◊ THE CLASS: GALS: Glutes, Abs, Legs Friday 12-12:50pm ◊
WHAT YOU NEED
Barre socks (mandatory)
On our latest trip back to Calgary we popped into what has quickly become known as one of YYC’s most posh studios frequented by local celebs and trendy millennials, Barre Belle. And we get why. Founded 2 years ago this Valentine’s Day by Breakfast Television Calgary’s, Jill Belland, and fitness fanatic Kristi Stuart, these women rounded up some of Calgary’s best interior designers and barre instructors to put together some of the chicest boutique fitness studios we’ve seen. They’ve recently expanded to their fourth location, having just opened in our old hood on 85th Ave, but we visited the OG Mission location to see where it all began. Our bouncy and cheerful blonde bombshell instructor made us want to reinvigorate the scrunchie, the GALS (Glutes, Abs and Legs) class pushed us to fatigue and the layout and amenities gave us everything we needed to refresh after a light sweat and carry-on with our day. Although the space is very heavily geared towards women, most barre studios these days are ok with creating that exclusion. Prices are at the top end for barre but comparable to Barre Body Studio also in Calgary and we’re not surprised in the slightest considering the quality of the studio, classes, product and teaching. You might think this space is intimidating for first time barre students or anyone who doesn’t weigh 110 lbs. and look perfect in a crop top and leggings, but the instructors are so welcoming and friendly, and the class crowd is full of a great mix of experience levels, shapes and sizes that it really is a space where everyone is welcome to shape their best booty together.
Barre Belle has spread their love across the city of Calgary with 4 locations in almost every quadrant, in Mission (SW), Auburn Bay (SE), Parkdale (NW) and the latest stunning location, West 85th SW, that just opened in the beginning of January 2018. We attended a class at their original location in Mission. This bright, fancy studio is conveniently located on 4th Street in between 18th and 19th Avenue SW, beside a few adorable wallet clearing boutiques like Fieldstudy and Mini Purr (obvi we had a sneaky shop before class). Street parking is available along 4th Street, or the neighbouring side streets, and there are multiple bus stops along 4th Street and 17th Avenue for the rare few who take public transport in this city. 🙂
CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE
All classes offered at Barre Belle are barre based (shocker) but they have a great mix of strength and cardio components that all aim to tighten and tone your beautiful bods to create slender, strong dancer physiques. There are 6 types of classes in total to create said physique, with their most popular being their signature BarreBelle Fit, which is a full-body, 60-minute, typical barre class that incorporates barrework, mat and core – perfect to include in your regular routine or if you’re new to barre in general. The class we took, GALS: Glutes, Abs, Legs, is all about your lower body and has a splash of 80’s thrown in for good measure with the use of ankle weights a lá Jane Fonda. We loved it. But more on that love affair later. All classes are OK for beginners, but the Barre Belle Fat Burn, Barre X, and X-Training classes are specifically designed to be higher intensity, cardio blasts of sweatyness so it’s easier if you’ve at least done a barre class before trying these. There’s also a Belles and Babes class (we’ll be back with our little dude!) which is a 50-minute baby and you class where you utilize the baby weight (literally) to get your tone back. Baby age can vary, as long as he/she can be strapped to you in your own baby carrier. No matter which class you choose though, all classes will include high repetition exercises with light weights and/or resistance bands, dynamic movement and, of course, the barre.
The class schedule at the Mission location, specifically, is geared towards the morning, lunch and immediately after work crowd with 2-4 options before 9:00 am, a lunchtime class, and the rest happening post 5:00 pm. Having said that, they wrap-up classes fairly early during the week, with the last class starting at 6:30 or 6:45, which can be pretty tight for those who run at 9-6 work hours (us). Classes finish by lunchtime on the weekends as well, so there’s no sleeping in allowed. Although this is one of the more limiting class schedules we’ve seen in a while, people are clearly making it work as most classes are wait-list only, especially at the Mission location. You can book classes up to a week in advance and we definitely recommend you do! Arrive 15-minutes early, because 5-minutes before class starts, they may give your spot away to someone else.
Class prices are on the top end for what’s out there for barre at $25 for a drop-in rate, which is the same as Barre Body Studio also in Calgary but more than The Sweat Lab at $23. Memberships have a maximum of 7 classes per week, which is a tad surprising since most memberships are unlimited. Plus, how many people are really going more than 7 times a week that they need to limit that?! Holy hardcores. Anyhizzle, the premium auto-renew membership includes 10% off merchandise at the retail boutique and 3 bring-a-friend passes per month as well. Overall though, memberships really only make sense if you’re planning to attend more than twice a week, otherwise the 20 Class Pass is the best deal, dropping per class rates to $20.
For those who don’t live in Calgary or can’t make it to a class, they have The Belle Bod program that can be purchased online which include 5 types of packages that come with video classes and an instructional guide. Visiting the website alone will make you want to add to cart so you can be like Jill and Kristi in any way.
- Drop-in: $25
- New to Barre Belle 2 week unlimited: $55
- 10 Class Pass: $210 ($21 per class)
- 20 Class Pass: $400 ($20 per class)
- 1 Month (says unlimited but then it’s not since it’s max 7 days a week): $185
- Auto-Renew Membership: $175
- Premium Auto-Renew: $225
Barre Belle has a bit of a reputation of being “that” studio in Calgary (just look at the website). Ya know the ones – beautiful, posh, expensive and full of fit beautiful woman. And that’s exactly what it is. But for us, it was inspiring, and we loved it and we were making mental Pinterest boards from the interior decor perfection that is this studio from the minute we walked in. If that’s not your scene, that’s totally and completely ok. But if you want to work out in a beautiful feminine space that feels like a combination of a spa and the latest Elle Living mag, then this is the place for you. Designed by Aly Velji, one of Calgary’s top interior designers, the studio’s 1920s-inspired millwork is total Insta bait and every detail is considered in the décor and the layout. With an open concept layout in the main foyer, the sign-in desk is accented with a massive white fabric art installation and the waiting area is as chic as the neighboring boutique shops with exposed cement, amethyst side tables and Aztec print pillows that all somehow go together. The “vault”, a little alcove tucked into the cement making it feel like a boutique in a cave, is full of lulu x Barre Belle branded gear, cheeky barre sweatshirts, and other things you don’t need but definitely want. Past the lobby is a locker lined hallway that leads to the water station and studios, of which there are 2 that are white and black and chic as hell. With black crown molding in all the right places, the mirrors are backlit, the equipment is mostly black, and the studios are finished with feminine chandeliers, as you do. The one (female) change room keeps the beauty coming with a massive floral wall mural, pretty pillows, and a ton of amenities including bathrooms, a shower, blow dryers and beauty products from local spa Babor.
Although you would think this beautiful space lends itself to only being full of beautiful trendy slender 25-year old’s, our 12-person class had a nice mix of experience levels, shapes and sizes. That said, they were all women, no men anywhere in sight, and everyone was likely between the ages of 20-35. They are definitely catering to a particular clientele that value the detail and pristine surroundings as much as the workout itself. Although the staff are incredibly welcoming and friendly, we could see how the perfect vibe of the space could be intimidating for newbies, men, or people who don’t know what Instagram is.
- Filtered water
- All equipment and mats provided
- Locks provided for lockers
- Retail boutique that includes the mandatory toe socks
- One women’s change room that includes 2 washrooms, 1 shower, hair ties, blow dryers, dry shampoo and Babor Spa products (other locations have universal change rooms that guys can use too)
Barre Belle was founded by two of the fittest power house women that exist, Kristi Stuart and Jill Belland. They opened Barre Belle’s doors on Valentine’s Day 2016 with the Mission location being their first studio, and it was a smashing success from the first red ribbon cutting. Since then, they have expanded their team to over 30 instructors between all 4 locations and they have created BelleBod and StudioX, a downtown pop-up fitness concept that we’re also dying to check out. Basically, watch this space, as these chicks are always creating the next thing in YYC fitness.
Emily reminded us of all the best parts about the 80’s and now we want to bring them back in a big way. With her Jane Fonda-esk aerobic leg section including ankle weights, her headset, and her scrunchie tied high ponytail – we were so totally into everything she was putting down. Her friendly and bubbly energy was contagious from the moment we stepped in the doors and she gave us a tour of the whole damn place and ensured we were properly set-up for the class beforehand, including letting us borrow toe socks because we forgot them in our suitcase – thanks Em. She knew everyone else in the class by name and performed 99% of the class with us, showing modifications for almost every exercise and somehow managing to never be out of breath. Emily’s instructions were super clear, and she kept the class moving at a quick clip the entire 50 minutes – basically never giving us a break besides one water break. ONE.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
We’re giving the class a full pineapple for it’s accurate description of what we went through and rating it Hard because it WAS. That’s not even because I was 6 months preggers – my bestie, Tamara, who came with me also works out 6+ days a week and was struggle street by the end. We took the GALS class (Glutes, Abs and Legs) and it had components of cardio, functional training, traditional Pilates, and tons of core so it was very dynamic, and we were constantly working a different part of our body. There wasn’t, however, a lot of time at the actual barre since the majority of the class was in the centre of the room or on the mat. So if you’re keen for more of a ballet inspired class at the physical barre, this wasn’t it (try Barre Belle Fit). The class started in the centre of the room with versions of jumps, sliders, high knees all while working with resistance bands around our thighs. And that was the warm up. We then moved to an arms/abs section, using low weights and our core to keep us stabilised with a ball behind our backs at the barre (the only time we were at the barre). After that, we focused more on our glutes and legs with exercises in the centre of the room that required ferocious repetition, then we finally moved to the mat, which proved to give no relief whatsoever. We attached ankle weights (like straight up 80’s ankle weights) and went into a killer butt, inner thigh, and hip leg series that had elements of traditional Pilates interwoven. And THEN we went back to abs for a 10-minute sequence to finish us off that included crunches, planks, toe reach up’s, up and down planks and other stuff. Like honestly. Because of my baby bump I could take more of a breather with modified versions that didn’t work my abs so much, but looking around the room, all of the fit beauties were caving one by one. We, very surprisingly, were not overly sore the days following, but we could definitely see how taking this class on the regular would be THA BEST booty lifter.
To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see Barre Belle’s contact info below.
Barre Belle Web: www.barrebelle.ca E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org PHONE | 403.454.7765 Instagram | Facebook | Twitter