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Wellness > Health

I Took Barré Classes For A Month- Here’s What I Thought

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UVA chapter.

This past month, everything around me was new. The college workload was new. The walks I made everyday to whatever destination I intended were new. The place I call home became new. But beyond this overwhelming sense of “newness,” I still sought to add to that list by trying out something else new: attending a weekly Barre class. 

At the University of Virginia, there are multiple gyms located on campus available to what seems to be an extremely fit and active student population. Upon the first weeks after my arrival to campus, I slowly noticed how much physical activity was emphasized by my friends and peers. I would watch them leave the dorm in their cute workout sets and offer to have me tag along. It all seemed like a nice gesture, but I caught myself saying “no” more than yes, and not understanding how others were able to find satisfaction in the clanky gym machinery or through lifting weights. 

Much of this general apposition to working out at the gym came from the fact that I never had before. Before starting at UVA, the way I was able to maintain relative in-shapeness was through hours upon hours of dance every week. Not only was it a way to express myself artistically, but it also allowed me to engage all my muscles at once in a way that felt good on my body and left me in pretty good condition. Beginning my time at school however, I had chosen to leave dance behind and allow myself to explore some other outlets. But with this came the slightly unexpected missing of the movement and way to stay physically active. 

Upon some encouragement from my very physically active friends to get me into the gym, I took my own initiative to try and find the workout routine that was fit for me and my body. In looking on the website of the University’s Aquatic and Fitness Center (AFC), located at only a five minute walk from my dorm, I discovered the various group fitness classes they offered multiple times per week. From yoga and Pilates to Zumba and spin, there seemed to be a variety of appealing options available to me.

 Most importantly for our sake, was the offering of Barre class. The class time seemed to align perfectly with when I was looking to get active, and the description of the workout being “low-impact class with influences from ballet, Pilates, and yoga” was perfect in my eyes. 

So, that’s what I did. I began my month-long embark on getting into Barre. After making a quick trip to Target to get a few more workout sets, I signed up for my first class held for 45 minutes on a Monday evening. 

The first class started out at a basic beginners level- perfect for my scenario. When first getting into the group fitness room, you are asked to wear only socks for the workout and grab a yoga mat and 5 pound weights from the equipment room. As someone who has never been muscular in her arm region, as silly as it sounds, I was scared of what these five pound weights had in store for me. The class began shortly after settling in and high energy songs started pulsing through the room. We started the workout off slow with just some gentle posture corrections and simple toe tapping side to side. This then increased as we incorporated more balletic movements with “arabesques” and the appropriate arm movements. From there, the class transitioned to almost full ballet as we moved to the actual barres mounted on the walls and did a combination of plies, tendus, and balancing movements intended to really engage our leg muscles. This is most definitely my favorite part of the class as it allows me to use my prior dance experience in a more intense, muscle training focused way. After moving away from the barre, the exercise transitioned to some on-the-ground ab work and then into some light weight usage through various arm raises and choreographed movements. After a quick meditative cooldown, before I knew it, the class was over. 

I walked away from my first classes feeling the best I had physically since coming to UVA. The class had perfectly combined my prior dance experience (which I will admit helped quite a bit) with a commitment to strengthening and toning- essential qualities I was looking for in adopting a new workout routine. 

I have continued with taking the class each week since. The difficulty of the class had increased, even leaving my legs shaky on my walk to the door, but it is not unmanageable. You are actively seeing yourself grow stronger and be able to attack these intensifying workouts with a good grasp on what your limits are, and how far you can continually push yourself with growth. 

Now I am sure you are wondering if I have seen any physical progress after this new endeavor. The answer is a confident YES! As I mentioned, I wanted a workout that would leave me stronger and better toned. I wasn’t looking to lose much weight or gain crazy muscle, but rather find a good in between where I felt more secure in my core and active overall. I would say barre is perfect for achieving this with a noticeable definition in my ab region and better overall strength in my legs and arms. If you are looking for something that isn’t too demanding of your body and allows you to know your limits while seeing simultaneous growth, I believe this workout might be for you. 

Remember, the best thing for you to do is just try. Try something you are new to as it may be exactly what you are looking for. The worst that can happen is that it isn’t the perfect fit for you, and you just have to try again. Be kind to your body, and give it the workout that only it needs. And who knows, maybe in trying Barre like I did, you’ll find the routine that is best for you! 

Madigan Wirkus is a first year member of the UVA HerCampus chapter. She is on both the writing and social media teams, and you can check out her content on the HerCampus UVA TikTok! Aside from her membership in HerCampus, Madigan worked as the editor-in-chief of "The Hilltopper" at Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket, RI, and attened the Annual Yale Daily News Journalism Symposium. She is currently a first year student at the University of Virginia and intends on double majoring in Media Studies and History! In her extra time, Madigan loves to sing and play guitar, take barre and pilates classes, spend time in her home city of Boston, and read a good book. Madigan's favorite show is "Gilmore Girls," and loves any Norah Ephron movies!