Raising the Barre: Why I Now Love Exercise

The Barre Studio in Capitola, Calif., where I've been exercising for the last three months. All photos by Tommy Parker of Ginger Built Design.

We do an arms section with weights during the hour in class and your arms will be shaking.

Can you hold a two-minute plank? In barre, you'll do so. 

Heels up. The higher you go, the more you will shake and burn.

One inch higher and hold. This might look easy, but it's not at all. 

Stretching at the end of class.

I used to hate exercise. So much so that I hadn't been to a gym (even though I have a membership) in nearly five years. Hence, a 20-pound weight gain (no exercise and eating out a lot). I shook off 12 pounds of that last year by changing how I ate, but there was a remaining eight pounds that just wouldn't quit. I knew the only answer was exercise, the last thing in the world I wanted to do: it takes time, it's hard, I never see results quickly so I quit (before the results ever have a chance to show up). And it's boring. I needed something different that would inspire, motivate and discipline me, and maybe get me excited, too. And just maybe, I'd see some changes to my body. 

So, when I heard that The Barre Studio was opening not far from my home in the Santa Cruz area, I was intrigued. The ballet-inspired/yoga-influenced whole body workout has been gaining major steam across the nation with models and actors taking note. During opening weekend in October, I took a class and was wowed: it was hard, no doubt, and I was sore the next day. But it was also fun, something I hadn't experienced with exercise in a really long time. Plus, the staff was unbelievably sweet and the fellow students cheered one another on, unlike many group exercise classes which promote competition, this is a place where people support one another. For me, it was revolutionary. 

In November, I started taking regular classes and attend five to seven times a week. And it's never hard for me to go to class. I actually look forward to it. It's one of the hardest workouts I've ever done: you do isolated exercises on the arms, thighs, glutes, and abs, until you reach muscle exhaustion, and then you move on. But really, you can do anything for a short time, right? Plus, with catchy music and motivating instructors, there's an urge to press through it. An hour is over before you know it. 

The results? After three months of being in class, I have been humbled by the feedback I'm receiving. I've dropped pounds and my clothes fit differently. I have biceps and deltoids and my rather substantial butt is still there, but it's taken on a new shape. I like to call it "the barre butt"—a lifted, firm tush. My legs are thinner and my muffin top is almost gone. 

While I started seeing results at about week two, it's now at the end of my third month that I can really tell the difference, and so do others. In the last three weeks I've had several people come up to me to say, "you're tiny," which was a compliment I gladly received. I've never heard anyone say that to me before. 

For me, The Barre Studio has changed my life in many ways. I move my body everyday and I'm thrilled to be doing so. I've lost weight, shed fat and gained muscle. And I have confidence now, something I haven't had in five years. 

If you're in the Bay Area, check out The Barre Studio in Capitola. You won't regret it.