THE BASICS: Mix an aerobics class with graceful, perfectly postured ballet barre moves, core work and weight reps. Repeat until you wonder how you are going to walk tomorrow (note- you won’t be able to walk tomorrow).
THE BITCHES: Carly
THE CLASS: Frame Shoreditch is right round the corner from me and so I find myself heading there quite often nowadays. My last experience had involved both a giant vibrating machine that made me think I had peed my pants, and a happy, drunk homeless dude trying to join in through the side door- it had quite frankly been hilarious. I was therefore more than excited to bound back to this quirky, pillar-box red, achingly hip railway arch of a workout space. The chosen class? One of their signature four- FrameBARRE. Do your stuff, Frame!
The studio was filled without being overfilled- there must have been about 12 of us who entered, popped our bags into the open shelving spaces at the back, and picked a spot on the studio floor to begin. The mirrors were floor to ceiling- and with the number of people it meant that we could all see our forms and keep our postures in check- I prefer this in a class as there’s no point going along if you’re going to do it incorrectly now, is there?
It was at this point that something truly terrible happened. I looked around, panic-stricken. For the first time in my life, I realised with horror that I was going to be in the FRONT line of the group. “Oh my god, this cannot happen” I thought “Save these poor innocent people!!”
Too late. Music on. There I was, right up at the front next to our tiny, springy trainer, offering a full blown 360 vision of my uncoordinated, slightly chubby and breathless little form to the entire class. I gave myself a 3 second pep-talk that went something like this “GROWN A PAIR” and almost instantly embraced my lack of ballet capability with gusto, doing my very best to replicate the graceful warm-up in a non-so graceful( but very enthusiastic) way.
I failed at the graceful aspect, but I gave it a damn good go. And you know what? It was good fun! Ain’t nothing wrong with embracing the concept of the Phoebe Run, people.
After the warm up, we moved onto the barre, and the work here was split into sections that lasted one song-length each. Each section concentrated on reps until we had worked that muscle group to the point of fatigue, and then moved onto another unrelated group so as to keep up the momentum and gain the right muscle work/rest ratio.
We worked arms with 2kg weights (or 3kg for the ambitious) and squatted in unison; working our biceps and shoulders, before tricep dips on the floor in a crab position. We moved onto legs (ankle weight straps and extending one leg back to pulse it, working the glutes- keeping the toes pointed of course).
Tummies and core were next on the agenda, lying with our backs flat on the floor, and our bottoms right up against the wall. Our toes tucked were then under the barre- the goal was to keep those toes hooked and use our core to stretch up and touch the barre. I really struggled with this- I am blaming the fact that I obviously have a massive brain which makes lifting my head quite a difficult feat, no matter how good my core muscles are. Yeah I am definitely going with that.
The class was relatively systematic like this- working each muscle group for a song, using pulsing reps to target the area deeply. One thing I especially liked was the way we were encouraged to check our forms in the mirror with each new posture. Being on the barre and with other well-postured young ladies in the class, I was encouraged to stand straight, tuck my tummy in and my tail bone under, and I felt taller, leaner and more graceful just by making these few minor adjustments.
Maybe this being at the front of the class and in front of the mirror thing wasn’t so bad after all?! I may well find my calling as a ballerina yet!
An hour was definitely enough- I was struggling to keep weights up and reps tight by the last few minutes (in a good way!) I don’t tend to pay much attention to working out my stomach, but by the end of this class, my abs were really aching and I was wondering if I could give Jessica Ennis-Hill a run for her money by Christmas.
Yeah, ok, bit ambitious.
THE VERDICT: I really enjoyed this class. It was an endorphin-inducing low impact/high intensity workout, that kept my heart at a nice high rate, without leaving me breathless. It also worked muscles until they felt fatigued, but without leaving them screaming. It was by no means easy- more that it was just about achievable and left me covered in a nice sheen of sweat and a rather than dying in a pool of it. It also took two days for my legs to forgive me. Ballet dancers are some hardcore ladies.
THE EXTRAS: I can indeed confirm- one way to make you squeeze your tushy tight (and dissolve into giggles) whilst working out is when this song starts…. and no it’s not the official video- that is just beyond rude. (Disclaimer, despite being the, er, “clean” video- best not click on this link at work. P45-time otherwise).