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Meet me at the Barre

Posted Feb 12 2013 5:49am
As some of you might know by now, I'm a big fan of Sweaty Betty. The shop provided such a social hub for me in Cambridge and through its running club I met a lot of amazing women and made some fabulous friends. They also sell some super-cute but over-prized kit (I suggest making friends with one of the managers or waiting for the sales)!

Sweaty Betty have Get Fit 4 Free campaigns throughout the year and it seems that the Barrecore hype has finally touched down on our shores. The best thing about these classes is that they are absolutely free, provided you can get yourself a place (apparently the Brighton class was full and had quite the waiting list. Then again, they can only accommodate seven people...).  

"A fusion of ballet, yoga and Pilates, Barrecore workouts combine elements of high intensity interval training with low impact static stretches to hone and tone bodies. Each 60 minute class targets all major muscle groups and improves posture and alignment no matter what your fitness level."[From their website .]

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I definitely found the ballet aspect very intriguing, especially as I still secretly blame my mother for my failed prima-ballerina career (why didn't you push me harder, mom?!!!!). So I figured I'd try out the class, re-hone my ballet skillz and see how the local SB holds up. I signed up a couple of weeks ago and was told to bring some anti-slip socks and myself, and that was that. 

Classes are held in-store, after closing time, so there were only six of us (plus one no-show) and the instructor. We started out with some warm-ups on the floor, like planks and push-ups and a lot of tiny arm-movements that hurt! We then moved on to the 'barre'. Well, the imaginary barre. As this is still a retail shop, some girls lined up against the counter, some against shelves and I and another girl used a plain ole' wall for support.

Our in-store set-up
Like it says in their description above, it is very much a Pilates-like workout. A lot of small movements that target a specific area of your body and get it to burn! For example (this is where the ballet comes in), we would stand in a first position, facing the wall and holding on to our imaginary barre. Then, for four counts, we'd go into a demi-plié, plié, back into demi and back up to stand on our tippy toes (they didn't call it a plié, this is just me showing off that I'm still down with the lingo!). And we'd do that for 30 seconds. Can you say buuuuuurn....!

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We'd go back and forth between barre-exercises and exercises on our mats. I think by the end of it, despite the instructor teaching this for the very first time herself (and only just having been trained up last week, i.e. I'm not sure if she's actually a qualified instructor for anything?!) and a rather dodgy music-mix (put together for her, so I'm blaming whoever was in charge!), I felt like I'd gotten myself a pretty decent workout. 

And let me tell you, taking a few steps downstairs, after having changed back into my dead-hot compression socks, my legs felt like jelly. Good thing that I'd decided earlier that day to make the 3-mile journey there by bike. So somehow, I still had to make it back home.

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I can see why this class is such a big hit in the US and I've already signed up for next week's class (though I'm not sure how I'll feel about that after running the half marathon on Sunday? We shall re-group and re-evaluate Monday morning). I'm sure that with a properly-trained instructor (no offence to the one we had yesterday, but I think you'd be able to tell the difference) and a proper barre studio (i.e. with a barre!), this would be one helluva good and fun workout. 

Like a good Pilates class, you come out feeling that you worked hard, without the sweat-breaking exhaustion you get after a 6-mile run. My legs aren't sore today, luckily, which I blame on my strength training and generally pushing a bit more than just my body weight. And I'm definitely curious to see what next week holds in store (ha! no pun intended) for us. 

Have you tried any barre classes yet? 

Do you do any other classes, like yoga and/or Pilates to supplement your running?  
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