What do Zooey Deschanel. Drew Barrymore and Kelly Osbourne (have in common? They’re all fans of barre training, classical dance-inspired workouts using the ballet bar as their base – Anna Magee tried an online class for day 25 of her 30 workouts in 30 days challenge
Since Black Swan gave us the long, lean physiques sported by Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman playing ballet dancers, barre workouts have gone stellar, especially in the US. Hybrids now include Bar Method, which do DVDs and classes online to Pure Barre that started in Michigan US and has classes and DVDs available and Physique 57, a celebrity favourite with studios in New York and LA.
Here in the UK, barre workouts are quietly gaining a following, especially among the chi chi West London set. The Made in Chelsea girls love it for example, especially Barre Core on London’s swanky King’s Road, fast-becoming the place to try the deceptively elegant workout, renowned for its butt-shrinking, inner-thigh-fat melting properties.
As an East London girl innit, The King’s Road might be posh ‘n all but it’s a right hike for me so I was chuffed to see Barre Core offering the classes my editors have been raving about to the rest of us on line.
I tried the mixed barre class with instructor Morgan Ramirez, who like most of the Barre Corre instructors has been dancing since she was a toddler, flanked by two others doing advanced and beginner versions of each move. Finnily enough, I have no barre in the house but a dining chair did fine.
If you think a ballet inspired workout is going to be all arm waving and toe pointing and dancery pouting, think again. This workout positively fries your core and derriere with deep, small movements that work deep within the muscles we never seem to feel but want to tone – inner thighs, butts and those flesh bits at the top of your waist. After the ten minute warm up came a combination of barre exercises which worked the legs, hips and corre, old school boot campy stuff on the mat like push ups, squats using resistance bands (from amazon) and a barrage of abdominal tightening exercises that targeted the upper, mid and lower tummy.
One of the things this 30 workouts odyssey has shown me is that few instructors value stretching muscles as an idea. Many are happy to whip your ass then leave you with an amplified heart rate and sweat soaked body to fend for yourself when it comes to stretching or cooling muscles. Barre Core moves are tough and done in intervals so my heart rate was pumping and – ballet workout or not – I was sweating. But between all of this we did long, deep stretches to help lengthen and restore the muscles before the next round of torture began. It felt lovely to stretch deeply between moves; how smart people workout somehow.
Barre Core systematically burns and stretches the muscles women want to target and that makes you feel it can’t not work. By the same token there’s a certain elegance and intelligence about it that conserves energy too, so when you’re doing the hard work – and it’s hard, make no mistake – it’s on moves that will make a fundamental change to your body, not only to work up a sweat. It’s why Barre Core claims clients start losing inches after only eight sessions.
PROS It’s targeted to the butt, core and leg areas most of us want to tone, it stretches and lengthens muscles while also toning, it works on posture too CONS There are props required such as a ball and resistance bands that not everyone will have but they’re cheap to buy online
Where: Anywhere you can get a wi-fi connection
How much: £6
Did I pay? Yes
Calories burned: 137 Calories calculated using the Ki Fit Body Monitor