Hope you all are off to a great start to the week. I was able to cross lots of things off my to-do list yesterday. Doesn't that just feel so good?!
So, I have alluded to Barre classes many times on this little blog of mine, and today is the day.
I had been hearing about the buzz about "The Bar Method" for quite a while before I decided to take the plunge.
I was initially interested in taking a look at these classes because I needed a new option for lower intensity, fat burning workouts, other than just plain ole pumping iron at the gym or yoga, both of which I was getting a little burnt out on.
I also was excited about trying Barre because the classes were supposed to encompass the ballet barre, and, so I assumed, some ballet-type movements.
I have always LOVED ballet. I took ballet classes for about 6 years when I was younger (I'm going to guestimate from the age of 6 to the age of 12). I really enjoyed it, but when I peaked out at my first studio, and moved to the more prestigious (aka nose-in-the-air) studio downtown, I just didn't enjoy it anymore.
I was a bit of a chunker at that age (trust me), and even though I felt like I could dance with the best of them, I just couldn't take the criticism over my "physique" anymore. I wanted to wear my laid back ballet gear, dance 'til I was red in the face, go get a milkshake and grilled cheese after class, and be left alone! Hey, I was 12 for gosh sake! I was only a little girl and I didn't give a hoot about body image yet.
It was clear pretty fast that this was all "UNacceptable" at my new studio. All it took was me getting cast as a RAT in the annual performance of The Nutcracker, and I was out that door. Nooooo thank you! :)
Anyway, I have always missed ballet ever since, so I grand jeté-d at the idea of a workout that incorporated some of my favorite dance in a more relaxed, non-judgmental, environment.
I knew Chicago had the official "The Bar Method" studios, but I was a little hesitant to swallow the pricey class fee and I was worried that people might turn their nose up at me if I wasn't decked out in head-to-toe lululemon.
Through some Yelping (one of my favorite past-times), I learned of a new studio that had opened up downtown, Barre Bee Fit. I was especially intrigued by the reviews (which all called it ADDICTING), the cute website, and the fact that the studio took its own spin on the classic Barre workout, adding some cardio bursts into the mix. The classes were also cheaper than The Bar Method, cha-ching!
I skipped on over to a class one day, and was in LOVE from the moment I walked in the door.
The girls that started the studio are very warm and inviting and the studio itself is adorable. All of the marketing this place does is kind of genius, from the slogan "Live by the Barre Code," to the cute pink and green decor throughout the studio, they had me at hello.
The first class definitely kicked my booty. I honestly don't think I had ever felt that level of soreness in my life. I feel like I have tried lots of intense workouts, from 60 minute long spin classes to 90 minutes of yoga in 105 degrees, but I have never felt burning, shaking muscles like the way I felt after that first barre session. Pain is beauty, beauty is pain! ;)
Barre classes generally incorporate moves from ballet, pilates, and yoga, and Barre Bee Fit adds in "cardio blasts" to rounding things out a little bit. It's kind of hard for me to describe it all, but just picture tiny, isolated, repetitive movements that work every muscle group in your body, followed by tons of stretching to make you "long and lean." The exercises are designed to "re-code" your muscles, and it shows in the shaking!
In a typical class, you will do plank-work, followed by tons of light weights with the arms (and lots-o tri-cep dips!), calf raises, thigh work, "seat" (aka booty) work, and ab-time, with stretching and a couple of cardio blasts in between. It truly is a TOTAL body work-out.
As far as results go, although I can't say I've taken out a tape measurer, I feel like my body has responded to this workout in a few ways.
First, I my booty has definitely lifted and tightened up. Second, I have noticed less in the "love handle" area. Third, I have noticed longer, leaner, toned arms with killer shoulders. One of the greatest results I've seen is that I feel more flexible and my posture has improved. My posture had gotten pretty bad from hovering over books or a computer all-day for 3 years.
I haven't been getting to as many classes lately as I used to (probably an average of 2 per week), but since Justin is having some foot pain and is taking the week off, I decided to head on over last night to try a NEW class Barre Bee Fit added, "Barre Burn."
This 60-minute workout is similar to the classic Barre Bee class, but it is done in a hot room, I believe it gets up to 90 degrees in there. I was super excited to try it since I LOVED Bikram Yoga last summer and spring (hoping to get back into it soon). Something about dripping sweat from every inch of your body is so satisfying!
I went last night to a Barre Burn class with one of Barre Bee Fit's owners, Jill. If I was in love with this place before, I am now OBSESSED. It felt so good to stretch my muscles after all of the running I've been doing, and the heat was very detoxifying. Love love loooove. I mosied on home last night and signed myself right up for the Wednesday class.
I was definitely a sweaty betty after the whole thing:
Look at me, I need a shower!! Yiiiick!
But today, I feel great! Trust me, you will feel like an itsy bitsy ballerina the day after doing this workout.
Right now, Barre Bee Fit is located in Chicago, with a studio downtown, and one opening soon in Lincoln Park.
However, there are tons of different Bar Method focused studios around the country, and with a little Googling, I'm sure you can find a studio near you.
If you still can't find a place in your area to get your Barre on, you might consider ordering a DVD or downloading a podcast, as many of these exercises can be done in your living room, while you're brushing your teeth, making dinner, I could go on.
The Bar Method has reasonably-priced DVDs available here. Pure Barre also offers both DVDs and podcasts here. I have also heard that the Physique 57 series incorporates a lot of similar exercises.
If you want just a little taste, a fellow blogger and Barre Bee Fit-aholic of mine also tutorials several of the key moves over on her blog, Newtrition. She details the seat work in this post, the thigh work here, and abs, including the incredible C-curve exercise, here. How nice of her! :)
One last little thing about why I think you should give this workout a try -- it is one of the only workouts I can 100% say I am EXCITED to go do. There is never any dread in my mind leading up to a class, and I always leave with a smile on my face thinking, "that felt SO good."
Something to talk about: What is your current workout obsession? What exercise do you TRULY look forward to doing?
I'm off to another busy day full of to-dos!
Have a happy & healthy day, everyone! :)