Called to the Barre

I’ve been trying to mix up my fitness routine a bit lately.

A problem area for me is legs and glutes. As a runner I really need to build leg strength but I hate running hills and I am allergic to squats which are surely The Most Boring Exercise Ever? So while I pay attention to arms and abs the lower body gets a bit neglected.


Having been a ballet girl from age 5-15 I know how much a regular class tones and strengthens legs and so I was keen to try a barre class. It’s been all the rage for a while now, there will almost definitely be one near you.

sandrine and kellyLuckily for me my local pilates guru and former dancer Sandrine Walker has invented her own method ‘BarrePlus™’   Sandrine is a top pilates instructor who works with Dame Kelly Holmes training GB’s up and coming middle distance running talent. So she definitely knows how to achieve results.

I popped down to do a class at her Tunbridge Wells studio and see for myself what all the fuss was about.


The class is mainly standing and uses the body’s own weight to isolate, strengthen and sculpt all the major muscles. A one hour class typically has 15 minutes of upper body strength work, 15 minutes of Pilates on the mat for core stability and 30 minutes at the barre. Sandrines’s method integrates the fat-burning element of interval training with muscle shaping isometrics to reshape the entire body AND improves posture.


Crucially for me it’s low impact, despite being ok pounding a pavement I find high intensity workouts like circuits really hard going on knees and joints as many of us do post-35 or post-pregnancy. Interestingly the class demographic reflected this, despite being what I would say a hardcore workout there was a wide range of women in attendance, from mid 20’s to sixties and some very enviable bods on display.


The class was really good fun, but does it live up to the hype? Well I can run a half marathon without a great deal of leg ache but after an hour of Barre Plus with one of Sandrine’s lovely instructors Anissa, my legs were wobbling more than a drunk doing a walk of shame in 6 inch heels.

So imagine what a weekly class would do for your muscle definition. Sandrine reckons you would start to see definition after less than a month. I will be going back for more.

Have you tried a Barre Class? What did you think?


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