Last week when my friend invited me to join along for a barre class, I — laughably in hindsight — responded, “Sure, sounds great!” That was my first mistake. Let me set the stage for this hellacious hour of isometrics. After walking in, you first had to change into non-slip socks (AKA hospital socks) that for some reason cost $12. Oh, and wait, let’s not forget that this is after I prepaid $22 to attend one class. Hard to believe this, but it’s even more expensive in some cities. Two barre classes are more expensive than my entire monthly gym membership. Naturally, I had the expectation that this would be the most effective workout of my life, considering the cost.
The classroom was carpeted, and that is disgusting. Nothing makes a person work up a sweat (or dry heave) faster than knowing she is sitting on a sweat-saturated floor. This class was predominantly female, which meant shed hair was everywhere, and “all female class” is another way of saying “hotness competition.” Every woman in there wanted to make it clear that she looked the best in her Lululemons. Prior to class, everyone was just lingering around the room casually doing splits and adjusting their designer headbands.
The music started and so began the class. I will admit that the music throughout was great. I’ll give barre that much. The instructor was obviously fit and charismatic, but the class size was too large and she didn’t have much time to offer individualized corrections. Consequently, form was atrocious. So much for this being a ballet-inspired workout. I have never seen such poor posture in my life. Women were so desperate to show off their flexibility and were hunched over with bent backs. The former dancer inside of me was appalled. To say that this workout was ballet-inspired is insulting to ballet dancers. Ballet is difficult, precise work that is heavy on technicalities. This was sloppy.
Now, here is the best part — get ready. The goal of the barre workout was to get your legs shaking — because pushing your muscles too far is healthy. At one point, the instructor complimented my muscle shake, which was hilarious because it was actually a leg cramp.
The only aspect more cringeworthy than the abominable posture was the weight-lifting form. Real talk, I’m not an expert at free weights. I lift weights regularly, but there is a lot I don’t know. But I do understand form, and let me tell you, there was nothing proper about this barre class. People were doing “curls” that were somehow so rogue that I’m not quite sure which muscles were even being targeted. One woman was just flapping her arms out at her sides. Think of your rotator cuffs, ladies! The only reason I’m not being more critical is that we were only lifting two-pound weights. As reckless as people were being, at least they weren’t straining themselves.
This class was structured around isometric exercises and stretching. There was minimal aerobic work and I would hardly describe my heart rate as elevated. During the class, you definitely feel a burn but this hardly seems like the right class for those interested in fat burning. I know that the free weights at the gym are scary, but save your money, learn to do a proper squat, and I promise that you will get a better butt than a barre class will give you.
Yeah, this was a waste of time and money. I won’t change my opinion on that. If you are devoted to barre and being in that class is your happy place, then please, continue to go. It beats sitting on your couch, and despite its many drawbacks, it does seem to be effective at improving flexibility. But if you want long-lasting results and enjoy not overspending on workouts, then I recommend doing anything other than a barre class. #StopBarreClass
P.S.: Barre is also a nightmare for tall people or those with long torsos. Why? You will sit against the wall for the abs portion and your head will get stuck behind the bar and you will have a fleeting moment when you think, “This is how I will die — in my Lulus surrounded by twenty-somethings in a carpeted hellscape fitness studio.”.
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