Opened up the laptop to write something, but ended up surfing the internet for every other thing else for the past 1 and a half hour 😛
OK, back to the subject matter which I was intending to write about – Barre.
Having previously wrote about starting Yoga back in October 2016, it has been more than 1 and a half years since then and Yoga for me right now, is pretty much a daily lifestyle activity and my main form of exercise/workout. However, after doing Yoga exclusively for more than 1 year, I gradually started to see the need to go beyond yoga and cross-train across other disciplines.
For myself, I am weak in strength-based areas (core, glutes, arms) due to lack of proper structure and bad habits accumulated in my past workouts. Furthermore, it has often been stated that the lack of pulling movements in yoga asanas results in shoulder strength imbalance. Thus on and off, I have been trying out HIIT, Barre/Pilates style workouts from youtube. That one Sunday afternoon back in July 2017 when I tried this Muffin Top Meter Workout from PopSugar Fitness, I ended up feeling really sore at the obliques/side body and had to cancel a yoga class the next day after. High likelihood (I think) is that I was definitely doing some of the moves with wrong technique, thus the achnes post workout.
As I currently have 2 yoga studio packages, and more often than not struggle to attend more than 1 class a week, it did not exactly cross my mind to give studio barre classes a real try …… until Barre Lab Duxton came along!
Barre Lab Duxton is actually the ‘little sister’ / barre offshoot of Yoga Lab (one of the 2 studios that I am attending right now) – and is basically Duxton Lab refurbished and rebranded. A small part of me has mixed feelings seeing Yoga Lab (YL) Duxton being given a completed facelift and rebranded – as Duxton was the 1st YL studio I visited, and where I made the decision to stick with yoga and keep going on it. It was also the same studio where I did my first headstand workshop earlier this year. So getting a bit sentimental there. But I would think that good change is always positive change. It is not really a bad news as per se when YL packages can be used across barre classes in Barre Lab as well. Major yay there for the convenience as I can try barre without having to buy separate packages at other boutique barre studios.
There is a very good write-up here on Barre that explains better about what Barre is all about without me rambling on and on. Key extracts as below:
A hybrid workout that combines elements of ballet, yoga and pilates.
Participants engage in controlled, isometric movements that build strength, endurance and flexibility. Light hand weights, ballet barres and mini exercise balls are common equipment used during a session, which is often choreographed to upbeat music.
Controlled, isometric movements means that there is a lot of ‘pulse, pulse, pulse’ within the workout 😛
There are various methodologies of barre – such as BarreAmped, Booty Barre, Xtend Barre etc. which studios can choose to follow. For Barre Lab, the methodology was developed in-house, with elements of ballet, yoga and pilates at the core.
And so, I tried my 1st Barre 101 class 1 week into its opening (since my fingers were not fast enough to claim the free classes giveaway for the opening launch). Lots of pulse .. pulse .. pulse as expected and my thighs and glutes really burned. Of course, was also like a ‘blur sotong’ as I was unfamiliar with some of the barre moves as it is my first time after all. Not a ‘love at first sight’ instance – but the workout was still interesting and challenging enough for me to want to come back a 2nd time – which I did so 2 to 3 weeks later.
2 classes on, and I immediately saw the difference that the strengthening in the legs and glutes did for some of my standing poses as I find myself holding a stronger high/crescent lunge, as well as feeling better support in the legs when I attempted a forearm wheel (I seldom have a ‘perfect’ wheel pose as there will be some days where I feel shaky either in the shoulders, or the wrists, or in the legs). For the 2nd class that I went to, after all that strengthening to the legs, glutes and arms, holding a plank becomes very easy.
Feeling encouraged, I went back for my 3rd class last Sunday and my 4th class yesterday (Saturday) afternoon. 2 barre classes within a week – new milestone! In addition to the strength building benefits, another thing I like about Barre is that there is a stronger movement base to it, thus there is some low-impact cardio element as well. The uplifting music playlist is a further plus – for the class I just went to, there was even kpop integrated into the playlist as Sistar’s Shake It was playing while we were doing multiple barre arm pulses (for the shoulder and arm portion of the workout).
As there is A LOT of controlled pulsing, the consistency and energy level in the class is very important as well. There was 1 instructor who actually missed some counts when counting sets of 8 – so I did feel that class was not as enjoyable as I would have liked despite the workout being well choreographed overall. Having tried 4 different teachers/instructors …… I will say that I really like 2 of them and will definitely go back for their classes again.
As I am loving the strengthening benefits of barre, it has become an activity I see myself doing semi-regularly enough to incorporate into my daily fitness routine as it is a great complement to my current yoga practice. And it gives me the yoga ‘break’ that I will need from time to time. With this new found interest in barre, I also decided to take up the free 2 months launch offer for ClassPass (new fitness pass that was recently launched in Singapore) that will enable me to check out other barre classes at Barre2Barre and WeBarre without having to buy additional packages. Double yay!
And to end off, the pretty pink space of Barre Lab that is so inviting ……