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Get a Kick-Butt Ballet Barre Workout at Home!

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Get a Kick-Butt Ballet Barre Workout at Home!

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For a girl who is a self-professed fitness and sports devotee, an intro ballet lesson should be a breeze. But, the Beyond Barre class at New York Sports Clubs is exactly as its tagline reads, "Not your little girl's ballet class!" I have to say: Apogee's new ballet-inspired workout wiped me out.

Now, I'm no ballerina, and for that matter I'm no Hope Solo either, but I hit the gym five times a week and can definitely dance. So, when I heard that New York Sports Clubs were introducing a brand new selection of signature small-group classes that included ballet, I was eager to get to one — especially if I could learn how to develop long, lean ballerina muscles!

I arrived at the NYSC Crowne Plaza 20 minutes before my 8 a.m. Beyond Barre class was scheduled to start, and Colleen Ketcham — who is the co-founder and creator of Beyond Barre — was handing out ballet flats to class-goers. I have a history of sports-related ankle and knee injuries, so I asked her if she thought there was a reason for me to opt out of the class. Ketcham and the other Barre-certified NYSC instructors immediately said that it was actually the perfect class for anyone with injuries because it strengthens and improves flexibility in the whole body.

Beyond Barre is a ballet-inspired barre class that blends elements of ballet and pilates into an intense calorie-burning, muscle-sculpting workout. Ketcham explained that, "as opposed to more choreographed dance classes [like zumba or hip-hop], Beyond Barre focuses on muscle isolation to create a burn."

The 55-minute class jumps from a mat and barre "abs and gams" series to free weights and a glide board (imagine ice skating with ballet flats on a slippery yoga mat) arms and core circuit. I wasn't fibbing when I said it wiped me out — by the last barre exercise I was actually dripping beads of sweat down my back and my cheeks were bright pink!

Ketcham's mantra throughout the class was to keep a neutral seat position making sure to honor the natural curves of your spine. Paying attention to your posture and hugging the muscles being worked out is the secret to a strong core and the best method for injury prevention. By doing so, you are gaining muscle control and stretching dormant muscles.

"Simply put," said Ketcham, "Beyond Barre will help to trim the thighs, lift the seat and sculpt the arms and flatten the abdominals."

Select New York Sports Clubs and Boston Sports Clubs are offering a two-week free trial of Beyond Barre and the other new signature classes for members and non-members from September 22 to October 6. After that, each class will cost between $25 and $35. The goal is to expand these classes to all Sports Clubs around the country, but if you don't live in one of these two cities, don't fret!

Ketcham gave us five easy moves to try on our own in case there's not a Beyond Barre class nearby:

What you need:
Chair or long counter top
2 1-to-3-lb weights
2 Washcloths

Plie/Releve Combination
First Position:
Stand with your legs turned out (your heels should be touching) behind the chair, rest your palms lightly on the back of the chair, bending your elbows slightly. Rise up onto the balls of your feet (or releve). Make sure to keep your hips above your knees. Now bend your knees into what looks like a gentle squat (this is a plie). Repeat 8 times.

Second Position:
Keeping your palms on the back of the chair, stand with your legs turned out (your heels should be a little wider than hip width). Rise up onto the balls of your feet (releve), and bend the knees (plie) the same as in the previous move making sure to keep your hips above your knees. Repeat 8 times.

Do 2 to 8 sets of each.

Shaving in Second Position
Stand with your legs turned out (your heels should be a little wider than hip width). Take a weight in each hand, rest your hands at the base of your neck with elbows pointing up. Lift both hands the ceiling, then lower to starting position.

To increase intensity, as you lift your hands toward the ceiling, rise up onto the balls of your feet. Then as you lower your hands back down, bend your knees into a plie (looks like a gentle squat).

Do 2 to 4 sets with 8 repetitions per set.

Mountain
Get into plank position, placing the two washcloths under the balls of your feet. Lift your hips up to the ceiling sliding your feet forward (you should be in a downward dog at this point). Then slide the feet back to starting position.

Do 2 to 4 sets with 8 repetitions per set.

Knees In
In plank position, place the two washcloths under the balls of your feet. Slide both knees to the nose and extend back into plank position.

Do 2 to 4 sets with 8 repetitions per set.

For more information about the classes and signing up you can visit www.MySportsClubs.com .

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