I love my bod no matter what, and it’s in generally decent working order, but from time to time I just feel the need to be more active. I am so hot and cold with working out. I've said it before: being about that walking (and walk-up apartment) life generally keeps things relatively in shape.
My good friend Nadia, the Italian Princess of San Francisco™, swears by her barre workouts, and is an avid participant in the numerous 30-day challenges that her studio offers. I decided to take her word for it and try it out at my local barre studio with their own way of doing things: Physique 57.
This studio takes some of the basic training principles of ballet and turns them into 57 minutes of very effective exercise. I put myself on the line for science and xoVain to get to the bottom of these workouts and primarily Physique 57’s way of doing things: harder, faster, stronger.
According to my ridiculously sore body and legions of celebrities who frequent their spaces around the world, this is one of the fastest-acting workouts you can subject yourself to. The message throughout is "Eight weeks to see visible results." I can tell you, dear readers, that this is not a lie or fabrication—any places where I felt less toned were significantly changed after my four-week power session. This is a super-fast way to tighten up and build muscle!
This is the first time I have ever worked out and actually needed sweat-wicking gear. If I didn't have Mission's Enduracool Instant Cooling Towels and the sweat-bashing capabilities of Roxy's less basic Cutback workout tank, I would have had to walk home with sweaty leggings on—no fun! Shorts don't really work in this class unless you like to rub yourself on carpet, not for me.
Typically, you need sticky socks in this class, which can be bought on site, but you can also hack sport socks with some double sided tape. I needed the extra thickness that you get from socks like Stance's Boot Socks, which are as cute as they are comfortable.
The classes always begin with some pumping cardio using weights to warm up and target your arms and back. The part that is the absolute hardest, though, is the barre work itself. Using your bodyweight for resistance and a playground ball for ideal positioning, you basically squat in every minute variation you can imagine for what feels like an entire third of the class.
There’s a bit of humping, squats galore, and some heel popping as you tear millions of muscle fibers in your legs for at least 20 minutes. I don’t think my legs have ever been that sore after a workout!
Creative Director and instructor Tanya Becker tells me that the overall core and especially the seat are among the most targeted muscle groups in the Physique 57 workout. She recommends being warmed up for class, which I did by walking briskly the 25 minutes from my apartment because I am nearly always running behind. Pounding the pavement in my adorable Reeboks is the ultimate warm-up, and running in with mere moments to spare leaves my adrenaline running high for the entire class.
Tanya says that even teaching complete novices like me is fun for instructors, as seeing our muscles literally quiver and the sense of accomplishment we feel after class keeps her believing in the method time after time. When teaching advanced students, it’s all about making changes that will target new muscles and challenge them. I went to the uptown studio and saw some of those advanced students first hand; they are magnificent and likely actual ballerinas!
The class is fast-acting, effective, and never, ever gets easier. It's a bit pricey for a membership, but if you take into account the unlimited feature and how well it actually works, you may deem it worth it. If you are a former ballerina or just someone that wants to build muscle quickly, this method could be ideal for you.
- Have you tried a barre class?
- What's the hardest workout class you've ever taken?