Barrecore are challenging Londoners to a New Year refresh – four classes per week for a month for just £150. We accepted – here’s what happened
By Abbie Schofield
Barrecore is London’s pioneering barre fitness workout with ten studios across the capital. Its ballet-inspired workouts use low-impact and body-weight movements to target deep into the muscle, creating the famous ‘Barrecore shake’.
The idea is that by repeating tiny movements to work your muscles to exhaustion, and then stretching to release them, your body trains intensely but without risking injury. Quick results are promised – not just a more sculpted body, but a stronger mind, too.
Having walked past Barrecore’s Islington studio on my way to work for months, I finally took the plunge and signed up to their New Year Refresh Challenge – four classes a week for a whole month.
I drag my friend along with me for my first session, terrified I’d be entering a cult of fitness-obsessed robots re-enacting the horrendous ballet lessons of my childhood. Turns out, I have nothing to worry about – the group is small, and not intimating at all, plus Barrecore staff are super friendly and inviting. The instructor, Esme, gives us personal instructions and encouragement throughout the session.
There are a variety of people here, from a pregnant lady to someone with a lower back injury, which comforts me; no fitness-obsessed robots, just normal people looking for a one-stop-shop workout.
The session begins with a warm up: gentle core exercises and cardio movements to loosen up the body. Then, we use some light dumbbells to workout our arms, all whilst listening to upbeat, energising music. So far, so good.
But then we move to the barre. And the burn begins.
Holding on to the barre for support, we work on specific body parts and muscles: first the lower legs, then the thighs, then the glutes. I’m not going to lie – it burns like hell and I shake within moments. Each movement looks tiny but works every inch of muscle, so it feels like my legs were on fire.
After each set we stretch our muscles, allowing us to release any tension and giving us a welcome break from the burn. We end the class lying on the mats to work on our core before a final relaxing stretch.
I leave the session feeling great and motivated for the January challenge. The workout was tough, but the post-class endorphins kick in, leaving me feeling energised and ready for another session in a couple of days time.
This is the week I really get into the challenge. I progress from giving up during sets to fully completing them (even though it burns. A lot). Barrecore is definitely all about mind over matter – my body is a lot stronger than I give it credit for and with determination, I can push through the discomfort and keep going. I feel a huge sense of achievement when I complete challenging sets and feel leaner and stronger by the end of the week. Forget the January blues – I have the Barrecore buzz!
It’s week 3 and my strength has seriously improved. I can hold planks for longer, squat deeper and do the more advanced ‘challenge’ moves like taking my hand off the barre and balancing. I also notice a superficial difference in my body – my stomach is more defined and my glutes feel tighter and perkier.
I’m also enjoying how no two classes are the same, as each session has different combinations of moves and equipment to keep it fresh and exciting. It also means that you never know what to expect: you think a set is over, but no – there’s more! I personally love this type of challenge as it keeps you focused and in the moment.
Unlike most gyms, Barrecore sessions are done in very small groups – the 7am Thursday class I go to sometimes only has three attendees – which means the instructor is always paying attention to your form and ensuring you’re doing the moves in the most effective way. It almost feels like a personal training session, and you can’t get away with slacking.
I’ve been mixing up my Barre Signature classes with Barre Restore, a relaxing class of stretching and restorative movements to help your body recuperate whilst building flexibility.
It’s the last week of the challenge and I’m sad to see it come to an end. I look forward to each barre class, especially ones with my favourite teachers, and it’s had a huge impact on my life. Each class has me feeling stronger, more confident and more mentally resilient, and the location is so convenient it means I can pop to Barrecore in my lunch break or before/after work without a massive detour across London.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite manage to do 4 classes a week for 4 weeks – people that did received a pair of Barrecore grippy socks, a goody bag and the chance to win a month of unlimited barre – but I’m still so proud of the progress I’ve made. My body has quite literally transformed into a more sculpted and strong physique, whilst I feel fitter and more motivated to be healthy. That’s sounds like success to me.
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