Feelin’ the Burn at the Barre

No drinks at this barre.  Just a bunch of moms looking for tighter buns and firmer abs.  Me included.

I took my first Power Barre (aka Booty Barre) class at the local Y last Friday.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had heard from friends that there would be squats and leg lifts and other strength training moves I detest.  Still, I held out hope that the class had something to do with ballet, and that maybe I would even like it.  I really need to strength train, but I feel the same way about it as I used to about math in high school.  Not a fan. So I’ve been trying to find a class that does a good job disguising the fact that I’m doing any actual work.  When it comes to cardio, I’ve had lots of luck.  I love Zumba because it’s fun.  Ditto spin class.  R.I.P.P.E.D? Synergy?  Not so much.

I wish I had gotten to my first Power Barre class on time.  For many reasons.  The first one being that I would have been able to hide out in the back of the room, instead of having to take the class almost beside the instructor at the front.  Not an enviable position for anyone, and certainly not for a newbie like myself.  I also would have been able to snag a yoga mat, instead of doing bridges and planks on the cold hard floor.  But, my fault for being tardy.

Luckily, not a whole lot of coordination was required.  A passion for burpees and lunges would have been helpful.  I hate burpees so much I pretended I couldn’t do them (shame on me!) and followed the instructor’s modifications for those and other moves. To be honest, I was not shy about modifying moves on my own when formal alternatives were unavailable.  “And I thought I was in shape,” I whispered to the woman closest to me (which put her almost directly in front of me, poor thing).

So did we use the barre in Power Barre? Well, of course. For about 10 hellish minutes, during which time we leaned over the barre, bent one leg back at the knee, placed a small plastic ball behind said knee, and pulsed our feet to our butts. Yes, my ball escaped and bounced through the room more times than I care to remember.  I felt like I was part of a circus act.  All I needed was some face paint and a big red nose.  After that, class was a blur of burpees, slow-motion squats, lunges, jumping jacks, planks and bridges.  We did a few pliés and went back to the barre at the end of class to stretch out our quads. That’s about as close as we got to ballet.  Our playlist was far from classical.  Britney and Maroon 5 were in there somewhere.  Thank God, because I don’t think violins and oboes would have provided the motivation I needed. Between the music and our upbeat instructor, who constantly reminded us we were all earning our happy hour margaritas, I got through the 50-minute class.

“Now,” said the student closest to me after the final hamstring stretch, “if you liked this class, you should try Pi-Yo on Tuesdays.”  Pi-Yo? “Combination pilates and yoga!”  Of course.  She must have mistaken the smile on my face for something other than the relief I was feeling that Power Barre was finally over.  It wasn’t that I didn’t get a good workout – I certainly did.  I didn’t realize how good until I woke up the next day and could barely shuffle to the bathroom.  For that reason, and that alone, I might go back to Power Barre.  No pain, no gain.  At some point, I have to face facts:  I’m never going to like strength training, whether I’m using kettle bells, free weights, resistance bands, or my own body weight to tone up.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Fitness Yoga or Synergy.  I’ve tried it all.  I might as well belly up to the barre again.





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