Well Being

Gym Classy Lady: Newsflash! All Barre Classes Are Not The Same

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NYC Nalini Method outdoor barre class

This week I'm back to the barre. Lately, the low-impact strength and conditioning of barre classes are my jam.

With six months of Core Fusion Barre under my belt, I foolishly assumed a visit to boutique barre class the Nalini Method would be no big thing. Sigh—who can recommend a fun cardio class for me? Let's just put to rest this lie I've been telling myself: I am NOT good at barre classes after all.

At Core Fusion, I foolishly assumed the fact that the classes were getting marginally easier meant I was getting better. Silly me. I was only getting used to the pain!

Another lie I'd been telling myself: That all barre classes are the same. There are certainly similarities:

  • They're all based on the Lotte Berk method, plus yoga and Pilates.
  • Most don't involve shoes, require socks (sticky bottoms optional, but helpful), and there are unwritten laws of lululemon and not infringing on someone else's barre space (a towel hanging over the barre means it's reserved, obviously).

These are the things I've learned in six months at the barre. I've been taking notes, all for you, readers. So, naturally, when I saw yet another barre class cross my inbox via a Living Social deal, I assumed it would be similar enough to Core Fusion. I'm not even honestly sure why I snapped up a two pack of classes, but I did, which is how last week I found myself trying the Nalini Method at a studio in New York City's Upper West Side.

Nalini Method NYC barre class

First off, if you're the sort of person who prides yourself on buying local and will always pick a mom-n-pop shop over a big box chain, this is absolutely the fitness class for you. The class I attended turned out to be taught by the founder herself, though you won't know until you start doing online research for BlissTree in your spare time. Rupa Mehta was awesome, and when you learn she has a heart of gold (read her bio and her passion for wellness and positive body image in young women is apparent), it makes you want to support her business even more. And the class itself?

EFFECTIVENESS – Overall, was it a good workout? How sweaty was I at the end (from black tie ready to drowned rat chic)? 

By minute five of the class, when I was back against the mirror, butt on nothing, legs bent, holding a weight out, I was eating my “all barre classes are the same!” words. And they were bitter. This class was incredibly tough. Throughout the hour, every exercise worked a different part of your body, often the same parts I'd worked the night before at Core Fusion, but in a completely different, yet equally difficult way. This is good for “efficiency experts” like me who will always try to find an easier shortcut. I was forced to face my (ample) weaknesses.

AMENITIES – How posh was the gym/spa/studio? From lemon water to BYO.

The studio is located inside the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, at 60th and West End. The space is shared with the Manhattan Youth Ballet and a few other boutique fitness classes (it happens to be the same room where I suffered the greatest injustic: Zumba), but the space itself is completely no frills. But you do get to see cute children waiting for ballet classes (ahhh, memories of being six), so there's that.

STUDIO VIBE – Was the place full of lululemon or ratty old t-shirts? How awkward did I feel, from inner-Beyonce to sixth grade me?

Nalini Method NYC barre class By far, this is the least intimidating class of its kind (maybe of any kind) I've ever attended. The crowd was versatile and friendly and it felt very welcoming, even for first timers. On the walls above the barre is a dry erase strip where Rupa wrote everyone's name in their space at the barre. It's silly, but I thought this was a nice touch.

TEACHERS – Did the teacher add to or detract from the experience? Did they put together a good playlist?

5 – I've said it before, but Rupa was great. She was very motivating and good at explaining what to do in a relatable way. She corrected a good amount, which I prefer, and never shouted from across the room to correct or anything awkward like that. There are a few other teachers on the schedule and I would be curious to see how this class varies with a different teacher. I kind of want to use my second class pass to find out, but the schedule isn't the most convenient.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE – Would I go again? What else contributed to my experience?

4 – Overall, I loved this class and would definitely want to return often were it not for two issues: 1. the schedule does not offer a lot of classes that are convenient for full timers like myself (only two weeknight classes and two on Saturday mornings!), and 2. the price unfortunately deters me from returning regularly. It's a $37 drop in rate, and the packages aren't discounted enough to get me to 60th and West End a few times a week. I'm finding this the case with a lot of classes – either it's too expensive or there aren't enough class times or both. Am I asking too much to want something semi-convenient and not prohibitively expensive?

About “Gym Class Lady:” Inspired by my love of trying all things fitness, every other week I’ll be reviewing a workout class, fad or video. I try all these classes so you don’t have to! Have a class to recommend or a review you’d love to read? Leave me a comment or tweet me @lizlemonyall.

Photos: Nalini Method Facebook page