I wore my comfy wool socks during a fun and challenging Baja Barre class with Instructor Kym Hoy. She led us through an energetic workout that left me stretched and feeling good. Kym recently joined The Ranch Fitness team after 10 years as a national evaluator and teacher for The Bar Method.
We warmed up in the center of the room with lightweight free-weight repetitions to warm up. Kym told us, “I recommend going lighter, maybe two to three pounds each, and we’ll work our way through the upper body before moving to the barre to work our calves and stretch.” Thankfully there were modifications for those of us less limber to stretch with our leg on top of the bar.
“We don’t squat in Barre,” Kym told us, “we plié.” And with that, I held the barre with both hands while standing on the balls of my feet: a modified relevé from ballet. I slowly bent my knees, and brought my backside close to my heels, like a squat. “A big focus of barre is on alignment and posture. It’s less about charging through the exercise. We keep it in balance with mindfulness,” Kym said.
“If you want that nice Barre butt, that firm lifted seat,” Kym said during a transition, “you have to work your glutes.” Next went into a round of arabesques – standing on one leg and bending over while raising the other. Kym showed us a variation in case anyone had lower back issues or vertigo that keeps them from bending over. “We’re trying to isolate muscles, so we work on keeping the tension where it’s supposed to be. Hold the barre and keep your body relaxed,” she reminded us.
After working with the barre, it was back to the middle of the room for more relaxed seated stretching. Kym explained the benefits of a good barre workout. “You pretty much get every muscle from head to toe, and it’s no impact. You build stamina during some of the more difficult parts like thigh and seat work. It’s interval training so it’ll have moments of intensity then a stretch and then back into the intense pose. It can be a challenging class, but you can make it as hard as you want.”
After the class, Kym told me some of the misconceptions people have about Barre classes, “You don’t need to be a ballet dancer, and it’s really effective for men. We stretch the muscles we strengthen so we’re creating long, lean muscles. You don’t need to be super flexible to participate.”
It felt like a combination of Pilates, yoga, and ballet all wrapped up into one fun class. We didn’t do any allegro’s or tour en lair’s like you would in dance; it was zero impact. I can see myself adding this class to my schedule later in the day after my morning hike.