Hi, my name’s Laura and I’m guest posting a wellness review piece on Parties, Pearls and Being Precious this week!
I have been part of the Xtend Barre fitness workout phenomenon since the beginning of March this year and I think you should at least know what it is, in case you fancy adding a new workout to your life. I know: Xtend what?
What is the Xtend Barre fitness workout?
Xtend Barre is a fusion of ballet and Pilates. Classes last 55 minutes and are split into sections: warm-up, weights, mat work, barre time, more mat work and warm-down. It may differ between studios, but that’s the format at our place (in Sydney). As well as the eponymous barre (that’s the horizontal bar fixed to the wall/mirrors that is used in ballet), classes usually incorporate other accessories such as a small stretchy band (to provide resistance during exercises), a long strap with hand loops (to hold position/make you more wobbly whilst you do some moves), hand weights (because the exercises aren’t strenuous enough on their own?), ball (used for all sorts – I officially hate the ball) and a mat (for, you know, mat work).
There are ballet terms and ballet positions but they are not technical, so don’t worry that you are going to be asked to perform en pointe for an hour (although some of the class is spent on tiptoes).
It is low impact but certainly no walk in the park. Can’t really stress this enough. Try standing with your legs fairly wide apart, toes turned out 45º, then bend your knees a lot, then get up on your tiptoes. Now keep your back straight and upright and just hold that for a while…
So that’s the theory.
My default Xtend mode is motivated, excited and ready to work. I occasionally tip into nearly-crying mode: that’s when I’m exhausted and/or sulky (“I just can’t do it. Everyone else can do it. I’m rubbish” etc). That doesn’t tend to last long; we switch to another exercise and I can do it, or at least I can try to do it. Then I’m over myself and Xtend Barre fitness is once again the best thing in the world.
Is it for you?
The people who have heard of Xtend Barre fitness nearly always think it is for dancers. The top three comments I get when they find out I do it are:
- I never did ballet, so I wouldn’t be able to do it.
- Can’t dance/I have no coordination.
- I wouldn’t be able to understand the moves.
So then you explain what it’s really like and they say it sounds like fun: is it hard? And you say yes, it is both fun and hard. Very hard. Then they don’t like the sound of it so much. And they wonder why I post stuff ALL THE TIME about how amazing Xtend Barre is.
Why do I post stuff ALL THE TIME about how amazing Xtend Barre fitness is?
It’s because I like hard. Why pay for easy? There are 23 other hours for that. There’s no point going for a laugh: I want results. So it’s six times a week, always in the morning, for an hour at a time. A very hard hour.
Part of the reason it’s hard is because there is so much to remember. You’re never working just a single body part. So you have to pull your abs up and in before every move. You have to squeeze your thighs together. Keep your heels together. Your knees are bent, or they’re hyper-straight. Your shoulders should be back and down and relaxed, your lower traps switched on. You don’t just raise your heel half-heartedly: you need to be up there on tiptoes. That’s just a sample.
So you’re checking your body constantly, running through the list of Stuff You Should Be Doing. This is where an awesome instructor comes in.
An awesome instructor knows the likely pitfalls of each move and will issue reminders – “relax your ribs”, “weight distributed evenly between both feet”, “elbows high” – almost continuously, to keep you on track.
When you do it correctly, it changes everything. It’s harder yet easier. You realise what you’re supposed to be doing and feeling. It gives the exercise purpose.
Pros of Xtend Barre fitness:
- it’s a comprehensive workout – you can quit the gym
- cool outfits and accessories – pretty much anything goes here and you can buy some amazing tights
- variety within class – you move reasonably quickly between different sections, so it’s not often that I glance at the clock wondering when I can stop
- complete high following workout – once you’ve stopped dying, you will think you’re awesome. This feeling does not go away easily or quickly
- music – I love music and they always play fun stuff at Xtend
- new friends – Xtend seems to attract a lovely bunch!
Cons of Xtend Barre Fitness:
- possibly the world’s most expensive exercise class
- not the graceful semi-workout it appears, so don’t be fooled or imagine you can transition serenely to work, lunch or drinks after. If you’re not sweating, you’re kidding yourself (or maybe your studio just has the air con cooler than mine does)
- the instructor is EVERYTHING – he/she can make or break a class for me, depending on their direction and correction skills
- results did not appear overnight for me, although some people claim to have seen changes very quickly. It has taken eight months to think “wow”, although it has happened in phases and I have noticed bits of differences (such as my new miniature lower legs) every few months.
I highly recommend getting yourself to a class. My Sydney studio has an introductory offer of a $49 pass for the first week (that’s a bargain). The only problem is that you may find you can’t walk for four days after the first class, so it kind of blows your pass, but if you can get two or three classes in, you’re making money. Then you get hooked and feel like a drug addict, selling your furniture to be able to afford another pass. But you’ll be a healthy, happy addict, so it’s okay.
About the author: Laura Hardcastle is a freelance writer and the creative founder of athousandtimestooshort.com.
Thanks so much to Laura Hardcastle for contributing to the #FitspoFriday series – I’m inspired to find my closest Xtend Barre class!!