Friday, February 8, 2013

Fitness Fridays - Xtend Barre ballet workout


You may remember that at the start of this year, I set the goal of doing Pilates on a regular basis in 2013.

This goal was set for several reasons. I think Pilates would help with my poor flexibility. I am sure it would help with my terrible (non-existent) balance. By improving core muscle strength, it would help counter the back difficulties that stem from mild scoliosis. It may also reduce my vulnerability to injuries when running.

In short, there are lots of reasons why Pilates might be beneficial. And yet, prior to this year, I have said many times that I will do it and many times I have done it once, perhaps twice, and then stopped. It has made me realise what exercise is like for lots of people - they start with the best of intentions, there are lots of reasons to do it, and yet for various reasons it doesn't happen.

I am fortunate that I don't need to force myself to exercise, but it seems that only applies to exercise I am already in a routine of doing. Cardio work, no problem. Stretching, absolutely. Weights, sometimes.

Pilates? Mmm. Tricky.

This is why it needed to be a goal. 

Even with my goal setting, I wasn't quite sure how I would achieve it regularly. My gym does Les Mills Body Balance classes, which incorporate Pilates, yoga and tai chi. I have done them at an average rate of one class per year for the last four years. The class schedule just doesn't match my schedule. Paying for Pilates classes elsewhere seemed too expensive, and doing it at home has never really happened consistently.

Towards the end of January, a friend recommended that I try Xtend Barre. She thought it might appeal to me more than regular Pilates, and told me about a DVD series by the creator of Xtend Barre, Andrea Rogers.


Xtend Barre could be described as Pilates with a twist. It includes Pilates movements, and has the same focus on building core strength, flexibility and balance, but it also adds elements of ballet and dance. In so doing, there is more movement than in a typical Pilates class and it relies on cardiovascular fitness as well as strength.

As with Pilates, the focus is on using your own body weight and on honing small, specific movements that tone specific body parts. I ordered the Xtend Barre ballet workout DVD, which has tracks for warming up and cooling down, upper body work, core strength work, and a barre workout section that focuses primarily on the lower body.


I have now used the DVD four times (usually doing half of the 55 minute workout in a session) and also attended one Xtend Barre class at a local studio. The home DVD work is scheduled in to my Thursday, and I can see it continuing. The class I tried was fun, but at $20 per class, won't be happening regularly.

I was initially worried that Xtend Barre wouldn't offer all of the benefits I wanted from Pilates. I get enough cardio work and wanted to make sure the core strength, flexibility and balance I was after would come through. There are parts of the DVD routine where I know I'm not using perfect form, and I also wanted to make sure I didn't trigger any injuries.

Despite the above, I am now a convert. I really enjoy it! It is active enough to keep me engaged and interested, without being so active that it becomes a heart rate workout rather than a conditioning one. I inevitably feel the effects the following day (the first few times, I felt the effects to the extent that walking was painful...). It is clearly activating muscle groups I don't usually use. I finish feeling calm, limber, and like I have done something worthwhile.

Will I get all those benefits I was hoping for from Pilates? Only time will tell. However, I think I have finally found my match for Pilates-type work and I am quite excited to keep it in my routine. I never thought I would be someone who did home exercise DVDs (I still can't think of myself as someone who is), but this may prove to be the exception.

Have you ever tried Xtend Barre? Or do you regularly do 'normal' pilates?

For another Fitness Fridays contribution, see Theresa's excellent post on eating to fuel exercise, at The Tropical Vegan.

20 comments:

  1. I haven't tried Barre, but I would love too! We have two studios in Spokane, but they are kind of pricey. $18 for 1 class. Eeek! I keep looking at their websites for a special deal. I just want to try one class and see if I like it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a bit of a relief to know the cost isn't specific to here! The price where I went ranges from $24 if you do just do one class, to $18 if you buy a set of 10. I am glad I did one to try it, but it is definitely not sustainable! Hopefully you can find a deal to try it out :)

      Delete
  2. sounds interesting - I have thought of doing classes but it is hard to get out of the house sometimes so I wonder if a dvd would work for me. Exercise has worked best for me when I love it - which narrows the options :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I imagine DVDs could be slotted around other commitments, including children, so perhaps they would help you out? I have always thought of exercise DVDs as 80s-style aerobics (the thought of which frankly terrifies me) but when looking for this one it seems there are a lot of styles and types out there. The challenge would be finding that one that allows you to love it!

      Delete
  3. Looks very curious! I do body balance at my fitness first. It's fantastic. I am much more flexible and stronger in the legs from it. Lots of balancing as the name suggests. I haven't heard of your new work out but I would definately give it a try :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you like Body Balance I am sure you'd enjoy it :) It is similar in lots of ways but a bit more active and a bit more ballet-like. I have enjoyed Body Balance the few times I've gone so I admire you doing it regularly - I always intended to and just never did!

      Delete
  4. See, I think I would be more likely to try out something like this if I had a DVD, rather than in a class, because I am so hopelessly uncoordinated that doing anything dance-like in front of other people is embarrassing. Really embarrassing. I used to do Winsor Pilates on DVD when I was in the US, and I really liked it - 20 minute core workouts, which were really good. I should look into it again here.

    Good luck with your big run, too, and hopefully this new workout will help contribute to your success :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The home environment is definitely an advantage for those of us who are uncoordinated! My lack of balance is also a hazard in class settings, so toppling at home is certainly preferable. Fortunately for me, this isn't dance like in the sense of doing coordinated dance moves, more in the style of the stretches and exercises (which incorporate ballet positions). I managed to cheat a bit at the one class I went to and use the barre for support when I was meant to be balancing!

      The Pilates DVD you mention sounds good too. Being able to do short 20-30 minute bursts is much easier than going in to an hour long class, never mind being able to do it when it suits you.

      Delete
  5. I've never been able to stick to a Pilates routine either. I have one Pilates DVD, but it's something I would consider to be more of a cool down than a workout, and at 45 minutes, it's hard to justify doing the whole thing.

    I love the bar classes I've taken at studios, but I am also not able to justify the pricey drop-in rate.

    I do think it offers a lot of great benefits though! Way to set a goal and stick to it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's exactly how I feel about Pilates :) I don't want to cut out more intense exercise to make time for it (even though I know there would be benefits if I did...) and as a consequence, finding time for a full class / session becomes really hard. If you ever come across a DVD of this perhaps it will suit you more too?

      Delete
  6. I've heard such great things about pilates but never really got into it- this is great to know!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh yeah I LOVE bar-style work outs.... makes me feel like a ballet dancer ;) You should check out "pop pilates" on YouTube - really effective, short, intense pilates workouts - they are fabulous (and free!) I LOVE pilates, the pelvic floor muscle training is CRUCIAL for us ladies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Feeling like a ballet dancer is an added bonus ;)

      Before hearing about this I had planned to get in to the free Pilates workouts online - both you and Lisa (below) have recommended them. Perhaps I'll even manage to do both if I stay on this particular exercise kick!

      Delete
  8. I do a pilates routine every morning that I developed from the Blogilates website. I've found since I started doing it that I've got less aches and pains in the mornings, so it is clearly releasing all those muscles plus I'm slowly getting stronger. But your DVD sounds really interesting. I think it would be great to add something like this to push myself a little bit more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your positive experiences with the Blogilates website were part of what made me think doing it at home might be a good way to go :) I was going to follow your advice and check out the website before I was told about this, but will try to give it a go too as I think short bursts of 'proper' Pilates would probably still be good. If you ever get a chance to try Xtend Barre to complement your work, it may complement all your work to date too?

      Delete
  9. Barre was so much harder than I expected it to be! It's always great trying new classes though:)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I do not know whether it's just me or if perhaps everybody else experiencing issues with your site. It appears like some of the written text in your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them too? This may be a issue with my web browser because I've had this happen previously. Cheers
    Ultrasonic Cleaning

    ReplyDelete
  11. That's perfect choice for fitness that's why many people showes their
    interest in this activity keep sharing your ideas with us thanks .


    Ballet equipment
    Ballet Fitness
    Ballet Workout Dvd

    ReplyDelete

I genuinely appreciate all comments and the time taken to post them. Occasionally, I may need to restrict commenting to registered users in order to halt large volumes of spam. If that happens, I will lift the restriction within a week.

Want other ways to interact? Bite-sized thoughts is on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/bitesizedthoughts) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/bitesizethought).