I was invited by a fellow fitness friend @mldypna to come along to an event she had received an email about. It was a collaboration between fitness fashion brand 'Sweaty Betty' and uber cool gym franchise 'Equinox'. When I read that we would be participating in a 'barre' class I immediately text her asking 'What are we going to be doing? Does it require trainers?' Her response was 'There's a ballet bar and we do something'. Erm very vague.
So I got a friend to google it on my way out to the event and the answer was 'it's similar to yoga and pilates'. So I grabbed my yoga socks and out I went.
Firstly, Equinox gym is buff body heaven. It screams luxury in it's High Street Kensington location. Timetables are shown on flat screen television screens, with friendly reception staff eager to help as soon as you step foot in. Only new, top-of-the-range equipment is allowed in here (I was overly impressed with their step machine), I was even surprised to see refrigerators around the gym containing towels. Refrigerated towels?! Is this a new trend?
Although I knew that this was a Sweaty Betty collaboration, I wasn't sure what to expect so was gladly surprised when Louise, Marketing Manager, handed me a vest to wear (or not) as a little gift for joining the event. Although, I do love my bright colours and eclectic patterns, a simple palette will always be a staple in my wardrobe so I was ecstatic to receive something that I actually liked. I absolutely loved that it was a two piece vest. I favour the loose crop top look, but am still conscious of my stomach so it was the ideal top for me. Best of both worlds ey?!
So onto barre, what is it?
Barre is a dance based fitness, which uses the ballet bar as a foundation to a complete body work out. This is a low impact exercise which involves static and dynamic movements. It focuses on stretches, posture and isometric strength training - holding your body still whilst focusing on contracting a specific set of muscles. It is inspired by ballet and other dicsiplines such as yoga and pilates. The reason why barre is hot trending across London, is that this a full body workout and doesn't require much time to complete. Ideal for those busy city workers who need a quick hour fix in their day. Something I definitely need more of!
Since I have been lacking in my fitness regime, I was amped to start working out and me being the optimist, was overly eager to feel the burn. We grabbed our free weights and sat down on our mats. Our barre instructor for the day was a lady named Nicole, she explained what we were to expect and how it was going to progress during the course of the class.
She went through all the exercises, step-by-step and was clear on what we should be doing. We started with a warm up and a sequence of upper body exercises which included some light free weights. My arms are the weakest parts of my body and when she explained that we would be doing this first, I knew I was going to hurt. Although my aim is to grow more muscle, the burn I feel whilst working on them is near excruciating. Nevertheless, having Nicole motivate me made me push through the pain and I continued. I generally never do press-ups, so was slightly intimidated when Nicole explained what the next sequence was. This part focused on biceps, triceps, chest and back muscles.
I believe that my strength are my legs, they are the strongest part of my body and I believe that a lot of that is due to my love of running (jogging in most cases). So I always thoroughly enjoy working out my legs. We worked on holding poses and pulsing. As I suffer from shin splints, this non-impact type of exercise is perfect for my legs. I get to tone and strengthen without the after pain.
I was sweating and panting so much by this point, I had completely forgot about the ballet bar element. We were all told to face the bar and hold on to the straps provided and used our own body weight as resistance. At some points, I did feel somewhat like a ballerina. As a young girl I had always wanted to do ballet, unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to. So to me this was the closest thing to being a ballerina! Throughout all this, my core was engaged and was targeted at the end! Ouch!
When it came to core work, my body was so exhausted and battered that my legs could not function any further. I can hear Nicole's voice sound louder as she continued to encourage us, but with my current job holding me captive with long hours during the week and events during the weekends, my body was beyond exhausted and I could feel every limb start to shake as I attempted to do the many variations of leg raises. Nicole was definitely not letting up!
The cool down was welcomed with open arms as we stretched all those tight muscles that had worked so hard during the class. We focused on poses to increase flexibility and to allow our muscles to recover.
Considering how peaceful and calm the environment was, I worked a sweat! I always find that whenever I do an activity like yoga, pilates and now even barre it can be quite deceiving. Most individuals associate sweat with a high cardio session. However, by holding static poses I was able to sweat buckets!
After the class we were treated to goodies such as a detoxing drink, some healthy mini bites and an awesome goodie bag, which included some yoga socks! Score!
I would definitely visit another barre class in Equinox. For someone, like me, who tends to have re-occuring shin splints, this is the ideal workout before and after those runs. As I get to strengthen and aid my recovery. What I find most appealing of this class is that it is a FULL body workout in 60 minutes. For those who work long hours and don't have the capacity to attend the gym after work, a barre lunch class would be the perfect solution. If you still need more encouragement to attend a barre class, other benefits include improved posture, weight loss, muscle definition and reduced stress.
I am eager to see what more this gym has to offer, so watch this space as I might be attending another class in Equinox soon. Til next time.
- four the bikini bod
*Photography supplied courtesy of Sweaty Betty