Tried And Tested: Barre Classes Give A Contemporary Balletic Twist To Traditional Pilates

If you’re looking to tone up in time for summer, but can’t face yet another hour of the same exercises you’ve been toiling with all winter, you could do far worse than try Heartcore’s new Barre class, a thoroughly contemporary twist on the ballet classes you stumbled through as a child.

Forget your old ballerina outfit, pointy shoes and a lady bashing out classical music on the piano, because this class is the much closer relation of conventional Pilates, but with the use of a traditional ballet barre to keep it interesting.

The class I attended was being taken by a scarily bendy former dancer, but she swears ballet training is not a pre-requisite to enjoy the next 55 minutes, and nor is established fitness.

“You just push yourself to where you can,” she says. “It’s a conventional framework of warm-up, bit more intensity, finally stretches and then relaxation. You just do what your body tells you.”

Mind you, this is the same lady who, very impressively, does the barre exercises without actually leaning on the barre. Goodness knows what her body’s telling her. For the rest of us, the class is a beguiling mixture of conventional arm-work – dumbbells and tight circles, very good for undoing some of the damage inflicted through hours sitting at a desk – and press-up variations to test the abs, triceps and hamstrings, easily replicable at home.

More novel is the barre stuff, plus the use of terms like ‘plie’ and familiar ballet positions to remind you of the class’s provenance.

The more seasoned practitioners in the room tell me they can really feel it the day after, but are buoyed by the changes they also feel in themselves after only three classes. Where’s the biggest difference, I ask? The arms and waistline, apparently. And more importantly, what bit hurts the most? Again, the waistline, I’m told. To be honest, I’ve never worked hard enough to encounter achy waistline before, but I can believe it, as there’s some serious stretching going on round here.

Classes limited to six people adds an intimate feel, but this also means you have to be organised to book your slot online. ‘Barre’ is becoming an increasingly popular mixture of old and new disciplines of fitness, with its promise of emerging lean, toned, intact and – personally speaking - with a far deeper respect for the Fonteyns and Bussells of this world.

HeartCore offer a variety of different classes in their seven studios across London - click here for more info.

Here are just some of the benefits of Pilates...

Increases Flexibility

Pilates Benefits