Amanda Nicholls is in for some serious sculpting when she signs up for a class with the brand new Bristol branch of Chelsea favourite Barrecore…
Born in 2011 in a little mews house in central London, Barrecore Chelsea was set up to cater to those who fancied a fitness regime that made them feel feminine, as well as dramatically shaping and firming them up. After spreading across London like wildfire, with locations including Mayfair, Kensington and Wimbledon, Barrecore Bristol opens its doors this month.
Always keen to explore new ways to train that won’t have us obsessively checking our watches to see when we can stop exercising, we’re the first to sign up for one of the ballet-inspired fitness lessons with instructor Philippa Barsanti. Just to give you an idea of my fitness level, the last time I took part in an exercise class, it was a mere 20-minute ab blasting session and even then I found myself collapsing at the back half-way through each exercise (mostly due to boredom) and cheating the whole way through, complying only when the rather uninspiring instructor glared pointedly in my direction.
But when the bright-eyed, impressively lean and infectiously enthusiastic Pip arrives at The Bristol Mag HQ for an hour of private Barrecore Mixed, it’s a different experience entirely. “If you want to be a warrior, you will be a warrior,” she promises, explaining how the aim of the signature class, a full-body interval training programme incorporating isometric holds and contractions alternated with stretching, is to strengthen and empower. It’s all about ‘embracing the shake’ that inevitably comes after holding a position for so long, pushing through the pain to ensure insulin rushes to the muscles and keeps them burning calories in the most efficient way up to 72 hours after exercising, sculpting a lovely sleek ‘barrebody’ silhouette.
No Pain, No Gain
While the ‘pain is gain’ philosophy does sound a little bootcampish, that’s really not the vibe. It’s by no means easy (it’s probably the hardest I’ve ever pushed myself), but it is low impact – it attracts plenty of more mature students, as well as those who are pregnant but wish to continue working out. And Pip is so personable, fun and motivating that even when my muscles are crying out, I’m determined not to give in to their demands. She does everything with me, rather than simply barking orders, and watches my alignment keenly to make sure my body is making the right shapes, so all that effort isn’t for nothing and I really benefit.
We isolate the arms using a resistance band to work the biceps and triceps, then the legs, gripping a rubber ball between our thighs while doing sets of squats in different balletic positions and raising our heels in ‘high stiletto’ to increase the burn. After stretching out we work on the abs, the ball in the small of our backs as we lean back and utilise the desired muscles, and perform seat stretches that get my glutes going – I can see how Barrecore advocates like Pippa Middleton achieve their coveted derrières.
While Pip ensures I don’t cheat – she really does want to see change in all her students – she’s sympathetic to my rock-bottom fitness, giving me less taxing versions of the exercises when she senses I’m at my limit (perhaps the grunting and wimpering gives it away) and letting me come out of the position and shake it off before trying again. Yes, I’m knackered when we’re done but I’m surprisingly satisfied and strangely, I want more…
Other classes include Barre Foundations, for those new to the discipline; HIITcore which combines high intensity interval training with barre moves; and Barre Asana, a fast-paced yoga-inspired class that tones limbs, tightens the core and leaves students feeling mentally centered.