The short version of what to expect: Burning and shaking.
Keep reading for the longer version.
I’ve heard so much about Barre classes and how amazing they are. In my annual desperate attempt to get back into some sort of shape as soon as Spring starts to creep up on me, I finally decided to bite the bullet and try a class. I constantly heard that Barre was a combination of Ballet and Pilates. I danced for most of my life and I’ve tried Pilates (which was hell) but I figured with the ballet background I’d be okay. Unfortunately, people are liars, and the only thing that resembled anything close to a ballet class was that there were barres and mirrors in the room.
I attended Barre 3 in Old Town and was given a tour when I first walked in and was then introduced to the instructor, Sarah, who was incredibly friendly. After a quick chat, she told me to grab some weights a find a spot at the barre. This is odd, I thought, I need weights to do some pliés? I grabbed 1-pounders because I know my own weakness and picked a spot at the barre. I chatted with the girl next to me who told me “It’s intense, but a good workout.” Oh, good. I was hoping for intense for my first legitimate workout since August.
After a warm-up, we started at the barre in what Sarah called “horse pose,” which felt like an exaggerated second position, and she told us to go onto our toes and squat. Oh, phew – some variation of a plié. I’m in my element, I naively thought. Except, it wasn’t a plié. We held that position and pulsed for what felt like hours. I was unaware that muscles even had the ability to shake so rapidly.
Once we stopped and it felt like the fire in my legs was out, we got into a runner’s lunge. Ahh yes, some nice yoga sretching, I thought, never learning my lesson about being happy too early. I think I might have blacked out at some point but there was more pulsing…more pulsing than I ever thought I would be capable of.
We moved onto arms next and I grabbed my one-pounders. I then promptly returned them to the ground after about 2 seconds when I realized my own arm flab would be more than enough weight to cause me to cry internally. Maybe externally – I was sweating – know one would have known.
We also did some ab exercises, which was similar to Pilates with their use of the ball. As you probably could have guessed, this was hellish for someone who has lived on a diet of pizza and pizza for the past few months, but I at least knew what to expect since I had taken Pilates before.
We finished class with stretching – my favorite part.
After class, the instructor came over to ask how I liked it.
Me: It was great. Intense, but good.
Sarah: You did so great! This is your first time taking a barre class?
Me: Yeah, it is.
Sarah: You were awesome. Your form was so great.
I thanked her and left. We both knew she was lying. I took breaks during every single exercise we did so I didn’t die, and used every “easy” modification she offered (nothing was “easy,” though – just FYI).
I realize this makes it sound like I hated it, but I actually didn’t. Was it hard AF? You bet your ass. But let’s be honest, I needed a kick in the pants. I will go back and will report if it gets any easier. I’m sure it will not, but maybe my pants will fit better.
So, it is ballet? Not even a little bit. Is it a great workout? Absolutely.