VBarre Class Review: A Heckuva Lot More Than Pliés!

If you haven’t been to a barre class yet, you probably envision doing ballet moves along a mirrored wall. I did too; but when I took a VBarre class at New York Sports Club recently, I was surprised to see gliding boards, balls, bands, and weights. Here are a few things you can expect when you take a class, links to some barre workout studios near you, and some great DVDs to check out.

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It’s much more than a ballet workout.

Turns out there’s a lot more to a Barre workout than pliés! VBarre, the class I took, is offered exclusively at New York Sports Club, Boston Sports Club, Philadelphia Sports Club, and Washington Sports Club locations. The class was founded by Veronica Combs, a professional dancer-turned-barre instructor, who now certifies other instructors to teach it. VBarre, which features handpicked instructors with top certifications from Apogee (where Combs teaches), blends ballet, Pilates, and resistance training into one calorie-burning workout. This total-body workout combines ‘dynamic movements,’ light weights, and fun tools like the Glide Board. It focuses on cardio as well as resistance training and gets you a lean and sculpted body in about 6 weeks.

Vbarre is different from other classes because of its emphasis on ‘dynamic movement,’ which is defined as targeting multiple muscle groups with one exercise, according to Combs. “The choreography of the movements and layout of the class maximize muscle recruitment and the cardio intervals deliver amazing total body results.”

You can tone without adding bulk.

For those looking to get long and lean, a Barre workout is a great option or addition to Pilates because it’s hard without bulking you up. Because the VBarre ‘fuses ballet, Pilates, and resistance training,’ you get a long, lean dancer’s body in a graceful, non-jarring set of moves that’s easier on the joints than running, step, and plyometric workouts. You work many regions of the glutes, your legs, arms, core, and develop better posture. Most barre classes in general are taught by former or current ballet dancers who are also certified in fitness. Many of various barre classes were also created by ballet dancers.

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It has a circuit nature.

We did the gliding boards, weights, balls, bands and bars in three different sets, so there was no time to get bored and you got to fatigue your muscles several times. We wore bare feet for part of the class, and regular socks for the board portion. Some class regulars even had ballet shoes or ‘sticky’ socks. The glide boards up your cardio and thigh burning with a side-to-side skating motion in intervals.

For best results, take the class 2-3 times/week.

The inspirational instructor in the class I took (who was the most in-shape women in her 70s I have ever met!) recommends taking the class 2-3 times a week while cross training with yoga, spinning, the StairMaster, swimming, running, or whatever fit activities you love. If you find a great instructor, it’ll be easy to motivate yourself to get to a class a few times during the week. This particular class was taught with upbeat, energetic music in the background, and then the instructor cooled down with some classical music during the final toning and stretching section (which I loved). You might not learn to dance, but you’ll look and feel like you do!

Where can I find a class?

Some links to barre studios and classes are listed below. The price range of classes vary depending on deals, time of year, etc., but it will generally cost you about $80-$200 for a monthly membership. If that’s too steep, there are also some great affordable barre workout DVDs you can try at home. My three faves are: Cathe Friedrich’s Turbo Barre ($21.99), Pure Barre Mile High 1 or 2 ($19.95), and Exhale Core Fusion Barre Basics ($11.69).

Trainer’s Tips: If you want to try out the booty-boosting core-toning benefits of barre classes, just remember to add other workouts for cross-training. If you’re looking to lose a significant amount of weight, core and butt toning alone won’t sweat off all the fat over the muscles. Add high-intensity cardio interval training or running/elliptical/StairMaster workouts to your fitness regimen. If you have lower back problems or you’re prone to feet/calves cramping, talk to your instructor before class for exercise modifications.

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Nicole Glor is a fitness expert based in NYC, author of The Slimnastics Workout, and the star of 8 fitness DVDs. You can search for “NikkiFitness” on Facebook and Twitter.

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About the author

Nicole Glor

Nicole Glor is a fitness expert, author of The Slimnastics Workout, a freelance fitness writer, and the star of 11 fitness DVDs/Videos/Apps. Nikki's "Slimnastics" exercises have been featured in over 100 national media outlets including the New York Times, Live! With Kelly and Michael, Fox & Friends, GMA Health, Shape, Self, Fitness, and Women's Health. Her "Improve the Move" workouts focus on multitasking toning and plyomentric cardio intervals (HIIT- High Intensity Interval Training) to cut workout time in half and boost metabolism. Nikki is an AFAA certified NYC personal (and celebrity) trainer, group fitness instructor at Crunch in Manhattan, and a 200hr RYT YogaFit/Yoga Alliance trained yoga instructor. Nikki got her start in fitness as a Syracuse University Cheerleader, where she graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the prestigious Newhouse School. Her music playlists, video demos and DVDs can be found at www.nikkifitness.com