Almost five years ago, sisters-in-law Rachel Tessalone and Paula Warford set out to raise the bar of health in Minnesota by opening the state’s first barre studio. Now with locales in Edina and Wayzata, The Barre has changed the boutique fitness scene with its focus on both high-end training and a sense of community.

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What is barre and how is it different from other workouts?

RT: Honestly, barre is simply unlike anything else out there! Barre classes are unparalleled in their efficiency and effectiveness. I like to say barre is basically a one-stop shop that includes all the essentials of a well-rounded exercise program: improved posture, muscle tone and definition, weight loss, increased flexibility, and reduced stress — all in one hour!

Our classes use a combination of postures inspired by ballet and other disciplines like Pilates and yoga. We use the barre itself as a prop to balance or get into positions to really challenge you while doing exercises that focus on isometric strength training (holding your body still while you contract a specific set of muscles) combined with high reps of small range-of-motion movements. These movements isolate and challenge specific muscles, which fatigue them in a different way than most other forms of exercise. This is why the results are different — and more profound — than you’ll find doing other classes!

Beyond the exercise itself, the community we have created at our studios ensures you feel both supported in achieving your unique goals and challenged to set the bar(re) higher! We have so many clients say they never knew they could love their workout routine until they tried barre, and we think that says it all. The best workout is the kind you want to stick with; our classes become so physically and mentally addictive that exercising becomes fun!

What are the benefits of barre?

RT: One of the best things about barre is that the benefits are both near- and long-term, from lean, toned muscles and improved posture to a boosted metabolism, increased flexibility and stronger bones. The immediate result is feeling stronger (both in class and in your everyday life) and new muscle definition: the leaning out of your body and limbs that allows the muscle tone to show through.

But truly, the benefits go so far beyond that. As you create and define more muscle in your body, the higher your resting metabolic rate becomes. That means that the muscle definition you see doesn’t just make your jeans fit better; it actually helps you burn more calories throughout the day, even when you are sleeping! Strength training becomes even more important as you get older, because muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. But this doesn’t need to be a given and can actually be combatted and prevented by focusing on strength training.

And there’s more: Barre is about more than toning up and burning calories. You’re also helping yourself hold better posture throughout your day because a stronger core helps you keep your back straight. So with every barre class, you’ll be standing a little bit taller! In addition, building muscle mass helps strengthen connective tissues, which increases bone density. That means you are reducing your risk of injury, both while exercising and while facing your day. Because barre classes target every muscle group and work multiple muscle groups at the same time, it’s truly a full-body workout that will leave you sore in the best way!

Are all barre workouts the same?

PW: All barre classes are not created equal. The explosion in popularity has caused the range of what is considered “barre” to widen dramatically. We consider ourselves a very traditional, pure form of barre with an intense focus on form and results. We believe that an instructor’s eye should be attuned to all clients that enter the studio in order to ensure that everyone gets what they came for: an ultra-efficient, low-impact, muscle-sculpting workout. Oh, and we strive to make it fun, too!

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barre womens class and instructor close up

How often should one practice to see results? 

PW: We find that the sweet spot for most clients is three to four times a week. This allows you to see the most dramatic results by gaining a better understanding of the positions and to start craving staying in the barre burn for a little longer than you thought possible. That’s when most clients will notice a change in their body — typically in just a few weeks.

The more often you come to class, the more compounded results you will see. Calorie expenditure is directly related to the percent of lean muscle mass in your body, so the more lean muscle mass you build (the primary result of our exercises), the more calories you will burn in class. In addition to the physical changes, clients leave class feeling uplifted and accomplished. We say you’re only one barre class away from a good mood. It’s a win-win!

What first attracted you to barre and how has it changed you?

PW: Before a friend introduced me to barre classes, I thought I was in decent shape. I worked out five days a week at the gym, was a lifelong runner and hated group-fitness classes. I stumbled out of that first barre class completely blown away by the difficulty of it but feeling happy and light like I had just returned from the spa. It was unlike anything I’d ever felt before!

After a few weeks of class, I began to see dramatic changes in my body. I became addicted to a different kind of exercise high: the thrill of conquering a challenging thigh series, surprising myself as I did one more pushup on my toes, breathing through the burn a little longer than I did last class, and the blissful satisfaction when melting into my mat during the final stretch. It has changed me — body and soul — and I am so grateful for the barre.

RT: Paula dragged me to my first class. She had fallen in love with the classes and the results she was seeing. I very distinctly remember holding the railing walking downstairs after class because I felt like my legs were going to give out — and I loved it! Nothing had ever challenged me in that way before. I immediately started attending classes regularly. That was a decade ago, and I still often need to hold a railing when walking downstairs after class —you never plateau!

Barre has changed me in so many ways physically and mentally! I was always active and in shape, but nothing ever made me feel svelte and toned until I started doing barre regularly. I love that I can physically see new results every week — yes, still! The mental determination that it takes not to give up when your muscles are aching during class has translated to mental strength in so many other areas of my life. The barre’s effects definitely go way beyond the physical. The barre becomes a way of life and helps you feel strong and ready to take on anything life brings your way!

Your first class at The Barre is free! For details, visit thebarrestudio.com.

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