Xtend Barre – A Barre Class That Will Leave you Sweating And Smiling

Over the past eight years, since I began working out in New York City, I have had the opportunity to try a number of different workouts including most of the barre studios. Every few months, I’d walk back into a barre studio, forgetting just how effective the small pulses are, and quickly sign up for more classes. But, after a few weeks of using this as cross training, I’d grow bored. Regardless how effective the workout is, the slower paced classes, repetitive motions, and playlists left me craving my other workouts.

Then, a few months ago, one of my friends asked if I wanted to join her for a class at Xtend Barre in Brooklyn Heights. Always excited to try a new workout, I joined her for their signature class, Xtend Barre.  While there are more than 250 Xtend Barre locations worldwide, this is the franchise’s only location in New York City until the Tribeca location opens later this year. Through my research, before class, I read that Xtend Barre combines traditional pilates, ballet, and dance in one workout that will lengthen, strengthen and stretch the body.  Little did I know, that after my first 60-minute Xtend Barre class, I’d realize that this barre class and the studio is like no other spot I’d tried previously.

The Brooklyn Heights location features a main lobby and studio shop as well as changing rooms and bathrooms in addition to the main studio and a smaller studio and child care area upstairs. The main studio, where we took class, was far more spacious and well-lit than most studios. The large windows on the far wall allow light to shine through during class, creating a warm atmosphere.  Similar to other barre classes, grip socks are required, and the accessories for class typically include a mat, two sets of hand weights, a ball, mat and a band.

The class was filled with twenty students of all shapes and sizes. Since it was my first class, when I spoke with the instructor, letting her know I was pregnant, I asked her what I should expect. This is when I first heard that Xtend is different than other barre classes. She told me that I’d be sweating within a few minutes, the cardio bursts throughout class keep our heart rate up and the pace is far faster than other barre workouts.  She requested that I take the pace slower and listen to my bodies needs since I’m pregnant and listen to her guidance during class as she would provide prenatal adjustments as needed, primarily during the ab sequence.

When she said I’d sweat in a barre class, I actually remember laughing to myself.

Xtend Barre Review

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The next 60-minutes of class were a bit of a blur. Everything she said was correct – here are just a few of the differences I noticed during class.

  • The warm-up was fast paced and included optional hand weights to make the moves even more challenging.  A combination of plies, curtsies, dynamic stretches, arm work and leg lifts the fast pace had me sweating in no time.
  • Unlike other barre workouts where the focus is merely on burning out the muscles through repetitive movements, Xtend barre focuses on lengthening the muscles through the inclusion of many traditional ballet and dance moves.  We moved constantly during the class, often taking wide movements with both our legs and arms.
  • Similar to a High-Intensity Interval Training class or boot camp, many of the moves were combinations such as wide-legged squat with arm curls or lunges with leg raise.
  • In addition, frequent cardio bursts throughout the entire class kept our heart rates elevated.
  • The arm portion seemed more challenging and longer than other classes, including hand weight and body weight moves.
  • The barre portion is where I saw the biggest variation from other barre studios as this portion included lots of moves that kept our heart rates up and lengthened the muscles through plies, kicks, tondus and optional jumps.
  • The instructor adjusted the workout for me during the core section, but the others in the room did a lot of traditional Pilates moves including the famous hundred as well as planks and movements using the ball.
  • The instructors have the freedom to choose their music, so every class features a different playlist which is a refreshing change from some barre studios who have monthly playlists.

As soon as we finished the class, I walked to the front desk and asked to learn more about their packages and classes. That’s how much I loved my first, sweaty class. It was harder and more challenging than any other barre class I’d taken due to the fast pace and complex moves, but it left me with an energy that I rarely felt after a barre workout. Since it’s low impact, it is perfect for people of all abilities including expecting moms like me. In fact, they offer a multitude of class formats including a popular babies-on-board class for new moms as well as focused pre-natal classes and bootcamp and Pilates focused classes for clients looking to switch things up.

Babies on Board Xtend

Since my first class back in late January, I’ve taken an average of one class per week, having the great opportunity to try many of the different instructors at the studio as well as their prenatal class.

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If you are local and want to try Xtend Barre Brooklyn Heights, you can enjoy one of the two below offers:

Looking to understand more about what to expect from your first Xtend Barre class? Check out this video.

This post is in partnership with Xtend Barre. In exchange for visiting Xtend Barre and experiencing their different classes, I was asked to share my thoughts with readers. As always, these thoughts are 100% my own opinion.

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Daily Burn Barre Harmony

 

It isn’t everyday that I have the opportunity to try out a new workout, be the most awkward person in the group and have a blast wth other fun ladies while filming a live workout.

Daily Burn barre harmony group

Alyssa Sparacino  – me – Leslie McDonaldAliKelly RobertsAshley Macha

As part of Daily Burn’s press launch for their new barre workout, Barre Harmony, a few of us were invited to give the workout a try during today’s Daily Burn 365 filming.  DB365 is Daily Burn’s latest workout program which features, brand-new 30 minute workouts every SINGLE day at 9 AM.  Available on the Daily Burn 365 page all day, people can do the workout at home any time during the day that works for their schedule.  How fun is that?  In case you haven’t heart of it, Daily Burn is a leading streaming fitness service which offers more than 600 stremaing workouts taught by certified trainers. I’ve had the opportunity to try a number of their workouts over the years since my good friend Theodora is one of Daily Burn’s Senior Managers. In fact, Bo and I streamed Daily Burn’s workouts on a weekly basis, our favorites of which were Inferno Power and 5/10 in Nine workouts.

Their new barre program, Barre Harmony, was created by the talented Becca Pace as a 6-week at home program that will target the burn in 15-40 minute workouts you can stream from home.  The workouts only require a yoga mat, a chair and optional light weights if you want added burn.  Perfect for all abilities, each workout shows modifications to make the workout easier or harder.  Barre Harmony is the first time Daily Burn has featured a barre program and I am sure it’ll become one of their more popular programs due to the great mix of mobility movements, toning, cardio and stretching.

daily burn adjustments

Our group arrived a bit before the live 9AM Daily Burn 365 show began filming in order to go through the moves, understand the show’s flow and get comfortable.  For today’s workout, I was the person showing all the modifications which was a very new role for me. At first, I was self concious of being the person doing the modifications as I’m used to going all out but then I realized that right now, modifications are what allow me to stay active and healthy during this last trimester of pregnancy. You should have seen my face when they told me that doing modifications meant a lot of camera time in order to make sure the people watching at home could follow them. As you guys know, I’m not the most coordinated person in the world so I was worried about messing up but luckily our group spent most of the rehearsal laughing and having fun together which helped calm my nerves.

daily burn bts

Once we started the workout at 9 AM, the workout flew by. I was so focused on the moves and adjustments that I never looked for a clock to check the time. The workout flowed quickly between cardio bursts, strength work and stretching which I appreciated and also helped keep things interesting. The two hosts, JD and Becca kept things light hearted and positive with lots of jokes and postitive reinforcement for both our group and the viewers at home. Also, the below picture is one of the few moments when I wasn’t watching Becca to ensure I was doing the move properly. I found the lack of mirror to be the most challenging aspect of the live workout as I’m accustomed to watching my form and the instructor via a mirror during barre and other workouts.  If you want to see some of the footage from today’s workout, you can watch me in all my awkward glory via their Facebook video.

daily burn donkey

Want to check out Barre Harmony for yourself? You’re in luck as right now you can get a free 30-day trial so you can tuck, pulse, stretch and sweat at home with Barre Harmony!

Thank you to Daily Burn for inviting me to be a part of today’s launch and for the free 30-day trial!

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Maternity Workouts & Workout Gear

running while pregnant

Before I got pregnant, I thought that I would spend the nine months running and sweating in the same way as before. I had visions of finishing multiple races while wearing a fun pregnancy tank, further developing my muscles and strength during high intensity workouts and continuing to explore and try different NYC boutique fitness workouts via ClassPass.

I quickly realized, that pregnancy is unique for each person. Personally, I found it virtually impossible to workout during weeks 7-12 of pregnancy due to exhaustion and some nausea. Over the past 11 weeks I have luckily been able to return to a consistent workout routine, averaging six workouts per week. However, my weekly workout schedule has evolved and quite different than what I did before.

  • Most weeks, my workout schedule is as follows:

Instead of trying multiple studios and teachers per month, I am more focused. Each of the above workouts leave me feeling strong, energize and most of all – safe. The instructors are able to easily provide me with prenatal adjustments while also focusing on form and technique. These workouts are also helping me prepare for the marathon that will is child birth and being a new mom. These workouts also take place in Brooklyn, which is quite an adjustment from my previous routine.  Walking to workouts allows me to enjoy some fresh air and extra movement while also saving on commute time.

In addition to changing my routine and class choices, I’ve also had to make some changes to my workout gear. By the time I entered my second trimester,  my body was significantly growing and changing. Suddenly I felt as if I had no workout clothes, even though my dresser drawers were filled with sports bras, leggings and tops. I did my best to resist buying things but then realized that the last thing I wanted to feel or resemble while working out was a stuffed sausage. I spent an afternoon going through my dresser and made three piles – donate, keep but store for after pregnancy, and keep to wear now.  Once I purged my drawers I invested in a few pieces that would allow me to feel confident and comfortable while working out.

Here is the workout gear that I’ve been loving during pregnancy.

  • For Two Fitness Tank – I love this comfortable tank as it comes in a number of colors, is flattering and very comfortable. The technical fabric and long length ensures that the top stays in place and I stay cool during every workout  This makes a perfect gift for a new mom who enjoys working out and wants to share her news with everyone.

For Two Fitness Tank

  • Brooks Pick-Up Tank Top – This was one of my favorite workout tanks before pregnancy but now that I am the proud owner of a growing bump, I’ve fallen even more in love with it. Available in more than 15 different colors, this affordable tank ranges in price from $21-$42 depending on color and is so soft and stretchy. In fact, it’s so long and stretchy that I am still able to wear my pre-pregnancy size though I finally ordered 2 new tanks in a size larger to enjoy during the rest of pregnancy.  My friend who is also pregnant raves about the higher neck so she isn’t constantly flashing people during workouts and I love the skimming shape.

Core Power Yoga Ashley

  • Brooks Juno and Brooks Fiona Sports Bras – The first piece of workout gear I had to invest in during pregnancy were new sports bras. My 36A sports bras were uncomfortably tight within the first trimester as I rapidly grew from a 36A to a 36C. Now, at week 23 I’m between a C and a D but luckily, thanks to the adjustable straps on each of these styles, I’m still enjoying both bras. The molded cups limit my headlights during workouts and the light compression provides me with the support I need.  Many of my mom friends recommended these bra styles as they can also be used for nursing after I give birth.  In addition, Brooks sells these bras in almost every size beginning at 30B and going up to 44DD.
  • Nike Power Epic Running Tights – I’ve been surprised to find myself reaching for these black tights week after week, even as my stomach and body grows.  They stretch more than any of my other leggings and the mesh details on the calf help keep me cool.

Your turn: If you’re pregnant or have been pregnant before, what were your favorite pieces of workout gear? Unfortunately, it seems like most brands have discontinued or limited their maternity gear over the past few years, as when I read older blog posts or articles, more than half the links and lines no longer exist. 

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