Having done ballet for 12 years, in my younger days that is, I’ve always wished I could get back into it.
Minus the point ballet shoes and sore toes that go with it, I miss the full body workout, and long lean toned muscles and poise that came with it.
On my search for a workout routine that doesn’t involve a room full of people on bikes or a whole lot of jumping around, I was overjoyed when I came across barre workouts.
The pictures showing ladies lined up at a barre took me back to my ballet days where barre work formed a fundamental part of your training.
Even hough my ballet shoes now form part of my daughter’s dress-up wardrobe, I was keen to step in front of the barre once more.
On discovering that a small local fitness studio offered barre classes, I couldn’t wait to give it a try.
Before I go into my own experience, here’s a bit of information on what this workout is about.
While the workout draws inspiration from ballet, it does include movements used in pilates and yoga. Low-impact and high-intensity exercises focus on tightening and strengthening muscles as well as improving your posture.
The exercises target major muscle groups including the arms, legs, glutes and core.
Most of the exercises are done at the barre, but there are movements and stretches that are done on a mat, as one would do with pilates and yoga.
So what was my first class like?
As soon as the instructor said the words “first position” and “plie” I was right back in a ballet class. My body knew exactly what to do.
Easily moving from one position to the next in ballet style movements, from simple foot points, low kicks and high kicks, I thought: “This is so easy!”.
Half an hour into the class and my legs started shaking uncontrollably, and I realized that my muscles are, in fact, not as strong as I thought they were.
The small movements required muscle control, which, by the time I was halfway through the class, was really difficult to do.
We did a number of arm exercises at the barre. My arms gave up on me after the first set.
The stretches were just as challenging. My days of effortlessly sliding into a split are long gone! My hamstrings were crying out in pain as I tried to get my head to my knees and hands to the ground.
There were only a few core strengthening exercises, but I battled to even get through those.
By the end of the class I had managed to work up a sweat. More of a dewy glow than a full on sweat, though.
Walking out, I started mentally preparing myself for the pain I knew my body was going to suffer the next day.
And I was right. The next day everything hurt. From my arms down to my calves. I was fully aware of all my muscles as I grimaced in pain with every movement.
My verdict: It’s worth giving a try if you’re looking for a full-body, low-impact toning workout. Especially for those who want to re-live their ballet days!