Pros and Cons of BarreConcept
-Uses pilates and yoga
-Includes warm up and cool down and mat work
-Works every muscle and part of the body -Can do with a friend
-Lots of classes to choose from now
-Expense -Travel time -Finding the right teacher
-No high impact -Group workout rather than one to one
‘I love Ballet because you can see how beautiful the body is’
Im going to kick things off by totally humiliating myself! If you have seen the new John Lewis advert with the soundtrack of Tiny Dancer by Elton John, rewind a (few!) years and that little leotard clad girl is a pretty good depiction of me!
Darcy Bussell I am not! I do love to dance and one of my dreams would be to go on Strictly! I was that bossy pony tailed school girl, merrily gathering all the other children at family functions and subjecting the ‘grown ups’ to limitless ‘shows’ and boring them all to tears! I blame my parents, naturally. They merely encouraged my theatrical nature and signed me up for tap and ballet lessons from a very young age, as well as modern dance. I loved them all but as I got older I let my confidence fall by the wayside and concentrated on other things! Aerobics was about the closest I got to dancing for fitness and I kicked that one to the curb after cancer treatment because I started getting quite dizzy (the sweaty arm pits and frizzy hair didn’t help either!)
However, after my second diagnosis I was drawn to re connecting with old passions and to try something new to help me feel more empowered. I wanted to do something low impact but which complimented my yoga and helped my core strength. I read about the barre concept classes in Farnham in our local Famililes magazine. Natalie Perry, my original teacher, had started a new class and she had had breast cancer too. I emailed her for details.
By the time I got myself in gear and was about to start, I had the blow of a third diagnosis. I explained to Natalie and we decided this would be my big focus as soon as I was up to it.
Barre concept is a ballet inspired workout that combines a few different types of exercise and has lots of variety.
‘It is a fusion of ballet, pilates and yoga and the combination of these three methods is an optimum regime for burning fat increasing core strength, toning muscles and developing flexibility, as well as relieving tension and stress.’
– Natalie Perry
It stretches and sculpts with the moves and postures of ballet, the control of pilates and the alignment of yoga. What I really loved about this class, is that it is upbeat as well as good fun plus I got my loud music fix! Doing a series of plies’ to the song Titanium definitely got the pulse rate up!
I have been lucky enough to have two amazing barre teachers. I now see Emma, who has taken over from Natalie after she moved to the U.S. Both have very different styles of practice but I have loved that variety. Both were already trained in pilates and yoga and then did the three day BarreConcept course and have now built their own fitness businesses around it.
I have to admit that I loved it straight away. It is only an hour class but it really feels like I am working everything and I don’t even break too much of a sweat! It has developed muscles I didn’t even know I had, my legs feel so much more toned, and all with no jumping around and no tutu’s necessary!
Both studios I have practiced in, in the Farnham area, have been light, airy and spacious. I certainly feel like a Fame wanna be when I am standing at the barre with my feet in first position, leaning over and stretching, though not entirely sure I look like one, especially as I haven’t quite got around to purchasing the leg warmers just yet!
Starting this exercise after having had major surgery was a slight concern to me but after talking to Natalie and Emma it became apparent that this was no excuse!! I started three months after surgery and had no complications at all. Barre is not a class I would describe as exhausting but anyone who may be recovering from surgery or illness can be reassured that each exercise is modified depending on their own body, including injuries or weakness or post op specifications. A lot of the girls clients include people who have suffered from back issues, running injuries, hip replacements and breast surgery. The great thing about Barre is that you can do it totally to your own ability.
‘It is the perfect way of getting back to living actively, working every part of the body back to health’.
– Emma Reade
The common misconception about Barre is that people think it is a ballet class and you have to take on the flexibility of an elastic band! This is not the case. In barre concept a lot of the moves simply use the postures and positioning of ballet to provide a framework for the exercises but there is a warm up away from the barre, as well as mat work to tone and then, my favourite bit, the relaxation part. This allows the body to slow down, release and regenerate new cells and as we are all too aware now, that is vital in the healing process.
Having a friend to go with you to classes like this, is always a good idea. I roped in half my village and though a few have now stopped due to work commitments, two of us are still going and its always so much better, feeling more like a team effort. I have someone I can compare side effects with too (that might just be a few achey calves after rather a few leg raises!) but it makes for hilarious chit chat!
As I have mentioned in other blogs, feeling nervous about starting a new class is so normal. Will you be able to do it? Will you look stupid? As with my yoga blog, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to speak to your instructors beforehand and tell them whats going on with you. If they are good, they will look out for you too but your body is in your hands and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
A good instructor will help you to feel included, supported and able – there is nothing worse than feeling you can’t keep up….and an instructor should offer different levels of any exercise to cater for all the participants in the room.
– Emma Reade
Barre may not have qualified me to audition for Swan Lake quite yet, but it has certainly helped me take control over my fitness and wellbeing. I have loved learning something new and I have fun. I love that I have incorporated it into my weekly routine and it compliments my yoga and has become part of my healthier and active routine. More importantly, it has reminded me how much I love to dance and working out to music! I always feel so good about myself afterwards and so much better for doing something active yet graceful, without having to get all hot and sweaty! Barre has been such a positive for me and it just goes to show, you don’t need to jump up and down to ‘bounce back’!