If you are looking for an easy workout, put this article down and walk away right now, because Barre Fusion is simply not for you.

When I walked into the dance studio to experience my first session of Barre Fusion, I had no idea what to expect. The name itself reveals almost nothing about what goes on in the class. Is this a class about the fusion of barres? How does one fuse a barre? Wait, what the heck even is a “barre?” Is that the same thing as a bar?

I hardly had time to ponder much more than this before the Barre Fusion instructor, Marlene Settles, turned on some soft instrumentals and launched us into one of the most excruciating workouts my body has been privy to in months. By the time I left, I was simultaneously debating whether my legs would ever be the same again and planning the next time I could come back and participate in this intense workout.

Settles leads a barre fitness class, mixing ballet dance techniques with yoga and pilatees.

Settles leads a barre fitness class, mixing ballet dance techniques with yoga and pilatees.

Barre Fusion is, as Settles described it, a combination of barre movements taken from basic ballet, pilates, and yoga.

“It’s a whole different type of workout. It’s so beneficial because you work your entire body: you get your arms and your core and your legs and it’s great for muscle tone in general,” Settles said.

The hour-long workout is a series of movements designed to stretch and tone all parts of the body. Settles leads participants through easy-to-follow movements that combine the use of the ballet barre, yoga mats, and resistance bands. The routine includes lots of “roll backs,” squatting, and lunging, and requires a great deal of flexibility and sheer concentration to complete.

The exercise movements are conceptually easy, but require a great deal of patience and muscle tone to master. Centre Professor of Biology Dr. Anne Lubbers can easily attest to the difficulty as well as the rewarding aspects of Barre Fusion.

“I have been coming to Barre Fusion for two years now. I keep on coming back because I don’t get any other programmed exercise and it feels good. I am getting more balance and better balance. Don’t feel foolish if you can’t do everything perfectly,” Lubbers said. “Even now, after two years, there are a whole bunch of things I can’t do right. The more you do it the more you can fine-tune it and try and be more graceful to make it look [prettier]. But it’s well worth it.”

Another regular participant in Barre Fusion, junior Claire Konieczny agreed with Lubbers’ assessment of the class: “I’ve been coming for a year now. I had never done anything like this before, but it sounded really cool and different, so I decided to try it out. It’s very difficult because you work so many parts of your body, but it’s very fun as well. I would definitely recommend this to others,” Konieczny said.

Although most participants will acknowledge the difficulty of the class, it seemed to be motivation to continue, rather than a reason to stop coming.

“It was my first time here at Barrre Fusion, and it was very bad. I don’t exercise ever. My calves were cramping up in the first fifteen minutes,” sophomore Maggie Kaus said.

When asked if she had any advice for students who were interested in trying out Barre Fusion, instructor Settles enthusiastically replied that she is always excited to have new students in her class. “I would encourage you all to try it! There have been people that just come to the class and then end up staying for years. I really enjoy teaching it because I enjoy being with the students,” Settles said.

The class meets from 5-6 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday in the Sutcliffe dance studio. Granted, I am not one of the exercise gurus on campus. Most of my physical activity comes from spontaneous dance parties in my room, running to class late, or trudging up to the steps to the fourth floor of Crounse, but I guarantee that Barre Fusion will pose a delightful challenge for any and all who are brave enough to participate.

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