After a long winter of lazing around, eating cupcakes and of course, not going to the gym, I started seeing a trainer once a week. Eventually it started costing a small fortune — but it worked. I needed the professional help and motivation to get me moving again. We would do interval training using a mix of cardio and weights, and having a trainer forced me to push myself harder than I ever had before.
Then I discovered Barreworks in Toronto, which gave me the same tough workout I got from my trainer for less than a third of the price. This ballet barre-based fitness craze has celeb fans like Kelly Ripa, Ginnifer Goodwin and Zooey Deschanel, who swear by similar studios in NYC and LA. The goal is to get a long and lean ballerina-esque physique.
I’m definitely not a gym or treadmill person and I get bored really easily. So working out in a group setting with an attentive instructor (who could correct my positioning) worked for me. I found the workout quite challenging. I was just coming out of my winter hibernation, which meant starting at a beginner level again.
The 60-minute Barreworks mixed-level class begins with a series of heart-pumping cardio moves in the centre of the floor. We focused on a series of sculpting moves using small one- or three-pound rubber balls. There are a lot of repetitions with low weights and I could feel the burn after about the 15th squat. Think leg lifts, bicep curls, plies and lunges while using the ballet barre for balance. Resistance bands were wrapped around the barre and used for fly moves. We stretched out between sets to give our bodies a little break before diving right back in again.
The exercise mats come out for the last 10 minutes and we spent them on gut-busting crunches and planks. You don’t need to have dance experience or wear ballet shoes. Most of us stuck to bare feet or socks. The music is fast-paced top-40 remixes that kept everyone pumped-up and singing along.
I really enjoyed my first workout and have since been stopping in for a class at least twice a week. The routines kept me guessing and I rarely got bored or found my mind wandering. For those in a rush, a 40-minute super-intense mixed-level express class gets the job done in less time.
In the end, this ballet barre-based workout certainly lived up to all the celebrity hype.
Would you try a ballet barre-based workout?
Lisa Ng is the Editor-in-Chief of The Hip + Urban Girl’s Guide, a lifestyle website that blogs daily about food, travel, fashion and events. When she’s not chasing after the best taco or donut somewhere around the world, you can find her in Toronto sharing her finds online.