What happened when…

I did my first BarreConcept ® Workout

Where: Unit 81, Barwell Business Park, Chessington KT9 2NY

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I’d never heard of the latest fitness craze to hit the UK until I began a course of workout classes locally in Chessington. My friend and I, both lovers of spin had been tipped that Barre Concept was the newest and amazingly effective way to tone, using Ballet moves, Pilates and Yoga. With celebrity fans that include Natalie Portman, Madonna and Kelly Osborne and having a dance background, I thought this was a class I could tackle with poise and elegance.

Taking to the side of the room to rest our hands against the wall, as if at the bars of a dance studio, we would complete a medley of ballet positions; pointing and flexing our feet, pulsing in plies and delivering a torrent of fondues (which has nothing to do with cheese or chocolate fountains.) The movements would be repeated continuously for around 30 seconds each, giving certain parts of the body just enough time to burn and for me personally, just enough time to cramp. As someone who used to regularly attend dance school, let me admit that ballet was not my forte, I’m less delicate and more robust and the cramps reminded me that ballet wasn’t me in all my dancing glory.


Just when my foot cramp was beginning make itself known and my hip began to feel less supple than my youthful mind would have me believe, we swapped sides so the controlled and balance attempted moves could be felt equally on the opposite limb. No pain, no gain after all and through gritted teeth, crazed eyes and an almost teary smile both sides were complete. What sounded like a class that would be as easy as pie, actually showed that strength and mind over matter was needed. As somebody that tends to lean towards classes with high cardio, I was surprised to break a sweat on my brow and top lip. I usually shy away from Yoga and Pilates classes as stretching is pretty much a myth for me… this was obvious when overly supple and softly spoken instructor Lesley instructed my friend and I to try to turn out from our hips a bit more (my hips have obviously been lying to me about how flexible I am.

The wall test (not an actual test but a personal one) was over and so we headed to the center to continue with light weights. I really enjoyed the weighted section and was pleased that Lesley advised me to use the 1.5lb instead of the 2.25lb… don’t run before you can walk Vanessa!! We would do an array of arm movements with extended leg poses and side stretches, whilst controlling our core. It’s been said that 8-10 weeks of the Barre Concept class will effectively tone, sculpt and lift your thighs, stomach, arms and bum, which is pretty much the key parts we’re always looking to improve.

The workouts are surprisingly but amusingly challenging and as much as I felt I could give up, I was enjoying the fact that the class was so different from anything I had ever done before.

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The second to last part of the class took place on the floor and was a little reminiscent of a legs, bums and tums class. It also took me back to the Contemporary dance classes I would partake in- with movements on the floor that would look really uncomfortable from the outside but truthfully were great to strengthen and stretch. Imagine lying on your back with legs extended to one side and your arms and head reaching to the over side, you can’t? Some of these floor moves were joyous and others screamed out from the core muscles.

One of the loveliest things about this class was that Lesley gave a variety of options for certain moves which meant that those with less physical experience, with possible injuries or even those deep into pregnancy could follow the workout.

So would I do it again? YES, knowing what to expect this time and both realising and accepting that I’ve not done ballet since I was a teenager, and that the last yoga class I signed up to was back in 2010, I won’t push myself to the extreme. This is a class where you won’t fall behind if you’re not going as fast as others. Sure my body burned a bit but if I’m going to have Michelle Obama arms in a few weeks and a slimmer stomach, then sign me up for the next class. Like any class, I feel I perform better when sections become a routine, so with more sessions and more limbering up, I look forward to transforming my torso and taming my cramping toes!

To find out more about the classes at Synergy 81, check out their website here: http://bit.ly/2c4DuD6




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