Exercise. I have never particularly liked exercise. As a child I preferred painting, writing, making puppets and playing dress-ups. I did not enjoy sports. I loathed ball sports and absolutely abhorred running.
I hated sport. Unless it was swimming sports which I took to like a (ahem) fish to water.
P.E was always an interesting form of torture for me. My heart wasn't in it so naturally I wasn't great at it. So understandibly I was pretty much always the last kid picked for the teams. Oh yes, the good old P.E team picking senario. Why did (or do, do they still practise this sick execise?) P.E teachers think it is a good idea to let kids pick teams? Isn't it an obvious set up to create victims by way of shaming the unathletic kids? Fucking P.E teachers. You guys have a seat reserved for you in hell.
Anywaaay, I digress. One sport type exercise I did enjoy as a child, (other than swimming) was ballet. Now don't get excited I didn't do ballet for long and I was no Margo Fontaine, but for the few years that I did practice ballet, before I gave it up to chase boys, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I loved the movement. I loved the music. I loved the slow and steady exercises, the poise, the beauty and the way it made me feel strong but sleek, like a swan.
So what to do? What if you still crave the beauty and grace that ballet gives you? What if you still yearn to plié and extend? What if you love the work out ballet gave you and the wonders it did for your posture? Well don't panic. There's a new version of ballet that's actually even better.
Xtend Barre is full body workout that combines pilates with ballet and other dance styles. It is a super duper workout that wakes up every little muscle in your body and because there are mirrors and a ballet barre involved it feels just a little bit fancy. Fancy enough to make you forget you're doing exercise.
Mariana and I were curious. It's been a while since we've danced, but this sounded fun! We headed on down to Xtend Barre studio on Jackson Street, Petone, on a fine Sunday morning. The studio was light and breezy with a warm welcoming feel. We were two of about 15 people taking the class. Numbers are limited and spaces fill up fast via the online booking system. Turns out Xtend Barre is super popular! And not long after the class started we learnt why. Hello arms! Hello legs! And hello lower abs I haven't used since childbirth! And who knew using 1kg hand weights could actually destroy your arms? In fairness it was after a good ten minutes of exercises.
The exercises at the barre were of course my favourite. I've always loved a good plié!
A few things to note: Firstly, don't wear slippery pants. Mariana had serious issues with her ball exercises when she chose to wear super slippery leggings. Yes! She was that person chasing her ball around the studio saying "Sorry! Sorry 'scuse me! My ball slipped out". Secondly, wear appropriate socks. Socks are handy for the dance exercises where you need to slide you feet along the floor, but annoying for the floor work where you need good grip. If you're keen to keep at Barre fitness, invest in some grippy socks (sold at the studio) that will help you do both.
So how was the workout? Great! It wasn't a hard cardio workout that makes you super red faced, sweaty and wheezy. It was more of a fast paced pilates or a more cardio dance yoga. Great if you want a low impact, cardio strength workout.
Even better? My fave café Sweetpea is right next door! Can't get enough of their Paris tea and their cupcakes are just gorgeous! And since we had worked so hard, we decided a cupcake was in order.