Ask A Fitness Expert: Brinn Strange
THERE IS A NEW KIND OF BAR SWEEPING THE NATION, BUT INSTEAD OF CUSHY LOUNGE CHAIRS AND FRUITY LIBATIONS, YOU’LL FIND A FULL BODY WORKOUT PAIRED WITH HIGH INTENSITY MUSIC. BRINN STRANGE, OWNER OF GAINESVILLE’S BARRE FORTE, BREAKS DOWN THE BARRE WORKOUT AND SHOWS US HOW THE BARRE IS STILL A PLACE TO GATHER WITH FRIENDS FOR A FUN TIME.
Brinn Strange, owner of Gainesville’s Barre Forte, breaks down the barre workout and shows us how the barre is still a place to gather with friends for a fun time.
VJ: What are barre workouts, and what makes them so effective?
BS: The creator of the barre workout was a dancer who, while recovering from an injury, decided to blend her ballet strengthening moves with physical therapy, as a result, the format requires no-impact on one’s joints and is appropriate for nearly all fitness levels. The barre classes offered at Barre Forte are a unique combination of ballet toning moves, Pilates core conditioning, and Yoga stretches. Our classes utilize small, isometric movements to overload muscles—building endurance and definition, followed by stretching the muscles to help them become long and lean.
VJ: How would you describe a barre workout?
BS: Barre workouts offer total body toning set to high-energy music with motivating, welcoming instructors. At Barre Forte, our classes begin with a short warm up followed by upper body strengthening using light weights held away from the body with high repetitions. Then, relevés, or calf raises tone the backs of the legs while plies work the quads. We also focus on the inner thighs by repeatedly squeezing small Pilates balls and outer thighs using a Pilates band. Next, the hamstring and gluteus are targeted before moving on to additional core building exercises followed by more stretching. The goal is to isolate and overload muscle groups before stretching and elongating them. It is normal to experience some shaking in the muscles as you work them to fatigue. Expect to feel sore (in a good way) the next day—and likely the day after that.
VJ: What should I expect when attending a class?
BS: The environment is eclectic and energizing. Clients are greeted and encouraged to find a spot at the barre and to grab a pair of light weights. It is recommended to keep a water bottle close by and to wear sticky socks, which provide traction on the flooring when participants are up on their toes (which is where they will remain for a large portion of class).
VJ: Is barre an effective cardio workout?
BS: Yes! While some clients supplement their barre workouts with additional cardio, barre classes get your heart rate up in the warm up, and keep it up during class through continued movement and sustained intensity. Clients will begin to turn fat into muscle, which will also help them to burn calories throughout the day.
VJ: It seems the barre workout is appearing in more and more cities. Why do you think people have taken such a liking to this workout?
BS: Barre is an addicting, exciting workout that keeps people wanting more. You leave the workout feeling energized, not exhausted, and it is fun to “meet your friends at the barre” everyday. Because the workouts are constantly changing and there are new ways to add additional challenges with each class, clients do not plateau, making this a fun, sustainable exercise that continues to build in popularity.
VJ: Do you have to be in shape before attending a barre class?
BS: No. All of our workouts are challenging, but they can also be modified for beginners or intensified for those who need or want additional progressions. Clients are encouraged to discuss any concerns with their instructors and can ask for more options during class, too. Barre Forte staff will be there every step of the way as clients work to achieve their fitness goals.
VJ: What type of results can participants expect to see?
BS: Our workouts are both low impact and intense, which is a great way to get fit without hurting your joints! Participants can expect to feel muscles they never knew they had. We often target women’s “problem” areas, such as the abdominals and inner and outer thighs, in addition to elongating, not bulking, arm muscles. But the results go beyond the physical. Our clients share that spending an hour at the barre helps them mentally, too!
VJ: What makes Barre Forte different than other gyms?
BS: Barre Forte is making a positive impact on the Gainesville community. We love holding donation-based classes for local organizations, such as The American Cancer Society, the Florida Track Club, and Tri Delta Sorority, who chose to donate money to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Center. We also teach free community classes at First Magnitude Brewery once a month to raise money for local non-profits. Barre Forte loves providing community activities for its members, as well. We often go to brunch together after class, we hold workshops and trainings, pop up classes in the park, and much more. Oh, and best of all, everyone’s first week of classes is free, so there is nothing to lose!