Before entering the Xtend Barre class, I had a vision of my short curvy body stretched out gracefully into a tall, slender, Black Swan-esque ballerina. I thought I’d stretch up on my tip toes a few times, maybe do a pirouette or too and take a few cute photos for Instagram. I was very, very wrong.
It’s not to say I wasn’t warned.
Before the class, the instructor said the class had been dubbed “ballet on crack”. Xtend Barre is an intense combination of pilates, dance and ballet to create an adrenaline-fueled workout that strengthens, lengthens and chisels the body. It claims to enhance flexibility, improve balance, and challenge the core.
My fantasy of gentle posing to The Nutcracker soundtrack was shattered immediately.
We were thrown straight in to a stretching and cardio routine to high tempo, club music including Psy's Gangnam Style. I was breathless in under two minutes, and a wave of fear set in that I wouldn’t be able to keep up for the next 53.
The workout intensity was similar to a Grit class at Les Mills, but with an emphasis on staying graceful, it was even harder. Throughout the class I would throw glances over at the exits, planning my emergency escape route.
After around 20 minutes, we moved onto the actual barres on the wall, where we did a sequence of stretches and moves while supporting an inflatable ball between out upper legs. I had seriously underestimated the strength required to clench my legs together continuously while exercising, and felt my body collapsing into itself.
We were soon on to floor work and a series of planking exercises.
My legs were gummy worms and I felt a mixture of embarrassment/hilarity at my earlier vision of being a prima ballerina.
After what felt like hours, the instructor turned the lights off and guided us into gentle stretching on the floor. This was the highlight of the class for me, and it was at this point I decided that maybe I loved the class and was great at it.
I obviously had memory loss of the previous 40 minutes.
Verdict: I would definitely go again, and think this would be a great class to incorporate into my routine. Being relatively out of shape, I probably struggled a lot more than someone who exercises regularly, but think that I would get more enjoyment out of it as my fitness improves – which would be pretty quick with an intense class like this.
Where I went: Xtend Barre in Ponsonby, Auckland
Where can you do it? Auckland (Ponsonby and Newmarket), Wellington, Hawkes Bay and Lower Hutt
We have 20 double passes to Xtend Barre classes to give away. To enter, visit our Facebook page.
(Winners must be able to attend classes in Ponsonby, Newmarket, Wellington or Petone)
Sinead and Emma are the Anything But The Gym girls. Bored with standard workouts, they have begun the hunt for new and fun ways to get fit. Follow their weekly adventures here, and in New Zealand Good Health Choices. If you have a suggestion for something interesting for them to try, email firstname.lastname@example.org with Anything But The Gym in the subject line.