I’ll admit, when I first found out that I’d be taking a Barre class, memories of my not-so-graceful attempts at ballet as a child flooded my head. I was that girl that held my own when blasting a tennis ball across the court, but when you threw me into an arabesque or chasse, you better have said a prayer that I didn’t take down the rest of the class in a not-so-synchronized domino effect. Graceful was never a term to describe me, but I would soon find out that dancing like a swan wasn’t necessary for this incredible fat-burning all-over workout that utilizes isometric movements to lift, lengthen and define your entire body.
Before I even walked through the doors of The Edge Fitness for Women, where I would be taking Barre, I was greeted by super-friendly owner Natalina Earls – a personal trainer and multi-certified instructor whose years of passion for fitness and the well-being of others led to the opening of her women-only studio. She and I immediately hit it off when she noticed my Tough Mudder tank top and mentioned that she was an obstacle course racer and would be competing in August’s Mudder. We chatted about the race (and how not to get electrocuted) for a bit and then she gave me a tour of her studio. The Edge Fitness prides themselves on the motto “No Men, No Mirrors, No Scales, No Judgment” and focuses on a functional body that’s fit and strong, rather than singly focusing on a scale number. She wanted to open a place that women felt free from worrying of how they looked as they worked out. A place where other women with similar struggles could find support. A place to kick ass. And this was evident by the women who poured into the room for class, as they all knew each other’s names and began chatting about their progress.
This was a community I fit right in with.
We took our places behind the barre, as our instructor, Leah (who is originally from New Zealand and boasts an accent so cool that I would go back just to listen to her speak for an hour), ran over some class details. The first thing I noticed about Leah (besides her accent) was that she looked strong. And fit. And like she knew exactly how to do an arabesque without bruising her neighbor or her ego.
Class began and our arms and legs started moving. Our legs ran through series of pliés, pointed toe kicks, figure-eights, squats, sweeps, kick-backs and more. The movements were isolated and precise, but the reps were high, so that you could feel that toning and elon- gating burn each and every time. With each leg movement, there was an arm movement to complement, and collaboratively, the movements stretched your muscles while working them. Halfway through the class, we picked up some hand weights and focused on concentrated arm movements, with the same lean and long muscle burn focus in mind. After arms, it was back to legs and to my favorite exercise – the tippy-toe plié pulse (unofficial title). Keeping our heels, off the ground the entire time, we plied down and pulsed, which was a very small repetitive extension, rather than coming back up to your original position each time. Which may have had me saying unkind words under my breath and maybe even throwing a prayer or two out to the Universe that my legs would work after it was over. But that’s the point. You want to swear. Because when you do, it feels. so. good. Class ended with an ab workout on a mat–using a ball between our knees – some great stretching and a feeling that I just grew ten inches on legs of steel.
I felt tight. I felt strong. I was sweating. And I made some new friends. There isn’t much more you can ask for from a workout.