◊ THE CLASS: Barre3 at both King Street and Leslieville ◊
WHAT YOU NEED
I used to live right above Barre3’s King Street West location so it caught my eye often and didn’t take long for us to check it out for a review last year. But with the launch of their second location in Toronto, in the East End’s Leslieville, we love that we have the opportunity to refresh an older post and give you the goods on the entire Barre3 experience. If ya’ll didn’t know, Barre3 is actually a massively successful franchise that was originally founded in Portland, Oregon like a million years ago. Now with two locations in Canada (and a third to come) it’s awesome to see that there was enough demand in Toronto alone that it justified having two locations in the same city. Barre3’s approach to whole-body health is holistic, acknowledging that fitness is just one pillar of the equation. They lay out three pillars; exercise, nourish, and connect, and they preach that it’s not just about how hard you work out or the numbers on a scale, but that it’s about nourishing your body and making connections in order to lead a balanced and happier life. Both studios are well-laid and include all the amenities you need at no additional cost, have a very tight-knit team that flex between locations, and they routinely celebrate their regulars’ achievements on social, which we heart. They have a health and lifestyle B3 Magazine with incredible tips and community information, a constant stream of healthy recipes from the B3 Kitchen, and they have online classes that allow you to be part of the action even if you can’t make it to the studio. With challenging classes, convenient timetables, and prices that are worth it, we have no doubt you’ll find something that works perfectly with you’re life and you’ll understand why this 120+ studio company is smashing the barre scene. Hah, barre scene.
Barre3’s first Canadian location (King Street West) is incredibly central, tucked away on the second floor of the classically touristy TO restaurant strip between John Street and Blue Jays Way amongst spots like Hey Lucy, Kit Kat, and N’Awlins. Better yet, and to keep the holistic healthy vibes flowing, Barre3 is easily within walking distance to a ton of uber healthy nibbling and lifestyle spots, like CaliiLove and The Detox Market, our Friday favourite Fresh about a 10-minute stroll to Spadina plus plenty of others a stones throw away. Basically, come down for Barre class and get all of your healthy life-errands done at the same time. Easily accessible by the King St. streetcar, it’s also a quick 10-minute walk from St. Andrews subway station. For the drivers, there’s a car park across the street in the TIFF building since you can no longer park on King Street #pilotprojectproblems.
As of March 2018, Barre3 has continued to expand its empire in Canada and opened the second location in Toronto, but servicing the eastside crew with a spot right in the heart of Leslieville on Queen Street East just east of Greenwood Avenue. Across the street from one of our other favourite studios, Toronto Yoga Mamas (review here), and one of our favourite pizza places, Queen Margarita Pizza (#heartemoji) the new Barre3 studio in Leslieville has a prime locale, is easy to spot and is accessible by public transport (501 streetcar) or driving no matter what direction your coming from. Free parking available on Greenwood Avenue or Vancouver Avenue if you can snag it. Full pineapples guys, good real estate sloothing. Also, stay tuned for a third location coming soon to London, Ontario. Maybe next year they’ll expand out west?
This powerhouse brand also has over 125 studios (and counting) across 39 States in the US, the Philippines and an online community of thousands. With the original flagship location in Portland, Oregon, the company has expanded like wildfire since 2008, first on the West Coast taking over more of Oregon, Washington and California and then making their way across the country opening up locations in New York, Florida, the Carolina’s, DC, and Pennsylvania to name a few.
CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE
There is only one type of class at Barre3 and it combines the best of ballet barre, yoga and Pilates. Classes may vary slightly between instructors, with some focusing more on resistance band work or some spending more time in the centre of the room, but the format of the classes will always stay the same; a warm-up in the centre of the room with an 80’s aerobic class vibe, a barre section filled with pulse exercises, and a mat section that further focuses on abs, glutes and/or thighs. Moms-to-be and new moms can also safely feel the burn at Barre3. As long as you have consulted with your doc beforehand and they’ve given you the go-ahead, Barre3 classes can be modified depending on how far along you are or where you’re at in the postpartum journey, just let the instructor know and they’ll tailor wherever they need to for you. Because of the low impact of the classes, this is also a great option for people recovering from an injury and adjustments per exercise can easily be made.
The class schedule at the King Street West location is more built out versus the newly opened Leslieville location, which isn’t a huge surprise as they get going. King Street West has a pretty consistent schedule with the same six classes Monday-Friday starting at 7:15am on weekdays and 8:45am on weekends. Weekend classes at King West wrap by 1:45pm, which is fairly new as they’ve added that last class slot only in the last 6 months. Woot. The Leslieville location, on the other hand, has a much more restricted schedule, with 4 classes running each day at 9:30am, 10:45am, 5:15pm and 6:30pm. Although minimal, given the area that they’re most servicing, it totally makes sense to capture the day crowd and on-their way home crowd, and I’m sure their schedule will continue to evolve as they get a sense for what the community is asking for. If the class schedule or locations are difficult for you to get to, Barre3’s online classes could also be a great option! With over 300 stream-able workouts, one-on-one instructor online support, weekly workout plans, and new workouts added each week, it’s a killer online community you’ll want to be part of. Well played Barre3, well played.
As for pricing, drop-in fees are the highest for barre studios we’ve reviewed at $25 a pop pre-tax, however it’s in line with like-minded barre studios like BarreBody Studio and Barre Belle in Calgary and they also include things like towels, a bunch of amenities and all equipment, so we cool with it. Also, the package deals decrease the per class rate to as low as $16 before tax, which is almost as low as Pop Physique. Heyo. For new clients, a membership is worth it if you’re planning on going to more than two classes a week which would drop rates to ~$12.50 per class, or you could do the three for $45 class pass ($15 per class) that’s only offered to newbies. Online subscriptions range from $25-$29USD per month, but if you commit to a little bit of barre-time, like as little as once a week, that’s a pretty sweet deal. All memberships auto-renew. Oh, also – spoiler alert for the next section – the new Leslieville location has a “play lounge” for the kiddos and prices are $8.00 for a drop-in or $70 for a 10-pack.
5 Class: $100.00 ($20 per class)
10 Class: $180 ($18 per class)
20 Class: $320 ($16 per class)
- New Client: $99 unlimited month or 3 for $45 (one time only)
- Monthly: $29 per month
- 6 Months: $27 per month
- Annual: $25 per month
Both Barre3 studios in Toronto have a similar feel. Although the King Street West location is smaller and therefore has a few less amenities to offer given the space, the general vibe and experience is similar in both. But of course, cuz we don’t do anything halfway we’ll break down the difference between the two studios for you. 🙂
The King West studio is a bit rustic with deep greens and wood detailing decorating the space yet it’s feminine, modern and simple. The studio is located on the second floor and opens up to the main foyer with a sign-in desk, a small retail boutique (with tons of locally made product FYI) a few benches, and storage for boots and bags. The single mirrored and glass walled studio has a capacity of about 20 students and is immediately to the right of the foyer with a chandelier clad hallway running behind the studio that leads to the back change room. It’s worth noting that this is very much a studio designed for the girls. There isn’t any dedicated male space should a guy want to come barre it up, but truth be told we’ve never seen him in a class. A gentleman would, I’m sure, be welcome but they wouldn’t have access to a washroom or change room considering the back change room is a small open space often filled with ladies stripping down and getting ready for work or otherwise. The back change room isn’t huge and contains one curtain changing space, one shower, two bathrooms, a sink and vanity filled with feminine necessities. There’s also a teeny seating area, lockers with provided key locks to store your things and additional hooks for coats. The crowd at this location is a mix of regular barre goers and fresh faces but often a younger millennial babe who either lives or works in the area. In the many times that we have frequented this location we have spotted the rare 35+ #bossbabe (who shows the young bucks how to rock it btw) and we’ve only ever seen one male in the studio and he was changing the lights. Not even a joke. He came in with his oversized man ladder to change the bulbs.
The new Leslieville location in contrast has more space to play with and they do have a unisex washroom/change room as well as a womens change room, a larger studio that can hold closer to 30 students comfortably and a play lounge for the bebes. When first walking into the studio from Queen Street East, you’re encouraged to leave your coats and shoes up front, sign-in at the front desk, and the lobby is to your left with more space to chill. A similar retail boutique jammed with Barre3 branded athletic gear and product like Conscious Coconut and Ponytail Mail hair ties are also in the boutique, and around the corner is a set of programmable lockers and a filtered water station. There isn’t as much of a “design vibe”, if you will, in this space compared to King Street West. It’s more open, more white/neutral and has a tad less personality, but they’re new – they’re still figuring out who they are. There’s also only one studio at Leslieville, albeit larger, and the play lounge sits behind the sign-in desk outside the mirrored and glass walled studio, which allows mummas to take class and leave their babes to playtime. If a fussy baby or issue arises, a Barre3 staff member will come grab the mumma from class since you’re right outside the door. Out of the 125+ Barre3 studios around the globe, there are only three that don’t have the play lounge, one of which includes the King Street location. But, given the space and the typical crowd at King Street, it’s probs ok. The rest of the layout in Leslieville is similar to King Street West in that the change rooms can be found at the back, but there’s more space, a unisex change room, more programmable lockers, showers, and all toiletries and towels provided. The crowd that will frequent the Leslieville location will, by no surprise, be more local to the East End, probably bring more of a family vibe vs. the after work or living downtown vibe at King Street West, but generally they’ll attract a similar, older, millennial barre BABE.
- All mats and equipment included
- Filtered water
- Towels included
- Womens showers, change rooms, and washrooms
- Unisex change room and washroom (at Leslieville location only)
- Play Lounge (at Leslieville location only)
- Chick amenities like hair ties, deodorant, blow-dryers, tampons, Band-Aids ™, Q-Tips ™, make-up pads, etc.
- Retail boutique that includes tons of holistic health products like; Conscious Coconut Oil, Niu all natural makeup remover wipes, Barre 3 branded water bottles and gear, locally handmade hair-ties from Ponytail Mail and Tavinoir barre socks
The staff at Barre3 make every effort to make you feel like you’re a neighbour they see on the regular. On our first visit to the King Street location, they knew right away we’d never been before and took us for a tour of the space, same with our first visit to Leslieville. Any time we’ve been since, they remember our names at the front desk and in the class and you can tell they’re making that a priority for every student that walks through the doors. Many of the staff flex between both locations, especially right now as Leslieville is getting set-up, and their team includes some of our favourite barre instructors in the city, like the sprightly ball of energy Jackie Marwah-Chow and the inspirational Madeline Christ. Another thing we love about how Barre3 rolls, is their commitment to training their new instructors. After spending four weeks in Toronto in a full-day training program, trainee’s travel to the original home of Barre3, Portland, Oregon, for a further three-day intensive course with a master instructor and the opportunity to speak with the OG founder, Sadie Lincoln, to get an even deeper understanding of the culture and ethos. They really make you feel like part of the fam.
We’ve attended a few classes at Barre3, but considering our most recent class at the King Street location was with Payton, we’ll shine the spotlight on her. Payton is a tiny human. Her bubbly and delightful miniature self moved back from NYC not too long ago and her background is in musical theatre and dance. Having completed the Barre3 training at the end of 2017, she held a number of community classes to get her feet wet but she now dominates the schedule regularly on Monday mornings from 7:15am-10:00am, Friday mornings at 10:00am, and Sunday at 1:45pm. Her style is all endurance. Not even a slight exaggeration, her class went from one exercise to the next without any breaks AT ALL. If you actually kept pace with her, your break would be going from the barre to the mat or picking up your weights, which is obvi not an ACTUAL break. Of course, she was very vocal about ensuring everyone took water breaks or stretched whenever they needed it, but if your a tad competitive (us) you’ll try to pulse your way through the whole damn thing and then feel like you wanna die. Payton would check-in with students individually helping with their form and although soft spoken at times, her energy is cheerful and bubbly. Her playlist was mostly dance music with a handful of top 40 sprinkled in, but for us, we would have responded better to a more engaging playlist considering how deep you have to dig within yourself to pulse through the shakes in a barre class. And music can help with that.
Madeline is the lead instructor at the Leslieville location and after about five nano-seconds you see why. She acts as a mentor to all other instructors at Barre3 (both locations) because her confidence, impeccable form, and fitness game are everything you want to be. Her background as a professional dancer shines through in her physique and technique and her teaching style is very kind, clear, and does not mess around. She kept a strong and consistent pace for the full hour, and she provided a very challenging workout with tons of modifications if you needed them (which at 36 weeks preggo, I totes had to utilise). She was very good about spending time all around the room so that everyone in the large Leslieville studio could see her, especially as we flipped from facing the front, to both sides, to facing the barre, and she was constantly providing hands-on adjustments in between demonstrating/doing the exercises with us. The music was similar to what we’ve experienced at the King Street West location; top 40, dancey, not particularly notable – so that would be the only thing that could have gotten us even more into it, especially when we were struggling towards the end of some long-ass stretches of exercising the same muscle.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
The thing that’s tricky about barre is that it sneaks up on you. The individual movements in isolation might not seem that intimidating or overly challenging, but it’s the repetitive motion of them that will do you in. And when you think you’re about done, you have to pulse in shorter spurts or do the same thing on demi-pointe (toes) and that’s when the shakes kick-in and the burn is REAL. The thing that’s also great (or not great) is that no matter how many times you do it, your body ALWAYS thinks it’s hard, and even if you’re a fairly fit human, you’ll work muscles that you probably forgot about and find yourself sore in your inner thighs and shoulders no matter how many km’s you run a week or how many spin classes you take. The best part tho, is that the exercises are designed to create tone, length and strength, so it’s a great workout to compliment your other higher cardio classes. Barre3 classes are no different. Although they only offer the one style of class at these locations, the classes are designed to challenge and re-shape your beautiful bods.
Barre3 classes start with a non-threatening warm-up that often includes an 80’s aerobic style vibe, with bouncy, full-body movements like reaching from side-to-side to warm up your knees, shoulders, neck and back. The warm-up also typically infuses familiar yoga poses like runners lunge and downward dog so that you’re lubricating all the joints. Once we were all warm and fuzzy, we moved to the barre for a number of exercises that felt similar to what you might expect in a ballet class, but adding pulses and a resistance ball to them so your inner thighs are constantly working and you can’t slack off. Our first exercise, for example, was facing the barre in a plie on demi-point (balls of your feet) and you would do big and small pulses in that position for about 50 reps trying to keep your hips square, back straight, bum tucked and ribs in. Dancers get it, yogi’s and Pilates goers get it, but it can be a difficult concept for people who are used to bigger movements and intense cardio. But don’t be fooled, this type of work will generate significant sweatiness and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’re muscles fatigue and shake, and that’s truly when the toning work begins – so fight through it. In both King Street West and Leslieville classes we didn’t spend a TON of time at the actual barre, maybe only about ten minutes in total, with the rest of the time being in the centre of the room doing arm work (with mini weights that are also deceiving), a lot of lunge and butt toning work, and inner and outer thigh work. The whole class moves through about eight different stations; warm-up in the centre, barre whole body, centre for arms, back to the barre for more arms, centre for lower body, mat for continued lower body, mat for abs, and then a cool down. Each section you’ll fatigue certain muscle groups and then move on, having you leave the class feeling like you worked your whole body but still having enough energy to do stuff. Like drinks. We can’t wait to do drinks again.
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