so committed to barre workouts that it is all I think about. I am determined to have that dancer’s body in time for my 25 year high school reunion this summer (I know, I’m old). Lucky for me, there are more and more barre studios opening in Minneapolis and the amount of dvds is staggering. I’m going to introduce you to some of the studios in the metro area and one of my favorite dvds.
This is the one studio I have actually been to. I purchased a Groupon last summer that entitled me to 4 barre classes at Align. It’s a beautiful studio located in the heart of Uptown. I expected more of a ballet class, but what I got was a heart pumping, leg shaking, muscle burning 60 minutes of the most intense exercise I had ever experienced. From the first beat of music (which is awesome-can you say Florence and the Machines?), we were moving and sweating and grimacing. Co-owner Adrienne Fitzmaurice put us through the paces and was both encouraging and tough. She motivates you and inspires you, all while correcting posture (very important) and pushing everyone to give more. I left there exhausted but with a smile on my face. I scheduled a private session with her to make sure I was doing everything correctly and she was fantastic. After my four sessions were up I had to quit going (no job), but boy did I miss it.
Align offers several barre classes as well as pilates and yoga. This May they will have a six week Barre Basics class, which is perfect for the barre newbie. You’ll learn all about barre and how to perform each move effectively. In July they will offer a weekend-long barre teacher training (my dream) for those interested in taking things to the next level. Scheduling can be done on-line, and believe me-those barre classes fill up fast!
For more information, please visit Align Pilates
This studio overlooks Lake Minnetonka and features beginner and more intense classes. They also offer childcare, which is perfect for mommies.
For more information, please visit The Barre
Also located in Wayzata, this studio features the Barre Amped method, which you can also find on DVD.
For more information, please visit Balanced Barre and Pilates
Pure Barre is probably one of the most recognizable studios in the country and they have finally come to Minnesota. Newly opened in St. Louis Park, classes are filling up quickly. You can also find a huge collection of Pure Barre dvds.
For more information, please visit Pure Barre Minneapolis
Also located in Uptown, this studio focuses on barre and yoga, as well as family classes. Childcare is an added bonus. They, too, will be offering teacher training in June.
For more information, please visit Barre Bliss
For those of you that don’t have access to a barre studio or can’t handle the price tag (classes usually start at $20 an hour, but packages are available), there are oodles of dvds out there. I have purchased and tried almost every brand out there, but one of my favorites is Tracey Mallett’s Booty Barre Total Body.
The main reason I love this DVD is because it utilizes the ballet barre more than most, and that’s my favorite part (not to mention my barre is heavy and if I drag it out, I’d better use it). Tracey is an international fitness and wellness expert, dancer, choreographer, and a master pilates instructor (so she knows her stuff). This perky Aussie is fun to watch, very clear on her instruction, and motivates you to keep going. Another thing I love is that all you need is a chair and some light arm weights. She has someone doing modifications, which are easy to follow, and the girls all have different body types.
I really love this dvd and while it’s hard, it’s also really fun! Tracey has many, many different videos, so no matter what kind of exercise you like, there’s one for you.
I hope this has given you some insight into the world of barre workouts and has inspired you to give it a try. The results can be outstanding, as long as you stick with it. I can tell you I’m down 5 pounds in one week from walking and doing barre, as well as really paying attention to calories in and calories out. I can’t wait to see where I’m at next Friday!