What is it?
A calorie-burning fusion of ballet, Pilates and weights, Xtend Barre has been designed to give you a dancer's body without bulking up. Dubai-based instructor Liz Verheyden says it keeps the five basic principles of Pilates and adds rhythm, dance and fun. "The aim is to tone and challenge the body during a cardio workout to music to promote health for the heart, lungs, bones and muscles," she says.
The 55-minute workout includes cardio exercises with traditional Pilates principles, as well as weight training using light resistance balls. There's dedicated barre work (think pliés, leg lifts and jetés, which begin large and get smaller until you're pulsing) as well as targeted floor work.
What are the results?
According to Liz, Xtend Barre sculpts your whole body proportionately so that all body parts are equally challenged. "It strengthens, lengthens and stretches the body from top-to-toe, improves cardiovascular fitness, coordination and balance," she says. Its many followers tout lean toned upper arms, firm thighs and engaged abs and it's a great exercise for the older and/or pregnant woman, as exercises can be modified. As I quickly discover, coordination and balance are a must - there's lots of holding legs up and balancing on the balls of the feet. You do ‘feel the burn' especially in your thighs and bottom - at one point my bottom went numb and on several occasions my legs were physically trembling. By the end of the session, which goes amazingly quickly due to such variety (on the barre, on the floor, in the middle of the room with the balls) I'm dripping with sweat and my toes are cramping, but rather than feeling like I could flop, I feel energised. After four consecutive Saturday morning sessions, my legs are trembling less in class and I'm noticing tighter thighs. My arms don't feel quite so wobbly and I could swear my bottom feels an inch or two higher.
Xtend Barre classes are available at Real Pilates, Palm Strip Mall, Jumeirah, call 04-3453228; and at JLT, 04-4585399. In Abu Dhabi, Bodytree Studio offers Xtend Barre, call 02-6676579. Visit www.xtendbarre-me.com for more information.
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