Barre workouts are a low-impact workout favored by NFL players, moms, fitness bloggers and regular folks just trying to get in shape.
By Sara Lepley
In one of the hardest workouts in Metro Detroit, you won’t find a dumbbell with 100 pounds on either side. You won’t even see much movement from the class participants — unless you count the uncontrollable shakes from muscles screaming “enough!”
Barre combines the resistance training of Pilates, the muscle isolation of dance and the lengthening exercises of yoga for a high-intensity, low-impact workout favored by NFL players, moms, fitness bloggers and folks just trying to get in shape.
The Barre Method
Barre is about precision. The asymmetrical holds allow you to isolate muscles, some of which you may not have realized exist. By inserting a stretch session between each muscle group, you lengthen the muscles after you’ve tightened them.
“I remember my first class. The muscles around my ribcage were sore and I thought, ‘What did I even do to work those?’” said Laura Davis, owner and founder of Detroit Barre. “I came out feeling taller.”
Don’t be fooled, bigger weights don’t translate into a harder workout.
“We’ll have people who are fitness buffs come into class, and we’ll have men come into class, and they look at these 2-pound weights and say, ‘There’s no way this is going to do anything.’ Then five minutes into an arm set they feel the burn,” said Lindsay Irrer, co-studio owner of the Barre Code in Oakland County.
While kickboxing or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts ramp up endorphins and burn calories, there is something to say about the low-impact nature of resistance training.
“It’s lighter on the joints and it’s lighter on your feet,” said Sam Strager, founder, and owner of Center Stage. “It’s a really great form of cross-conditioning.”
Pick the Right Studio
Each workout at the Barre Code feels like a performance. Even the hallway looks like a dressing room, replete with vanity lights, blow dryers and, perhaps wisely, spray-on deodorant.
“We say it’s like putting on a performance, channeling our inner Beyonce and keeping people’s minds just as engaged as their bodies,” Irrer said.
That feeling of empowerment goes deeper than the surface. Irrer refers to the studio’s community as the “sweaty sisterhood.” Some students who met in the class have even been in each other’s weddings.
Center Stage offers a no-frills, results-driven program, perfect for the more analytical among us who swear by Fitbit and can’t leave for a run until the GPS on their watch calibrates.
“Everything in here is really efficient,” Strager said. “Maximizing the space, maximizing the time spent here, to get the most out of the 50 minutes you spend with us.”
You see it in the carpeted floors. Perhaps less glamorous than hardwood, the padding underfoot makes for a better joint experience. You see it in the transitions between movements, capitalizing on each tiny lift or stretch. And you see it with how Strager interacts with students. Is this working for you? How can we take it up a notch?
If you’re looking for a beautiful studio and the full ballerina effect, try Detroit Barre. The studio is housed in an old carriage house not far from Eastern Market. Exposed brick with big windows welcomes in sunlight and the hardwood floors shine as if brand new. It’s easy to feel like Natalie Portman in Black Swan, sans the cutthroat competition.
While Davis is one of the only instructors who doesn’t have a background in dance, her classes align the most closely with ballet, incorporating its language and positions to encourage proper technique.
“We really try to emphasize ensuring that the work is originating from the right muscle and instructing to the muscle group where you should be feeling it, and sometimes where you should not be feeling it,” Davis said.
Still can’t decide where to go? Be sure to check out each studio’s website for community events. Many offer free classes so you can get your feet wet before fully diving in.
2217 Franklin St., Detroit
405 S. Center St., Royal Oak
(Coming soon: Bloomfield location: centerstagebarre.com/bloomfield)
The Barre Code
855 S. Main St., Royal Oak
1260 Walton Blvd., Rochester Hills
555 S. Old Woodward, Suite 13L, Birmingham
2885 Maple Rd., Troy
75 Kercheval Avenue, #101 Grosse Pointe Farms
439 S. Main Street, Suite 150, Rochester
42972 Grand River, Novi
The Dailey Method Barre – Birmingham Barre Studio