Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Xtend Barre: First Impressions

As I mentioned in my last post, this Sunday I took my first Xtend Barre class.  If you've never heard of Xtend Barre, you can check out their worldwide site here for more info.  The creator of Xtend Barre is a professional dancer as well as a certified Pilates instructor and she combined elements of both those practices into one workout, which is now patented and franchised all over the world.  Pretty cool!

I purchased a Living Social voucher several months ago, for a new studio that opened just north of the city.  Good thing I checked the date on that there voucher because it was about to expire!  So after decompressing from last week and cleaning like a maniac most of the weekend, I woke up Sunday morning ready to try a new workout!  Who am I kidding though, working out always makes me feel better and trying new kinds of exercise is pretty much like crack for me :)

Prior to attending a class, you have to pre-register online, which I did the day before.  I am guessing this is to limit class size to a certain number of people since there is limited barre space around the room.  As I registered online, I was provided instructions as to what to wear/bring to class.  It was suggested to wear tights, which I did.  You also need to wear/bring socks (they also sell special socks with grippers on the bottom at the studio), and the instructions stated 'no bare midriffs'  HAHA.  I chuckled at that one.  Ok, I'll leave my belly shirt at home, if you insist.

Upon arriving at the studio I was immediately struck by how clean, airy and beautiful the space was!  It was definitely not like your typical 'gym' at all, and certainly not like boot camp and CrossFit spaces I've worked out at.  The entire studio was decorated in shades of turquoise, white and grey.  Super clean and sophisticated.  Here's a picture of the front entry and display area:

The owner greeted me warmly at the desk upon arrival and welcomed me in.  I had to fill out a form of basic personal info and then she showed me around a bit and told me where I could stash my belongings while I was in class.  They have a sweet little cubby area outside the main workout room to hold your shoes, phone, jacket etc:

She then showed me into the workout studio where there was already a spot set up for me with all the equipment I'd need for the class.  This included: a mat, yoga strap, stretch band, ball and 1 lb hand weights.  The studio was so open and airy - two walls were lined with ceiling to floor mirrors, and the back wall was completely lined with ceiling to floor windows.  There was delicate track lighting as well as a few overhead chrome lights and ceiling fans.  It was just a very refreshing, alive space.  Check it out:
Alrighty, on to the workout!  There were probably about 12-14 people in class (all women) so it was not too crowded.  The instructor turned on some high energy tunes (Top 40 radio stuff) and we got started right on time.  We got right into it with some dance moves, stretching out our arms and doing plié squats.  Sorry I do not know all the dance terms, nor do I remember what she called all of them, having never taken ballet as a child.  I do remember her often telling us to get into "second position" with our feet together but pointed out?  I think that's what it was anyway.  Former ballerinas please feel free to correct me here!  We did several balance positions where we were lunging and then picking one leg up and pulsing it out to the side and to the back.  I felt like I was lacking some grace here! HA  But man, it made me realize just how strong ballerinas are.  We then moved into arms.  We did several exercises circling and pulsing our arms while holding our hand weights.  We also used them for triceps exercises and also did some planking! Ahh, finally something I'm familiar with :)
In time, we moved from the center of the room, to a position on the perimeter of the room on the barre.  Here we did some more concentrated leg exercises, leaning against the bar and lunging and pulsing back with opposing legs.  Oh I felt like a real dancer pointing my toes and positioning myself along that barre.  Well, maybe not, but one can dream :)  We also used our elastic band (wrapped around our ankles) to sidestep and pulse with opposite legs while adding resistance.
After that, we moved our mats against the wall near our position on the barre and laid down for clam shell and other inner/outer thigh exercises.  All of these HURT!  In fact, last night I worked out at my regular gym and did the inner/outer thigh machine and I could definitely feel the soreness in those muscles!  We also did some core/ab work on the mat using the ball. 
The class was an hour long but the time flew by so quickly.  The instructor was fantastic and made sure to demonstrate every move, which was just lovely for a newbie like me.  I also had a lot of fun pretending to be a prima ballerina! HA  I love love love trying new kinds of workouts and this was  just so different from my usual gym sessions.  The class involved a lot of quick, repetitive toning moves, which I believe are great for strengthening and lengthening muscles.  But I also believe there is an element of cardio involved in the workout because we were constantly moving.  I wasn't sure how much I would 'feel' the workout the next day but my legs were definitely 'feeling' it later that night!  I'm pretty sure I targeted muscles I rarely touch in my regular gym sessions or when I'm running. 
I'm excited to see what the rest of my month-long Barre experiment yields and I'm really looking forward to my next class already.  It kinda makes me wish I had donned a tutu at some point in my childhood.  Oh well, I can live out my childhood fantasy now :)
If you want another look inside Xtend Barre, you can also check out this article I received in my Well + Good e-newsletter yesterday morning.  Apparently, an Xtend Barre just opened in NYC and the article has some great photos and descriptions of the workout as well. 
Just a note:  The studio I attended offers new clients their first class FREE.  So if you have an Xtend Barre in your city, check them out to see if you can try out a class for free as well!
Your turn!
Have you ever heard of Xtend Barre or taken a Barre workout class? 
Were you a dancer as a child, or are you now?!


  1. I always wanted to take ballet when I was a child, but was allowed music lessons instead! I have thought about trying a barre class but I'm not sure I have the grace or leg strength despite my running! Glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Aww yeah I kind of wish I had taken ballet as a child! I took gymnastics which I loved though. Well, if you decide you want to take the leap I would check out barre studios in your area and see if they offer a free class! It was a lot of fun and not everyone in class was a professional ballerina. It was really nice because the class was all women.

  2. I love Barre classes. We offer one at my gym...it's a little non-traditional in the sense that it mixes in more traditional strength moves with the ballet, but it's fun and makes my legs burn!

    1. Hi Tara! Oh wow so you are a professional Barre gal! I actually think my gym offers them, for an extra fee. I should look into it sometime. And yes my legs definitely were feeling it!