Open for Fitness: Want That Lean Ballerina Body? Then Try This Barre Class at Sweat + Soul in Kaka‘ako
Two girls walk into a barre (class) and try some moves they’ve never done before.
Editor’s Note: Stacey and Katrina are at vastly different fitness levels (and ages) but both enjoy working out. We thought it’d be fun for the two of them to try new or interesting workouts together each month. This time they took a barre class from Sweat + Soul.
WHAT IT IS
Sweat + Soul’s Keauhou Lane location is the newest spot for much-talked-about barre classes. In its workout studio are wall-mounted barres (like those found in ballet classes) that are used to enhance full-body workout routines, which aim to lengthen and strengthen each muscle group. Besides barre-incorporated exercises, classes often include planking, pushups, core work, cardio moves, stretching, and the use of straps and balls. Various class options allow first-timers and veterans to participate at their own levels. We took a regular one-hour barre class.
HOW WE FELT: BEFORE
Katrina: I could definitely use some muscle toning. Since we weren’t taking the cardio class, I figured it would be pretty chill.
Stacey: I’ve heard so much about barre class and how it kicks your ass, so I was very curious. Was it really going to be that hard? How many exercises can you do using a barre? Do we have to stand on our toes and spin?
We arrived 15 minutes before our noon class to sign waivers and take a mini-tour of the small studio, which also provides free lockers and towels. Founder and instructor Melissa Rota welcomed us with open arms and showed us where to grab mats and two sets of light weights that we would use throughout the workout. We both grabbed 3- and 4-pounders.
Grip socks are required. Katrina had a pair from that one time she went to iTrampoline, though you can purchase them in the studio for $14.
Stacey: As we learned in our other trending classes (CorePower and Orangetheory), the warmup is not indicative of what’s to come. Stretching: easy. Plank series: can handle. Pushups: cake, if you’re on your knees like me.
Katrina: I still have trouble with pushups, even from my knees, and I learned very quickly that my socks weren’t quite grippy enough—my toes kept sliding on the wooden floor. But it felt good to get an idea of which muscles we’d be working based on the different floor stretches. It seemed like a workout I’d be able to handle.
Stacey: First up, arm exercises with weights. Bicep curls, dumbbell curl and press, butterfly reps—doing these after planking and pushups requires discipline and arm strength, both of which I lack. It burns and burrrrrrrns, but supposedly that’s the muscle building part. I looked around the room and girls that were half my size were having no problem. Well, that’s (beepin’) annoying.
Katrina: Next came what we’d been looking forward to: working out with the barre. I chose a slightly higher barre on a different wall from Stacey since I’m tall. That meant lifting my leg higher to rest the arch of my foot on the barre, which stretched my hamstrings in a good way. I grabbed a strap that was wrapped around the barre to help pull my body closer without bending my knees too much. Little did I know, this was still the easy part.
Stacey: After a little barre stretching, we each grabbed a ball and placed it between our thighs (see photo above for clarification). We faced the mirror and as our thighs hugged the balls (insert surprise-face emoji), we tippy-toed while holding onto the barre. We then turned around, had our backs to the barre and squatted (with the ball still between our legs) like we were sitting in a chair. If you’ve played sports, you know those wall sits are evil. I may have had my daughter do these exercises as a form of punishment. Yeah, I’m that mom.
Katrina: The higher we went on our toes while squatting lower, the more my legs started shaking. Melissa said that’s normal (and means you’re doing it right!) but it definitely felt weird. No one else was shaking as much as I was so I started laughing and lost my form.
We turned to face the barre again—which I learned is mostly there for support (you’re not supposed to actually put pressure on it)—and kicked our legs out behind and to the side with small lifting movements to work our glutes. I have a really hard time keeping my hips square and isolating specific muscles, so it was great to have Melissa come around and hold my hips to keep me from twisting (and cheering me on super hard). It still hurt, but at least I knew I was doing it correctly. When we had to move our legs in small circles, I took so many breaks because I couldn’t do all the reps—my leg just doesn’t go that high—and my foot started cramping from pointing my toes.
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Stacey: The barre was brutal. At that point my thighs and butt were dead tired, or maybe just dead. Finally, back to the mat. We stretched our legs (and a part of me thought it was the end, we made it!), then we headed into another pretzel pose. Noooooo. Melissa instructed us to sit with one leg bent in the front and to pulse the back leg that was facing in. Imagine chicken wings on the floor: That’s what our bodies looked like. She helped me pulse my back leg—mentally I thought I was doing it, but physically it probably looked like I had a twitch.
Katrina: I got so lost when we were on the mat. Melissa told everyone what position to get into and what moves to try, but I had hardly even sat down and wiped my face by the time she was halfway through the next set. There was no pause and I couldn’t remember what she had just said 10 seconds ago so I kinda faked it until we carried our mats back to the barre and did some ab workouts. We were supposed to sit with our backs flat against the wall underneath the barre and push up with our hands while lifting our legs straight out in front of us. Nope. First of all, my head was touching the barre (#tallpeopleproblems), so I slouched more than I should’ve. Then when I lifted my legs, it hurt my thighs more than my abs, so I knew I was doing it wrong. And I just didn’t care enough to do it right—I was spent.
Katrina: We moved back to the floor one last time, bringing with us the straps and balls to help with some final stretches from side to side and rounding our spines. I tried my best to keep up, but my body just isn’t that flexible. Melissa helped me get my legs where they were supposed to go, out to the side of the mat; I held the pose for a few seconds before I collapsed onto my back and waited it out.
Stacey: Ahhhhh, it was ovah. My ass got werrrrked! Literally. All those small pulses and movements really dialed in on the legs and butt. Even though I didn’t sweat too much in the class, I felt exhausted. It took a while for all my muscles to unclench. Stretching definitely helped. I wanted to lay on the ground FOR. EVER. That’s saying a lot, for a germaphobe.
HOW WE FELT: AFTER
Katrina: I could feel my thigh muscles bulging, almost to the point that I thought I pulled something. Stairs were not my friend the rest of the day. The next morning, I could feel it most in my triceps, lower abs and my entire butt, plus my shoulders/neck, obliques, hips and other muscles I can’t even pinpoint. My Fitbit didn’t register my workout since my heart rate stayed pretty normal, but man, it felt good. I just didn’t realize how much it would be like yoga, where you have to hold certain poses. I don’t care for that, but I’m a big fan of getting my butt in shape.
Stacey: Major props to all my badass ballerina sisters, including our instructor, Melissa, and the other coaches who set the workout barre high. This class was challenging. Luckily, I didn’t feel any soreness after. I think my weekly workout routine pushes me to work all my muscles so there was no immediate shock. I don’t think this class will be hit-it-and-quit-it, but for now, my booty needs a break.
Classes range from $19 (when you buy a pack of 20) to $26 (single class). Memberships include unlimited access for $165/month or $1,650/year. Barre classes are offered daily. See sweatandsoulstudio.com or download the Sweat + Soul app for a detailed schedule, including other classes such as Barre Basic, Barre Express and Cardio + Barre. The studio is at Keauhou Lane across from Real a Gastropub and offers one hour of free parking with validation.
522 Keawe St., (808) 593-8384, sweatandsoulstudio.com