Hi. I'm Sara!

I am extremely passionate about all things health - while not letting it take over your life.  I love efficient workouts, easy healthy meal ideas and all kinds of tips and tricks to help you become a stronger version of yourself

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Charles St Barre

Charles St Barre

**Edit to note that Charles St Barre closed in the winter of 2017

These days I have been re-thinking my preconceived notions that a workout has to be non stop movement and end dripping in sweat to be worth while.  I have gotten a taste of barre at both Mpower Studio in Canton and The Dailey Method in Twoson, however I had yet to try a studio that  is loyal solely to the craft of barre.  So when I decided I wanted to give it a try I reached out to Charles St Barre in downtown Baltimore.  Why?  They are the OG. Original.  The first barre studio to set up shop in this pretty little city and have been going strong since 2012.  {Congrats Charles St Barre! You are as the same age as my marriage!  And my dog!} That's right. All these other studios that have popped up in my short two years of being a Baltimore-ian are babies in comparison.  


First Impressions:

There is something special about a studio is loyal to one type of fitness.  You know they are going to be the best, and really know their stuff.  Then again, you can easily feel like an outsider when you step in for the first time.  Stepping into Charles St Barre however, I hardly felt like an outsider.  Keith, the owner of the studio greeted me with a giant smile and some helpful tips for my first class.

The studio itself is industrial chic, minimalistic with a touch of elegance.  Like a slick high ponytail, it's fancy without being ostentatious.  The front room is cheerful and sunny with a broad desk and a smiling face waiting to greet you.  Sparkling chandeliers hang from the ceiling along the length of the slim studio room.  Behind the studio is a cozy space with cubes for stowing your bag during class, changing space, and bathrooms.


The downtown Baltimore location is IDEAL.  Centrally located and easy to get to, I especially loved popping out of class Sunday morning and walking a few blocks to the Baltimore Farmer's Market.  A smaller studio space means more attention for you from the instructor.  In a class that focuses on posture and alignment this is SO important.  It also gives you a greater sense of community, that you are working with a small group of people after a common goal.  Other perks include student discounts on memberships as well as a parking discount for a nearby garage.  And of course, and amazing studio staff and knowledgeable instructors.  All instructors go through an extensive in-house training process to ensure they know not only how to structure a class but how to choreograph and lead a class you are going to love.  

Price - $$

So let's get down to the info you really want to know right?.  Drop in classes for 1, 3, 5, or 10 classes will run you $20, $18, $17, $15 a class.  Not really that pricey in my opinion.  However if you plan on becoming a regular, buy into their membership plan which can be as low as $115 a month.  If you're going to commit to at least two classes a week that's roughly $14 a class!   And honestly after you try a few classes, I D-A-R-E you to not want to become a member.  It's addicting. 

{They are also currently running a deal with neighbooring spin studio CorCycle where you can get 1 month of unlimited bike & barre for $119. This is probably one of the best deals I have seen yet - get your cardio and your strength in basically one stop for a great price.}

Class Structure:

Each class is choreographed in about the same way so I'll lay that out for you first before we dive into each specific class.  The idea behind a barre class is tiny-tiny-tiny little pulses that over time exhaust your muscles forcing them to get stronger.  So instead of lifting a 20lb weight through a full range of motion, you will hold a 1lb or 2lb weight at the top of that movement and pulse in a very short range of motion.  Think of it as the marathon vs the sprint, but for strength.  While the upper body moves utilize light weights and semi-traditional strength training moves, lower body utilizes moves similar to ballet. The class starts with quick cardio warm up followed by planks & pushups to get the arms and core engaged.  After you are nice and warmed up you will go through a sequence of moves focusing on one area of the body.  Every class will go in the same order.   Arms, quads, calves, glutes, and then everyone's favorite, core.


Barre Core Sculpt - Sunday @ 9:45am with Gabby

Barre Core Sculpt is an all levels class that is great for beginners or veterans.  Gabby is a no-nonsense instructor that leads you through the squeeze, tuck, lift moves with precision.  Her playlist, though is what had me hooked.  Throwback remix gold.  I have been to classes that play hip-hop, top 40, rock, EDM, but never something so good as a re-mix of the 1999's hit we all know and love, Steal My Sunshine.  I wish I could tell you I remembered the rest of the songs but that one got stuck in my head and overplays everything else.  Between each sequence of moves Gabby would dim the lights and flip to a slower paced Beatles song as we went into a deep stretch.

The challenge with barre, and why I love it and hate it as the same time is they just keep pushing you with every level of the sequence.  The first move will be hard, for example lifting one leg behind you and pulsing.  Then you will keep that leg lifted and bend the knee and pulse.  So it gets harder.  And just when you think you can't keep going, it gets harder still while you bend the knee out to one side and pulse some more.  You never really know when the sequence will end and it's part of the challenge, how long can you hold on and how tough can you be to withstand the discomfort.  I make this sound really fun, huh?

You will love this class if:  If you are looking for a class that takes you out of your comfort zone and helps improve your balance and posture, this would be it.  You'll really tune into specific isolated muscles and bring more awareness into your body while getting a really amazing total body workout. 

Barre Express - Monday @ 7am with Kim

Same great Barre experience but in less time.  I will admit it was pretty ambitious, even for me, to sign up for classes two days in a row.  Even more so that I was going to take a MORNING class.  

The good news is I had the rhythm of the class down and knew mostly what to expect.  The bad news is, those moves are still fricken' hard.  Kim was great with helping me correct my form throughout class making sure my heels were lifted the right amount or that my hips were tucked in the right way.  She is also the original owner and current marketing director of the studio.  Her passion for not just teaching barre but being a part of the Baltimore fitness community shines through in the energy with which she teaches her classes. 

You will love this class if:  You are short on time and want to start off your week feeling strong but not exhausted.  Also if you are newer to barre and unsure if you are doing things right, Monday morning classes tend to be smaller which means more attention from the instructor.  

Barre Burn - Saturday @ 8:30am with Oksana

Barre Burn is considered the more advanced class at Charles St Barre, and their website says you should take at least five Barre Core Sculpt classes before trying Barre Burn.  I had taken only one {leave it to me to not follow all the directions...} so I went into this class more than a little intimidated.

Oksana, like most of the best trainers and instructors I have encountered, is the perfect combo of warm, encouraging, and tough.  She will challenge you and cheer you on at the same time.  When you are up on your toes in front of the bar, knees bent and quads on fire she will make you sink down another two inches and hold until you start shaking.  But she will also is quick to remind you to hold strong the set is almost over.  Also her music is on point.  There were times when my arms were aching or my glutes were shaking and even though I wanted to quit I just couldn't help but keep going to the beat of the music.

You will love this class:  If you want a hardcore workout in the most gentle way possible.  I know that doesn't make any sense right now - but I swear to you take this class and tell me I'm not wrong.  If you are far from a barre newbie and want something that's going to challenge you, this is the workout for you.  

Final Thoughts

Did I turn into a graceful ballerina in one week?  No.  Did I feel like a graceful ballerina sometimes during the class?  Um, actually yes!  I am definitely not even close to the most coordinated person ever and Charles St Barre managed to make me feel graceful and poised.  I think it's the barre.  There's something about standing in front of that mirror that makes me feel like a dancer.  {BRB going to go see about installing one of those guys in my apartment.}

After one short week I like to think I gained a lot more awareness for my body and how to have better posture throughout the day.  I find myself sitting up a little taller or engaging my core more throughout the day.  I found that I actually liked how difficult some of the moves were because I knew they were really challenging me.  And let's face it when it comes to certain things in life, like working my core, I'm 110% the girl who does 15 sit ups and calls it quits.

So here's the deal, if you have not tried any kind of barre class thus far in life, what are you waiting for.  Run, don't walk {Actually Kim told me this great story of a former client who actually did RUN to barre class every day.  #lifegoals  I digress}  Charles St Barre is amaze and you need to give them a try.  You won't regret it!

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