I've learnt one thing this week; never again will I shake my fist (most likely holding a slice of Battenberg) in the direction of a supermodel, mentally berating them for being blessed with the most glorious of genes.
Up until last Friday, I would have bet my flat deposit on the fact that those endless pap pictures of catwalk favourites leaving gyms in yoga gear and drinking green juice was just a ruse and they don't really have to exercise to look good. At least in Jourdan Dunn's case, I now know the opposite is true - the woman works out hard.
Last week, the Victoria's Secret model revealed that she gets her body in shape for the annual VS Angels lingerie runway show by ramping up her barrecore regime, fitness classes that focus on ballet-inspired routines to sculpt the body. So I decided to tap up barrecore's Mayfair studio to see just what Jourdan puts herself through in the quest for a hot body.
The Mayfair studio is pretty plush, found just a few streets behind Oxford Circus on Cavendish Square, and my class was to take place in the larger of two dance studios. As I filed in along with just seven other women, I was confident that I could take whatever was set to come my way, given that I average around 4 exercise classes a week.
Not so much. Our trainer Louisa – who was part of Tracy Anderson's exclusive crew for two years before becoming a barrecore convert – got us straight to work, pulsing lunges, squats and the plank. My muscles started burning almost immediately, as the small but specific moves worked me in ways my usual classes clearly don't, and after 15 minutes of serious pain, she announced that 'we're all warmed up'. That was just the warm-up? Are you kidding me?
"Our workouts will hurt," admits founder and CEO, Niki Rein, also a former Anderson trainer. "Your muscles will shake, they're supposed to, because we work the body like dancers do – targeting every muscle in the body, especially the small stabilisers (the muscles that hold the body in place so a desired movement can be performed) to create long, lean lines."
We then moved to the ballet bar and that's when the actual burn began. Although there's no sweat-inducing cardio during the hour-long class, there's no real rest time between the toning exercises, so your muscles are constantly challenged. And that's not science speak, that's fact.
Holding the bar with our hands, Louisa guided us through all sorts of poses which hurt to begin with, let alone when we then had to hold and pulse for 60 seconds. In case this wasn't quite near enough exercise hell, we added a small inflatable ball that was placed between the thighs or behind the knee as we kicked back in (what seemed like) endless repetition. Louisa described each position in precise detail and encouraged us to check ourselves in the mirror to make sure our posture was correct, but the pain meant I could hardly see, let alone correct a rounding of my lower back.
"Everyone is challenged through the entire hour, the intensity level changes moment to moment and you are constantly being educated on why and what you are doing so there isn't anytime to 'check out'. You can't be anywhere else but in the classroom," adds Niki.
No kidding. Never have I felt such intense pain in my thighs or involuntarily shaken so hard. After a full hour, I was spent, and wondering just what horrors awaited me and my poor muscles in the days following the class. Let's just say I avoided the comedy section of Netflix, because even the mildest chuckle sent shockwaves up and down my body.
Despite the zen-like atmosphere of the studio, barrecore is a full-throttle workout, but isn't that what we're all looking for these days? I don't doubt that a couple of hourly sessions of barrecore each week would yield serious results in just a few weeks. If Jourdan can get through a class without a wobble, then power to her – she deserves every inch of that wonderfully taut body.