December workout challenge catch up: Thursday was a yoga day. Friday I did not work out. I’m upset about it, but my right trapezius was locked up and I was moving my head like a robot. (I did wash the kitchen and living room floor before company came, though. That takes more motivation than a workout!)
When Saturday morning came around, I woke up pain-free. I decided to try something I have been wanting to try for a LONG time. There is a fitness method called “Bar Method.” It uses a ballet barre, thus the name. There are moves that are ballet-ish, pilates-esque, yoga-like; but it’s really its own animal. My friend in Chicago was talking about how it was shaping and toning her body, and she’s built a lot like me – curvy on the edge of chubby. Drew Barrymore says it “knocks your butt off.” And I LOVE ballet. I MISS ballet from when I was a kid & tween. So I thought this could curb some of that. (Yoga doesn’t.)
Classically trained at the NYC based Lotte Berk Method, the original barre studio in the states, Suzanne Bowen is the Nashville, TN, based creator of BarreAmped, BarreAmped Fire, and BarreAmped Boot Camp, where “classic barre meets extreme results”. She has a website, blog, online videos & challenges, etc. She is the Jillian Michaels of Barre.
Now back to me… 🙂
This barre method school that is about 25 mins away from me opened a 2nd location that is RIGHT by my house. Like, it takes me 110 seconds to drive there and I pass it 4 times/day. They teach BarreAmped.
And THEN Corey, who I work out with, saw a Groupon for their classes. I still have not been able to locate the Groupon online, but I decided today was the day to try it out!
I emailed in advance about what to wear, but did not hear back. So I wore workout leggings and a tank, and assumed we’d be barefoot from the videos I saw online. I brought a water bottle and a small towel. And then I drove the 110 seconds to Above the Barre.
(Meanwhile Alice was out running 8 miles, and Brian was out running 20 miles. Maybe I should have at least walked to the studio…)
I chatted briefly with the teacher beforehand. She asked what kind of workouts I do now. I told her about park workouts and yoga. I said I used to dance and miss it. I said I used to weight train but don’t belong to a gym anymore. I also mentioned that my husband is a running coach and I am his worst advertisement.
She said she used to be a bodybuilder and couldn’t believe how well this method worked. She handed me a thick workout mat, a small unweighted rubber ball (like a dodgeball but smaller), and 1 lb. hand weights. She told me 3 lbs. is the most they use, and sometimes she only uses 2 lbs. so I shouldn’t feel insulted by 1 lb. I wasn’t. I trusted my instructor to guide me through a first class appropriately.
There was one other new student who came as a friend of a regular student – probably getting in on the Groupon, and 7 of us in total. The room was mirrored on opposite walls with ballet barres on both sides and karate black belts (aka “straps”) hanging from the barres.
It’s not spelled bar. It’s French people!
Here’s some official BarreAmped promo jargon:
BarreAmped is an ultra results-oriented fitness regime based on modern and classical dance moves (though it is not a dance class), Pilates, yoga, and deep stretching. It’s a kick-butt workout that lengthens and elongates your muscles, tones your body, strengthens your core, and leaves you feeling refreshed and revitalized.
In comparison to dance classes where many people feel intimidated, BarreAmped® classes are packed with all types of people. Most people who take BarreAmped® were never dancers but can benefit from the strength moves and graceful transitions based on modern and classical dance.
In comparison to yoga which usually de-emphasizes results, BarreAmped® stresses the results of lean thighs, lifted seats, flat abs, and toned arms. But BarreAmped® is so attuned to form and position that some of the mental meditative benefits of yoga are felt throughout and at end of class.
In comparison to mat Pilates, BarreAmped® is weight-bearing. This produces dramatic, proven and often quick results. BarreAmped® is very inspired by Pilates techniques using imagery and precision just as classic Pilates classes do.
Here’s my take on it:
This is NOT a dance class. There are not wide, graceful movements and you won’t have to spin with a partner or solo across the studio floor. This is a class focused on tiny movements using those micromuscles that often get overlooked. And there is enough repetition to tire those muscles out. You can probably do all of these moves at home, but you may not be
sadistic motivated enough to get through enough reps that you think, “this hurts… now I’m shaking… but there’s 10 more reps… I can do it… now HOLD for ten? Are you kidding me??!” But with a video to follow I might…
Because you need to stay focused on form and movement, you can’t think about your laundry list of items to do all day, so that is comparable to yoga. But because I was new I could not focus above and beyond what I was doing, like I do in yoga. In yoga I connect. I don’t know how else to describe it. I think about those in need, I send good vibes out to friends who are ill, I want to save the planet one leaf at a time. But in this class I was thinking stuff like, “heels together, knees out, shoulders back” – over and over. Again, it was my first time, and I worry about proper form, so that could change with time.
In this class, you don’t tuck your pelvis, like ballet. But you do keep your core zipped up tight the whole time. We didn’t do any kicking or punching. The teacher said the class is a little different each time, and she will vary the level based on the students in the class.
Most of the class did not move quickly, but transitions were VERY quick. So little slow movements, then quickly switch to the next little, slow movement. Now on your knees for the next little, slow movement. This was true of the stretching as well, so while I am used to a luxurious pigeon with about 1-2 minutes per leg, she did about 2-3 breaths per leg. I felt like I did not have enough time to stretch during the class, even at the designated stretch times. I wanted to do a yoga class afterwards to stretch everything out.
As I was leaving, a student was coming for the next class. I asked how often she comes. She said 2 days a week is good, but 3 days a week is what changes your body. She is a Pilates instructor, and still comes to do with class 3-4 days/wk. She said it targets her butt like nothing else. (I wonder if she has ever tried running?) She told me I should stay for the next class. (But I only get the first one free, I thought.) I surveyed my body and said my legs could probably do it, but my shoulders could not.
All in all, it was a great experience. I wish the class was followed by an hour of yoga. I’m glad there was fun music. I absolutely worked muscles that have been ignored until they were shaking. I was happy with my form. I felt feminine and strong. I loved having my hand back on a barre again, but deep down I think I want adult ballet class and yoga and boot camp and weights and a little running thrown in. With the time and money for all of it! And a trainer who knows my body well enough to schedule it all out for me 🙂
It feels good to dream.
It also feels good to shower after a workout – so, bye!