If you have been following me on Instagram (@Paleorina) you will know that I have been moaning about my knee injury. I have been unable to run without a throbbing soreness in my inner right knee and it has been driving me mad. Without running to help me expand my energy and keep me from bouncing off the walls, I needed something else to do that was low impact and interesting.
Yes, I have yoga but yoga was something very familiar to me. I wanted to try something different and exciting. Enter Xtend Barre. This is a pilates cum ballet workout that was created by an ex-ballerina in the US. The aim of this exercise was to create the long lean lines of ballerinas without actually having to take a ballet class. I mentioned in a previous post that my favourite body types are that of gymnasts and dancers so I was quite excited to try these classes!
I signed up for a one-week trial at $55 with Upside Motion that allowed me to take not only Xtend Barre classes, but also aerial yoga and pilates. In that one week, I managed to take three Xtend Barre classes under two different teachers, Laura and Saniya.
Upside Motion has two studios and I attended classes at Armenian Street, which is a five-minute walk from City Hall MRT. The receptionist was warm and friendly. I liked how the studio looked as well. Everything was clean and well-maintained. I felt serene as opposed to the crazy energy you get when you attend Body Combat classes or one of those high-tempo dance classes at the gym.
For Xtend Barre, everyone had to purchase or bring their own non-slip socks and we were not allowed to attend class barefoot. I paid $25 for this pair of ToeSox, which had little grip balls on the sole so that I won’t slip in class. I didn’t mind buying a pair because they can also be used for yoga when I’m travelling without a mat.
The 55-minute class usually goes like this:
- Warm-up (This tends to be high knee kicks and other low-impact cardio moves to get our heart rates up)
- Arm toning (We then proceed with (very) light weights to tone the shoulders, biceps, triceps, and upper back muscles. The second half of the exercises move to the mat, pilates style, and we use our own body weight to exercise the arms. Typical exercises include push-ups and tricep dips.)
- Lower body toning (This takes place at the barre, which is my favourite part of the workout because it makes me feel graceful and ballerina-like. Here all the ballet moves and terminologies come in, including plies and tendu.)
- Core workout (After the barre, we go back to the mat to do core exercises. This is pilates style again.)
- Cool-down (We relax at the end with stretches to lengthen our muscles. In one class, we were even asked to do full front splits)
Evening classes tend to be full, with about 15 people in the class. As for the one lunch time class that I attended, there were only five people in the class. It’s definitely nicer to go in the day and you can get personal attention from the teacher, who will correct your form.
I enjoyed the classes very much. It’s not high-intensity cardio, so I didn’t get to sweat very much. But it was a workout that was suitable for me at that point in time because of my injury.
I also liked that the movements were very precise. We were asked to do small and controlled movements. While they may seem easy, the high repetition meant that you will feel it the next day, and most importantly, you are targeting those small muscles that are often neglected.
What I also liked was the reliance on body weight rather than weights. Even when weights were used, they were light and didn’t feel more than two pounds on each hand. When I go for Body Pump classes at the gym, I’m often encouraged and coerced into using heavier weights. The teachers don’t seem to care that you don’t want to bulk up and think that progress means lifting heavy.
And most importantly, I leave the class feeling graceful and long. I may lose my running endorphins but damnit if I don’t replace them with ballet serenity!
On the flip side, people with knee injuries should be careful in these classes. The barre segment relies a lot on plies, which may stress the knee if not done correctly. The teachers emphasise a lot on form and making sure that the knees don’t go over the toes but when you’re tired, your form tends to sag.
I don’t have anything else negative to say about Xtend Barre. I love the classes and I may sign up with them if my knee problem persists and I still can’t run.
The rates for Upside Motion can be found here.