As you may have read in my last post, I'm trying out Les Mills On Demand using their free 10-day trial. This is my first experience with Les Mills group fitness classes; but after trying some of the programs at home, I'd really like to do one in-person! Check out my review of Bodyattack #99 here. That post also has more information about who/what Les Mills is, as well as how you can try Les Mills programs at home for free.
This time, I decided to give Les Mills Barre a try. I didn't know what to expect at first. I had no idea that Les Mills even had a barre program until I browsed the On Demand catalog. When I think of Les Mills, I think of high energy workouts that are more aerobic/cardio-based. To be honest, my expectations for the barre program weren't high - I really just don't think of Les Mills when I think of barre.
But I have to admit that I was VERY pleasantly surprised! I tried the Les Mills Barre #02 release.
First, Les Mills Barre doesn't use a barre or any other support mechanism. While I actually loved this aspect of the class, it's something to note if you're looking for a typical barre experience. Anyone who’s familiar with barre knows that the class uses a ballet barre for support while performing some of the exercises. This class is an exception, which I think is great because it forces you to use your stabilizing muscles to stay balanced. However, they probably should've named this a ballet fitness class rather than barre since there's no barre or barre alternative involved.
The class was perfectly choreographed, as is the case with all the Les Mills programs I've tried. It was 30 minutes long, the same as all Les Mills Barre workouts. And the entire session had an excellent flow - each move and series had a flawless transition into the next.
What I appreciated most about this class was that the instructors were clearly former dancers. There were three of them, and they had excellent technique and used ballet terminology throughout the workout. As a former dancer myself, it was so refreshing to hear French ballet terminology beyond just plié and relevé! One of the things I love most about barre is that you don't have to be a dancer to do it. But I feel like we sometimes take too much of the traditional ballet base out of the class! I loved that Les Mills Barre used a lot more ballet moves than other barre classes I've seen and actually taught us the French names for them.
There was an arms section with light weights like you’ll find in most barre classes. I didn't think it was challenging, but the arms were active throughout the entire class. So, I was fine with the intensity of the weighted portion.
The overall class was challenging enough that anyone could benefit from it. Not having a barre there made it even more challenging, but the instructors offered plenty of modifications for people at different fitness levels. I enjoyed attempting to pirouette gracefully in my basement!
Although the choreography was excellent, the presenters in the On Demand version of Les Mills Barre #02 really made the class. If you've done other Les Mills programs, you're probably used to a lot of yelling and (almost scarily) high-energy instructors. I consider barre to be a mind-body format just as much as yoga or Pilates, and this particular workout had the same calm nature. The instructor's voice was so soothing! All three of the presenters had impeccable form, which really encouraged me to challenge myself with each movement.
I do wonder how this translates to a live class with different instructors since the feel of the class can easily change with someone else leading. The choreography, though, was some of the best I've seen in a barre class. I loved the glute work on the floor and plan to use some of it in my upcoming barre classes!
Musically, the song selection was great and matched the pace of the class perfectly. I really dislike the covers that Les Mills uses (they're nowhere near as good as the original songs). I understand they have to use them for copyright reasons, though :)
Check out my workouts from last week below:
75 minute heated vinyasa class
40 minute powerlifting workout (check Instagram for some movements!)
Taught 55 minute barre class
2 hour acro yoga class (review of this will be up next week!)
Taught 50 minute barre class
Sauna & steam room session
55 minute HIIT class
Taught 55 minute barre class
Have you tried Les Mills Barre in person or On Demand? How did you like it? What cool new workouts/classes are you trying this summer?
Let me know your thoughts, and enjoy the rest of your week!
Dominique Cheylise, 25 year-old engineer and group fitness instructor.