Who would have thought that you could combine ballet, yoga, and Pilates in just one workout? That is the idea behind the revolutionary class aptly named barre3 (pronounced as bar-three). The 3 in barre3 actually represents balance, which is our core essence. It symbolizes having balance in your body, your mind, and your life.
barre3 is a non-intensive workout that brings together the grace of the ballet barre, the wisdom and techniques of yoga, and also the strength of Pilates. Although it is not as formal as ballet where you have to dance to classical music, nor do you have to do advanced yoga poses, or use various pieces of Pilates apparatus. It is a simple, yet challenging, workout that helps improve your balance and strength, as well as increase your body’s flexibility. If that isn’t enough, barre3 can also make it easier for you to achieve long and lean muscles, and get a better body posture, too.
A Background of barre3
barre3 is the brainchild of Sadie Lincoln, a fitness expert who has 15 years of experience in teaching various exercise platforms. It is also inspired by the Lotte Berk Method, which makes use of different rehabilitative exercises. Lotte Berk, a dancer and the creator of that particular method, thought of using the ballet barre to rehabilitate herself after she had suffered a severe spinal injury from a car accident.
The ballet barre can really do wonders for you when you utilize it correctly. That is why the barre3 workout attracts those who have a passion for good health, whether they are athletes, dancers, yoga practitioners, Pilates enthusiasts, or ordinary men and women who want to get fit. Yes, that’s right, men and women alike can take the barre3 if they are up to it.
My barre3 Experience
I recently attended the free trial of barre3 at The Spa Wellness at The Fort in Bonifacio High Street, and there were, in fact, a couple of straight men present. All I brought with me was a pair of socks and my two close friends for moral support. I never, in my life, tried ballet, yoga, or Pilates, and I was a bit scared that I would look foolish or something. Good thing all of us were beginners in the class. We were all in the same level.
I arrived at barre3 studio in my casual attire but I still had to change into my workout wear so I will be comfortable in doing the exercises. Note: You have to arrive 15 minutes before the class starts so you’ll be able to hear the instructions of the trainer. Before you go inside the workout area, you need to remove your shoes and wear your socks. The Spa will then provide each student with an exercise mat, a set of two-pound weights, a yoga strap, and an inflatable ball – all of which are up to par with U.S. standards.
The exercise studio is like what I imagined a ballet studio to be – mirror-covered walls and a wooden barre that goes all the way around. What’s unique though is the cork flooring, which is a distinct feature of barre3 studios. It is said to support your body, particularly your spine, better than regular wood flooring. The room is fully air-conditioned but it is not set too high for an optimum exercise atmosphere. In the background, you will hear the latest hip-hop and electronic beats to help you get in the mood to workout.
The afternoon class was pretty packed but I was still able to find an ample spot in the ballet barre. Probably 90% of the class population were women and the minority were men, but that would not really matter since you would be too focused on making the right exercise moves and not have time to mind the others.
Dare to barre…
Our instructor, Marie, started the session with a little introduction as we settled down our chosen spots. For the first few minutes, we performed some basic stretching exercises to get us all warmed up. Then things got more serious as Marie instructed us to reach for our two-pound weights. She demonstrated a sequence of exercises that use low resistance but with high repetitions. (Read: Lift weights just about an inch from your starting point but do it for quite a number of times.) Believe me, those weights will feel heavier than two pounds as you go along with the exercises. Even if you do weights in the gym, you can still do barre3 since it will focus on the lengthening of the muscles. But it is still important to find out what your goal is – whether to lose weight or just get muscle tone – and convey it to your personal gym trainer and your barre3 instructor so they would know how to make it work for you.
I had a misconception that the barre3 workout would be a piece of cake, but my muscles thought otherwise as I followed Marie’s demonstration of how to do movements and exercises I’ve never done before. I admit, I am not the athletic type. I have never enrolled in a gym or have delusions of becoming a serious athlete. Although, I would say that I am the health conscious type. I want to look and feel good inside and out, which is why I summoned the courage to attend the class.
I never regretted my decision. I learned a lot of good exercise moves in the class. For the first time in my life, I was able to do a plié, which involves standing up while you bend your knees a little, keep your back straight and align your hips. Now I know how hard ballerinas must train to be able to do those poses while maintaining their grace.
Aside from those ballet moves, we also performed some basic yoga poses that any barre3 beginner like me would not have a hard time doing. Do not expect to do any complicated arm balances or inversions, just the simple yoga standing positions and other relatively easy “holding” poses. Our instructor even told us to perform the bridge pose, which I thought would be difficult to do but it was not so tricky after all. These yoga poses will help you ease muscle tension and relax your mind as well. Afterall, barre3 is a mind and body workout.
Like with the yoga positions, the Pilates-inspired exercises were also manageable to do. During this part, we were able to fully utilize the exercise mat as we carried out the instructions to do leg stretches, leg circles, and other positions. I really felt my abdominal muscles contract as I did every movement. These exercises would really test your flexibility, stamina, and endurance.
Of course, the session would not be complete without the use of the actual ballet barre. Imagine that you are in a standing position while facing the mirrored wall as you lift one leg and place it parallel to the barre, which is as high as your waist… Did that mental picture come with a wince? Well, that was my reaction too when I accomplished that act, but it came with a sense of pride also as I realized I did it correctly. You don’t have to worry though, if you are doing the exercises properly because your instructor will make sure that you are. Do not be surprised if you suddenly see the instructor by your side to check up on you.
Benefits of barre3
When our instructor Marie said, “Press your navel to your spine,” I thought I heard it wrong. But I suppose that is the right description to use when you want to work on your core. One of the benefits of barre3 is actually getting a strong core, which is good news to those who want to get in shape for the summer. In each 60-minute session, the instructor will help you work with your foundation, basic alignment, and muscle actions to help balance the body. As you perform each action, you will feel energized and sense that increase in stamina. Yes, even if you feel your arms starting to ache, you will be able to muster up the energy to finish the whole exercise.
What I like about the class is that I felt more motivated to perform better as I was in the company of people with the same goal. Our class was relatively small also – with just around 15 students – so the trainer was able to give out precise instructions to each of us. For once, I felt like I had my own personal trainer. Even if barre3 provides a vigorous workout, it is also very effective in relieving stress and connecting the mind, body and breath.
With regular practice of barre3, you will be able to develop muscular strength, endurance and flexibility, which will give you a toned body. Every person is different so barre3’s effect will vary but what is proven constant is inch-loss, especially when you try to do the movements and exercises the right way.
Breaking the barre-iers
Whether you have already tried ballet, yoga, or Pilates separately, you will still find something new in barre3. This workout mainly focuses on maintaining a good spinal alignment, as well as aiming to incorporate the neutral length of the spine in your normal everyday activities. But even if you are not physically active, you can still do barre3. It is actually the best exercise to try out because there will be an instructor to help you find your “most correct posture” before you start doing any unfamiliar movements. Before going to your first session, make sure that you are well rested and are properly nourished to achieve optimum results. On the other hand, if you are the sporty type, you can definitely include barre3 in your sports repertoire. It complements any sport since it helps improve your flexibility. Runners, for example, will benefit from the hamstring exercises in barre3.
This workout is even safe for pregnant women, as long as they have certification from their doctor. This is open to young people too, as long as they can focus for an hour and most importantly, reach the ballet barre. Once you get to class, it is essential to listen carefully to your instructor, and more importantly, have fun!
Want to see for yourself what the fuss is all about? Head to The Spa where you can sign-up for barre3 classes. See below for the contact information and rates.
barre3 at The Spa Wellness at The Fort
Address: Building 8, 908 Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Email: [email protected]
barre3 at The Spa Alabang
Address: Lower Ground, Alabang Town Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Email: [email protected]
Soon to open: barre3 at The Spa Rockwell and Eastwood
Email: [email protected]
Single class Php 700
10 class (valid for 2 months) Php 5,500
30 class (valid for 6 months) Php 15,000
Monthly Unlimited membership
(valid for 30 consecutive days) Php 5,500
Annual Unlimited membership Php 50,000
Private Session (one-on-one) Php 2,000
Exclusive Session (minimum of two clients) Php 1,500/person
(Published in Metro Magazine, March 2010)