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Fitness Clubs

Barreworks

Posted by Alison Ku / Posted on November 25, 2012

barreworks torontoBarreworks studio offers "barre fitness" classes that are based on a popular exercise originating from New York and Los Angeles. Classes here promise dancer-inspired workouts that combine "fitness training, core conditioning, yoga and pilates into one dynamic class" with an emphasis on using a ballet barre. The novelty of using a ballet barre for the duration of the class is what initially attracts me to try a class at the studio.

barreworks torontoWhen I arrive at Barreworks, I'm immediately impressed by how pristine and clean the studio is. I feel like I'm standing in the main hallway of a real ballet studio. The front reception area is spacious and uncluttered, with a few ballet-inspired accessories like toe-grip socks available for purchase.

There are two main studios for the Barreworks and yoga classes, as well as a spinning room. The change rooms, like the reception area, are equally impressive. They're clean, spacious, and are fully equipped with showers, lockers, and free use of towels, which makes getting ready for work after an early class entirely feasible.

barreworks torontoThere isn't a 'beginner's class' to attend, so I decide to try their signature Barreworks Mixed Level class, since their website says that no experience or dance background is required to begin. Before we enter the studio, the teacher asks us to choose a resistance band, a weighted ball, and a mat. The studio room is long and narrow, with ballet barres running along both sides. Full-length mirrors are set up across only one side of the room and I decide to pick a spot against the mirror.

barreworks torontoThe class begins quickly, without any formal introductions, and the first two things I notice are how fast-paced the class is, and how difficult it is to hear the instructor over the music. While I appreciate having music in the background of a class, I don't appreciate it when the music volume competes with the instructor's voice - especially when it's a style of exercise that I'm unfamiliar with. As a result, I end up spending a lot of time trying to carefully watch the instructor in order to keep up with the class, since I can't understand her cues.

barreworks torontoOnce the warm up is over, we move to doing a series of squats and lunges using the barres on the wall. Since we're all lined up against the wall, it becomes even more difficult to see the instructor and I resort to watching the other students in the class around me to figure out what I should be doing.

barreworks torontoOnce we are finished with the barre, the instructor leads us onto our mats for floorwork (push-ups, planks, mountain climbs). Each transition feels frantic, and with the instructor moving all around the room, it's incredibly difficult to keep up with the pace of the class. At this point, I've spent more time observing than participating in the class, and I haven't managed to get much of a work out at all.

barreworks torontoWhen the class finally ends, I'm left desiring more - a lot more. For a true beginner like myself, I would have preferred if the instructor had spent a couple of minutes before the class introducing herself, giving a brief breakdown of the class so that I could be a little more prepared, and turning down the volume of the music so that I could actually hear her verbal cues. Even suggesting a good spot in the room for first-timers like myself may have made a big difference in my first experience.

barreworks torontoIt may be worthwhile to consider offering 'beginner's only' classes or workshops to help newcomers with zero experience get up to speed on the pace and style of classes offered at Barreworks.

Photos by Matt Mills

Discussion

14 Comments

Davenport / November 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm
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Alison, Thanks for a thorough review...you hit all the points I need to know before hitting a class at a new to me studio.

I've gone to Barre classes at Spynga..class was small and music low..def fast-paced but felt great (+ sweaty) afterwards.
k / November 25, 2012 at 01:02 pm
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sounds like I won't be spending any money/time here, if a class is going to be that expensive it seems like there is no care given for beginners and I would be equally frustrated if I couldn't hear the instructor. Disappointing because incorporating a barre is a cool idea.
PL / November 25, 2012 at 01:07 pm
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What's the cost?
L. / November 25, 2012 at 03:54 pm
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I've been to this place a number of times. It's geared toward beginners and non-beginners, they can usually cater to both. As someone who doesn't really find the motivation to go to the gym, this class is perfect. It's costly, but if you go regularly, it's worth it. You definitely notice a change in the way you feel and the way you look - my arms suddenly had definition, it was amazing! The classes are fantastic and always really fun. I believe the first class you take is cheaper than their regular price ($10 I think?) - worth a check out at least! Seriously, GO!
L. / November 25, 2012 at 04:01 pm
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Just one more thing: the fact that their classes are usually almost packed on weeknights - sometimes sold out completely, should say something. Also, the music and the instructor are competing for sound? Welcome to a dance class people. Welcome to any fitness class that isn't yoga, actually.
N / November 25, 2012 at 04:05 pm
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I went to Barreworks for their $10 introductory class and hated it. The instructor never once corrected my form (which needed correcting) and the pace was too fast to be able to do anything properly.

In the end, it felt like a class I could do poorly at home.

It's shame. The class came highly recommended to me, and I was hoping for so much more (especially for $200/month membership)
MrsPotato / November 25, 2012 at 06:20 pm
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It makes me so sad that these fad workouts are the only way we can get people motivated to workout or possibly stay in shape ... long term, i highly doubt it that price.

I also don't want to get anxious wondering if there's room for me in the class. That is definitely a turn off for me, and another reason I tend to stay away from class based fitness.
M / November 26, 2012 at 08:58 pm
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I've been going to Barreworks for a while and I really like the gym.

The instructors know the routines and always provide correction if required. The kick-ass playlist is never too loud to hear the instructions. It is understandable if you are writing an article that you would want to find issues to be critical about, but I think you have gone too far.

I would highly recommend Barreworks as a great workout in Toronto.
CW / December 14, 2012 at 10:00 pm
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Barreworks is amazing!

I've been going regularly for a few weeks now and have found all the instructors to be very attentive, high energy and open to feedback at the end of class. I'm not a fitness buff at all but I found that if you push through the initial class (by drawing on both the instructor and the students around you) benefits really do accrue quickly.

Any new workout class takes some adjusting to and Barreworks is the best I've been to in ages. I highly recommend it!
SB / January 23, 2013 at 01:14 pm
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I understand where you're coming from regarding some of these points, but honestly, for regular visitors, the formal introduction/etc. is repetitive and takes time away from what you're ultimately there to do: workout. You can't fault the instructor for not answering the questions you ought to have asked the desk staff prior to the class (ie. breakdown of the class.) They're well-equipped to answer any questions you may have since many of them double as instructors.

I've been attending classes at the studio for a couple of months now. I'm impressed with the general look and maintenance of the facility and the background & knowledge of the instructors. I'm satisfied with the way my body has changed; I've experienced increased flexibility, muscle tone, muscle definition and overall tightening. The classes are fun and challenging (and therefore addictive) and the staff are very professional. Some instructors are more apt to correct your form than others. Some classes (the ones held in Studio B, morning classes) are smaller and you get more attention.

I wouldn't call this a "fad workout." Sure, it's trendy and in right now, but so is running and spinning. Most of the postures are classic exercises, like lunges, squats, planks, burpees, variations on the sit-up, push-ups, bicep curls, etc. I appreciate the focus on safety and the low-impact style. Overall yes, expensive, but avid barre fans will agree that this workout is insanely effective.
VL / May 27, 2013 at 07:28 am
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To echo the last reviewer's comments, for regular people to get the full benefit of these classes, it has to move fast (to try and hit as many moves as possible and also to keep your heart rate elevated). If you are new to the classes, you will definitely feel a little lost at first but you will catch up quickly.

I have been doing these classes for 3 weeks now (3-4 times per week) and I love them! What I would suggest to new people is: get the 2 week unlimited package, try the mixed level or bAAArre to get a flavour of what these classes are like (and see if you like this type of exercise) and then do one or two Barre Basics classes for a slower version and more personal attention.

This is what I did and I now I feel like a pro! My muscle tone, flexibility and my overall level of fitness have improved more than with any other exercise I have done in the past. I did personal training for a year and I think you can get very similar benefits (or better because this is way more fun!) with these classes at a much lower cost.

One thing to note: I am in my late 40s and the average age in these classes is at least 10 years lower than mine (and these girls look incredibly fit for the most part!) but don't let that bother you! Barre Works will have you looking great in no time!

A final word: The space is beautiful and the booking system is great (it will keep you accountable).
PS / November 7, 2013 at 09:32 am
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I took my first Barreworks Mixed level Class yesterday and absolutely loved it. It's a great workout, set to great music and my instructor was awesome! She managed to help my Mom and I out with our postures/form while continuing on with a normal class and not hindering the experience of others. She explained everything to us beforehand (just get there 15 minutes early like they tell you to) and put us in a spot in the room where she could easily help us if needed. The class was fast paced and difficult, but it was easy to keep up with what everyone was doing even as a first timer. I recommend Barreworks to everyone!
Lucy / December 4, 2013 at 04:23 pm
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I hate working out & I love barre. But you do need to find out what classes and instructors work for you. I've been going 3-5 times a week for the last 8 weeks and have dropped about 10lbs. That's a healthy way to slim down. I find 3 times keeps you in shape and more than that will show you quicker results.

The classes do fill up quickly, so you do need to book in advance.

JC / December 4, 2013 at 05:43 pm
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I love barreworks! Since this article was written, they've added a Basics class which is perfect for any beginner as well as an advanced student. The instructors are attentive and detailed when it comes to teaching proper technique. I started taking classes a year ago and my body has totally transformed! I feel stronger and healthier than ever before. The music is always really fun, and classes are challenging but not intimidating. It sounds like this reviewer would have benefitted from the Basics class and probably would have enjoyed that much more.

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