Crash Course: This is DC’s first studio dedicated to the Xtend Barre method, which mixes pilates and dance to deliver one double-trouble barre workout. The class is fast paced and packs a full body workout into one hour. Be prepared to do some burpees and use props like resistance bands, balls, yoga straps. It’s not your typical barre class and definitely a fun break from treadmill workouts at the gym. For a list of class times, click here.[line] [left]where? 1228 Blagden Alley, Mt. Vernon Square/yellow, green line
perks? changing room, sells Gouter products
sweat score? 4 out of 10[/left][right]wear? lots of leg lifting, wear spandex bottoms
how much? walk-in is $20
I was over the moon when owner of Fuel Pilates Kelly Griffith invited me to come take a class at her brand new studio. She was prepping for their November 10 grand opening, and wanted a chance to test out the space before the big day. Come take a first look at DC’s newest studio and get a workout? Sign. Me. Up.
Kelly’s Xtend Barre DC offers ballet-inspired workouts promising to lift and tone your body while kicking your butt. What sets this studio apart is that it is part of an international franchise built from a fusion of pilates and dance. From the website:
The Xtend Barre system sculpts the body proportionally so that all body parts are equally challenged. This total body workout serves to strengthen, lengthen, and stretch the body from top to bottom, from inside out. The end result is a long and lean physique… without added bulk. Developed from a dance / Pilates background, the Xtend Barre workout combines the amazing results of dance with the principles of strength and safety in Pilates.
A word to the wise: the studio is located in DC’s very own platform 9 3/4. It’s completely hidden from view in Blagden Alley, a little business area tucked within a city block. If you didn’t know it was there you wouldn’t find it, so make sure to check out a map before you go. Xtend Barre DC is the one with the white door frames on the far right.
Once you get through the alley, the studio is a bright and clean fitness haven. Cue the zen music.
The entrance area has a front desk, storage cubbies for your belongings, a changing room, and a restroom. The front desk also has a built in mini-fridge, fully stocked with bottles of water and raw, vegan deliciousness from DC newcomer Gouter. Their juice, nutrient, and vitamin packed tonics sound like a perfect post-workout treat and are definitely on my list to try!
The studio itself is intimate, and fills with energy as soon as the first beat hits the speakers. There are ballet barres and mirrors lining the length of two walls. Mats, balls, resistance bands, weights, and straps are all provided and located at the front of the room. Here’s a sneak peek at the studio itself:
If you’ve ever taken a barre class but wish it offered a bit more umph, then I suggest trying Kelly’s class. The mix of pilates and dance ups the ante from your typical pulse and plie barre sessions. We started the class focusing on the arms. While I initially laughed at the hot-pink 1 lb. weights we used (I mean really, 1 lb.? What is that supposed to do?) I shouldn’t have. I was wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I had to take a break to “take a photo” half way through. *click*
After a few planks and burpees (yes, burpees in a barre class. I love it!), we transitioned into legs. This class uses a few props that you may not see at other barre studios. We used rubber balls and resistance bands during this session, but there were also yoga straps hanging on the wall. The bands, my friends, are killer. You have been warned.
There was, of course, the traditional mix of moves at the barre to target the thigh and glute area. While I liked that Kelly used ballet lingo during class, if you don’t remember the French from your days starring as sunflower number two in the school play, you may be a bit lost. Just watch to see what Kelly is doing and try to follow along.
We closed things down with ab work. There were more crunches and bicycles than I would have liked, but it did the trick. I always think that those moves are the reason why people go screaming from big gyms and into the safety of small studios like this. But I can’t complain, really, because I was sore the next day. So maybe the joke’s on me.
If you want a better idea of what it’s like inside the class, try this:
Kelly will cheer you on while she puts you through moves that leave your legs shaking and your arms burning. Her pep is extremely contagious, so if you need a great workout and a mood boost, this is the place to be.
As a certified pilates instructor, Kelly also has a keen eye for proper form and is quick to help out if your leg is nowhere near as high as it should be. This is a good thing – let it happen and feel the burn.
Kelly owns Xtend Barre DC and also runs Fuel Pilates in Dupont Circle. She’s a certified pilates instructor and brought the Xtend Barre method to the District in 2010. Her new studio will feature a host of other certified instructors. Click here to read their bios.[line]
Does the Xtend Barre method sound like something you’d try?[line]