The First Time I Tried Barre Class

I’m a runner. That’s typically my workout of choice, and I used to only ever run and do some bodyweight exercises like lunges, push ups, squats, and sit ups to supplement my running. However, I really started getting into different workout classes and was a big fan of boxing, plyo-style conditioning workouts, and yoga. But running was still my first love and I would obsessively sign up for different races at any distances, ranging from a 5Ks to a marathon. I never thought that I would be someone who would sign up for a barre class, let alone do it semi-regularly.

I have to admit, I had immediately judged barre after someone explained it to me. For those of you who have never done it or heard of it, barre class fuses ballet and Pilates to provide you a full-body workout that should tone and elongate your muscles. The idea behind the stretching between each exercise is to encourage your muscles to stay long and lean. The stereotypical attendee of the barre class is your basic b*****, with her hair up in a messy bun, wearing lululemon attire, and heading to brunch or getting a quick acai bowl after class. (Note: I have definitely done all three before…crap.)

So with this in mind, a friend convinced me to try out Pure Barre with her, since they had the free class for the first time client. I did walk in anticipating the stereotypes, and while they were pretty true, I was pumped up by the tropical house music that was playing in the background. Any gym studio that plays tropical house is a winner in my book.

I grabbed a couple of 2 lb and 3 lb weights, and laughed at the small size of them, not realizing that in about 15 minutes, those 2 lb weights were going to feel like 50! Once I got situated, the instructor came in, changed the music to some more upbeat progressive house music and we began the workout! The warm up consisted of some core exercises and arm exercises. We did end up using those light weights, but the high number of repeated small movements ended up burning my arms! I was so tired but could not put down my weights since everyone else in class looked fine. I, meanwhile, felt (and probably looked) like this:

How I felt after the Pure Barre warm up…..

We then did a light stretch before heading over to the ballet bar along the mirrored walls and did several sets of thigh exercises. These moves would target the top of your thighs, inner thighs and hamstrings. My legs were shaking and I couldn’t stop them from shaking. The instructor kept saying that the shaking was good, that shaking means that your muscles are changing. I wanted to believe her…but it was so difficult to keep going. The stretch after the thigh set felt unbelievable! I was sad that we still had another few sets targeting the glutes and back of the leg next, as I was not sure my jelly legs would be able to handle it.

After the leg work, we then moved into more core work for the rest of class, and ended the class with a set of bridged hip lifts, which targeted your glutes and hamstrings for an extra kick before class ended with a final stretch.

Because this was such a different pace of class than I was used to, I did not initially think I would like it. However, I tried it out again (a year later) and really enjoyed the change of pace from my typical workouts! I ended up doing it regularly when I moved up to San Francisco as my non-running day workouts and I have definitely noticed my arms and legs becoming more toned. I am also in much better shape than when I only focused on cardio as my main form of exercise.

So for all of you thinking of trying out a barre class — give it a shot! And try not to judge it too much before you do it for a month or so. You’ll need about that long to see some good results! Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions about barre!