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  • Kim Wilson

Barre class: Expectation v Reality

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

Barre classes are growing in popularity so we went to check one out. To say that we underestimated the level of thigh burn is a serious understatement...


In my never ending quest for a great butt I came across Barre workout (thanks Instagram). Considering that 'bar' is one of my favourite words, it seemed like fate.

According to the website of the studio recommended to us,

'Dynamic Barre is a low impact, highly effective toning work out combining the moves from ballet, principles of Pilates and lengthening of yoga'

That seems fairly tame yeah? So I hustled a few of my long suffering friends and assured them it would be fine. I don't do things by halves so bought us all 10 day passes and impulse bought leg warmers on Amazon. It took all of my self restraint to resist buying a tutu and pointe shoes as well. I envisioned us prancing around like elegant ballerinas and doing some graceful stretches to classical music. Obviously we would then be headhunted by The Royal Ballet School.

** Update I just checked website again - it also says 'plié, pulse, hold burn'. I missed that bit! **

Well fuck me, how wrong I was. Nothing could have prepared us the the hour of torture we were about to endure. Firstly I'm obliged to point out that our first class was at 10 am on a Saturday morning so naturally we were hungover. We huddled together looking shabby and disheveled as a gorgeous, waif like instructor glided in and started the class.

Lesson number one - don't be fooled by professional dancers making everything look effortless and easy. Within minutes we were red as a beetroots, sweating profusely and I had bum cramp. We hadn't even finished the warm up...

The rest was a painful, yet giggle filled, blur. There were a whole lot of 'pliés' (basically evil squats) and 'pulsing' (tiny evil squats whilst in an already evil squat). Our instructor did the class alongside us, barely breaking a sweat and cracking jokes while we desperately tried to keep up. Of course she had perfect posture and graceful sweeping arm movements. Shockingly, we did not.

Us newbies were grunting like wounded warthogs and had shaking legs that would rival Elvis. There was a collective groan as we used the ballet barre to haul ourselves back up from each plié. At some point all of us had to hop away into a corner to relieve a cramped muscle or guzzle water. I could feel a wave of resentment rising from my hopeless ballet buddies and tried desperately to avoid eye contact. That's not easy in an entirely mirrored studio. On this occasion it's fair to say I had messed up.

Reality! (Catherine mustered a smile. Kate did not.)

We did survive the class though! Yes we were entirely soaked in sweat and unable to walk but hey, that's the sign of a good session yeah? After 10 minutes of an equally sadistic abs workout and cool down we left feeling broken but bizarrely euphoric. I've NEVER had a workout like that. I could feel muscles I didn't know I had and to this day I'm not even sure they belong to me.

Overall it was crazy tough, strangely enjoyable and truly was a full body workout. Our teacher was awesome and fellow classmates really spurred us on. I have massive respect for anyone with that kinda core and thigh strength and vow to put more effort into squats before I next attempt it.

Update Our first class was a Saturday. We were also booked in for the Monday but were in no fit state. In fact we also missed the class after that because we were distracted by an actual bar, and had Irish coffees instead. No judgement required, we are judging ourselves.

Lessons learnt

  • 'Plié' sounds less aggressive than 'squat'. It is not.

  • The word 'pulse' gives me flashbacks. I might have PTSD.

  • Don't look in the mirrored wall. You do NOT look like how you imagine.

  • Ballerinas are freaking hardcore ninjas and should be respected as such.

  • Leg shakes can vary from mild tremble to severe and hysterical spasms.

  • You will need recover in a bungalow for three days after. Stairs are impossible.

  • Buy a 'shewee' or just accept you might have to pee in a urinal afterwards because lowering onto a toilet is agony.

Shout out to Dynamics Dance & Fitness -

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