I just want to cry. The pain in my muscles is so intense. I remember I need to breathe. Breathe and be graceful, I tell myself, you’re at the barre. But it’s not Black Swan’s effortlessly supple ballerina reflecting back at me from the mirror. It’s more a face distorted with pain – think Natalie Portman in the second half of the film, only redder and rounder.
The hour-long BARREtoned class has just started and this is only one of the first exercises – I’ve hardly moved. With a great instructor pilates can be hard work, but this is taking things to another level, one buttock squeeze at a time.
Opened earlier this year, Notting Hill Studio has brought the toning exercise – a favourite among US celebs like Dita Von Teese – to the UK. Classes are small and this evening it’s led by the friendly and super fit Katharina. The other participants are regulars who tell me in the changing room they come at least two or three times a week and are hooked. One lady, trim and with a perfect posture, says it has changed her body shape in less than three months.
The workout is designed to create long, lean muscles and consists of interval training at the barre and on the mat using small, controlled movements and one’s own body weight. There’s a lot of stretching going on and every part of the body is looked after, from the neck to the toes.
An outsider would think there’s not much happening as the movements are slow but it’s the extreme intensity and need for accuracy that makes the exercise excruciatingly demanding, and therefore worthwhile. And by the look of my classmates, it does help to create toned and elongated muscles.
As I leave the studio absolutely knackered, but I also already feel stronger and can see myself walking more upright. The classes are an investment of time and money, but if that’s the price to pay for sculpted arms, perfect abs and a peachy bottom, it’s certainly worth every penny.
BARREtoned offers a special new client offer – buy one get one free for £28. Thirty days of unlimited classes cost £130. Notting Hill Studio, 12 Chepstow Road, London W2 5BD.www.barretoned.com
Published on National Geographic Traveller – The Collection.