In Test Ride, TZR staff reviews the popular fitness workouts, equipment, and trends making waves in the wellness industry to see what all the buzz is about. Ahead, TZR’s Marina Liao shares her experience with taking virtual XTEND BARRE classes through Openfit in the comfort of her own home.
My introduction to exercise started at my local YMCA when I was 16. I loved the rush of endorphins I’d get after running on the treadmill or the burn I’d feel from 30 minutes on the StairMaster. Overtime, my fitness routine came to encompass classes, too. I’ve tried everything from yoga to Krav Maga, but my favorite is barre — specifically at XTEND BARRE. (The workout is a mix of ballet, pilates, and cardio.) With COVID-19, however, I haven’t been back to the studio in about two years, so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered XTEND BARRE partnered with Openfit on online classes. (They’ve been working together since 2018.)
For those not familiar with Openfit, it’s a fitness platform that offers live and on-demand exercise classes in addition to complementary meal prep ideas. Prior to taking the XTEND BARRE classes on here, these were some of my initial thoughts: Would a virtual barre workout, done in my tiny apartment without a physical ballet barre, give me the same rush as an in-studio experience? Would I feel committed to my workout by mirroring movements via a 13-inch laptop screen? Would I even sweat?
Despite my pondering, I was still super excited to take the classes because I hadn’t been to barre in over a year. And, I really missed it. I enrolled in XTEND BARRE’s “7-Day On-Ramp” program, spread out my yoga mat in the living room, and pressed the play button.
The two important points to note about Openfit’s XTEND BARRE classes is that you can substitute the ballet barre with a chair (at hip height) or your kitchen table. Weights are optional, as is a yoga mat.
I skipped over “Barre Basics” (I was beyond that, skill-wise) and went straight to my first class “Xtend Signature 1.” It incorporated many of the barre movements I was already familiar with such as squats, pliés, and deep lunges. As I moved through the 30-minute workout, I felt myself, surprisingly, breathing harder than I thought I would — and my legs even ached. My virtual instructor was Andrea Rogers, XTEND BARRE’s founder herself, so I felt like I was receiving a private, professional barre lesson at home. At the end of my workout, I dabbed the beads of sweat that rolled down my face and I felt the familiar burn in my abs.
If you’re wondering whether or not it was easy to follow Rogers’ instructions on-screen, it was. She was very clear with her directions. For any newbies to barre though, she did offer a solid piece of advice: “Know your ideal range of motion, [which] is key to performing the moves properly and without injury. A mistake often seen during an XTEND BARRE class is when participants think they need to perform the moves like a dancer; forcing their turn out, kicking their legs too high, or doing a plié too low.”
Over the next few days, as I completed the other 30-minute workouts — “Flexibility & Balance,” XTEND Pilates 1,” etc.. — I found myself liking the virtual barre classes more than I had anticipated. While I can’t claim the low-impact workouts physically made a noticeable difference on my body, I felt better mentally. I was less anxious about work and overall, I was in a brighter mood.
The main challenge for me throughout the week, however, was that — like with any online class — I needed to be self-motivated in order to actually do the on-demand classes, which are pre-taped. (XTEND BARRE does offer live, streaming classes on Openfit, as well.)
“The most important thing when it comes to getting results is giving consistent effort,” Rogers says to me. “Ideally you are moving your body every day, whether that is for a full 30- to 55-minute workout, or as little as a 10- to 15-minute workout. The goal is to maintain a consistent routine and to push yourself so when you complete your workout you feel like you have really given it everything you've got!”
I found that blocking out a time to work out helped me stay on track. I scheduled 30 minutes on my work calendar at exactly 5:30 p.m. every day to do an XTEND BARRE workout. If I missed a session one day, I would just double up the next day and work out for an hour versus simply 30 minutes.
After completing the week-long program, here are my highs and lows:
- I received a well-rounded, low-impact workout by a professional I trust — aka Rogers — instead of a random barre instructor (whose method or pace I may be unfamiliar with).
- On-screen, Rogers goes around the room to correct the fitness models in order to show you the proper postures, which actually helped me adjust myself at home.
- The music isn’t as loud or disruptive like it can be in a studio, since I can adjust the volume myself.
- As part of my XTEND BARRE and Openfit subscription, I received a customizable nutrition program based on my body and goals. Although it was cool to see to see the meal prep recommendations, I didn’t utilize this feature because I don’t adhere to any food guidelines.
- I can do the barre workouts anytime, anywhere.
- My week-long program was a free trial provided by Openfit, but I’m happy to report that memberships are affordable. Rates for the platform start at $8 per month and there is a free 14-day trial option.)
- I missed looking at myself in the mirror as I went through the movements because sometimes I couldn’t tell if my postured was aligned. (The XTEND BARRE studios have mirrors on all sides of the room.)
- I didn’t get the same energy and drive to push myself on some days because I thrive more in a physically competitive group environment.
- My arm workouts felt less effective without weights — but this can be remedied by investing in a set of dumbbells.
While I can’t wait for the day I feel comfortable enough to go back into a physical barre studio, my longing for this type of workout was satisfied through XTEND BARRE’s virtual classes. The seven-day plan made me sweat, it made my muscles ache (I love this feeling after a workout), and it wasn’t too time consuming to work into my daily schedule. Next up on my list to try out is XTEND BARRE’s 30-Day signature program on Openfit. I’m ready for another challenge!