I Tried Barre for the First Time. Here’s What I Learned.


I Tried Barre for the First Time. Here’s What I Learned.

Think barre isn't for you? Think again.

By Anthony PerassoOctober 17, 2020

I glance at the class countdown clock on the top left of my MacBook: 10 minutes and 21 seconds left. Oh, boy … it burns.

Not quite halfway through 20 minutes of my first Peloton Barre class, I have that dreaded yet familiar thought that comes up at one point or another during a great workout: “Can I make it through this set without pausing for rest?”

I honestly don’t know.

Which is then followed by another, much less familiar and misinformed thought: “Seriously? During barre?”

Seriously, during barre. How fitting it is that barre is derived from ballet, because I am tiptoeing like a ballerina on the edge of my comfort zone right now. Sheesh.

Record scratch. Freeze frame. A 20-something guy doing barre alone from the comfort of his home, quietly in pain, yet determined to make it through because he knows that the smaller muscles in his body obviously need some work? Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I got here.

For starters, I’m fortunate enough to work at Peloton and even more fortunate to have a job where the to-do list entails “take a barre class and write about it.” So, in one sense, I’m just doing my job. But I’m also here because, like so many other Members of team Peloton, I genuinely enjoy and look forward to working out with the content we make. And like so many other days a week, I’m spending some time away from my job at Peloton for my personal workout … with Peloton.

But I had no idea what to expect as I approached my full stack of Peloton Barre classes, from warm up to cool down. Sure, I’d heard of “barre” as a concept and knew it was some kind of boutique studio workout experience. The closest I had been to barre was walking around Manhattan, peering into barre studios that are viewable from the street, thinking, “Huh,” and moving on.

I might as well have thrown my past fitness experience out the window before barre with Hannah Corbin and Ally Love. Both proved to be a different kind of beast. Instead of the big “global” muscles needed to push through a final sprint or rep, barre demands your smaller “local” muscles do the bulk of the work. (Ironically, though, this is not bulking work.)

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10 min Intro to Barre With Hannah Corbin

First off, the new studio looks great. You have to try these classes if only to enjoy the beautiful, bright set design. Yeah, studio team! Second, I’m heartened that more than 470 people are here in this introductory class with me. Yes, beginners! I am not alone on this Monday evening in October.

Right off the bat, Hannah gets into some big warm-up moves. Later, I will find out these are called “barre marches.” Currently, I’m confused and more than a little self-conscious about losing myself to dance. Luckily, nobody’s watching.

From our increasingly fun warm-up, set to the beat of the music, we get into some pulsing movements on our tippy-toes, which I believe is the anatomically correct term to use here. Even if this is just the intro, I’m feeling these in my legs. After strengthening, we lengthen with some stretches—this is a routine I can get behind, as I can never stretch enough.

Then we’re doing some isometric leg pulses using the back of a chair for support, so I feel like I’m truly doing barre now, in the most literal sense. Of course, I’ve been doing barre this whole time—I just didn’t understand that barre could happen outside of using the barre.

We finish with some core movements, and I’m on my way. My biggest takeaway from Hannah’s intro class is that we’re working a bunch of little muscles, which is also working my brain’s connection to unfamiliar muscles and movements. It’s a great first taste of barre, and I’m ready for more.

5 min Barre Warm Up With Ally Love

As someone who often reminds Peloton Members to take a warm-up class, I’d be a hypocrite if I skipped one here. Gotta practice what I preach! Ally gets right to my sneaky favorite, barre marches, and I’m a little less shy with my movements this time—and my eagerness to get involved with the motion and feel the music leads to an incredible lack of coordination. Which hand goes up? Which leg goes on what elbow? Pause. Regroup.

The rest of the class is familiar, thanks to Hannah’s intro course. We’re connecting movements to our breath, we’re pulsing our local, slow-twitch muscle groups, and we’re on our tippy-toes for a little bit. This is no joke! I’m warm and ready to get into it.

20 min Barre With Ally Love

Here we go! The main course: 20 minutes of barre. Of course I’m welcome to modify, thank you Ally, and yes of course I’ll have fun, but I’m also here to prove myself. If the last two classes taught me anything, it’s that these next 20 minutes aren’t going to be easy.

The playlist? I’m told it’s a vibe. The set? Still looks amazing. Me? Starting a class with barre marches and living my best life. Just another Monday night.

I still can’t quite get the barre marches down. It’s a “rubbing your belly while patting your head” situation for me. But I know I’ll improve.

True to what I’ve learned so far, we’re doing small movements—pulsing and definitely burning, working our way from our legs to our glutes and all the way to the core on the floor. And I’m not using a chair this round!

Aside from a small win for my strength training during the push-up section, I’m taking more breaks than Ally recommends this class. One move after another, I’m humbled how much I have to think about my body and how much it burns once I figure out how to do it right. I’m definitely discovering new muscles and new types of engagement and pain as we repeatedly pulse different parts of the body, especially when we get to the isometric leg pulses and barre curls. Oh, the barre curls! I didn’t expect Ally to do all that, but all of a sudden I was in the middle of a super tough core class. I regret to report that I did take a rest right when Ally said we were too close to the end to rest now. Shoot. Next time.

5 min Barre Cool Down With Hannah Corbin

I made it! I’m thankful for the rest and recovery vibes here, both physically and mentally. After some quick and much-needed stretches to reset and lengthen my muscles—hips, glutes, legs, calves, core, back—I’m feeling that perfect post-Peloton mix of rejuvenation and a good kind of tired.

Overall, barre is absolutely unique. I didn’t use any weights, which I’m used to from Peloton bodyweight strength classes. However, the movements in barre are different. They’re tiny! They’re quick! They feel a lot harder than they look! They remind you of muscles you didn’t know you need to use and ones that I have definitely ignored in my training.

Barre, I will be back. I’m ready to level up and keep going, and I know I’ll get better and have a more holistic and well-rounded routine with consistent practice. By the way, Peloton, does anyone want to send me a free pair of those special barre socks?

Together we strengthen, together we lengthen.

Ready to join Anthony on his journey? Try a barre class!

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