Yoga isn't for me. I've tried it in many different guises over the years - hot, power, with a town hall full of geriatrics - and it failed to grab me as other workouts have simply because it never really felt like I was getting the results worthy of an hour of exercise.
Yes, Bikram made me profusely sweat to the point where I left a wet seat mark on the train home (I'll apologise only when Southern Trains apologise for the fact that their timetable is wishful-thinking bullshit) but I put it down to the heaters, not the moves. Yoga, to me, is all meditation, balancing on one leg and weirdly named poses.
So when the team at barrecore, famous for workouts so hardcore and results-driven that Victoria's Secret models sign up when they're in town, contacted me to say they've added a yoga-inspired class to their studio schedule, I wondered if this was yoga's best and last chance to win me over.
The new barreASANA class is a fusion of signature barrecore movements, focused around the traditional ballet barre as the perfect tool to facilitate body weight training, and yoga poses. I was shocked at how much the classic barrecore workout challenged my body and caused my muscles to spasm during class so I guessed their take on yoga would be more in-the-zone than Zen, and I was smugly right.
The hour-long preview class was held in the newest barre studio, Kensington, with the addition of tea lights around the perimeter of the room and the usually bright lights dimmed. It gave the whole workout experience a distinctly chilled vibe, but once the trainer Natasha welcomed us all to barreASANA and we started off with a couple of sun salutations, it was clear this wasn't going to be a stretch in the park.
Sun salutation sequences quickly turned into challenging reps at the barre, which then transitioned into yoga poses and back again. Rather than use the balls and weights that get in on the action in usual barrecore classes, this ASANA focuses solely on your body as its own workout equipment and this helps to flow seamlessly from one movement into another. I mean, I say seamlessly, but my anti-yoga stance was clear to see when I needed to use both hands to pull my foot from one end of the mat to the other, while others effortlessly 'walked' it there.
There was definitely less leg-shaking in this workout compared to straight barrecore, probably because the body works in long lengthening poses rather than pulsating reps, but I still found myself out of breath for pretty much the full hour. Even the most balanced, flexible yogis of the group seemed to be glistening with sweat by the end. At around the 50-minute mark, when I was convinced that my body was utterly spent, Natasha slowed the music and we collapsed on the floor. Did I write that? I mean, of course, that we focused on our breathing technique while clearing our mind and resting our muscles in a controlled and conscious manner.
Niki Rein, barrecore founder, says that the combination of fast-paced yoga poses and the barre method is a winner in lengthening the muscles, toning the limbs and tightening the core: "Considering how many of our clients love yoga, like they love barre, I've been thinking about creating a fusion class for a long time. It's going to be great for people that want to lengthen the spine and muscles while still getting those lifted seats and whittled waists - perfect for the hardcore-barrecorer that wants a workout challenge and to feel calm and focused after class."
It's definitely hardcore, no doubt the most hardcore yoga class I've ever been to. But do you know what, that's exactly the reason why it's best placed to convert people like me to the Zen way of working out.