See You At The Barre

Jourdana ON Apr 05, 2013 AT 4:10 pm

Not since the ‘good-toes-naughty-toes’ ballet classes of my childhood have I had any inclination to squeeze myself into a leotard and face my ungainly reflection (and fears) over the barre. And yet, as with my newly acquired penchant for slurping early-morning green smoothies (spinach, cucumber, avocado, celery, almonds, ice cubes, pear, flaxseed and a squeeze of lemon, since you ask), I have in recent months found myself ever more drawn to the pliés and relevés that haunted my youth.

Meet Me At The Barre

If I’m completely honest, it’s as much to do with the new Nike Studio Wraps that I recently took ownership of as it is being inspired by the body (and of course knowledge and skill) of my Bodyism trainer, Molly Jennings, who also happens to be a trained ballet dancer.

The ultimate bare-foot fitness accessory, the Studio Wraps cling in all the right places, support around the ankle and arch and offer  traction through the ball of your foot, all without restricting any movement. They have made both reformer pilates (at Epoch Fitness) and yoga classes newly-addictive, the pay-off being the increase in focus and strength when you are not continually concerned about your feet slipping and sliding out of poses.

Nike Studio Wrap

And then there’s Molly. The draw of achieving even a hint of her strong, sculpted and toned ballerina body is enough to make me cast aside any personal issues of grace and poise, or lack thereof, and get pulsing.

Targeted toning moves from the Ballet Barre Training at Bodyism are incorporated into my workouts and whilst the movements seem too small and insignificant initially to create any obvious results, after repetition upon repetition of tiny circles, pulses and subtle posture changes my limbs are shaking and there’s lactic acid soaring through each and every muscle. It’s the perfect, personal segue into balletic body toning. I finally get what all the barre-based fuss is about.

Feeling strong enough, both mentally and physically, to plié in public, I head to Barrecore where a gentle warm up and 10 minutes of upper body work with weights gives way to the real, deep burn; a sequence of isolated leg lifts, deep-seated squats and lower-body movements that result in quaking, exhausted muscles. Just as my body is ready to give up we switch to core-conditioning allowing my throbbing thighs some respite. The final sigh-worthy stretch gives the muscle-soothing that I need to stand – collapsing into an un-balletic heap definitely felt like a viable option – and make my way home, feeling physically exhausted yet clear-minded and focused.

Based on the original Lotte-Berk method, the trend for ballet-inspired fitness may not be new but the BARREtoned studio in Notting Hill, is. And it opens this weekend. With two studios, offering 8 classes a day, 7 days a week and free classes for anyone that signs up online (subject to class availability) it’s the introduction to barre method workouts that your body may not have appreciated in its youth, but most definitely will now that it’s a little older and wiser.

Ballet Barre Training at Bodyism, Bulgari Hotel, 171 Knightsbridge SW7 1DW. 020 7151 1055.

Barrecore, First Floor, Atlantic Court, 77 King’s Road, London SW3 4NX. 020 7349 7500.

BARREtoned, Notting Hill Studio, 12 Chepstow Road, London W2 5BD. 020 7229 8668.

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