A Tale of Two Barres
A Variety of Group Fitness Classes
If you are new at this fitness thing, and especially belonging to a gym like AFC Fitness, it can be a lot to handle. The amount of stuff that is going on during any given day can be overwhelming. Take the classes for example. The class schedule for one week is huge – there are all sort of different classes going on, different locations, different instructors, etc. On our website and mobile app, we do offer a description for each class, but even that can be somewhat short and each class could differ from week to week, or even instructor to instructor. Knowing this, I decided to take two of the same classes, with two different instructors – Lean Barre.
What is Lean Barre?
Our website description of Lean Barre is – “The perfect combination of strength and flexibility with added cardio to burn fat fast. The goal of each class is to strengthen, lengthen and sculpt the body using several reps of small, pulsing muscle contractions and the use of small weights. Using ballet inspired moves, this class works towards achieving a long and lean dancers’ body! You will be sure to feel the burn!!” This is a Bala Cynwyd class and it is actually held four times a week, each time with a different instructor.
Last Friday, I took Lean Barre at 12:15 with Deb and then yesterday, I took it at 10:00 with Kristin. Our “barre” classes are actually done using the back of a chair, to get the most efficient use of space. In addition to the chair, we also used a mat, a set of small weights (only 2 pound ones over here!) and a small medicine ball. Each of the classes did live up to the description of the class. The classes were mostly filled with movements that either used the back of the chair as a barre, but also had mat and standing exercises. They combined workouts for your arms with weights, your legs with the barre, and your core on the mats. While the basics of the class might be built off of ballet and the barre, it is in no way a ballet dance class.
Lean Barre x 2
Our Group Exercise Director, Kristin Posner, recommended that I take Deb’s Lean Barre class first. After taking both, I definitely agree. Deb’s class was what I would consider “softer”. Now, I am not saying that this means easier. What I mean by softer is, the movements were done a little more slowly, I felt like there was time to catch my breath, take a sip of water, and move on. I didn’t particularly feel overwhelmed, or that I was failing completely. Reminder – that is just what I felt – for people watching, who knew if I was doing it right. Plus, Deb speaks a little softer (no microphone) and the music isn’t quite so loud. From what I heard Deb say, her class is a bit more “Classical Barre”. At the end of class, I was a little sore, but felt overall good and accomplished.
Now, from what I’ve been told, I should have expected Kristin’s to be more of a “Cardio Barre”. In Kristin’s class, I felt like I was moving constantly, so I guess “Cardio Barre” could be pretty accurate. The movements are faster than in Deb’s class and the transitions are pretty quick. Of course, Kristin tells you to take a break when needed, and gives modifications to scale some of the exercises to your own level (which I did). I did feel as though there were not really many natural breaks in the class, and that if I was stopping for water, I was missing out on some reps of the next exercise. At the end of the class I was a sweaty mess and basically wanted a nap.
Fun fact: Kristin matches up her movements to the music, which was my favorite part. I had more of an idea of when changes were coming, so I could prepare myself more. She also used it as a countdown a bit for us “we’re changing it up at the end of the song”, “two songs left”… it helped me keep pushing through the class.
So… what does that mean? It means that both classes are great, but even though they have the same name, the same basic movements and the same setup – they can also be completely different. If you are new to barre, I would definitely recommend starting with Deb’s class. I think it is a great introduction to what barre really is – the movements, the positions, the verbiage. When you are comfortable with that, or if you are already a workout and cardio rockstar – go ahead and take Kristin’s class. Both classes ranged in age of participants and experience, so you will fit in no matter which class you take. Now, there are still two more barre classes on the Bala Cynwyd schedule, so I’ll have to make my way through those soon.
What Class Should YOU Take?
Having trouble navigating your way through the class schedules and descriptions? Reach out to your Group Exercise Director at your location. Each of these fabulous ladies can give you a better, more detailed description of the classes that are at your location. They will be able to help you narrow down which classes are great for beginners, or for the particular type of workout you are looking for.
Bala Cynwyd: Kristin Posner – email@example.com
Feasterville: Linda Donohoe – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenkintown: Ashley Gardner – email@example.com
Any suggestions for my next class? Email firstname.lastname@example.org!