During the summer I’m all about taking marathon walks combined with yoga to stay in shape. But I like variety, and therefore decided to finally put to use a discounted three-day pass to barre3 I received as a gift this past winter. Even before I tried it, I had a strong inclination that barre3 would be the type of exercise I could really get into. I’ve never been much of a gym or aerobic person (although free zumba in the park was wildly fun), but I’ve always loved ballet and yoga, and have wanted to try Pilates so to find a form of exercise that combined variations of all three in one hour sounded really compelling to me. Equally enticing was the potential to “develop the length of a dancer and the strength of an athlete.” Sadie Lincoln, one of the founders of barre3 and who has personally trained Madonna, says that their mantra is to “work smarter not harder” and that they are focused on all the small actions in the body that build stability, grace and a long and lean physique.
After two classes, I can say I absolutely love barre3! Last week was my first class, and it was challenging to say the least. Let’s put it this way, it took me a full three days for my body to recover, especially my arms. Apparently I have no upper body strength. Doing “subtle” push-ups on the ballet bars looks easy enough, but my arms were spaghetti noodles the next day. Yesterday was my second class, which I found to be easier than the first but still challenging – we did less arm work but some really intensive ab and core exercises. With barre3, it’s all about holding poses and small movements – from your arms to legs to stomach. Ten seconds will seem like ten minutes.
Now I know I’m not making this sound fun, but it really is after the first class, and the reality is that you’re making your body work so that you can see results, that’s the beauty of taking a class like this. Because there’s no way I would do the type of poses we did in class by myself at home. Some people are disciplined that way; I’m not. Also, the classes weren’t intimidating at all because there was such a nice range of ages and abilities, and the instructors are really friendly. The inclusion of music helps a lot. I loved the instructor’s playlist yesterday (Van Morrion’s Crazy Love during the cool down portion – nice!).
Another thing I loved was the studio itself. The Capitol Hill location’s studio with its mellow lighting, high ceilings, and minimalist decor reminds me of part martini lounge, part spa. No stark lighting and smell of sweat! But what impressed me most was how impeccably clean the entire studio and especially the bathroom was. Very important for someone like me. There’s a saying that if you really want to know how clean the kitchen of a restaurant is (and ultimately the food) you should check the bathrooms, well I think the same goes for fitness places as well.
One thing to note is the classes are pretty knee-intensive, so if you have any issues with your knees, you might want to make sure you’re okay to take these classes, and definitely let your instructor know about any physical limitations. I myself have had off and on issues with my knees from too much jump-roping exercises in the past, but the way I made the poses work for me was by not bending as far down as the rest of the class.
For those that live in Seattle, they’re offering FREE instructor training community classes tonight at the Capitol Hill studio (one at 6:30 pm and another at 8:00 pm), and tomorrow at 9:45 a.m. It’s a great way to experience the class at no cost. Despite being still a bit sore from my class yesterday, I will certainly be taking advantage of the free class tonight.
For more info, read the barre3 blog.
All images from the barre3 blog.