At first, the client was skeptical. “Barre class?” she asked. “I took ballet as a kid.” You could tell she was imagining a few slow plies set to some classical piano.
Not to knock ballet–in fact, the barre method was developed by a ballet dancer–but this isn’t your niece’s ballet class. At Align’s incredibly popular Barre classes, high-energy music blares from the speakers while students stretch, chat and assemble their props–playground balls, free weights and Magic Circles all regularly make an appearance during the intense one-hour workout. And once class starts, you can tell right away that the instructor isn’t messing around as she challenges you up to releve five…okay, ten more times.
And our clients keep coming back for more. “I think Barre is so popular because it gives you an amazing total body workout,” said Barre instructor Danielle DeRemer. “It offers the grace of ballet, the precision and control of Pilates and the fluidity of yoga. The class is meant to work the secondary muscles by making small, yet significant, adjustments to alignment and movement–building endurance and strength faster and more efficiently than just doing regular cardio and weight lifting.”
Barre has been popular for awhile on the east and west coasts, and its roots extend further back than many people might realize. The method is actually based on the technique of Lotte Berk–a German dancer who fled the Nazis in the late 1930s and moved to London with her British husband. After Lotte injured her back, she developed the barre method by combing her ballet barre routines with her rehabilitative therapy for her injury. She opened a studio in her London basement in 1959, where the method eventually gained great popularity.
The Barre method made its way to America in the early 1970s when one of her students opened the Lotte Berk Method studio in Manhattan. As previously mentioned, it’s been an established exercise program on the coasts for quite some time, but the Barre buzz that’s currently underway is taking its popularity to a new level–clearly, it’s meeting a need for something that was missing from many people’s monotonous cardio workouts. “The best thing about barre class at Align is that it’s a high-intensity class that challenges your body, but also focuses on correct alignment,” said Adrienne Fitzmaurice, co-owner of Align Pilates and a Barre instructor herself. ” Therefore, I can see all my students not only becoming stronger, but also developing better posture and balance.”
Indeed, the Barre method has taken the Twin Cities exercise scene by storm, with classes regularly filling up well in advance. Although a variety of studios are now featuring versions of the workout, Align’s classes have received special recognition, being awarded the “best new workout” designation from Minnesota Monthly magazine. Align also offers Barre teaching training–a comprehensive 18-hour program that focuses on anatomy and movement physiology, safe choreography and the art of effective verbal cueing, among other topics. ”The Align Barre Teacher Training is definitely one of a kind,” said Adrienne. “We give teachers the tools to change someone’s body–not just kick their butt. There is a difference!”
Align offers many Barre classes throughout the week–advance registration is recommended, since classes regularly fill up. Hardcore Barre fans might also want to consider the Barre teacher training program, taking place this summer from July 27-29, 2012. Visit www.alignpilates.com for more information.