We love trying out new kinds of exercise and our editor, Ange, recently had the opportunity to road test an Xtend Barre class as part of a group lesson from Katie Swift who hails from Liverpool, has worked extensively as a professional dancer, and now instructs for the gorgeous new Studio 3 studio in Newmarket, Auckland.
Xtend Barre is a licensed programme that started out in the US and is pitched as the premier ballet barre workout; dance and pilates amplified. The classes incorporate dance elements to music that help improve coordination, rhythm and cardiovascular fitness, plus it’s a multi-level session geared to challenge the bodies of any age, gender or fitness background. The movements aim to strengthen, lengthen and stretch the body to build lean, toned muscle.
I’ve dabbled in some basic ballet moves as part of my training before (thanks to my ice skating background) so was very keen to give this class a go. My previous experience with dance-based fitness moves has mostly been with Tracy Anderson‘s video workouts which similarly challenge not only the larger muscle groups, but also the smaller muscles with controlled, specific movements.
Katie had us all start off with some quick paced cardio moves set to modern music to warm up and get the blood pumping. This included movements like basic fast squats with feet in first position (toes turned out, heels close together) and second position (toes turned out, feet about hip-width apart), combined with ballet arm movements and focusing on good posture.
Following the warm up, we all moved to the barre – a fixed handrail at about waist-height to help support you during the movements that challenge your balance and stability. Each exercise had around 10-20 repetitions and was based on either a full dance movement or a small ‘pulse’. For example, leaning forward onto the barre, extending one leg behind you to the highest point possible while keeping it straight, and pulsing it down and up around an inch.
More barre work was interspersed with mat exercises on the ground for triceps and chest, and either full body or arms-only movements while holding small dumbells to add extra challenge to the upper body muscles.
We finished off with pilates-based abdominal work to challenge the core muscles, followed by some light stretching to finish up and cool down.
What you need
A water bottle and comfortable stretchy workout gear. Apart from that everything was provided; the only equipment used was the barre, a yoga mat for the floor work, and some light dumbells – most of the class had 0.5kg weights. If you have grippy socks, you can wear them, otherwise bare feet are fine.
What you’ll be working out
You really do train a little bit of everything in this class; it’s great for all over body toning and low impact cardiovascular exercise. The day after this workout, I mostly felt it in my obliques – or side abdominals – and in my upper back – which I suspect was actually mostly just from pulling my shoulders back and maintaining good posture for the whole 55 minutes!
Because of this, the Xtend Barre workout would be great for anyone who would like to work on their core and posture. For anyone who spends excessive time sitting in front of computers, these movements will make you stand taller and help you open up through the chest area.
Casual classes are $20, there’s a special introductory offer to take any two classes on the Studio 3 timetable within 14 days for $20, or you can purchase discounted multi-class passes (available for students, 6 classes, 12 classes, or unlimited classes over a period of 1, 3 or 6 months).
For more information on Studio 3’s Xtend Barre classes, visit www.studiothree.co.nz.
Images / Top – Studio 3; Bottom – NZ Real Health