Week 2: Barreworks

After my first session at Digme last week I was excited to get cracking with my next class. I’ve been amazed at the number of awesome suggestions from friends, I barely know where to start!

For week 2 I decided to stay local and try out Barreworks in Richmond; every time I watch ballet I’m inspired and awestruck by the dancers’ physiques – to me they are specimens of the perfect human form. I was excited to see what a Barreworks class would entail and it didn’t disappoint… it was the polar opposite of Digme, but I loved it.

What they say:

Exercise so unique, you may forget you’re working out.

Using the ballet barre as a basis for a complete body workout, the exercises involve dynamic and static movements, isometric holds, core strengthening and luxurious orthopaedic stretching.

With regular attendance, and without even breaking a sweat, you will achieve: long, lean muscles; dramatically improved posture; trimmer thighs; flatter abdominals; defined arms and a pert bottom

My experience:

The first thing to mention about Barreworks is the studio itself. Wow. Nestled moments away from the bustle of Richmond it feels like an idyllic sanctuary – I wanted to stay the night! Mirrors, mirrors everywhere, quirky furniture and fabrics, butterfly print wallpaper, and ballet shoes and a riding crop (!) hanging from the back of the door; a lot of care has been taken in creating this space. Before the class started we sat in an ante-room, stocked with the latest issue of Vogue, almonds, chocolate truffles, cosy cushions… and many mirrors! The main studio felt very calm – spotlessly clean with an array of mats, balls, hand weights and pillows tidily positioned around the room.

The workout, done in bare feet, started with a 5 minute warm up, a kind of dance flow to get the limbs mobilised. From there, it progressed to a series of isometric holds and movements focusing on glutes, core and upper body, using aides such as the barre, an unimaginably light squidgy ball and hand weights. The class moved pretty quickly and our instructor, Zhivka, gave clear direction and prompts for positional correction. Most of this workout was about teeny tiny pulse movements and by God do you feel it! During the arm section the little 1.5kg weights made my biceps bulge like Popeye, and my glutes were firing deeper than I knew possible! The movements were interspersed with regular stretches and every time I thought I couldn’t hold a position any longer, we’d rest and stretch. The hour was over before I knew it.

This class demanded serious focus on balance, core stability and alignment  – for me at least! I found this quite theraputic – a very calm and quiet sense of concentration. I was by far the least flexible person in the room (frankly, I looked like a brute compared to everyone else!), but that didn’t matter at all, and I’m sure the more you go, the better you get.

There were 8 of us in the class, ranging in age from 20s to 60s. There was little in the way of interaction; no-one seemed to speak before or during the class and everyone quickly dispersed afterwards. At first I found this a little strange, but by the time I left I realised that – actually – part of the joy of this hour was finding that headspace and internal focus. This felt like ‘me’ time, and I walked out into the night with a greater awareness of my body and an overall sense of tranquility – it was almost meditative.

I wouldn’t do this every day as I love to get my heart rate up, get sweaty and have fun with my workouts. That said, I’m definitely considering adding in a regular session at Barreworks to complement the other stuff I do… I found it empowering and restorative, both mentally and physically.

In Summary:

If you want to get a burn without raising a sweat, this class ticks the boxes; I came away feeling rejuvenated and light as air.

Where: Barreworks Richmond

Cost: trial class £15

How to book: http://www.barreworks.co.uk

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