I mentioned last week that I’ve been keen to do more cross-training and keen to try some new stuff. Lisa, who I run with regularly, does Barre a few times a week and she raves about it for building strength, particularly in core and gluts, both of which are crucial for running and lacking in this runner’s body. I found a groupon for a local barre studio and, when checking their site, discovered they have weekly free community classes. Perfect for a first timer, I thought. If I hate it, it was free anyway.
So on Friday night, I got together with a couple of my best mum friends. We were in a baby group six years ago and now our babies are enormous but we’re still friends. I texted them and wondered if they fancied trying this barre class before going for dinner and drinks and I was surprised when they jumped at it. So at 7pm, Kathryn, Lisa (a different Lisa) and I turned up at Barre 3 in San Mateo.
My understanding of barre, before I went, was that it’s a killer workout loosely based on ballet with a bit of yoga. I knew that nicely dressed women did it at a ballet barre. There would be lots of squatting, lots of pulsing, that my legs would wobble and I would hurt the next day.
The studio was gorgeous – it smelt delicious. It was a very small class – about six students and one teacher. These classes are free because the teachers are training. Our teacher (also Cat) was lovely – tiny and slim and super-friendly. I’d been a little worried barre would be too ‘chic’ for me but apparently not.
However the delightful Cat totally kicked my arse.
The warm up involved a million squats. We then moved to the actual barre and did this thing when we held the barre, went up on tiptoes, squatted down a little and then did a million pulses, tiny movements that literally had my thighs shaking and quivering like Bambi. We then put our heels together and our toes out and did more tiny squats which had my butt-cheeks burning.
We did some arm work (with squats) and then we moved down onto the mat for ab work. The first movement was nice – she gave us these lovely squishy balls for the small of our backs and then we did some tiny pulsing crunches that didn’t hurt and actually felt good. But then came the killer…we laid on our backs with our arms and legs up towards the ceiling, holding the ball. We moved our hands and feet in opposite directions towards the floor, then, when the burn kicked in, we moved everything slowly back to the middle and put the ball between our legs. We did it again and moved the ball into our hands. We did that a million times until everything cried out for mercy.
What surprised me was how quickly the hour went. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and would love to do another one. Barre classes are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but at this studio there are these free classes roughly once a week so I’d love to go to more of those if I can make it.
After Barre came the bar….
The next morning, I was expecting agony but it wasn’t too bad. Squatting down to put the cat-food down was painful but I was able to move pretty decently! However the next day, Sunday, I was in a world of pain. I got up early to run, walked across the bedroom…and went back to bed. Apparently the muscles in my bottom and thighs have a lot of progress to make.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed barre. It hurt but in a good way. I’ve bought a four-pack deal on groupon and I’m going to go to as many of the free classes as I can. Loved it.