Platform classes add a challenging cardio kick to the little lifts typical of a regular barre workout.
I HAVE NO doubt barre classes are effective; all those tiny lifts are intense.
But when I heard about a barre class that is more aerobic, I joyfully interpreted it as fewer tiny lifts and decided to give it a shot.
Pure Barre in Bellevue, one of several barre franchises in the area, now offers platform classes. They are faster-paced to increase cardio results, and still include standard barre toning exercises.
For those new to barre, the classes use ballet technique combined with tiny contractions in different areas of your body to help you tone and get stronger. In the real world, it means a series of exercises during which your arm or leg muscles beg for mercy.
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Hannah, my instructor, told me the platform class adds bigger movements.
The class equipment includes the standard small hand weights and a heavy, square platform. At first, I wondered whether I had ended up in a modern version of a step class. But I quickly wised up, thanks to Hannah’s endless enthusiasm and the intensity of the class.
After a warm-up using our platforms, we took them to the middle of the room for planks and push-ups. While placing your feet on the platform for planks doesn’t make them harder, it definitely made pushups more intense in my shoulders, and I modified some with my knees down.
We also worked our triceps. It’s not an area I focus on, and they were burning as we moved through combinations.
We also did plenty of lunges, with arm and upper-back engagement, using light weights. I had to focus to keep squeezing my upper back while moving my legs in lunge variations. A lot of the moves on the platform required good balance, and core engagement, as we stepped on and off in squats and lunges, sometimes on the ball of one foot.
After the first half of class, I was confident I liked the more-vigorous approach. We had fewer lifts, and a lot of fun movement. I was down with this amped-up version of step aerobics, with good music and a lot of energy.
But then we moved to the barre against the wall, and there they were — glute lifts. Hannah took us through a series focusing on one side at a time, from a bent leg to side crunches to lifting my leg straight behind me. My glutes were yelping, both the one lifting and my standing leg, and occasionally, I had to pause. After we did both sides, I wondered whether we would get a break.
Nope. But we did switch gears to do leaps on one foot, lifting the other leg as high as possible and pushing down into the barre to get some height. While it wasn’t a break, exactly, it was fun.
After the barre work, we moved back to the floor, doing more core work with planks and other seated poses to close out the hourlong class.
After class, Hannah told me that, unlike regular barre, which has stretching breaks, platform classes keep going with the cardio. No wonder I was sweating more than I typically do in barre. I also was recovering from an injury, so I didn’t push myself as hard as I might — and I still was exhausted.
If you’ve been reluctant to take a barre class, or want more variation in your barre work, consider pushing your cardio in platform. You’ll work for it.