So recently it has become pretty clear to me that I am indeed, a fitness junkie. I may not look it, as believe me, I’m no size 8. But I don’t do it for that. I don’t do it for a beach body or a summer body, or anybody. I do it for myself, for the way it makes me feel. I do it to challenge myself, break comfort zones and insecurities and to increase my confidence. I love the feeling of working up a sweat, I prefer my gym gear to normal clothes, I spend my days waiting for my next ‘fix’, my next ‘hit’ and I’m forever on the look out for a new class to try.
New exercise classes pop up all the time, and with each class I venture along to, my confidence increases and I feel ready to try something else. So yesterday I headed over to Studio Velo to try their barre class – an exercise programme that intends to ‘create a longer, leaner physique through stretching exercises both on the floor and on a ballet barre, using the same techniques and postures as traditional ballet.
Barre caught my eye as I felt it’s something way out of my comfort zone. I love working out to loud dance music, I like to sing, I like to really move about. Although a little unsure what to expect, I felt Barre would be more low impact, require grace which I don’t feel I have, and less energy than I usually have or like to burn.
I have been along to Pound a few times, and I thought Barre may be similar in the way it focuses on strengthening and conditioning and isometric movements, but would I still enjoy without the rock tracks and rip stix?
I arrived at Velo with my friend Debra. I’m not afraid to go along to new classes on my own, I did just that last week trying out Cycle. But it’s great to have a friend there for moral support, and to go for coffee with afterwards.
We met Melissa our Barre instructor in the reception area, then went upstairs to the mirrored dance studio. I took a mat, removed my trainers, (but kept the socks on as I can’t deal with feet. Not my own, anyway) and chose a spot on the floor. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of mirrored walls. Purely because the image I have in my head of me rocking my gym gear, is a far cry from what I actually see. But the mirror was there and I just had to suck it up and move on.
We started off with a warm up on our mats to tracks I’m familiar with from other classes, but slow versions. Meaning I could still have a sing along in my head. Sometimes I forget I’m at an exercise class, not a rave. I did a block of ladies kickboxing sessions recently, and had to consciously remind myself to stop dancing to the music and I was there to kick and throw punches, not boogie.
We then moved on to planking and push ups. I’m still at the on your knees push up, level. I kept looking over to Debra as she looked at me. I was exhausted after the warm up. We both were
Then it was time to hit the barre, where we stated working our quads using plies in first and second positions, the moving on to arabesques and lunges. Now to watch our workout, it may have looked easy since these exercises included just tiny pulsing movements. It may have looked like we were doing nothing, but let me tell you, we were.
After about 30 minutes on the barre we were back to the mats, but this time using the bar to concentrate on the core and upper body. Melissa explained we would lie on our back and pull ourselves up using the bar. Sounds easy, I thought confidently as I’ve done similar in the gym and feel I have quite good upper body strength. So, I lay on my back, feet flat on the floor ready to pull myself up, but nothing. I couldn’t move. I looked at Debra as she said to me ‘I can’t do it’, feeling quite relieved I replied with ‘Me neither’. Melissa then showed us a way to do it curling our core in rather than pulling up. I managed that. Just
We finished off with the core by staying sat on our mats, holding the barre above us, straightening and lifting then lowering our legs. Again, I’ve done similar during Pound, but obviously without the barre. I struggled then and I struggled again, but I still gave it my all.
The 60 minute class then ended with a cool down, and boy was I ready to cool down.
Despite its difficulty, I thoroughly enjoyed my Pure Barre experience. The playlist was good, the work out low-impact and it did felt very different to the sweaty high intensity kind of work out I’m used to. But it’s now the afternoon after, and I am aching. My arms, my legs, my back, I can feel it. Barre obviously has immense benefits, especially for your lower body and core.
If you’re interested in trying out Barre or any classes at Velo, then check out their facebook page for details