Take a deep breath. One, that’s from the bottom of your belly. Then, expel it out, emptying your chest completely. Draw yourself up, straighten your back, suck in your abdomen, stretch out your shoulders, close your toes, take a nice grip on the stationary handrail and you’re good to go. It’s going to feel a lot like ballet where you leap and bend, twirl and glide but this is different. It’s the barre workout inspired by the centuries-old dance form—the elegant strides of the ballet. While the former is set to mellifluous piano music, the latter can be done to disco, electronic dance music, deep house, country and the likes. At the moment, the song that blares through the doors of 23-year-old fitness trainer, Namrata Purohit’s studio is Faded by Alan Walker. It’s her favourite track to warm up to.
If you happen to be a balletomane, you’re definitely going to have fun with this new workout introduced by Purohit. If not, this story may help you decide.
This month, she wanted to work on something usual. Though she had heard of the routine a long time back, it was only four years ago when she started taking it seriously after taking a class abroad. She became a fan and her passion for it made her bring it to India. “The energy in the class I took was amazing. The music, the intensity, and the fact that the exercise comprised various aspects of fitness such as strength, stability, flexibility etc. was something that instantly excited me. Just like pilates, barre workouts focus on overall development of the body,” she says.
Lotte Berk, a German dancer who escaped the Nazis in the late 1930s and settled in London, introduced the workout to the world. After injuring her back, she decided to combine her dance with her rehabilitative therapy and opened her studio in 1959, where the exercise became quickly popular.
Will it become as rapidly popular in India? It may be sometime before it can completely penetrate into the realm of mainstream workout routines here, we think. “The people in Mumbai have just begun warming up to fitness routines other than the conventional gyms. Also, introducing a new workout demands researchers, exercise specialists and physiologists. The process is lengthy and expensive at times. It takes much time to gain popularity.”
A typical barre class will have your lower body pulsating expeditiously, targeting the muscle groups there and in your core. It primarily consists of a host of isometric movements which help isolate specific muscles.
“Movements target the slow twitch muscles which increase endurance. Isometric movements also help strengthen muscles without straining the tendons, ligaments or joints, hence reducing the chance of injury,” says Purohit, who has been instructor to several public figures, including actors such as Kangana Ranaut, Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari, Jacqueline Fernandez, Lisa Haydon, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Chitrangada Singh, Malaika Arora Khan, Farah Khan Ali, Nargis Fakhri, Shraddha Kapoor, Amit Sadh, Pooja Hegde, Shraddha Kapoor and Mandana Karimi.
Enumerating the many advantages of this regime, she highlights a particular one. “Barre is tough on the muscles but gentle on the joints. It improves posture tremendously,” she says. The movements are typically synchronised to music but one doesn’t need any background in dance to undertake a barre class. If you fancy a well-sculpted, flexible body, with a strong core, lean legs and improved flexibility, you could try this.
Purohit’s classes take place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at 301-304, Business Plaza, Gazdar Bandh Road, opposite Gurdwara Sports Ground, Santacruz (W), Mumbai-400 054. Each session lasts 45-60 minutes. Price is on request. For details, log on to pilatesaltitude.com.