Have you tried a new class or vegan restaurant yet this month? I challenged you two weeks ago to expand your horizons and join the Well Together challenge with Tina from Carrots ‘n’ Cake and I as part of a campaign with Harvard Pilgrim. Originally, I thought I was going to show Tina what my workout routine was like and she would show me hers, which is CrossFit. I invited Tina to join me at The Bar Method in Boston for a class on Friday afternoon to experience my latest fitness obsession.
I was excited and a little nervous to hear Tina’s thoughts. Would the CrossFit junkie be able to tuck, pulse, bend and stretch while feeling a burn? I do think that going only once to a barre class is not enough to form a conclusive opinion on the workout itself because once you learn how to hold your tuck, the movements get more challenging. Also, it takes a while to figure out what weight for arms you should use in the beginning. As luck would have it, the class was one of the more challenging that I’ve experienced.
Originally when I proposed the idea of Tina joining me at Bar Method, she said she had taken a barre class before. I asked, “But have you taken The Bar Method?” To which she said no. There are so many Bar classes out there right now, I don’t even know if I should say barre or bar! In Boston we have only 2 exclusive bar studios, but there are tons in Los Angeles. When I was there for my video shoot, I was excited to try a new studio.
With the help of Yelp and some serious time/location consideration, I opted to try PopPhysique, founder of the cardio butt school, in Studio City (near where my brother works) the day after my shoot. I arrived 5 minutes early and was the only person in the studio! I was nervous I’d be the only student which should have made me feel special but I would have felt awkward. I didn’t know what weight I should use so I grabbed 3 different sets. I ended up needing all three so I’m glad I did.
The workout itself was very similar to The Bar Method. I of course wore my heart rate monitor for a comparison and burned 274 calories. My Bar Method workouts burn between 200 and 350 calories depending on the routine.
What I didn’t like? The mats were a really grimy and the instructor was a little boring. She played pretty good music but the flow of the class was not as structured as Bar. There was no “second to last” warning. They didn’t have risers for tight hip flexors and the portion of class where your hands push up into the bar was not as challenging.
What I did like? For the back dancing portion of class, basically 4 minutes of hip lift, the teacher gave me a good pointer for form which allowed me to get a better burn. The language she used helped me keep the movement out of my back and into my glutes. The arm portion was also a little longer and more challenging including planks and extra exercises.
Overall, the lesson that I learned is that studios specific to bar (i.e. Exhale, Bar Method, PopPhysique, Physique 57) are all pretty similar with what they do in class. The differences and personal studio preference depends on the music, instructor, studio and price. The movements are very similar. (I actually burned 370 in Physique’s hour long class but it was my first barre class so the review I think needs an update.)
Classes at big box gyms like Equinox are not the same, at all. They lack the specific structure that goes into planning a routine where students take classes 5 days a week. The instructors all teach essentially the same class so you are not working the same muscles on back to back days. Unlike large group exercise classes at a gym, the class varies little depending on the instructor.
There was no shower at PopPhysique which was disappointing since I was headed to a couple of meetings afterwards. At least I didn’t sweat too much and had baby wipes in my bag!