After giving myself carte blanche over the holidays to indulge in my seasonal favourites (think rum and egg nog, fancy cheeses galore and second helpings of stuffing) and skipping my normal workouts, I’ve realized that a bit of exercise is way overdue. Now, I don’t like to make huge declarative New Year’s resolutions. Rather, I prefer to set goals that I can gently ease into and maintain. My workouts of 2013 consisted of a laidback mix of Pilates, hot yoga, running and commuting on my bicycle. Although, I’m not in bad shape, it’s possible that I’ve hit a rut and “when I feel like it” may not be the best of fitness mantras.
Cyclone Group Fitness has been recommended to me through friends and although I know spinning is a great way to feel the burn, the current fitness trend I’m interested in is barre. Drawing on ballet, yoga, Pilates and sports conditioning, barre is a workout that focuses on strengthening and toning. Although, I’ve never attempted ballet, I dabbled in modern dance growing up and I love the idea of incorporating dance elements into my workout. On a damp January morning, my friend Lindsay takes me to Cyclone so that I can discover what barre is all about.
Our class incorporates the use of the ballet barre with props such as hand-weights, balls and mats. Our instructor, Kristin, guides us through each move and it’s easy to follow, even for a newbie like me. I like that the studio is small but makes good use of the space. This keeps the class size to a minimum and I have no trouble watching our instructor. First and second positions and pliés are used in combination with many of the strengthening moves. Between holding stance and repetition, the workout is intense and I can feel my calves and thighs burning throughout. Using the basic ballet poses does wonders for my normally slouchy posture. Thankfully, my yoga and Pilates experience helps see me through my very first barre class.
Cyclone partners Elana Liberman and Sonny Wilson have created a positive space here with an emphasis on the group dynamic. There are personal touches throughout such as the offer of a cold towel when things get sweaty, a homey bathroom with showers and a lovely mural behind the bikes reminding clients to focus on living in the moment. Cyclone will be expanding the studio this year and adding 1,000 square feet. One of the reasons for this is the growing popularity of barre classes. According to Liberman, barre appeals to a wide demographic of people looking for an accessible and new way to get fit.
“Barre, while relatively new to Halifax, has proven to be a tried and true full body workout,” says Liberman. “The classes are intense and low impact. All ages and all levels of fitness ability will feel the burn in a barre class. It’s a perfect choice for those looking to change it up in 2014.”
Now that I’ve been initiated, I’m looking forward to coming back for more. Even though it’s undoubtedly a tough workout, the clear instruction and words of encouragement make me believe I can rise to the challenge. As we leave the studio and spill out onto the snowy street, I can’t help but feel that I’m walking just a little bit taller.