Here's a sentence I'd never thought I'd say: I got my butt kicked at a biker bar on Friday. But before you start fearing for the lives of Washingtonian writers, let me clarify that said butt kicking happened at the new cycling and barre studio in Eastern Market, aptly named Biker Barre.
The studio, owned by Jane Brodsky and Katie Fouts, was previously Red Bow barre studio near Union Station. Like Red Bow, Biker Barre maintains a relaxed and inviting atmosphere, largely due to the friendly disposition of the owners and instructors and the lounge area where clients are encouraged to hang out, use free wi-fi, and socialize. Also with the new space came the addition of two types of cycling classes: Bike Ride and Bike Trip. Bike Ride will be the studio's signature cycling class and is an intense 45-minute program incorporating music and cardio, while Bike Trip will be a 60-minute advanced class.
The hope is that offering the cycling classes in addition to barre sessions will encourage more male clients to head to the studio, says Brodsky. Since Biker Barre began its soft opening on Wednesday, it has had at least 15 male clients (including Capitals defenseman Mike Green), mostly significant others of former Red Bow clients who are thrilled they can now exercise at the same studio.
"Most of the men have left saying they will try a barre class, too," says Fouts.
I opted to try out an hour-long open barre class. The technique blends strength training, Pilates, and ballet-barre methods for a high-energy comprehensive workout. Muscle groups are isolated to work deep into the muscle through a series of targeted reps, with no rest in between. The only reprieve comes in the form of the equally important stretching periods. The hope, of course, is that eventually you'll look like Natalie Portman à la Black Swan, with a lean dancer's body.
As I turned to my right and saw an eight-month pregnant (but clearly very fit) woman, who I later learned was Brodsky, I thought to myself, "If she's doing this, it can't be too hard." Wrong. Not five minutes into the class, I was on the ground pumping out pushups--slow and excruciating pushups, diamond pushups, you-name-it pushups. After several planks and tricep dips, we were back on our feet, holding five-pound free weights. Don't be fooled by the light weight; after your 30th nonstop rep, those weights will feel like 20-pounders.
"The warmup helps get your heart rate up, work the core, and stretch out the muscles that you will be using later at the barre," says Brodsky.
As we moved to the barre and into a "wide second position" as instructor Kelly directed, we began a series of strenuous leg exercises working the inner and outer thighs. This is inevitably the hardest portion of any barre class, but what I've learned is the leg quaking is normal (and a good sign). Kelly moved through the studio, observing form and technique, offering positive affirmations and polite corrections.
The last third of the class is dedicated to "seat" (barre-speak for butt) and core work. After targeting the glute muscles through many leg lifts, leg circles, and toe taps, we moved under the barre to work the core using props such as mats, yoga straps, and squishy exercise balls. The class finished with the always-entertaining "back dancing," a pelvis thrusting exercise performed on your back, and some much needed soothing stretching. No matter your fitness level, you'll hobble down the stairs with aching legs and a new respect for dancers.
"Our goal at Biker Barre is to see our clients accomplish their goals and keep coming back because they've had fun. If you're here to lose weight, that's definitely doable. Or if you're looking to be a bit healthier we can help with that, too. It's all what you make it," says Brodsky.
Biker Barre classes are $22 for a single and $40 for a double; rates apply to both barre and cycling. Promo packages are available for the first month. More rates can be found on the website. 738 Seventh St., SE; 202-733-1009.