Four weeks ago, I decided to try barre classes. Barre classes are a fairly new fitness trend & classes have been popping up everywhere! I tried two different places in Ann Arbor: Pure Barre & Barre Bee Fit. Pure Barre has a $20 trial for new students for 10 days, and Barre Bee Fit has a $20 trial for 2 weeks. There were things that I liked better about each, but they both have similar concepts. In both, you do some exercises at the ballet barres around the room, and some are done in the center of the room. The idea is basically that you do really tiny movements, working your muscles to exhaustion using mostly just your own body weight. The center work is usually mostly arms (using little tiny weights, like 3lbs, or your body weight). The barre work is for thighs, butt & calfs. There's lots of plies, pulsing squats, tiny leg lifts in various directions, sometimes done with a ball between your thighs that you need to hold there by squeezing it. Lastly there's usually some abs & core work as well in the center of the room.
I did classes at Pure Barre first. Oh. My. Gosh. I thought I was going to die. Ok, I'm a marathoner, and a "retired" dancer, and this class kicked my butt. I literally thought I was going to pass out at one point. (Remember to breath Sarah!!!) It's so different from running though. Your hardly moving, but your heart is pounding & your shaking trying to hold yourself in position & it's an odd sensation. When running, I'm always panting & concentrating on breathing, but doing this, I don't think I was holding my breath, but I certainly wasn't breathing hard, which I probably should have been. All of the classes I took following that one I really tried to remember to breath appropriately.
I went to the classes after work, so the classes I was in were very busy & full. I went to Pure Barre from 6:30-7:30. Their studio is outside of town, on the south west side. They recently moved there from closer to town. I wanted to take class at 5:30, but it was too far away from the office to get there on time when I get out at 5. So I would have to go to the library & kill time before heading over there. That was the only thing I didn't really like about it. I wish that it was in town so that I could take the 5:30 class.
Barre Bee Fit is right downtown. It seemed like they had a lot more Michigan students as clients, while Pure Barre seemed to have more young professionals & older women. I liked the location of Barre Bee Fit better, as I could walk down the street from my office & be there in plenty of time for the 5:30 class. However, I did like the classes at Pure Barre better. Also, Barre Bee Fit is less expensive. I would want a monthly membership. At Pure Barre, a monthly unlimited pass is $165 and at Barre Bee Fit, it's $125. Single classes are $21 or $15 respectively. So there are reasons to choose each. Also, Pure Barre has a ton of locations all over the US (5 in Michigan!), Barre Bee Fit is only located in Ann Arbor & Chicago.
I must emphasize that these are some hard core workouts. I have taken other fitness classes before & usually I do not like them, as I often feel like I'm not getting that great of a workout. Also I really don't enjoy yoga or pilates. But these classes are amazing! There is just something about them, you can TELL you're burning calories. I can even feel the after-burn well after I've driven home, sitting on the couch feeling like my heart rate is still recovering.
I loved taking my trial classes, but I really don't want to spend over $100 per month to go to the classes. I would really want to go to Pure Barre, and spending that much money & having to wait for the classes every day I think would get annoying pretty quick. So I'm going to go for the other alternative. Pure Barre sells videos so that you can do it at home! Woot woot! I'll be receiving the Pure Barre Collector's Edition 6 very soon! This is a package for $129.95 of 6 DVDs as well as the equipment you need to do them. I'm so excited! I don't have a barre in my house, but it says you can use a chair or counter top as your barre. This is a great alternative for those who can't afford membership, don't have a barre location close to their home, or need to be able to work out from home due to scheduling conflicts.
If you're skeptical, I find these stories of new moms at Pure Barre and the testimonials at Barre Bee Fit to be pretty amazing! If you're looking for something new to shake up your workout routine, I really highly recommend these kinds of classes. I know other gyms are developing their own barre classes as well, so you should be able to find one in your area! If you try them, or have tried them in the past, let me know what you think!