At one point in my life I was a dancer. I danced on the school team in junior high and high school and taught dance camps after high school for a national company. I was always the first to be a part of my sorority’s dance competitions and performances all through college. After college, when I lived in Nashville, I was known for requesting Thriller at every wedding reception and would get everyone out on the floor with me (um, it was a blast.) I essentially danced my way through the first 20+ years of my life.
Dancing was such a huge part of my identity in those years (and it still is, in my own head.) I never had to think about exercise. I would just dance. But you get to a point where other life takes over, your body changes, you move, you have a busy job, you have a kid…circumstances just change. That younger identity is gone and in this case with it went my regular form of exercise. It’s a weird transition and a tough one.
I tried a few dance classes here and there (also can I please come to Shana’s dance class? right?!), including an amazing Zumba class in Nashville and some killer YouTube dance video workouts, but nothing worked its way into my regular schedule. I was slightly successful with some other online/subscription workouts like 21 Day Fix and Bikini Body Mommy. But, with each of these, I would do these workouts for a few weeks or a couple of months in a row and then fizzle out. Nothing stuck. Nothing changed my habits for real.
Enter barre3. I started with their ALL IN challenge last January 2017. They offer special new client pricing and I decided it was time. I was stressed out last winter due to some personal/family stuff, I wasn’t feeling great physically and I was tired all the time. I was a stressed mama to Sienna. I felt like I had lost touch with my body since becoming a mother. I don’t think I could turn on a single ab muscle. Seriously.
I started ALL IN and went 4-5 times a week to barre3 classes in January. Whew. It was hard y’all, but everyone was so encouraging and nice. I worked booty and ab muscles I didn’t know existed. I put my classes in the calendar like appointments and stuck to them (best advice ever, Sadie.)
Over the last year I then found my groove. I eventually discovered that 3 times a week in the studio was perfect for me, my schedule and my body. I started feeling my muscles again and was amazed when I was able to hold a plank for the whole time. When I had to go a week or so without barre3 due to travel or illness or life, I MISSED it. This is the change I had been looking for.
Why Barre3 Works For Me
There are a lot of workouts out there. There are even quite a few barre workouts out there. Here is a breakdown of the main reasons I like barre3 and think I have stuck with it:
- low-impact: I love that there is no damage to your knees and other joints and rather you’re doing strengthening exercises that will help support these joints instead of hurting them.
- smart postures and instruction: the creators and instructors know what they’re doing and they guide you to do what feels best for your body that day. They focus on form and building your butt and core muscles that we lose sitting all the time. They offer alternative suggestions for every posture you do in class and encourage you to listen to what your body needs. There’s no pressuring you to kill yourself during a workout.
- yoga elements: I love that breathing and some yoga practices and postures are included in each class. Mindfulness and attention to your body are highly valued.
- friendly community: everyone I have met at barre3 has been encouraging, friendly and inclusive. First time in class? No problem. You’ll be walked through the steps and allowed to do what you can that day. 100th time in class? You’ll be recognized and gently encouraged to push yourself to your limit.
- additional resources: Not only do they offer an easy online sign-up/cancellation process so you can get your classes on your calendar, but they offer additional support through recipes and Q&A online.
- childcare: you guys. They have childcare at most all locations and it’s $5. If you have a membership, it’s free. Sienna loves going to barre3 as much as I do. They typically have a small number of people working with the kids so they get to know your kiddos and it makes them feel comfortable.
- tough workouts: barre3 is NOT easy. You pretty much do lots of supported squats and more squats and hold it and then do more. But it works. And you’re taught proper form and the reason why it’s important to work various muscle groups. You build so much strength. I’ve never felt stronger, even when I was dancing everyday.
Before & After
So I know everyone is interested in results. Well, I haven’t weighed myself the whole time because I just don’t do that anymore. But I’ve gone down almost 2 pant sizes since last January, my waist is more defined than it used to be, there are abs now under my tummy skin and I could pretty much crush anyone with my booty and thighs. Haha. Not really but omg I’ve done a lot of squats. I’m also proud of those biceps because being a child of the 80’s and 90’s my goal has always been #madonnaarms
What’s best of all though? I feel so healthy. I get sick less often. I need fewer massages and chiropractor visits. I can still eat the good food I love without feeling guilty. I eat fairly healthy but I enjoy food and this allows me to balance it all out.
If you follow my Instagram stories @elletrain you’ve heard me go on and on about barre3. I know I come off as a little obsessed but you know what I’m obsessed with? Feeling good. Feeling strong. Feeling accomplished. Feeling in tune with this weird thing called my body. This picture above was from just a couple of weeks ago on my 1 year anniversary. (These are my two favoritest barre3 peeps, by the way.) I know it sounds like I really drank the barre3 Kool-aid, but it’s because whatever they’re doing works and I want to share that with you other mamas who may be lost like I was, trying to find what you need but struggling.
Star Tank by Chaser – I love this tank. So soft, lightweight and the length doesn’t get in your way when you’re working out. The front knot also helps it from hanging open when you’re bent over in plank. Wearing size small.
Beyond Yoga High Waisted Long Legging in Charcoal – THESE are the softest leggings in the world. They hold you in well and aren’t too thick but aren’t too thin. Eventually I will have all the soft Beyond Yoga leggings. LOVE. Wearing size small. The black and white space dyed crop leggings I’m wearing in the studio at the top of the post are also Beyond Yoga and the same super soft material. LOVE them all.
Handful Bra with Removable Padding– These are my favorite sports bras. They flatter instead of flatten you, but the padding is removable if you don’t want it. They’re comfortable enough to wear all day long, travel in, sleep in, hike in, etc. They’re soft enough for nursing mamas, too, even though they’re not a true nursing bra. They are seriously THE best workout bras hands down.
So what if you don’t have a barre3 studio in your area? Their online classes are amazing and are taught by some of the instructors I workout with here in Portland. They’re so good, you guys. They offer a variety of class lengths online so you can squeeze them in anytime at home, traveling, etc., from 10min classes up to 60min classes. They update the classes weekly so you don’t get bored. It helps to have the barre3 ball and some small hand weights, but you don’t have to have a thing to get going. You don’t need a lot of room to do the workouts at home. I do them in my small office area and it’s great.
My friends at barre3 have generously donated some free class cards for me to share with you all! I have some for in-studio (any location in the US!) and some for online for those of you who don’t have a studio near you. Follow me on Instagram @elletrain and watch for my posts for each of these giveaways! I’m so excited for you all to try it out for yourselves.
Is there anything else you want to know about my favorite workout ever? Please leave a comment and I’m more than happy to let you know my thoughts. I know barre3 isn’t going to work for every single person in the world, but I hope my little healthy obsession helps you to get out and find what does work for you. I have a birthday soon. It’s a big one. #thisis40
Love that you found something you love, which is really the key to it all. There are only 2 barre3 studios in the Chicagoland area – and nowhere near me – but several other barre-fitness providers, which I’ve tried, but just haven’t gotten into. As a dancer myself, its just not the same at all!! That said, I’ve looked into barre3 and it seems to have a more comprehensive approach than many of the options out there and I want to try their online platform to see how it goes!! But if I may offer a comment re: contests. This is not the first time TME has offered nice contest opportunities via Instagram only. And sorry if I’m an old curmudgeon, but I just can’t invite more social media into my life. I just think that it might be nice to offer such things here on the blog/in your newsletter and not link it with social media.
LOVE everything about barre3. I’ve been an online subscriber for 1 1/2 years because there is not a studio near me. I’m with you about really missing it when I don’t get a workout in for a few days. Great post!
I love all things barre! I’ve done barre3 and bar method and now go to booty barre at my local 24 hour fitness. It’s such a great workout.
I’ve never been a big dancer other than when I drank too much in college. I absolutely loathed Zumba because it was it was so “dancy” and didn’t feel like a workout. But I’ve thinking about trying a class but wasn’t sure if it required any kind of dance experience or skills. Thoughts?
Barre3 isn’t dancy. You can totally do it without dance experience! It’s more repetitive moves, yoga poses, squats and balance poses. No actual choreography or anything. Hope that helps!
I love Barre3 and I am the least-coordinated, least-graceful person ever! 😉 Different instructors have different styles, and some require a bit more coordination than others IMHO, but absolutely no need for dance experience.
I’m obsessed with barre3. I’ve been going for about two years now and really miss it if I go a few days without! It has definitely gotten me in the best shape of my life.
I just started Barre3 online as we don’t have any studios in Michigan and I love it!! And I am not a dancer at all. I’ve always been into heavy cardio workout like spinning and as I’ve gotten older I need more strength and flexibility. The online classes are so good. And if you haven’t listened to Sadie on the How I Built This podcast, go listen! That is what actually got me to sign up.
LOVED her interview on that podcast! It was so great. I’ve gotten to take a few of her classes her in Portland and am always blown away by her grounded-ness and sincerity. So cool.
I just celebrated by 200th class (2 years for me) at my local studio. Laura is right; I have shoulder muscles!! Who knew? I can hold different planks and damn if I too don’t have stomach muscles now. Great music and a great community everywhere for Barre3.
Yessss!!! Congrats to you!!
This looks fantastic! I am in search of a class to build up strength after 2+ years of illness/injury. When you say that they focus on form and instruction, is that true for all students? I tried a barre class- not barre3, and it was packed, and no one was able to look at my form- and no one was able to offer me modifications. That is what I need right now- someone to give me suggestions to prevent re-injury. LOVE this, especially your words about your journey. Thank you for sharing!
I’m kind of hijacking, but for strength-training and dealing with injuries, I’ve had an awesome experience with Core Exercise Solutions – she’s a physical therapist and personal trainer. It’s all online. Amazing workouts. She will help you craft just the right thing for your recovery and strengthening. You post videos of yourself to a secret FB group and she critiques your form, gives modification, or backs you up to an easier exercise so you can progress safely. Can’t recommend enough!
I go to a Barre 3 studio in DC (and LOVE it). They recommend that new students (or those with new injuries) come 15 minutes before class so you can talk to the instructor about any injuries or concerns. That allows the instructor to be sure to offer you the modifications you might want. But even in the packed-to-the-gills classes the instructor will walk around and tweak the form of individuals as needed. And more experienced students will also give you pointers if something looks off or you just look lost. The instructors are also willing to stay after class to help you with form if you have additional questions, or if something felt “off”.
This has been my barre experience as well (not barre3, just other providers). I’ve found the alignments to be tricky (and I’m coming from a dance background – they are not always the alignments we strive towards in formal dance technique) and I’m so bothered when there are women packed in the rooms, the music pumping, and the instructor giving minimal instructive or corrective input – and often for more than $20/class. I’ve found more success with certified personal trainers for that dedicated attention, so I’d for sure recommend you find someone who can address your concerns one-on-one to start!
My experience with Barre3 and talking to others who have done other barre workouts makes me think they are quite different. At barre3 they always seem to focus on form and give many many verbal cues about adjusting your own body as well as helping come around and assist you in adjustments. The instructors I’ve had were very attentive to new students, too, making sure you have good alignment. They talk about doing what feels right to you that day SO much that I know they are really concerned with injury-free, true strengthening instruction! I hope that helps!
I’ve never tried Barre, but for me it’s been Kickboxing. I absolutely love it and I go 3 days a week. I think of it like appointments too. It was really hard for me to do at first, working full time I felt guilty taking more time away from my kids, but now I’ve found a schedule that works for everyone (Tues/Thurs at bedtime, Saturday early morning- often while everyone is still sleeping). For me I needed a class, and a place to go- it probably wouldn’t happen if I were doing it online. I’m 42 and I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life, I wish I started sooner.
That’s amazing. YES. Making it a habit is hard at first but then it’s a lifeline to feeling good and being a good mama, at least for me. Congrats to you.
I love barre, too! I do Pure Barre and it is the only workout, besides running, that I have been able to stick with!
You look great, Laura!
Love this review! A Pure Barre opened up in Missoula this year, and I love it. I keep telling my friends, “It’s EFFICIENT.” And that’s all I wanted from a workout. Barre3 sounds aweome; I’ll try it next time I’m in pdx!
I love Barre3, and I’m so happy to see it highlighted here! As my one friend says, “It’s the only workout that doesn’t HURT!” They opened a studio close to my in-law’s house, and I join for the week whenever we go visit. It’s helped me get through some looong visits and makes me feel strong and ready to face the day. Also LOVED Sadie Lincoln’s interview on How I Built This. She is the real deal. Awesome post Laura; I love reading about workouts that moms find post-baby that they actually stick with (not just reviews of one class).
LOVE that interview with her. Her story is so great. Thanks so much!
Your story is identical to my own. Dancer, baby, barre. I do Pure Barre and love it. I’m so glad you found something that works for you. You look fantastic and I bet you feel just as good. That’s the key.
Laura! You love the barre, but if u ever feel the pull, hit up Vega Dance Lab for some dance workouts! Thanks for reminding me about the childcare at Barre3. That makes all the difference! And…..you look great! Congratulations on feeling fabulous too!!!
I’ve been wanting to check out Vega! Now that barre3 is a good weekly habit I’d love to add some dance back in. Thank you!
okay, I signed up for streaming Barre3 workouts, loving it so much! will tell them it was you who got me hooked. I actually tried years ago, but didn’t like it as much… they are definitely evolved and offer a wider range of workout types now!!! thank you!!
Thanks for this review! I feel like I am exactly where you were in your “before”. I didn’t dance, save for about 6 years of Irish step dancing as a kid, but I did play sports in high school and college and then for years I lived and worked in the city and walked everywhere. That plus a good natural metabolism were enough for me…then I moved to the suburbs…and my office moved out of the city…and I had a kid…and now I don’t really like where I am physically or my level of physical activity. I’ve done BBM on and off (love Brianna!) but nothing is really sticking. Could someone without a dance background do Barre 3?
You can definitely do barre3 without a dance background! The moves are very repetitive and not dance-like. It’s more stepping and lots of squats and holding and burning. Haha in the best way though to actually build your muscles. I think what I love about it too is the bit of yoga breathing and stretching that comes at the beginning and end which just rounds out the whole workout for me. Love it all. I hope you’ll check it out and see if it’s for you!
Wow Laura, a full year of working out consistently?! You win! That is amazing! Also, I love love the Fitness Marshall and no one ever has heard of him when I talk about it – love that you gave him a shout out. xoxo
Wish we could do Fitness Marshall dances together! Ha! So fun lady. Thank you.
what a big accomplishment! way to go Laura! I’m looking it up now.
Such an encouraging post and you look fabulous!
Where does Shana go to dance class? I’m in Philadelphia too and looking for adult dance classes.
Love! I danced when I was younger and ever since I heard about Barre3 here, from Shana, years ago, I wanted to try it. A studio just opened here! I can’t afford it yet but I so want to start! I get really bored and finding my way back after mom-body…whew. I love all the info you shared, this sounds perfect for me!
Thank you SO MUCH for this. I’m not in the States and don’t have a studio near me, but I’ve had a lot of success in the past with workout DVDs so the online classes would be a great idea for me. After having three kids, I want something to help me get my alignment, strength and confidence back and this looks absolutely perfect.
I’ve been doing Barre3 streaming for 2 weeks now; committed to five workouts a week and have been able to stick with the goal. I love the flexibility of length of class and focus so I can customize to what I need that day. Feeling stronger, more flexible, and more coordinated already! Fits in well with my other exercise of running and walking.