I went to my first “barre” (AKA – ballet-barre inspired) fitness class Tuesday night, and I am here to tell you all about it. I guess that means I didn’t die of embarrassment and/or other physical limitations.
My neighbor (and friend and loyal reader of this blog) invited me out to a special event one evening earlier this week at her new Xtend Barre studio on Main Street in Seal Beach (CA). It was an invite-only, “soft-opening” reception along with a complimentary class. It was great timing on her part to have asked me to come as I’d been wanting to try a barre-style fitness class for a while, that and I am always happy to support a friend and neighbor. Add to this that now that I am in my 40s (wow, did I just really type that?!), I seem to be curious about all kinds of new things, and especially those that have optimum potential to embarrass and challenge me to new heights I otherwise had never considered.
Apparently, barre fitness is no exception to that rule. Upon arrival to my friend’s beautiful new studio, and after admiring the hyper-modern facade on the outside and in (clean lines, lots of wood), along with the proximity to a longtime favorite local pub (where C and I had many of our first dates together back in the dating era a decade-plus ago, aww and WOW!), I then quickly noticed that everyone else in attendance was about half my age, if not chronologically most definitely physically. Just when did I age (and lose that fast metabolism) again? Sigh.
But regardless of the obvious generation and skill gaps we may have had between us at first sight, everyone there was very kind and welcoming to me, the uber-newbie, who’s newbieness also showed with my choice of flared yoga pants (vs. the more tapered-style leggings that I guess most wear during a barre class? oops). I also quickly learned that many in attendance were some of the studio’s instructors there supporting their new workplace, which was admirable and rapidly put me at ease.
We also received a really lovely goody bag that included the “grippy socks” that I’d heard about being useful during this type of workout but never got around to getting a pair ahead of time, so thanks for those also.
The class started around 7:30 p.m., which is much later than when I usually work out (when I work out, that is). I’m normally a morning exerciser, so this time slot was one extra challenge for me on top of everything else, especially given that by 7:30 p.m. we’re winding down for bedtime at our house. We were told by the class’ instructor Sarah that class would go for around 55 minutes, so now I’m easily seeing this taking me into lights-out hours. Cue the freaking out again.
Then again, maybe not. Turns out I was able to not only keep going and keep up with the instruction for the entire hour (yes, it even went a little longer than the proposed 55 minutes!), but I also know for a fact that this workout kicked my 40-year-old arse AND I somehow was able to laugh and smile my way through it (proof is in the pictures, folks!). Heck, I’m even still smiling about it two days later, and my body’s muscles are still screaming, all after I went for an almost-4-mile walk the day after class to stay loosened up (!). There are muscles screaming at me that I didn’t even know I had, especially ones in my core and lower legs. But I suppose if ones chooses to do a workout almost completely on tip-toes (I think that’s called “releve” in barre-speak) for one full hour that’s to be expected.
After talking with some other moms at school, it appears that this new trend in barre-style fitness classes is here to stay. A couple of friends told me that they’ve been doing this type of workout for years – YEARS – and for several times a week and they won’t do anything else ever again. And now that I’ve done a barre class myself, I can understand their point of view.
One, it’s low-impact, and as we (OK, me?!) age, this almost becomes a necessity when exploring new exercise options. Sure, there’s some jumping in ballet dance at times, but this can be easily modified to no jumping at all. In fact, I didn’t do the jumps because of hip and back issues. I didn’t tell anyone ahead of time I wasn’t able to jump (heck, to be honest, I failed to even anticipate there’d be jumping), and no one called me out on it during the workout, so modifications are easy to self-impose within this workout routine and on the fly during a class.
Two, it’s fun to pretend to be a dancer, especially for non-dancer, non-limber types like myself. Think about it: There are only a few elite ballerinas in this world, so what a fun fantasy to pretend for an hour that you belong in that world, too. I mean, even the average barre participant is no professional, however regularly they attend classes. I think that might have been what helped me to stay positive and open-minded about the workout because really, who am I competing with (no one but myself) and who are other class members there to compete with (nobody but themselves). It’s not a try-out for Julliard, for gosh sakes.
Finally, I’ve found that fitness is always more fun with friends. Classes like the ones offered at Xtend Barre offer that social component that a regular weight-based gym oftentimes can’t. Though I’ve been working more with weights lately (because I do need to gain more strength and am more focused on toning muscle than losing weight anyway), it can get pretty lonely going it alone sometimes whether I’m at home or in the gym. Again, great timing for me to have discovered Xtend Barre and this more social workout option.
Also coming soon to Xtend Barre is a “kids’ lounge” for when you can’t find a sitter but can’t miss your barre class either. As a mom, I say a huge thank you for this offering. And PS – the owner is a mom of three under-7 herself, so she’s offering it not only as a perk of being a customer here but out of necessity for all of us parents, herself included.
And something else to keep in mind: This Saturday and Sunday October 11-12 is Xtend Barre Seal Beach’s Grand Opening, which will feature a few complimentary classes (both days, 8:30 and 10 a.m.), and other class packages and memberships will be on sale at deep discounts. You can go online to book a class for this weekend’s event here or call or email for more details.
Thanks again to my friend, neighbor, and loyal RMT reader for inviting me Tuesday to check out Xtend Barre. Now I’m off to pop some more ibuprofen… and look over the class schedule to see when I can get back to the barre (no, I didn’t misspell “barre” there, RMT’ers!).
Xtend Barre is at 308 Main Street, Seal Beach, CA 90740. For more information please contact the owner, Stacy Johnston, at the studio at 562 430 7543 or via email at email@example.com. You can go online to book a class or call to make a reservation. Xtend Barre Seal Beach is also on Facebook. Please note that while I was invited to the studio to participate in the special class event in the hopes I’d write about it on my blog (which I did), rest assured that while her invitation and awesome swag bag did inspire the post herein, all comments and opinions are my own. You can read more about my review policies here.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”