Barre. Ballet? Ah…not entirely.
I didn’t really know what to expect. After a friend of mine told me how much she loved it, I was very curious to try it out. She did not give too much away, all she mentioned was, ‘I didn’t get my heart rate up too high, which I like, and we did a lot of squats’. She left me wondering: how I was not going to get my heart rate up after doing a lot of squats…?
Running late, as per usual, I burst through the doors of this beautiful and elegant studio; Barre Richmond. Having surely disturbed the peace of my ‘soon-to-be’ Barre buddies, I was greeted with a big smile from my instructor Nadine. Taken back by the dark wooden floors and floor to ceiling mirrors, I took a moment to appreciate this fabulous studio. Nadine politely suggested I take front row, right next to her, knowing this was my first time at embracing Barre.
The History of Barre
Initially I was under the impression Barre (pronounced bar) was a new workout that had taken the world by storm and I was just a bit late at jumping on that band-wagon. Well it turns out, I am about 50 years late… Barre was first ‘invented’ in the late 1950’s by a ballet dancer called Lotte Berk. She decided she needed a workout that would cater to a back injury that she had endured, but wanted to combine her rehabilitation movements with her passion. So this little dancer decided to create an amalgamation of ballet, yoga and Pilates. All rolled into one.
The usual thing happened. It ended up in America, where it was really put to the test. Will this be a Fad or Flop? Well neither actually, as 50 years later we are now seeing Barre studios popping up left, right and centre. Clearly beyond a fad that is long lived.
That Barre Feeling
The great thing about Barre is that each teacher can put their own spin on it. At Barre Body, Nadine’s background was ballet and this was very evident during her routine.
After I hop-scotched my way over the stretching bodies, I thought I might find this low-impact workout actually quite relaxing.
Two and a half minutes into our first routine, I had stripped off my first layer. Ninety seconds after that, my socks were off, as they were the only thing left on me that was appropriate to remove. I do actually recall Nadine stating something about a warm up, but to be honest I was unable to distinguish the warm up from the workout, as I was challenged throughout. Within the first ten minutes I realised I was going to require some serious body strength. After all, this workout is all about using your body weight as resistance and utterly challenging your balance and core stability, oh and flexibility!
After a sequence of yoga moves which included three-legged downward dogs and some tricep push-ups, we began to flow into some familiar ballet poses. However these ballet poses were extended with some light weights. My initial thought, (when I picked up the 1kg weights at the beginning of the class), was pppfft! However I soon had my foot in my mouth, as I struggled to keep my arms in second position. Determined to not show a sign of weakness during this ‘low-impact’ session, I started to break out a sweat that had been brought on by sheer determination. I could not let these 1kg weights get the better of me. Must…keep…arm…up. It was then I realised that I did not have the usual adrenalin rushing through my blood, that is usually brought on by the high intensity workouts I so often frequent. It is the adrenalin that keeps me distracted from the pain. Low-impact workouts require focus and a stable mind.
I can do this.
After a series of plié (squat) holds and bar work, our next isolated movement moved to the floor. This was where the Pilates influence was born. If Jane Fonda was running the class, she would have surely encouraged us to ‘feel the burn’, even perhaps to ’embrace the burn’. ‘Burn’ is exactly what I felt. What amazed me with this routine was that not only did my butt not touch the floor the whole time, but I was only moving it in the slightest of movements.
After Nadine happily encouraged us to shake it to the left and right, the lights were dimmed and we were guided into some stretching and breathing. The perfect way to end a muscle toning, strength building workout, which will get even the most non-rhythmic person, looking like a dancer.
Barre Body has several studios throughout Melbourne that include Richmond, Windsor, Flinders Lane and Fitzroy. All look equally as elegant as each other. Expect to listen to chill-out music which perfectly compliments the pace of the traditional Barre routine. Barre Body offers a range of classes within the Barre ‘spectrum’; Barre Moves, Barre Cardio and Barre Tone. All of which, have slightly different influences, but all are guaranteed to enhance your strength and shape your body.
What more could you ask for?
If you would like try a Barre class at Barre Body, head to their website here.