When I first came across barrecore a couple of years ago after spotting the oh-so ‘Ra’ Made in Chelsea cast holding their best ballet poses in the swanky Chelsea studio on Kings Road, I little imagined that, some two years later, it would be me negotiating my way around the barre. However, seeing more and more barrecore reviews popping up in recent months and noticing a huge emphasis on its strengthening benefits, I decided it may well be worth investigating this ballet-inspired class with a less satirical eye, and so I attended a class in its Chiswick-based studio.
Barrecore, as I later discovered, may well appear to be a trendy fitness fad, reserved for some of West London’s most pretentious middle-class mums, when in truth it’s a class aimed at women who are prepared to suck up some serious pain to achieve some serious toning. And for women that run, it couldn’t be a better way to stretch, strengthen and lean out muscles, as a means of developing strength and flexibility, crucial for running. Here’s what you can expect from the class.
What is it?
Barrecore founder, Niki Rein, brought the class to the UK in 2009 after moving to London from the US. After noticing a huge demand for dance-based exercises in a class format, Niki started up barrecore, basing the class on a culmination of toning and sculpting methods, which she had honed over the years, while teaching and practicing yoga. Many exercises are taken from both yoga and pilates and also some free-weight exercises from classic weight training. Barrecore is designed to strengthen and lengthen muscles using small, isometric movement and body weight as resistance. Through barrecore classes and private training you are challenged to increase your strength and flexibility.
What does the class entail?
The class last for 60 minutes. I opted for a mixed-level class and although, at first, it felt a little daunting walking into a mirrored room full of barrecore regulars, fully equipped with their purple stretch tape and grip socks, the instructor did a great job of ensuring the class was accessible for all abilities. And while my poses were less on point, shall we say, as some of the regulars, the instructor soon adjusted my poses to ensure they were working the correct muscle groups and not causing me any muscular damage.
The class starts with a thorough warm-up, targeting each main muscle group in the body. This last around ten minutes, at which point, I could safely say, I could already feel the burn. You then take your place at the barre and are given a stretch tape to attach. The tape ultimately allows you to use your own body weight as resistance in a set of movements and pulses, which work the thighs, glutes, hamstrings and abdominals. What’s incredible about this type of strengthening is that the isometric holds and tiny pulses are so slight and subtle, yet place huge degrees of pressure on seemingly unused muscles. Take the inner thighs for example – tiny pulses have them burning in ways you couldn’t imagine, and I felt myself carrying off a duck-like resemblance as I waddled my way home after the class. Regular stretching throughout the class does, however, offer some (light) relief from the burning sensation, and ensures you lengthen muscles throughout and avoid injury.
What are the benefits of barrecore for runners?
A lot of our readers and also my own running buddies are quick to admit they hate strength training. The thought of going to the gym and trying to remember a serious of limb-shaking movements under the gaze of a bundle of hefty body builders, I admit, is much less appealing than stepping out of the door for a 7K run. What’s great about barrecore though is that you’re told exactly what to do for a full hour, safe in the knowledge you’re doing it right, and aren’t harming yourself in one way or another!
Whether you’re looking to boost your performance or reduce your risk of injury, the class is an ideal strengthening and flexibility workout for runners. “We work not just the main muscles groups, but also the small intrinsic muscles that help to strengthen the body and make each muscle group work more efficiently,” says Emily King, lead instructor at barrecore Chiswick. Exercises working on leg muscles such as the quads, allow runners to develop power and strength in these muscle groups, consequently allowing you to run further for longer before these muscles begin to fatigue. Once these muscles are worked to fatigue, repetitive stretching movements then allow you to lengthen these muscle groups. This stretching element is fantastic for runners in developing agility and flexibility, reducing your risk of injury and developing posture as muscles become longer and leaner.
Where is it?
Barrecore is primarily a London-based class with studios in Chelsea, Chiswick, Wimbledon, Mayfair and Kensington. However, in 2014, barrecore also opened a studio in Alderley Edge, Manchester.
How often should you go?
While Emily recommends clients come to classes four times a week, we would recommend runners attend classes once a week or once every two weeks, as a feasible and more affordable way to include additional strengthening and stretching to your weekly training.
How much does it cost?
Although the trendy West London exclusivity of this class is definitely a bit of a façade, the price definitely reflects this branding. Unlimited monthly memberships can be as pricey as £250 per month, with 5-class packages more reasonably priced at £175.
For more information about barrecore visit www.barrecore.co.uk.