Barre - the super trendy workout loved by A-listers - fuses ballet with yoga and pilates to lengthen and strengthen muscles.
I’ve always wanted a body like a ballet dancer? Those beautiful long, lean muscles. The supple limbs. And the grace and elegance that I’d expect comes with it.
Although now aged in my mid-Forties, having never attended a ballet class – not even as a child – and having the poise of a lumbering rhino, the idea seems about as likely as seeing an actual rhino fly.
But I’ve recently discovered Barre – the super trendy exercise that keeps A-list celebs and Victoria’s Secrets models in great shape.
As the name might suggest, the workout is based around the barre: the handrail that ballet dancers use for balance and poise. Fusing ballet with yoga and pilates, barre tones and strengthen your bod while creating those beautiful long lean muscles I’ve long hankered for.
Barre classes have actually been around since the late Fifties and throughout the decades it’s counted the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Natalie Portman, Madonna, and a whole host of Victoria’s Secrets models including Karlie Kloss and Candice Swanepoel, as devotees. Mick Jagger is also a fan!
When your Barre Concept instructor is a classically trained dancer who tread the boards in the West End for years, you know you’re in good hands.
Kirsten Harle, founder and principal at The Pilates Suite in Farnham, offers classes in BarreConcept alongside her Pilates classes. She was also a director at Stagecoach Theatre Arts, before training in Pilates and Barre. But don’t worry – you won’t have to break into a rendition of “Do Re Me” while you’re working out.
Classes are held in Kirsten’s beautiful home studio, just outside Farnham. It’s a gorgeous location and a truly lovely place to workout with large bi-fold doors that open up giving you the feeling you’re right there under those lovely big trees.
First thing to know: you don’t have to have danced a step in your life to take a BarreConcept class – good news for the rhinos among us!
There were about eight in the class, most of the others were regulars and then me – the BarreConcept virgin. We started with a simple warm-up sequence facing the mirror before moving over to the barre.
Kirsten uses ballet terms in her instructions – most exercises start in first position – but it’s not difficult to follow, although don’t expect to look anywhere near as graceful as Kirsten.
At the barre, the workout focussed on working the thighs and butt. And yes, I could feel the burn. With Barre you’re constantly working, thinking about your posture and your body positions. You’ll work your core, but this workout targets most of the body. We finished with floor work – including some work using resistance bands – and stretching.
WHAT TO WEAR
No tutus required – just regular gym workout gear. Leggings and a t-shirt or vest top will do the trick. There are no shoes in the studio, and you’ll need socks. I noticed the class regulars were wearing some natty little footsocks with anti-slip grips on the bottom – which looked like a good investment.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: BarreConcept is a great workout for those who want to incorporate strength training and stretching into their workout, while burning fat.
Not for: If you’re the type that has to leave your exercise class sweaty and exhausted, Barre probably isn’t your thing.