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Health: New workout routine Barre promises to strengthen your core

Barre, a new workout and fitness regime inspired by ballet will be introduced to Mumbai, this weekend. In a half-hour trial session, Suprita Mitter goes the full stretch

Bandra's House Of Wow has a French chateau feel to it with its white walls, vintage mirrors and gold frames. The dance and fitness studio sports wooden flooring and wall-to-wall mirrors. For folks like us it was inspiring enough to head here for a workout on a grey July morning. We had signed up for Barre, a new form that will be introduced to Mumbai, this weekend.

Raising the leg on the barre helps give the leg as well as the back a full stretch. Pics/ Sneha Kharabe
Raising the leg on the barre helps give the leg as well as the back a full stretch. Pics/ Sneha Kharabe

Conducted by trained ballet dancer Indiana Mehta, the workshop, Grin and Barre will introduce participants to a workout inspired by Ballet. "Are you ready for class?" Mehta asked as we walked in. Not quite certain, we nodded in the affirmative. "We will work barefoot. You have to feel the floor when you do rises and other balancing exercises," Mehta explained. We spotted a metal barre (a stationary handrail that provides support for people during various types of exercises, used extensively in ballet training and warm up exercises) on the side of the large studio.

(Left) Indiana Mehta and the reporter (right) with legs in front in bow position. We raise our hands in a Port de bras, [ballet arms] position and combine it with an abs workout
(Left) Indiana Mehta and the reporter (right) with legs in front in bow position. We raise our hands in a Port de bras, [ballet arms] position and combine it with an abs workout

"Let’s start with a warm up," said Mehta as she turned up the volume of the fast-paced track playing in the background. We started with stretches for the back and the legs that reminded us of the asanas one would do at a yoga session; the difference being we were now using the barre to support our legs. This helped us feel the stretch better and made it tougher to stay in the position for an extended duration. It seemed like eternity before Mehta asked us to release our pose. She looked amused when our first reaction after putting our leg down was "Ouch!" Next, we tried the same form going one level further with both heels off the ground.

While working in opposite directions, the ribs pull back and the oblique gets worked. The focus is more on the lower abs
While working in opposite directions, the ribs pull back and the oblique gets worked. The focus is more on the lower abs

From rehab to fitness
"The Barre form took shape in 1959 in UK when a ballerina, Lotte Berk injured herself. She used ballet exercises, which includes strengthening and combined it with her rehabilitative therapy to overcome the injuries and since then the form has been developing. It draws a lot of inspiration from pilates, yoga and ballet. It helps you work on the entire body at one go; it’s not just the legs or the arms," shares Mehta who started learning ballet at the age of 19 and trained at Laine Theatre Arts, UK and the Lewis Foundation of Classical Ballet in Bangalore, followed by a National Diploma in Performing Arts accredited from Trinity College London.

Indiana Mehta
Indiana Mehta

The mind-body connection needs to be strong for you to maintain the position and do isolations. Next, we worked on strengthening the inner thighs. "One leg is contracting while the other is extending. The small pulses help open up the groin, says our petite but fit instructor. As we moved to floor exercises, Mehta said, "How you use your core is the first thing we learn. We’ll do 15 steps instead of 30, but the idea is to do it correctly. We check injuries and body types and tone up or down the intensity. Work on every muscle part." As we lie down, she tells us to try to pull the navel downward so the back is supported to do small crunches; only then does it benefit the body. Post this, we lift our right hand, move it to the left side and then repeat the movement with the other hand. "While working in opposite directions, the ribs pull back and the oblique gets worked as you change sides. The focus is more on the lower abs," shares Mehta, promising that the next set will be our last of the session.

Legs in front in a bow position, we raise our hands in a Port de bras, (ballet arms) position and combine it with an abs workout. "You use your own arm weight instead of a dumbbell," she reasons. The minute we are ready to release our pose, she says, "Let’s do eight more counts." Looking at our expression, she changes her mind and laughs to say, "I was joking." We’re relieved.

On: July 9, 6 pm to 7 pm; July 10, 11 am to 12 pm 
At: The House Of Wow, Natraj Building, Hill Road, Bandra (W). 
Cost: Rs 500 for one session, Rs 800 for both days
Call: 9930337789


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