Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Workout Wednesday - Barre 101 Review

Since one of my January goals was to try a new fitness class in Santa Barbara, I took advantage of the fact that I haven't started my new job yet to try a barre class for the first time. And since my other two goals were to successfully move cross country and stay somewhat active during my road trip, my list is totally checked off. With two whole days left in the month! Such an over achiever.

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I'd never taken a barre class before a few hours ago and didn't really know what to expect. So for anyone else who's new to barre, here's a Workout Wednesday review of the mixed level class at Barre 101.

Right before starting my road trip, I saw and almost bought this Groupon for Barre 101. According to the website, Barre 101 is "a 60 minute, total body workout that incorporates a cardio element..We leave no muscle un-toned and burn tons of calories by keeping your heart rate elevated." That sounded right up my alley, and five classes for $49 seemed like a great deal. But just to be safe, I decided to pay for a class at full price first to see if I liked it and headed over to the mixed level class with Brie this morning.

The Studio

Barre 101's Santa Barbara location (they have another in Agora Hills) is right down town. There isn't a sign, so it's a little hard to find. There's also no parking lot, but there's a big garage right next door at Ortega and Chapala with plenty of free 75 minute parking.

After walking in, I checked in at the small reception desk and was directed to deposit my stuff in the small bank of lockers. Oh and since this class asks you to wear socks but no shoes, I also changed into what I thought was a very presentable looking pair. Turns out I was only half right. Oh well.


There are two barre rooms on either side of the reception desk. Both have mirrors on three walls and a big bank of windows on the fourth, and plush wall to wall carpet. I've never seen a dance or fitness studio with carpet before so it was a little weird but very comfortable.


The Class

The class started right away with a few high knee pulls to warm up, a set (the first of MANY) push ups, a plank, and upper body work using two and three pound weights. It reminded me of a Blogilates arm workout. Think tiny movements, many reps, and burning muscles. It was kind of weird to jump right in without any introduction or chit chat from the instructor, but she did identify the new people and walked around asking names during the set.

After arms we moved to the barre for the first set of lower body work. Lots of calf raises and plie squats in different positions. Definitely worked some unfamiliar muscles, like the small muscles right above my knees, and my legs were shaking by the end. 

After the first set of leg work, we did some more leg work on the floor, then went back up to the barre to for some arabesque leg lifts, then finished back on the floor with some pilates-esque core work. The transitions were fairly fast and accompanied by some quick stretches and lots and lots of push ups.

After we finished with a brief stretch I could definitely feel the workout in my muscles, especially in my legs, but I wasn't sweaty at all.


Pros

Burn: I definitely hit a lot of muscles that I rarely work/didn't even know I had. I'm sure I'll feel it tomorrow!
Variety: We went through a ton of transitions to lots of different exercises so you weren't stuck and bored at the barre for an hour.
Atmosphere: The instructor was supportive and helpful. The studio has lots of natural light and the music was great--upbeat but not distracting and no top 40. Overall a great environment for a class.

Cons

Learning curve: The transitions were fairly fast and the instructor didn't always demonstrate the exercises. I definitely felt a little rushed and confused a few times and unsure about form. She was great about going around and correcting, but because of the layout it took her awhile to get around the room.
Intensity: Even though the Barre 101 website says it's a cardio workout that burns "tons of calories", I didn't find that to be the case. I never got out of breath or sweaty, and according to my heart rate monitor I burned just under 200 calories during the hour class.
Fun factor: In spite of the variety of exercises and good atmosphere, the focus on lots and lots of the same small movements wasn't super enjoyable for me.

Bottom Line

I'm really glad that I tried this before buying the Groupon, because I don't think barre is for me. I appreciate the burn I got from working muscles I forgot existed, but I just don't enjoy all those reps of small controlled movements and don't get a lot out of doing them in a group setting. 

Q: Have you ever tried barre? Love it or hate it? What's your favorite fitness class?  

16 comments:

  1. I tried barre at my gym, but never at a studio (I imagine it to be similar). It was okay, I would go more for the stretching and toning aspect, but you are right about the intensity - my calorie burn was also in the 200s.

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    1. Yea I can definitely feel the toning starting already in my sore muscles lol. I think I just don't need the group class setting for non cardio classes. May look up some free barre YouTube videos :)

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  2. I've been thinking about trying Barre but it is so expensive in my area. I really don't like workouts that I don't feel like I've burned tons of calories, so definitely glad I read this review before I forked over the money!

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    1. Yea I know what you mean. I understand the importance of lifting and other exercises where you don't burn a ton of calories but I'm ok doing those on my own (and not shell out big bucks for them lol).

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  3. I have never tried Barre but it sound similar to what we did in a bootcamp that I went to. I can't say I was exactly thrilled with it!

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    1. Yea not my thing. Glad I tried it though!

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  4. I've never tried barre. There's not one too close to me and it doesn't sound like something I'd really love. Thanks for the review, I will probably steer clear from it for now :)

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    1. Glad it was helpful! If you're still interested I'd suggest trying a free YouTube barre video or something first to see if you like it. Would hate to put you off it in case you'd enjoy it :)

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  5. I haven't tried Barre yet, but I had a guest blogger come by and share a 10 min barre workout video on my blog for anyone that's interested: http://fitarmadillollc.blogspot.com/2013/11/tighten-tone-tuesday-10-minute-workout.html

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    1. Thanks for the resource Catherine! I think barre would be good to do at home!

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  6. I haven't tried it, but I've been wanting too. It stinks that you didn't burn many calories, but then again, neither does most of the yoga I do. :-/

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    1. Yea I don't think all workouts have to burn a ton of calories, but for some reason I just don't feel like I benefit from taking a group class for most non-cardio exercises. Yoga is one exception since I have no clue what I'm doing lol.

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  7. I haven't tried but I would like to try. Most workouts focus on the large muscles and forget the smaller ones, which are important also. It would be change of pace like doing pilates. Thanks for visiting and supporting WOW.

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    1. Definitely do like working those smaller muscles and I like pilates, just don't think I get as much out of paying for the group class versus doing it on my own. Thanks for hosting WOW! :)

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  8. Amanda you beat me to it! I haven't made it to a barre class yet but am promising I am going to pay the $20 drop in rate and TRY IT one Saturday! I promise. My personal trainer is a professional ballerina and she swears by it but ONLY if taught by another ballerina or dancer. She is a barre snob of sorts. LOL. Thank you for your review, I still plan to try it and thanks for stopping by WOW Link Up!!!

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    1. Your personal trainer sounds awesome! Definitely go for it. The one near you may be better or it may be more of your thing than mine, but if you aren't sure about those types of exercises in general maybe try a mini version with your trainer first to see if you like it before shelling out the $20 :)

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