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Embracing the Shakes in My First Barre Class

I'm not an exercise fanatic but I am an exercise class junkie. I love group classes and teach four of my own including Zumba and strength training. I've belonged to a gym most of my life and am familiar with almost every class out there, but not barre fitness, a new popular exercise found in many studios. Body in Motion in Wellesley invited me to check out their barfusionTM class, which is a specialty barre class created by owner Mary Guarente who is a mother of five (!) and certified in Pilates, gyrotonics, and barre fitness. All of the instructors possess certifications in group exercise, personal training, yoga, and/or Pilates in addition to barre training hours. She describes the class as a total body workout that incorporates upper body strength training, the ballet barre for lower body work, abdominal work under the barre, Pilates mat work, and yoga stretches. 

We warmed up with plank poses and push-ups (I'm not feeling too worried...yet)Reminding me of ballet class Let me tell you that this class was haaarrrdd! It was humbling, and an exercise of contrasts. We would go into a pose that felt comfortable but then we'd lift or extend a body part that would make my muscles shake wildly. And just when I felt I couldn't possibly do one more repetition, the exercise ended and we'd perform a deep stretch. No muscle group was left out: shoulders, chest, biceps/triceps, butt, legs, abdominals, and back. We used a ballet-type bar, lightweight mini stablity ball, light dumbbells, and strap to perform a number of routines that made the 60 minutes fly by.

The "fold-over" series = grueling. I can do endless rear leg lifts but try it bent over with a straight back—a completely different exercise that works your standing leg and core as much as the lifted leg/glut.

On their way out, I overhead students saying "that was amazing." I felt this class was more interesting and intense than a traditional Pilates class. I appreciated the music (typically missing in Pilates classes), which always helps me endure a grueling class! I also liked how the instructor Laura offered varying levels of intensity and was very hands-on, especially where I needed frequent adjustments in my body alignment. 

Instructor Laura Parrott discussing proper form with student MollyMolly, 43, previously an avid runner who took cycling and strength classes weekly has attended Body in Motion for several years and now only does barfusionTM for exercise. She notes the highly supportive atmosphere among the students and instructors but that the biggest benefit has been increased core strength and "my back pain, which I've always had, is now completely gone." Ali, 37, a former runner and body builder has taken barfusionTM classes for one year and is so passionate about them that she is now training to be an instructor. "These exercises have changed my shape more than any other exercise. There is no better workout for women over the age of 30. It works the muscles to exhaustion and then immediately stretches them out to lengthen them." Owner Mary says it's this combination of intense strength moves followed by stretching that prevents lactic acid build-up, which is believed to cause next-day muscle soreness. This allows students to take barre classes daily, if desired, without risk of injury. The movements are non-impact, protecting sensitive joints, and can be modified to meet every fitness level including exercise novices and those recovering from injury.

Body in Motion is located at 180 Linden St. in Linden Square on the 2nd floor of the building across from Roche Brothers; the entrance door is next to Divine Kitchens. Click here for pricing and class schedule. Your first class is free! You can also receive a 25% discount on a barfusionTM class package with the coupon code FITMAMAEATS. The code is active now through 12/31/12. Check out their Facebook page for frequent updates and health tips where I found this useful article 10 Tips for Taking Your First Barre Class.