I recently tried a Barre class, which is a Ballet Barre inspired pilates class. When I arrived I said, “I’m here for the Barre class”, to which the instructor said, “you know its Ballet Barre, not bar…bar” – making a lifting motion as if lifting a barbell. That was my first clue that not many men come to this class. My second clue was the broom closet that was the mens changing room, I’m not sure it would have fit a second man.
I’m always keen to explore new exercises, especially ones that introduce new ways of moving and push me beyond my comfort zone. Barre is one hell of a work out. There is no cardio in Barre class, its all isometric exercises where you hold your body in position, and then introduce a small range of motion. For example, a seated plié (essentially an isometric sit) with heels off the ground and one arm on the barre, hold, and then up an inch, down an inch, for 8 reps. It sounds easier than it is.
I managed to get through 99% of the exercises, even the ones with my leg on the barre, which really tested my non-existant flexibility. I did fail in a few exercises. With beads of sweat rolling down my face and my legs turning to jelly, I simply collapsed out of the positions, all the more embarrassing because the girl beside did them with what looked like relative ease. I may not have been graceful, but my quads, glutes and hips/upper legs got a great workout, unlike anything I’ve done before. The intensity of a Barre class is definitely a 9 out of 10.
As I was leaving the instructor asked if I’d be coming back, but with my legs having been worked to their limits, and a stairwell between me and the outside world, it was more a question of if I’d be able to leave. I have been back, and I’m starting to see improvements. I won’t be making this my regular workout, but its a nice addition to my training and worth visiting once in while.