Deep down inside of me, there’s a little girl who always wanted to be a ballerina. And when I heard about a Barre class at ProMedica Wildwood Athletic Club, I jumped (pliéd?) at the chance to try it out.
There’s a barre involved (like in a ballet studio), and from what I could tell, it looked like there were a few ballet moves, and of course the pretty hand and foot positions. I was betting this would be a fun, graceful way to get some fitness in while satisfying my inner child’s need to feel like I was in a campy ’90s dance movie.
Now, I prefer to call it “Ballerina Boot Camp Hell.”
While I anticipated gently sashaying to the sounds of Stravinsky, I was instead holding my body in a V formation, legs at a 90-degree angle to my torso, scrunching my face as sweat ran into my eyes.
Described as one part Pilates, one part yoga and one part ballet, Barre uses a series of movements to tone muscles, improve flexibility, and build endurance. Barre focuses on strength training using your own body weight, and at times very small hand weights and bands for resistance. It sounds easy, but these exercises challenge the muscle groups that aren’t used to being singled out every day. It’s funny how simply lowering and raising yourself on your tiptoes in rapid succession is enough to set your calves on fire. This class was everything I wanted out of a workout, but still managed to surprise me with its intensity.
Barre is not glamorous. No one hands out tutus with the yoga mats. Sure, I got to stand with one hand on the barre and tap my toe out in front of me like I was preparing for The Nutcracker, but I also gritted my teeth through crunches, push ups, and a move I can only describe as “Beached Aquaman.”
But, as the saying goes, there is no gain without pain. Fittingly, those studying ballet must do much work at the ballet barre, strengthening their core muscles and toning their legs in order to carry them through more difficult routines. This work is necessary for proper dance posture and poise, and it reminds me that no result was ever easily achieved.
Barre is hard, but after all, no one looking to accomplish their goals ever danced their way through it.
Want to learn more about Barre? Read 3 Hot Workouts for 2015.
Katie Warchol is a senior social media specialist at ProMedica. She earned her bachelor of science in journalism from Bowling Green State University.