Those of you who like Suits (and if you don’t, watch it) may be getting excited that this blog is about to go all Lawyer on you. It’s better than that though I’m going Ballet on you! Last week I took my first Barre exercise class in a small studio in Newcastle City Centre.
I’d heard about Barre before as one of my friends goes to classes, so I knew that it was the hippest exercise on the block, involved an actual barre and ballet moves. Before you start humming the Sugar Plum Fairy though, Barre is more like an evil hybrid of pilates, yoga, ballet and a pump class. Yowzers my thighs have never shaken so much in all my years of doing squats! I loved it.
The idea is that the Barre uses a few different techniques that hurt you all over (in a good way) and you end up with the body of a dancer. Yes please. Having seen how my friend looks after doing it for a year, I can concur that she has the body of a dancer and she looks stunning! The Barre in Newcastle can cater for beginners up to advanced and pre and post natal women.
I was invited to take the 1st-Barre (basic level class) and my lovely preggo friend, Claire, took the Rock-a-Barre Baby class designed for Pregnant women…here’s how we got on.
1st Barre – My Review
Last Friday I took a class called 1st Barre, which is the beginner’s class. Because I knew it was super hip, I wanted to look my best and only that morning did I discover my new Nike sweats (I believe that’s what they are called – think Rocky but I don’t tuck my sweater into my workout trousers) needed washing. 3 hours later the hoodie was still damp but I put it on regardless and just prayed no one touched me.
I arrived at the aches under the bridge that leads to central station with time for a quick snap and then bit the bullet.
If I was nervous when I arrived, I needn’t have been. The arches are fairly intimate little spaces, and the minute I walked through the door there was no time to feel self-conscious. I was greeted by smiley faces and whisked away to be inducted in the ways of the Barre.
And here lies the beauty of the Barre – its simplicity. We went upstairs and there was just one smallish room with a barre running around the outside. The only other equipment we would need was a small mat and some dumbbells for the warm up. There was a mirror but because of the overhead trains (which I don’t remember hearing once!) it has to be what my instructor, Maxine, called a ‘comedy mirror’. I was happy with that, there’s nothing more distracting than my face puffing back at me.
The 10 of us got started and these words from website basically summed up the next 60 minutes: “Short series of small, intense movements targets individual muscle groups to a fast ‘burn’.” All to a great soundtrack – I was singing Prince’s Diamonds and Purles for the rest of the day!
Flippin’ ‘eck did I feel the burn! But it was a weird feeling because you’d be like “arrrrrrRRRRRRGH” and then “aaaaaaaahhhhh”. Each time you stopped pummelling one particular muscle (and btw all the muscles in your body gets its own special pummeling), you went straight into a stretch and it felt a-mazing.
I don’t know what all the fuss is about this is eeeeeasy…
I wore my heart rate monitor so I could see how many calories I burnt during the class (which was 300), and I think it was about the same as a pump class. The main difference that really appealed to me was the focus on stretching. I’m really into stretching at the moment because it’s so good for helping your body release more endorphins (that lush feeling you get from exercise) and prevents injuries. I could tell at the time that I’d worked hard but the next day I wasn’t too sore at all!
The thing I would say is that I went for the wrong outfit – it was more of a fame look, than a Rocky look – so next time I’d wear leggings with a t-shirt and maybe some leg warmers! Oh, and longer socks. My trainer socks caused me a problem twice – the first time was when I had to put my leg on the barre, they provided absolutely no padding to my poor achilles. And the second time was when we were doing the splits (don’t panic, you work up VERY slowly to this!), my sock came off completely. So there you go, I’ve paved the way so you can’t make more of a fool of yourself.
Rock-a-Barre Baby – Claire’s Review…
Well it’s a while since I spent a Saturday afternoon at a bar. I’m 22 weeks pregnant with my second child. So when Hannah suggested a Saturday afternoon at the ‘Barre’, I jumped at the chance!
I put on a lot of weight with my son who is now 16 months, and spent my maternity leave stripping off 7 stones, which reignited my interest in my fitness. I have been more cautious this time around with my eating habits and fitness regime, which usually entails 3 trips to the gym a week for some low intensity cardio and weights, along with choosing to walk places where possible, rather than hopping in the car. It’s also important to me to stay fit for the birth, especially with a toddler now in tow and I’m keen to do what I can to aid the recovery time to keep my sanity and my household running!
I was really interested to see what the specially designed ante-natal class was like at the Barre, aptly called ‘Rock-a Barre baby’. The timing of the class was great as my husband was off work to look after our son and the location was easy to get to. I received a warm and friendly welcome when I entered and the space is well done out with the class taking place on a mezzanine floor above the reception. The atmosphere was really pleasant and not at all intimidating. I was asked to wear leisure clothes that were figure-hugging enough for the instructor to see my form, so I opted for leggings and a long-sleeved vest top, which seemed to be the uniform for the class.
A full registration and history was taken first to identify any injuries or issues with the pregnancy and then we were upstairs with the instructor, Claire, to start the class. I’ve done pilates more recently but haven’t stepped near a ballet barre since I was about 9, so I was a bit unsure what to expect! The class was actually quite fast paced and dynamic, and I was pleased to feel like I was actually being worked out! There was a warm-up section, moving onto a light weights section, a resistance section and then the barre section, where I recognised some of my old ballet moves to really work the quads! I was feeling the burn baby, but in a good way! I was amazed that I could actually get my leg up and over the barre and then we did some dynamic stretching which felt good. We did some floor work on mats using the bar and our own bodies for resistance and did some safe abdominal strengthening before the cool down and more stretches. We were encouraged to drink water the whole way through the class.
At the end I had a sweaty top lip, flushed cheeks and wobbly thighs in a good way! I definitely had to use the bannister to get down the stairs! But it felt really good, like I’d had a proper work out and I felt the muscles in my arms and legs for a couple of days after, which felt like I’d had a good work out. I felt like it complimented my existing cardio routine and I’m looking forward to going back.
All in all, a great class that left me feeling well worked out and quite wholesome! It’s good that there is a transition class for post-natal and then to the normal classes if you wanted to carry it on too. Thanks for sending me along, Hannah, I had no guilt eating my Sunday dinner that weekend!
Thank you so much, Claire! Glad you liked it and even better a guilt-free roast! xx
If you are after a post-natal workout, one of my old work colleagues and regularly contributor on the Mums’ Days Facebook page, Jennine, said this about the classes…
“I did Rock-a-Barre Baby and Barre Crawlers (you take your little one – before they are mobile) and it was absolutely AWESOME – you work really hard but at your own limit – they call it ‘your edge’. All the instructors are really, really great, correct your positions and are so inspiring to keep you going. I’m still going now but to the regular classes. It is the best exercise class I’ve ever ever been to and really works! I would 5 star recommend it!!!! Hannah – you should try normal classes! It’s so fab, although I should warn you, it can be addictive!”