I Tried It: The Awesome (and Insane) Hot Barre Class at City Fitness

I wanted to die the entire time — but it was worth it.



When I tell you that there was not a minute — not a single minute — during the new hourlong hot barre class at City Fitness’ recently opened Old City location that I was not wishing I would have a full-blown asthma attack just so I would have a legitimate reason to dash out the door (because so hot! And so hard!), I am not exaggerating. That said, after the class, I felt like a warrior princess who’d gone to battle (somewhere very, very warm) and made it out alive. In other words, I felt like a beast. And, in my book, that’s a pretty great review of a fitness class.

When I walked into the classroom, the instructor, Colleen (who is officially my fitness idol, by the way), told everyone to grab a pair of ball weights that we strapped to our hands. The class was going to start with arms. And man, oh man, did we do arms. If you’ve ever been in a barre class, you know: There’s a lot of repetition and pulsing, and tiny movements that zone in on specific muscles, and take big effort. We went through most of the rounds, usually made up of three exercises, three times. Walking out of the class, one of the other girls in the class said wearily, “I feel like three sets was a bit much.” I was too exhausted to speak words at this point, but part of me — probably the part that prefers workouts that can be done in front of Netflix — agreed.

And what made it even more killer was, it wasn’t just our arms we were working during that arm portion. We were also working our legs the entire time, either in a wide squat or in a lunge position. And meanwhile, the infrared-heated studio was warming its way up to a balmy 95 degrees.

Most of the class was done on the mat, with just the last third — the leg portion — really focusing on using the barre. In between arms and legs, we did abs. Believe me when I tell you, the only reason I didn’t shrivel up and die of embarrassment during this portion — when more than once, I thought I might start to cry if Colleen told us to do another round of boat poses — is because everyone else in the class looked like they might cry, too.

By the time we made it to the barre, toward the last third of the hour, I barely had enough energy to stand. But that’s what the barre was for, right? We did a series of leg-centric exercises while holding on to the barre, including a controlled donkey-kick type leg lift that actually kicked my ass. When I looked to my left during a set of said donkey kicks, the guy next to me — who happened to be the only guy in the class — was dripping jelly bean-sized droplets of sweat all over the floor. And so was the girl next to him. And so was I. It was rough.

I’m pretty sure everyone in the class wanted to die at some point during that hour. And I’m guessing Colleen is used to this reaction, because she pulled many a “Don’t give up now” phrase out of her pocket. And eventually we all,  about 12 of us, made it through the leg-centric portion of the class and we were done. Hallelujah.

As I stumbled out of the classroom, I mumbled to Colleen, “That was insane. Awesome. But insane.” I’m sure I probably sounded like I was actually insane. (We’ll blame it on the heat.) But, despite the fact that I wanted to cry at times, the class was totally worth it: I hit muscles that I hadn’t been forced to pay much attention to in awhile, and it was totally different from any other fitness I’ve taken lately, which was nice. And I haven’t seen hot barre at any other studios around the city, so it’s definitely worth stopping in to City Fitness’ new location at 400 Walnut Street (the only location that offers the hot barre class) to check it out. Right now, they’re offering three-class passes to folks for free (so there’s really no excuse not to try it), and after you go through those, each drop-in class is $20. You can check out their schedule here.

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