Calgary & Toronto
◊ WHO THIS IS FOR ◊
WHAT YOU NEED
Barre socks (mandatory), running shoes for X-Training, yoga mat for Flow & Glow, water bottle
Barre Belle has quickly drummed up a reputation for being one of Canada’s pretties & poshest studios. And we get it. Having first opened in Calgary in 2016 by former Breakfast Television’s, Jill Belland, and fitness fanatic Kristi Stuart, these women rounded up some of Calgary’s best interior designers and barre instructors to create what might be the chicest boutique studios we’ve ever seen. We’ve tried so many of the classes over time now (GALS-Glutes, Abs and Legs, X-Training, Sweat Obsessed HIIT, and Ass & Abs to name a few) and each class pushed us to fatigue with instructors that were approachable yet enviably fit. They’ve been in MEGA expansion mode opening their fifth location in Calgary last year, two in Vancouver, and two in Toronto with the Queen West studio just opening in October 2019. These belles are taking over.
Read on for the full article of Barre Belle.
Calgary: AUBURN BAY, Crowfoot, MISSION, PARKDALE & WEST SPRINGS
TORONTO: QUEEN WEST & Forrest Hill
Vancouver: Kitsilano & Lonsdale
Barre Belle has thier toes firmly planted in the Calgary soil with 5 locations across the city (see above). They have two locations in Vancouver that opened in the last year, and now two locations in Toronto – the first in Forrest Hill and the most recent to open, Queen West. We’ve been to their original location in Calgary’s Mission, Auburn Bay, West Springs and now Queen West – so we’ve gotten around. Every studio is well located within their target market where (frankly) cool, young, often with $$ and a barre addiction, also are.
Almost all classes are barre based (shocker) but they have a great mix of strength and cardio versions that will create slender, strong, dancer physiques. There’s ALOT of class styles, with everything from high intensity (Barre X Sweat Obsessed HIIT) to slow paced (Candlelit Stretch & Recovery). All classes are OK for beginners, but the ones that are specifically designed to be higher intensity cardio blasts of sweatyness are easier if you’ve done a barre class before. They have Belles and Babes which is a 50-minute mum and baby class where mums utilize the baby weight (literally) to get some tone back. Baby age can vary, as long as the little bub can be strapped to you in your own baby carrier. They also have childminding available at some locations (Calgary’s Auburn Bay & Crowfoot) which is a HUGE plus. More studios do this, please!!
They say clients who attend class 3-4 times/week will see great improvement in technique and gains in strength after 1-2 weeks. They also say that each class burns on average 500 calories (depending on your height and weight). No matter which class you choose though, all classes will include high repetition exercises with light weights and/or resistance bands, full body compound movement, and of course, the barre.
Barre Belle DOES accept ClassPass. However all ClassPass reservations and cancellations are made through ClassPass as a third party booking system. Barre Belle can’t change or alter a ClassPass reservation and any issues have to be addressed directly with ClassPass.
First thing that caught my eye – because I like to travel – class prices are not the same from city to city. In Calgary and Vancouver, drop-ins for example are $25+GST/class, but in Toronto they’re $30+GST. Those are competitive rates for the quality of the studio and classes in each city – so we get it – and studios like Barre Body Studio, Barre3, and Barreworks are similarly priced. There’s a number of class pack options or memberships, like auto-renew memberships, 1 month, 6 month or annual memberships, and the auto-renew are transferable. In each market though it makes the most sense to go for a membership if you plan on attending class more than 2x/week. Otherwise the 20 Class Pass is the best bang for your buck. Barre Belle also offers Barre At Home, which are videos and programs that can be accessed anywhere once you purchase. Child minding fees are additional and can also be bought in bulk – where child minding is offered. See here for all pricing by market. Most classes include all equipment so the only thing you need to bring is barre socks, which are mandatory!
You’ve seen it already – Barre Belle is beautiful. Every studio maintains impeccable design details and their signature look that’s very feminine and pristine. With the first three designed by Aly Velji, one of Calgary’s top interior designers, and the rest including the latest on Queen by powerhouse CH Studio, the studio’s 1920s-inspired black and white millwork is total Insta bait. The spaces incorporate feminine artwork that nod to powerful women, beauty, positive vibes, and ballet, and everything from the pillows to the macrame wall hangers are pretty. The studios have back lit mirrors and chevron floors, photogenic water features, and change rooms equipped with fancy product, hair ties, lockers (with locks), some with showers, and all with elegant wall murals. If you’re looking for a fitness studio that feels like a combination of a fancy spa and Vogue Living, then this is the place for you.
Although you might think this beautiful space lends itself exclusively to trendy, slender 25-year old babes, you’d only be half wrong. I’ve tried many classes over the last 2 years at Barre Belle, one while I was pregnant, and all of them in different studios that flexed a little bit with their clientele given the locations and time of class (Auburn Bay mid-day class – more moms, nurses and WFH peeps, Queen West Saturday morning – not a soul over 30 besides me). That said, every class I’ve been to has had a refreshing mix of experience levels, shapes and sizes. But we’ve only ever spotted women, no men in sight, although they do have a men’s change-room at some locations! The most important thing though, is the staff are incredibly welcoming and lovely. And even if they look like they’ve never seen a cheeseburger – they won’t make you feel like that matters. Cuz it doesn’t. ICYMI.
THE CLASS 🍍
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
Between myself and the rest of the Fit-City crew we have tried MANY classes at Barre Belle. GALS (Glutes, Abs, Legs), X-Training, Sweat Obsessed HIIT, Barre – Fit Burn, the list goes on. So I’ll condense while also giving you as true an indication of what to expect in any Barre Belle class. First off – whatever class style you take, it will most likely incorporate the quintessential thing that makes barre such a biatch – pulsing. Pulsing and repetition. Barre classes will focus on high reps of small range movements and work the focused muscle group to fatigue. That’s the core formula for the toned, lean, and strong muscles that are formed from barre workouts. To note about Barre Bells classes specifically is that I have ALWAYS worked up a killer sweat, even in the “lower intensity” classes. Also, I am never bored. The energy is high, the movements are interesting even if they’re small and you’re not doing a million of them, the music is loud, and the instructor is doing the entire class with you.
All classes will end up working the full body, even if there’s a targeted muscle group in the description of the class (like Ass & Abs or GALS), and they’ll be a hybrid style workout that combines elements of ballet, Pilates, yoga, strength training, and sometimes Jane Fonda-esk 80’s aerobics (GALS). Depending on the style of class, like X-Training or Sweat Obsessed HIIT which is designed to be higher intensity than the standard barre class, you can expect to spend the majority of the class in the centre of the room doing A LOT of jumping (which is a dying art – so good for your body). All classes will also follow a similar format of warm-up, centre work, barre work, mat work, and cool-down that might utilise ankle weights, resistant bands, weighed balls, and/or LIGHT weights (this is key). One more thing to sum up , barre instructors or women that do barre classes regularly, literally have INCREDIBLE bodies that are lean, toned, and STRONG. That’s all you really need to know.
And that’s that! Click here to visit Barre Belle for yourself and book in for a class!
Tabs is a freelance brand marketing strategist, co-host of The After30 Podcast and creator of Fit-City Guide. You can find her in a fitness studio every week, chatting up the instructors and fellow class goers on their experience, and generally being a creep in the background taking photos of everything. When she isn’t writing for Fit-City Guide, Tab is chasing her toddler son, drinking bubbly (likely at the same time), and eating popcorn.