Monday, May 30, 2011

REVIEW: barre3

I first heard about barre3 through PopSugar (think Groupon type deals), and was intrigued.  I like the yoga and pilates I've tried thus far, and while I was never a ballet-type gal growing up, thought it would be fun to try something new!  We bought 2 of the vouchers (3 classes each), since my husband's clients have asked his opinion on barre3...I love it when we can workout together!

Inside the studio...
The staff was very responsive via email and got spots reserved for us at a Saturday morning class.  At the last minute, Jared couldn't come due to work, but barre3 was very flexible and let my mom come with me instead. 

When we showed up, I realized why we'd had to reserve our places: it was packed!  Every spot at the barre was taken...the class was all female, ranging in age from early 20s to mid-50s.  Almost all the women present were sporting lululemon workout duds and lots of lean, toned muscle.
My little torture, station
The workout, as touted on the website, was indeed a combination of yoga, pilates, and ballet barre moves.  Think light (1-2 lb.) weights or body weight with LOTS of repetition.  Except for the few "cleansing breaths" at the beginning and end of class, I spent most of the time shaking as I tried to crank out the final reps of each move. 

Sports bra: Champion/Target, top: lululemon,
skort: Champion/Target
The instructor, Heather, gave plenty of detailed instruction (soften your shoulders, keep high on your toes, lower just one more inch) without seeming like a drill sergeant or a cheerleader.  My mom and I were pretty excited about the workout...never have I been that shaky and enjoyed myself so much!  (Did I mentioned we were both sore for the next several days?)

I was really curious to get Jared's opinion, since with all his background and knowledge base, he's got a better sense than I of the specific value of different types of workouts.  We came a few weeks later as part of our quarterly date weekend.

Not only does he come try girly workouts with me,
but he lets me take constant blog photos, too!
Here is my review of barre3 (with husband/trainer feedback in mind):
  • Environment: 5 out of 5.  The orange accents, cute lights, and the clean & well-organized studio all make it easy to relax and focus on your workout.
  • Instructor: 5 out of 5.  We've had Heather both times so can't speak for all the instructors, but if she's any example you'll be well pleased: friendly, well-prepared, and clearly loves what she does.  (It's always motivating to have someone so toned (but not guy-buff) leading your class.)
  • Affordability: 1 out of 5. See here for the Bellevue pricing...a one year commitment is the best deal (except for newbie offers).  It will get you 6 free guest passes (a nice perk) but will set you back $1500 ($125/month).
  • Convenience: 3 out of 5.  Although barre3 is not open all day like a gym, the Bellevue schedule provides a nice variety of class times, Monday through Sunday, from as early as 6:15am to as late as 7pm.  Child care is provided at many classes (especially late morning slots) for a fee.
  • Cardio/endurance: 1 out of 5.  You'll sweat a little, but the focus really isn't on lung power.
  • Muscle building/fat burning: 2 out of 5.  This was the shocker for me: as much as you will be shaking through these moves, they actually won't do a whole lot in helping you lose fat.  The best way to burn fat is to build muscle, and the best way to build muscle is to fatigue them through lifting heavier and heavier weights, not doing the same move 30 times.  (The pushup series was fairly effective, however.)
  • Flexibility: 1 out of 5.  You will get some yoga spread throughout the class, but to really gain flexibity, each stretch needs to be held for a minimum of 20 seconds, and repeated at least the yoga here mainly provides a break from the harder sections of the class. 
  • Body awareness: 4 out of 5.  The upside: You are constantly reminded to think about all the little details of each move: relaxing your shoulders, tightening your core, lengthening your spine, etc.  This skill is hugely helpful in all areas of fitness.  Focusing on the little details rather than just the "main move" is an excellent way to work more efficiently and prevent injury.  The downside: most of the excercises are not functional movements.  In barre3 you are training yourself in a way that is contrary to how our bodies naturally move, unlike squats or farmer carries, which humans perform constantly in everyday life. 
  • Fun factor: 5 out of 5.  I really, really, enjoyed this workout.  The amount of mental focus required to stay balanced and persevere through each set of moves is incredible.  This is very stress relieving as you really can't sit there thinking about your to do list or a relationship snaffoo with a friend.  You HAVE to focus on the moves, since most are unlike anything you would normally do at the gym.  Plus, who doesn't enjoy working out in a pretty room with mirrors and a barre and a squishy blue ball?
Final verdict: Use barre3 once or twice a month as a supplement to regular strength training, cardio, and yoga/stretching to increase body awareness, prevent injury, and provide variety.

Interested in trying barre3 for yourself?  They offer classes in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Oklahoma, Washington D.C. (coming soon), and the Philippines. 

No barre3 in your area?  Price point out of your range?  (Mine, too!)  Check out the barre3 DVD!  It comes with a ball, so you're all set to fatigue those muscles right in your own home.


  1. Thanks for sharing!
    I took 10 barre3 classes in my country (Philippines) and loved it. I was shocked to see resulta after the 3rd session. Like you, i had regular earthquakes too.
    After the 10th session, i bought the DVD and the ball as the lessons can be quite expensive.

  2. I disagree with your scores on muscle building and flexibility; should be higher.


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