There are a few things one should never do in the month prior to a beach holiday. Top of the list has to be a city break in Italy during which ones diet will exclusively be comprised of pizza and pasta. This, of course, is exactly how I chose to prepare to hit the beach and, having enjoyed my time in Venice immensely, the evidence of the culinary delights of the city were all too obvious when I tried to slip into my skinnies on my return.
Whilst my approach to all things physical is usually slow and steady, sometimes a degree of vigour is required to regain the old previous form – particularly when baring oneself imminently. I’ve therefore made the decision to return to BARREtoned, the studio on Chepstow Road in which your body is honed and toned in an hour.
Let me regale you with the tale of my first BARREtoned class. My sister and I decided that the name suggested some bending and balancing at a barre a la ballet. We dressed appropriately in leggings and a t-shirt. I went for a cashmere fine knit for warmth, my sister a hoody. We weren’t expecting what we found – a room full of women (and some men) of all ages who were really, really prepared for the class in tight, professional gear. We shed our cashmere/hoody. Equally as prepared was our instructor, Katharina, who sported a microphone headset and lycra outfit that displayed the merits of the BARREtoned method.
It was precisely three minutes in that my sister and I looked at each other with great, great fear – my tricep was feebly protesting against further movement and my hers had ceased the fight altogether. Our fear was founded – over the next hour each and every muscle was targeted by Katharina’s routine. My sister shook in the effort, I giggled hysterically.
The official line on the technique is that it’s based on the Lotte Berk method designed achieve a lean, toned body. The series of exercises work every major muscle group through isometric movements – inspiration is taken from yoga, ballet and pilates. As with all such blurbs though, you have to experience it to understand how very brutally effective BARREtoned is.
By the end of the session, we were euphoric from the endorphin rush and found ourselves maniacally chatting and laughing all the way home. The following morning, climbing out of bed involved some rather exciting manoeuvres to avoid using the muscle groups that had been subject to the most attention during the class. I was in pain for some time, though both my sister and I saw the difference to our muscle tone immediately. Do I make it sound agonising? It is, rather. But you will not find a quicker way to a bodacious body.