When Dana from Style Weekly contacted me about my newest adventure, Barre, I wasn't sure what to think!
My first thoughts were: ballet bar, stretching, flexibility, and performing poses. While this was part of the picture, it was just a small part. Gracie and Alyssa from Pure Barre Richmond-Short Pump were kind enough to take me through the "rigors".
We started with a warm-up entailing mini-squats while up on the "balls" of our feet along with overhead arm lifts. This was designed to loosen up the legs and arms and get ready for the upcoming harder efforts.
Following the warm-up, Gracie progressed into arm work using much lighter weights than I expected. We exercised the shoulders and arms with light weights to the point of fatigue by performing high repetitions in partial range of motions.
This was followed by barre work that focused on the gluteals and thighs. While holding the ballet barre we worked on bringing the hip backwards and out to the side. Then, I was instructed to oscillate the leg up and down about 2 inches or so for multiple repetitions. The key, according to Gracie and Alyssa, was to "feel the burn"; I can assure you I experienced the burn!
We moved into abdominal work composed of exercises such as "v-seat" style crunches while squeezing a ball between the legs to help engage the core.
Finally, we performed a cool down focusing on stretching the muscles that had been fatigued.
Some of the keys to a Barre Class is working the muscle to fatigue using small isometrics contractions with low impact referred to as "pulsing". This is done while focusing on your breathing and contracting the core. After exhausting the muscle, the muscle is then lengthened via stretching and flexibility work.
Classes are approximately 55 minutes in length and the number of sets and repetitions are high in number but the exact amount is a trade secret (or so I am told). In terms of equipment: exercise tubing, balls, light weights, and, of course, the ballet barre are all provided. A pair of "sticky socks" or socks with rubber grips on the bottom is definitely beneficial so your feet don't slip.
As with all of the RVA Strong Adventures, a positive attitude and the willingness to try new things and push your comfort level is always helpful!
If you are planning on taking a Barre Class any base exercise program that focuses on strengthening, flexibility and core will be helpful. Squats, lunges, and abdominal work are especially beneficial and will help prevent some of the delayed onset muscle soreness that is normally associated with any new exercise program.
I encourage you try taking a Barre class and adding it to your workout repertoire. You will find that it provides you with a great workout that not only strengthens but also enhances flexibility all in the same routine.
Pure Barre Richmond is definitely RVA Strong!