Being quite a fitness fanatic, I was pretty excited (and very intrigued) to test out Equinox’s new fitness class called Gold Barre. Not dissimilar to Barre workouts, which use movements inspired by ballet, the Gold Barre workout emulates the moves of an ice skater—without the skimpy outfits and impending doom of falling over and having someone skate over your fingers.
A ballet barre is involved for a small proportion of the workout, and the workout promises results in strength and stamina (although we’d have all settled for the body of the workout instructor!).
We started off with ballet-style moves similar to the normal barre classes as a warm up… at quite a speed. Forget dainty pliés and toe taps—we were thrown straight into
bends and twists to stretch out the muscles and ‘unlock’ the spine, using the barre for balance.
Then we moved to a large empty space on the hardwood flooring to use gliding discs—something I’d heard of but never used. These are little Frisbee-sized pads that ‘help’ you slip and slide around the floor without any friction. Cue more leg exercises to work the upper thighs and glutes, little movements mimicking skating across the ice repeated again and again on the same leg at a fast pace. The gliding pads were an interesting addition, and give you a good ice-rink experience (without the risk of frostbite or a cracked skull), improving balance and core stability whilst working up a good sweat.
After disc-sliding, it was back to the barre to practice ‘sit spins’ (without the spinning) where you bend your left knee and stick the right leg straight out—effectively doing a one-legged squat or lunge. Other moves quickly followed, which meant keeping the right leg in the air until your left leg was burning so much from being in a lunge position you thought you might keel over. Just as our bottoms were inching towards the floor, we switched legs over (relief!) and did the same exercises on the other leg. You are encouraged to keep your feet flexed—not pointed—as if you are wearing ice-skating boots, not ballet shoes.
After completely exhausting our muscles, we returned to the mats for jumps to get our heart rates up and reach the fat burning zone, which a skater can achieve within just two laps of the rink. These were fun and didn’t feel too much like hard work, but I was pleased to see my heart rate speed up on my sports watch for an epic calorie burn. To finish, we did some intense core and upper body work on the mat (side planks, jackknives, and leg lifts) and used the gliding discs to stretch out and cool down.
By the end of the hour we were sweating way beyond expectation, but left feeling invigorated, refreshed, and (I know this sounds weird, but) seriously. Stretched. Out. My limbs felt longer, my back was relaxed and I could already feel my posture had improved.
Equinox, 99 Kensington High Street, Kensington, W8 5SA; www.equinox.com
features writer & lifestyle blogger and avid shoe wearer.