City Living: Barreworks

Recently, a few of us were invited to try out the brand-new ballet inspired workout at Barreworks, which just opened down the street from our office at Queen and Bathurst (625 Queen St. W.). We were thrilled to be invited – not only do we enjoy keeping fit, but we also love trying any new type of workout. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Plus we posted about ballet style workouts way back when, so are pumped there’s a new dedicated spot in Toronto. 



We were a bit nervous about trying it, since none of us are dancers. We were worried about not being coordinated enough to execute tricky moves, or graceful enough to stand at the barre without falling over (seriously). Our worries were all for naught – as soon as we stepped into the beautiful, high-ceilinged space, we were made to feel completely at ease. 

Can’t do this? Not to worry! You’ll still feel welcome & have a lovely workout.



We were given a quick tour of the various studios and WOW! If working out in a pretty setting is integral to your commitment to an exercise routine, then this has got to be one of the best spots in the city. Cool, neutral tones, warm wooden floors and lots of mirrors and windows take you away from the hustle and bustle of Queen Street. 


Our teacher, the very energetic Paulina, introduced herself to us and explained her background in dance, including classical ballet training and modern dance experience, and her current quest to become a personal trainer. She has some enviable muscle definition and is definitely an inspirational instructor. 

Get gams like these.



Paulina told us that we’d be doing the mixed level class, which is perfect for beginners and people of all fitness levels. It’s an hour-long class, but they also offer a speedy 40 minute version and in both versions, you can increase or decrease the difficulty pretty easily. We were all pretty stoked – a 40 minute workout class that’s literally a 2 minute walk from our office? Just about perfect. 


Each students uses two weighted balls, a resistance band and a small exercise mat, and takes position at the barre in front of a long wall of mirrors. Paulina put on some fun dance music and took us through a dance-inspired warm-up. At first, we were all like, “oh yeah, we can do this. No problem”. Then the real work began, and the sweat started dripping down our faces. 

Tools to help tone and strengthen your way to a dancer-esque body.



The workout is a really accessible combination of yoga, Pilates, dance, body weight and other fitness class moves – think lunges, squats, leg lifts, bicep curls with weighted balls, etc. The lovely thing about Barreworks is that you’re always moving, your heart is pounding, and you exercise your entire body in steps. The emphasis is always on standing tall, staying square and in line, and focusing on small, tight, controlled movements. 

This move seriously burns your legs and shoulders.

By the end of it, everyone in the class felt tired and sore, but in an endorphins-pumping sort of way. We bounced down the three flights of stairs, feeling like a million bucks. It was a fun, non-intimidating workout that flew by – which is the best kind. We’ve already booked our next classes (easy to do online or by calling the studio). Now to choose between YogaBarre, SpinBarre and the Express class…





Barreworks is open now. Monthly memberships start at $199 for unlimited classes, while drop-in classes are $21 and packages start at $95 for five classes. If you’re new, you can try your first class for just $10. More info here.



Rave: Ballet-Style Workouts

While it’s not yet technically the “New Year”, there’s something about September that urges us to make a resolution and start fresh. Perhaps it’s that we still haven’t shaken the feeling of going back to school and starting with a blank slate. Whatever the reason, our resolution this fall is to jump back on the workout wagon, because let’s face it, somewhere between burgers and beer at the cottage and many late, cocktail-filled nights on patios this summer, we fell off. 

Normally, this would sound like a drag, but we’ve found a cool new workout trend called The Bar Method that will get you sweating and feeling nostalgic for the good old days of pink tutus and ballet shoes (before they became a trendy alternative to heels).


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The Bar Method combines ballet, yoga and Pilates in an interval workout, and while new to us on the fourth floor, it’s actually been around since 1959! Now with over 60 locations all over the U.S and one in Vancouver, The Bar Method is quickly becoming the “it” workout. 

Drew Barrymore, Ginnifer Goodwin, Zooey Deschanel, Denise Richards and Anna Paquin are just a few of the celebrities that swear by this fat burning, muscle carving, body reshaping, arm sculpting, waist trimming, posture enhancing (shall we go on?) workout.


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Since we don’t plan on flying to Vancouver or New York to try out a class, we did our research and found a similar alternative in Toronto called The Extension Method. The studio, aptly named The Extension Room, is located at 530 Richmond St. W., and offers a variety of ballet-style workouts which include: Ballet Bootcamp, Ballet Sculpt and Classical Ballet Technique. 

Classes run for about the same price as Yoga ($17 for a drop-in and $170 for a month pass). The 267 Richmond St. location of Extreme Fitness also offers a selection of classes.


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You can also check out classes at the National Ballet of Canada, which offers seven progressive levels of classes, allowing you to advance at your own pace (we’re not Karen Kain after all). Classes run through the year in three terms of 15 weeks each and prices run from $350 to $1,285 per term, depending on the number of classes you take.

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For those who crave variety in their workout menu, City Dance Corps might be the one for you with Ballet, Ballet Boot Camp and Power Barre classes. All three are offered with a variety of drop-in rates and options ranging from $15.25 per class to $152 per month, allowing even the most commitment-phobic to lace up their pointe shoes.
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Here’s hoping our first resolution of fall sticks. If not, at least we’ll have a little fun stretching, sweating and pretending we’re prima ballerinas for the day.


Fashion-able: Inspired by Black Swan

Directed by Darren Arnofsky, Black Swan is a psychological thriller set in New York City’s dance scene. While the film tells an exhilarating story of dancer rivalry, it’s really the fashion that takes centre stage. All 40-plus couture ballet costumes were designed in signature sinister Rodarte style.
For those of you who don’t have the Mulleavy sisters on speed dial, we’ll bring you prima ballerina style inspiration. This flick has inspired us to reach for delicate, pretty neutrals, lace, corsets and fluffy skirts. Toss in a current fresh, neutral face and simple ballerina bun, and you’ll be mistaken for one of the corps de ballet. Whether you are looking to seriously splurge or score a save, we have the right Black Swan fashion option for you.
The Ballerina Dress

Serious Splurge: Dazzle the crowd in Marchesa’s One-Shoulder Feather Skirt Embroidered Mini-Dress ($6,600). This show-stopping nude corset dress is covered in gauzy black rose lace, and has a full, fluttering feather skirt with floaty net tulle. Glam it up in this one-shoulder dress, and steal the show from the opening number to the final curtain call. 
Score a Save: Dancer or not, Rare’s Opulence Corset Ballet Net Dress ($176) will have you looking every bit a graceful ballerina. The black-boned corset top (with underwire cups) meets layers of nude ruffles and fastens with a back zip closure. For a look that is all ballet chic, pirouette away in this tutu dress, available at ASOS.
The Corset
Serious Splurge: Wear Rosamosario’s ($605) nude corset with black lace overlay for a look that is both strikingly different and daringly Gothic. Trimmed in black satin with a sweetheart neckline, the Rosamosario corset has internal boning and padded cups. Lace up the rose satin bow back for a fitted feminine silhouette.
Score a Save: Hit the ballet barre in Bebe’s Silk Corset Bustier ($89), decorated with delicate lace embroidery. This satin-lined corset with a sweetheart neckline in blushing bride has supportive boning and an adjustable back. For a complete ballerina look, tie the corset bustier with a slightly padded bust, and knot your hair in a messy dancer bun.

The Ballet Flat
Serious Splurge: Miu Miu’s Embellished Velvet Ballerina Flats ($403) are decorated with Swarovski crystals and a chic black bow. Shine as you dance the night away in these sparkly elastic-back ballerina flats. 
 
Score a Save: Slip on Versus’s Oversize Gem Embellished Pumps ($34) with a delicate bow and giant jewels. Sparkle with every step in these ballet flats, available in Topshop stores and online. Wear these flats and you’ll be Swan Lake-ready.