Floor Barre – Urban Sport of the Week
Each week we send members of the USC team to try out a new sport so you know what to expect. This week we took a Floor Barre class, the body-sculpting workout that blends ballet, core and flexibility training…
What is Floor Barre?
Floor Barre is a ballet-inspired conditioning workout designed to sculpt and tone the body with a focus on dance forms and postures. The workout is great if you’re injured or need a low-impact form of exercise. Floor Barre focuses on hip-opening and core exercises in classic ballet postures.
Marameo is a unique fixture in the Berlin dance scene. Founded in 1992 the dance school is committed to providing inexpensive, consistent and high quality teaching to dance students in Berlin and beyond.
What can you expect?
Marameo is located in Berlin’s Mitte district in an old gymnasium. It’s somewhat of an institution in Berlin as it hosts dozens of dance classes – from contemporary to classic – for adults, teens and children. Marameo is much-loved in the dance community because it’s space is so expansive, meaning dancers can train without feeling cramped.
The other reason Marameo is so popular is because teachers can rent the space to teach their own classes. This allows teachers to share their philosophy and ethos without needing to open up their own studio space. It also means that Marameo can provide an eclectic range of different dance classes and styles.
Our class was held by Laurence Chaperone, ex-ballet dancer and professional photographer. She teaches Floor Barre every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 08:15 – 09:15. Our class was held in the ‘Large room’ – a huge gymnasium with mirrors running along the entire front wall.
How was the workout?
Laurence greeted all her students warmly by name which made me feel instantly comfortable and meant the class had a great atmosphere from the start. To begin Laurence led the class through a Floor Barre warm-up which consisted of various stretches on the floor including bending over one leg. The other dancers were able to place their head on their knees but I could barely touch my toes. Note to self: get more flexible.
We held these positions for longer than I expected and after a while I thought I might actually be stuck, but upon Laurence’s instruction I managed to roll over on to my back. “Feet in first position” Laurence said, which meant we had to bend and flex our feet, putting one leg in the air as a sequence.
We did several variations of this which is more commonly known as a pliė in ballet. Then “Feet in second position” Laurence said. I followed her lead and lay on my left side and pointed and pliéd in this position. We then tucked our legs up for several repetitions in hip-opening and core stability exercises. There’s nothing quite like exercising in a room full of ballet dancers to remind you of your lack of elegance, but it was a joy to see how graceful everyone was.
“Arms to second” Laurence told us. This meant that while we were flexing and tucking our legs in ballet-esque movements on the floor we also had to keep an arm position over-head.
Barre and Floor Barre classes focus on exercises that help maintain and perfect form, posture and position for dancers. The exercises varied throughout the class but mainly focussed on hip-opening and core exercises. The most difficult part for me was holding the positions that opened my hips as I’m not used to these movements at all.
Although my lack of flexibility meant the class was challenging, it was also a lot of fun. Laurence has a great sense-of-humour and an amazing energy that was contagious. The students laughed and chatted throughout the class and joked about how hard the positions were.
At the end Laurence told me I’d done a good job which I thought was very kind of her, even if it wasn’t 100% true.
How did I feel after?
Hip-opening exercises are very good for you as (according to science) a lot of emotions are carried in the hips. Releasing these is good for your physical and mental wellbeing. After the class I felt buoyant and light and resolved to practice stretching and hip-opening exercises more often.
Benefits of Floor Barre
Floor Barre is an effective low-impact way to train and sculpt your body – perfect if you have an injury and if you need to improve flexibility.
Barre exercises require deep breathing so has calming and meditative aspects that will set you up for the rest of the day.
It’s an excellent core conditioning workout. This class is a good introduction to ballet as it hones your technique and covers all the basic positions.
Don’t forget to bring…
Workout gear – no need for trainers as we worked in our socks. And maybe do a few minutes of stretching beforehand to make sure you can touch your toes…
Find all of Laurence Chaperon’s classes on her USC page.
Urban Sports Club has plenty of ballet and barre classes in studios across Germany and France. Take a look on our website to find a class in your area.