In the summer and fall, my colleague Andrea told me about new barre studios in Vancouver and it took a few months (just like her raving about ClassPass – more in another post) for the information to sink in and move me to action. Having been to tens of classes at Barre Fitness (BF) and no longer having access to a colleague’s transit pass to zip to Yaletown over my lunch hour, I was looking for studios easier to get to from work.
Once upon a time, I took up the Barre Fitness new client special ($40 all you can barre for two weeks) and went to seven classes in my first two weeks. These days, those special offers wouldn’t work for me and I would consider it an accomplishment to make it to four in the same period. Further, I also think that two-week specials are less frequent than before and you see month-long introductory specials – studios get more money and a lot of clients can’t keep up going as often as if they were limited to two weeks. Smart.
Punch cards are the way to go for me now but I’m anxious that I’ve bought too many classes which often have an expiry date. It still saddens me that I ended up wasting 10 Barre Fitness classes when they expired in January this year. Four- or five-class punch cards which Ballet Lounge (BL) and Body Balance (BB) have, sound more my speed these days.
Or, there’s that Class Pass thing that Andrea kept telling me about. For months, she told me how she tried out so many studios (and even barre classes, but they are not her speed) and how she took some cool celebrity-endorsed bootcamp class in L.A., too. All the barre studios I want to try are on ClassPass and after being on the Class Pass mailing list for a while without purchasing, an offer came through for two months for the price of one and I activated it. (What fun! More about that in another post.)
Body Balance Vancouver (555 Howe Street, Vancouver)
The closest studio to my work, by far, is Body Balance which Andrea found too “ballet-y”. A four-minute walk from my centrally located office tower, it seems like Body Balance is cornering the downtown/Financial District core because Barre Fitness and Pure Barre (PB) are in Yaletown and Bar Method is almost in Gastown and certainly not central.
All of Body Balance’s classes are 45 minutes long so I don’t feel like I’m gypping myself going to a short class when I’m just as eligible for a 90-minute class. ;-) I got my first two classes for $25 with the “I’ll try anything twice” special. Thereafter, it is $23/45-minute class with the 5-class pass. Or $11 class with a Base Class Pass plan. My lunch-time options are Balanced Barre (their classic barre class) and Yoga Barre.
For starters, it’s weird being the fattest person in class and I’m not even THAT fat. How different things feel after a year off! I almost wanted to do the same warm-up that is standard at Barre Fitness, that is how ingrained that sequence is in me. Compared to BF, there is less “cardio” in the warm-up and they are fancier with arabesques dotted throughout the class. My first class was Balanced Barre and my second – to try widely, haha – was Yoga Barre. “Yoga” was a misnomer! There was only downward dog, forward fold and happy baby – not that I was ready to do yoga. It was a good workout in no small part due to the instructor who knew just what to remind you to fix at the right time (when you’re doing something wrong and it’s not thus not challenging enough).
Body Balance is a great space with warm dark wood floors and white everything else lending the place a serene atmosphere. It feels like a big space with lockers that are spaced out and three curtained changing rooms and others with toilets – that is a good set-up so people are not waiting to freshen up before and after class.
Purre Barre (Vancouver studios in Yaletown and Kitsilano)
Pure Barre came into my purview a while back and I saw on their Instagram a shirt I really liked. (Wish I could find that post now.) But their locations in Kits and Yaletown aren’t convenient for me until I nipped away for a one-time-only class one weekday evening. I could make it to a 6:45 p.m. class, and those classes I feel are enriched for neighbourhood patrons (as opposed to the right-after-work or lunchtime classes, especially downtown).
It was a very bad start with me not able to pay for meter parking because my Pay By Phone app that was updated then lost its settings and I couldn’t get into it without fingerprint authentication (which doesn’t work) or use of my back-up password (which I forgot). So I was taking a “risk” for the last 45 minutes that I didn’t get a ticket. They asked if I brought socks and I pshawed, “I do barre barefoot” but the odd thing is that Pure Barre is carpeted. I guess they have good ventilation and really clean their carpets.
And then the class started and I was pummeled with core/plank exercises in warm up. What gives? It was quite horrible because it was really intense but… I still have my splits. Sort of. I have seen people raving about their good music which, I will have to say and sound grumbly, was all DJ-heavy version of pop songs blasted in a small room. It’s really admirable how they have a strong brand (they are 400+ studios strong) and their set of lingo, that part of me is fascinated by it.
Ballet Lounge (1340 Granville Street, Vancouver)
Next closest to my work is Ballet Lounge which is 1.1 km down the street from my office tower. At lunch, I take one of several buses that goes down Granville and on the same pass, head back to work.
They had a Baby & Me Ballet class on Wednesday that intrigued me but I could never go to and E might be too old for me to bring. For lunch-hour classes on the weekdays, I only have a choice of Ballet Bootcamp Xpress (bootcamp? no thanks) or Ballet Fit Level 1 Xpress, the latter of which I have taken several now. The proprietor, Suzy, is bubbly and enthusiastic and passionate. She told me that due to popular demand, Ballet Lounge does have a barre class but Ballet Fit is traditional ballet and set apart from their Traditional Ballet classes by the music they use.
By day, the studio is pretty normal, a bit like a fishbowl due to the floor-to-ceiling windows to the street. By night, the neon pink barre really stands out and it looks a bit like a dance club… where people are doing ballet. It is located on a quiet block on Granville just at the foot of the bridge and neighbouring a spin studio (Spin Society) and a gym (Downtown Urban Fitness). The class is really accessible but a decent workout especially when Suzy kindly explains modifications for people who can tackle a higher degree of difficulty. I’d like to try the next level (although without a doubt my jumps are solidly stuck in Level 1) but the schedule does not allow.