When a friend invited me to try out Xtend Barre; a fusion of pilates and ballet, I was a little apprehensive of embarrassing her with a not-too-dissimilar rendition of that famous scene in the Vicar of Dibley where Dawn French mirrors the elegant Darcy Bussell. Of course in this instance, I would be cast as Reverand Geraldine Granger… minus the dog collar.
I’ve always been rather envious of ballerinas since the tender age of 5, when my tall and girly best friend regularly attended ballet classes. I, although not big, was the scruffy and somewhat dumpy tomboy who hung around her ankles. Elegance has never come naturally to me and so it was that this experience was set to test me, because it couldn’t have been further from the rather sombre and placid affair I was imagining.
The instructor Dana swept us through an upbeat and music-filled session using the mat, a ball, weights and, most excitingly, the bar. Yep, the one where you stand and look at yourself in the mirror and pretend you’re a ballerina. That bar.
It felt pretty cool to finally be in a place reminiscent of a ballet studio after all these years of longing to exude poise and I think I may have managed to pull it off for a first-timer…. or perhaps that was just my imagination. I was familiar with the pilates elements, but dumbfounded at some of the more poetic movements borrowed from ballet, like toe-pointing and raising my arms over my head to the classic ballerina pose. It looks simple, but for someone who’s had an element of tomboy engrained in them since childhood, it wasn’t quite so easy.
Thankfully my bundle of energy instructor Dana was on hand to offer support when needed and I’m pleased to report I’ll be heading back for a few more intense Xtend Barre sessions! Forget Geraldine Granger, Billy Elliot eat your heart out!