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A Newbies Guide to Your First Barre Class
Posted by : dana tags : barre class, barre in Denver, whole body barre

It’s been five days since I discovered that I have something called a piriformis muscle in my hip area, and today was the first morning it wasn’t yelling at me for trying to walk around my house. After an hour-long barre class at Whole Body Barre in Denver, I spent the next few days with wobbly slinkies for legs, arms twitching when I lifted them above elbow-height, and pretty much everything from my neck down to my toes feeling like they had been kicked by a horse. And I can say that honestly, because I HAVE been kicked by a horse, so I know exactly what that feels like.

But you know what? I’d totally go again.

I’ve managed to avoid anything more strenuous than a hike or ski day in the last two years, but thought, oh so naively, that I could handle “an hour-long class” of ballet-inspired exercise. It seemed easy. You get a yoga mat and two sets of two- and three-pound weights (This won’t be a problem, I thought, my child can lift more than that!). You stand in front of a mirrored wall with a barre and listen to dance tunes (mixed with some favorite throw-backs). Everyone’s very nice, and somewhat coordinated in various leggings and bright tank tops. When we started with some easy shoulder rolls and stretches, I felt ready to kick butt.

It should be noted, I have not done yoga (shhhh, I live in Boulder!) and I only did a semester of ballet when I was…maybe nine (and hated it, from what I recall). So, when the instructor was talking about table-top, child’s pose, first position, plié, and other weird words from activities I don’t do, I admit that I was watching other classmates to see what they did with their feet and hands and arms. Still, nothing seemed too hard and the instructor guided me through small adjustments and poses. Between the music and finally moving around a bit, I felt great! And then… and then it started.

Reps. Lots of reps. With those ridiculously light weights. We curled in different positions, we lifted, we pumped, we pulsed, we tapped, we dipped. My triceps were screaming. My biceps were pissed. Lats and pecs and various core muscles that had been neglected for years were furious at me. And still, we did reps. So. Many. Reps!

I managed to get through the arms/core section and only keeled over once, but then… then we did legs! My quads, my pride and joy from years of riding, skiing, tennis, soccer, and track, my solid, strong legs were uncontrollably shaking while we did isolated glute work. The balanced leg on the ground was shaking so much I had to stop a few times, and the working leg ached to the point it was actively recruiting lower back muscles to help it (which the instructor said was going to only lessen the impact of the leg/glute work). When we were doing lifts and something called clam shells, there was a sensation of knives and fire shooting up my limbs. But it was a good fire.

I’m not sure if it was the relaxed atmosphere or if it was the workout high I was on after the class, but it was an absolutely enjoyable morning. Granted, I may have uttered something like “I can’t &#!$ing do this again” during the sets that worked on the glutes, but I was able to mostly walk away from the studio feeling amazing and strong and energized.

I would challenge any person who thinks Barre isn’t right for them to try a class and see how they do. Exercises are focused on lots of little muscle groups you wouldn’t normally think about in your daily routines, but after a good workout, you sure know those muscle groups count for something and that maybe you should spend a little more time developing them. Post class, I spent the next few days stretching during any down time I had. I can see how Barre both sculpts a body and develops a new level of strength and control through the routines in class. I’d like to think I’m walking a little taller and faster since class, being aware of opening my shoulders, lifting up through my core and keeping my spine engaged as I move.

I guess I should book another class now… —By Lydia Jenner-Tirpak