Did you ever take ballet lessons as a kid? I started lessons at around age 4, and though I gave it up around 7, I still remember the feeling of twirling around in my little pink slippers on the hardwood floor and the feeling graceful and beautiful. I still have a penchant for ballerina buns and ballet flats (of the Michael Kors variety) and I am now the proud mom of two daughters who are now dance obsessed. I must admit though, I do feel a tad wistful when I watch my oldest take her lessons. That’s why I was thrilled to have the opportunity to check out Oakville’s very own ballet fitness studio for adults- Barre Life.
Barre Life bills itself as a dancer’s workout, without the dance. The classes are designed to be a fusion of exercise combining Pilates, yoga, ballet and core strength movements while using the ballet barre, resistance bands and weighted balls. Forget the the scratchy piano music, stern French-accented ballet teacher and the endless feet position work of your childhood. Barre Life is a modern, brightly (but flatteringly) lit studio in an industrial complex on Speers Road in Oakville. Upon walking in, you are greeted by a sleek and welcoming lounge, complete with couches, complimentary tea/coffee and water and magazines, and friendly staff behind the desk.
I was introduced to the lovely Niki Corion, founder and owner of Barre Life, who showed me the full change room and then introduced me to Julia, the instructor for the Ballet Floor-barre class.
This class is recommended for all levels, combining elements of pilates and yoga, with the goal of creating lean, sculpted muscles. The class takes place on the floor, on thick yoga mats, with Belles (Barre Life’s term for its clients) alternating between sitting and lying down, isolating and strengthening certain muscles using resistance bands and various weighted balls. Julia demonstrated the exercises gracefully and patiently, and was right there with us in doing them (rather than just showing the moves once and then barking commands at us). Some of the moves verged on painful, but with proper coaching on breath and counting each rep, the discomfort was manageable. Like most cardio fitness classes, having killer music helped tremendously. Personally, I find music very motivating, and the upbeat tracks of Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber and thumping EDM music really took your mind off the minor agony your muscles were in!
The hour flew by, and before I knew it class was almost over and our bodies melted like butter into the floor as Julia guided us through some cool-down stretches, which honestly felt like sheer bliss after the tough workout that preceded it. I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to walk the next day, even though my body was conditioned to regular workouts at the gym, but alas, I only felt a little sore the next day. I did, however, feel about an inch taller after all the lengthening and strengthening my body had been through 🙂 Count me as a Belle convert!
Interested in channeling your inner ballerina? Here’s what you need to know:
- Classes run Monday-Sunday, with several morning and evening slots, depending on the day.
- You don’t need previous dancer experience at all. Each class description outlines the levels it is recommended for (from beginner to intermediate to advanced) and if you’re in doubt, ask Niki or one of the Barre Life staff
- Classes are available on a drop in, “all you can Barre” monthly or annual passes or 6-week workshop session. There are also new client specials.
- Have baby, can barre! Barre Life offers a special “Mommy and Baby Barre” session where you can baby-wear and incorporate your little one into the class. They also offer child-minding (upon request during certain times, ask ahead).
- Regular yoga or workout clothes are fine. You want to be comfortable and wear something fairly tight fitting though- there is bending over involved.
- Lockers are available, and bring your own lock (purses and bags are not permitted in the studio, but can be left behind the front desk if needed).
If you want to check out Barre Life for yourself, you won’t want to miss this giveaway! Barre Life is giving away a 2-week “all you can Barre” pass (value $40) to one lucky reader!
Wanna be a Belle? Comment below with your name or enter via our Facebook page or Twitter @SOHM_Ash. Contest closes April 26 at 8pm. Good luck!
Note: I received one complimentary class in exchange for review. Opinions expressed are my own.