I took advantage of the extra time by knocking out my semiannual dentist appointment (and got the all-clear on my teeth, woo hoo!) Then, I trekked through the snow blizzard to the Bucktown neighborhood, where I met Lauren for a Pure Barre class. It was the first time "barre-ing" for both of us!
I was really excited about finally getting to try out a barre class. However, I was also a tinge nervous. Based on reading a host of online reviews, the consistent opinions were that the workouts were highly intense. There were also a lot of references to your muscles shaking during the workout, and to expect lingering soreness afterwards. The good news was that many folks agreed that if you attended the classes consistently, you would see great results very quickly. And I like results!
Allright... here we go.
|This is a good representative sampling of the exercises we did during the class.|
After warming up, we used light hand weights to do a series of arm exercises. We did a variety of floor exercises and stretches with and without a small rubber ball and/or a resistance tube. We rotated the floor exercises with various standing exercises that we performed using the barre to stabilize or hold ourselves.
The exercises mostly consisted of variations of tiny, controlled movements. For example, in a standing position you would extend one leg forward as high as possible, point the toe, and rotate that leg as if you were tracing the outside of a coin with your toe. Another example included standing in a plie with our heels raised, and then doing squats or pulses while holding that position, like this:
Some of the exercises were very challenging to maintain. My legs and various other muscles started shaking several times while I was struggling to maintain my form and keep going. Our instructor, Blake told us, "Don't be afraid of your muscles shaking. A shaking muscle is a changing muscle." Wow, was I feeling the burn! There were times where I couldn't hold the position any more and had to take a momentary break. At times it felt like the series of exercise repetitions would never end. It was energetic and fun but the exercise was very intense, indeed!
From an instructor standpoint, I thought Blake was fantastic. I found her very approachable, knowledgeable, and down-to-earth. Before the class started, she greeted everyone individually, introduced herself, and talked to each of us about our barre experience. During the class, she was very encouraging, addressed each of us by name, and put forth a lot of effort to ensure that we were using the correct form. She used a great selection of music during the class, where she tailored the musical selections based on whatever series of exercises we were doing. Then, after the class, she came by to find out our thoughts, make sure we were doing okay, and answer any questions.
|The attendees at our class. Our instructor, Blake, is the one wearing the pink tights. I'm to the right of her in the turquoise shirt. Lauren is to the right of me in the fuschia tank top.|
The workout aftermath? My glutes were feeling sore immediately after the workout. This morning, I woke up with soreness in my arms, back, and abs which I have been feeling all day.
I can definitely see why these barre classes are effective! The Pure Barre website says that "clients typically see the best results when they attend classes 3-4 times per week" but right now I am way too sore to think about attending that frequently. You'd definitely have to work up to that! But, what I love most about the class is that it is very low-impact. It really is perfect for runners like me who battle knee problems and would really benefit from great muscle-toning/strengthening workouts. (Check out Lauren's recap here.)
There was only one thing to do after a killer workout like that. Hit up one of the most popular pizza joints in the neighborhood.
I hadn't been to Piece in years, so it was great to check it out again. I mentioned to Lauren that I'd only ever been there at night, so it was cool getting to see it during the daytime. It is very laidback. There was a good mix of locals and families there, presumably because of the President's Day holiday.
Normally I am all about deep-dish pizza through and through, but Piece's thin-crust "New Haven-style" pizza is very delicious. Lauren and I both took advantage of their amazing lunch special to get customized individual pizzas. We hung out and talked about everything from running to laundry to travel bucket lists to shoes. It was a blast!
I really do love neighborhood joints, in general. Now I am getting more and more inspired to start checking out all that the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood has to offer.
In the meantime, bring on the next barre class! I am already looking forward to going back as soon as the schedule permits and after my soreness subsides a bit. Maybe next weekend? My burning muscles are gearing themselves up for round two!