By SARAH KINZBACH
I was once a ballerina.
The fact that I held a bucket for candy and knocked on doors saying, “Trick or treat” is irrelevant; I was a dance school dropout and my tutu and ballet slippers were forever retired soon after.
Since my failed juvenile ballet career, I have dabbled in a number of fitness regimes as an adult: yoga, Pilates, Zumba, crossfit, personal training, swimming, running. The list goes on.
Most recently, I came across Xtend Barre. Available at Studio Pilates, Ltd. in College Station, Xtend Barre is a blend of dance, ballet, and Pilates.
My suppressed inner-ballerina was intrigued.
What is Xtend Barre?
“A high-energy cardio workout, Xtend Barre is a multilevel class geared to challenge bodies of any age, gender or fitness background,” says Jana Credor, owner of Studio Pilates, Ltd. “It sculpts the body proportionally, creating a long, lean physique. Arms, abs, legs – you get the whole thing in 60 minutes.”
Xtend Barre combines the long, lean results of dance with the principles of strength and safety in Pilates. The blend is beyond effective.
“This is finesse. You’re graceful with it but it takes a lot of strength and energy to hold the positions,” says Credor.
My experience with the class was exactly as Credor described. Taught by certified instructor Andrea Sheridan, the class was small and the workout stayed in count with upbeat music.
Five minutes in and I understood why dancers have beautifully sculpted arms.
The workout began away from the barre and consisted of fine-motor control in a dancer’s “turned out” position. Slight adjustments of foot and leg positions allowed for small muscle groups to work while maintaining proper spine alignment and core strength of traditional Pilates.
“A traditional Pilates Mat class starts on the floor, gradually making ones way to verticality, with the idea that one is able to walk out of class, better prepared for their day,” says Sheridan. “Xtend Barre is similar in that we end with a standing balance, feeling the length and abdominal engagement discovered during class.”
The class continued working through the body from floor exercises on a yoga mat to rotations on the barre with a playground ball. Everything from balance and coordination to strength, stretching and cardio were addressed. Modifications were easily adapted to accommodate the varying levels and abilities of students in the class.
Both Credor and Sheridan emphasize the accessibility of Xtend Barre to anyone. “There’s not much of a limitation,” says Credor. “It’s open to anyone and the material can be really modified down,” she adds, saying she’s seen Xtend Barre students with plantar fasciitis, rods in their backs, and other potentially limiting conditions. A focus on safety and proper technique also accompanies the modifications and plays a large role in the general workout.
The class was a definite workout. I walked away energized for the day and discovered new muscles that rarely get attention. My body awareness and posture were greatly improved for the following few days. Most importantly, I walked away feeling poised and graceful despite the sweat and sore arms.
“[Xtend Barre] makes women feel pretty and elegant while stretching out,” says Credor. “It’s amazing to watch women of all shapes and sizes find their inner-ballerina.”
No tutu required.