With limited access to studio barre classes, I streamed Barre 3 classes for a couple of months, and I want to tell you all about it. This is my honest review of Barre 3 Streaming.
Disclaimer: They gave me one month of free streaming in exchange for an honest review.
If you know me or have been reading my blog for a while, feel free skip this part, but I thought it would be useful to understand my fitness background for context.
-My dance experience is limited to ballet classes at the local Y ca. 1983. I was in it for the tutu. I feel I should mention this because aspects of barre fitness are rooted in ballet as well as Pilates.
-I have a long history as an endurance athlete. Since 2001, I have run six marathons, completed two ironmans, and competed in many other endurance events. Since having my first child in 2012, I have focused on running. My running actually improved (significantly) after having kids, as evidenced by PR’s in the half marathon (1:44), ten-mile (1:19), and 5k (21:58) distances.
-After having my second baby in 2014, I was diagnosed with diastasis recti. To remedy it, I tried Pilates (somewhat helpful) and physical therapy with a therapist who specialized in pelvic floor issues (very helpful. Boulder/Denver ladies check out N2 Physical Therapy; I saw them for my diastasis but I have heard they do amazing work with postpartum incontinence, painful sex and other fun womanly issues).
-Though I had rehabbed my diastasis recti, since having my second baby, I was plagued by frequent aches and pains that kept me from running consistently. Also, despite having lost the baby weight I still had a pooch. Although I have never had a flat stomach (even before having babies) my pooch was more prominent than usual (if only to my eyes). Equal parts vanity and a desire to strengthen my core inspired me to take classes at my local Dailey Method studio.
-Within a few months of attending classes about twice a week, I noticed significant changes. My core was more toned and stronger (as in I had a much easier time doing certain moves in class than when I had started). As for the running injuries, I really started noticing a change in my ability to sustain consistent mileage when I started seeing a fantastic new physical therapist.
I loved barre classes. They weren’t like anything I had done before. To put it into perspective, here is a non-exhaustive list of group exercise classes I have tried in the past:
–Boot Camp (not to be confused with Booty Camp)
–Spin class (I have been teaching classes on and off for over ten years)
–Yoga (Hatha, Vinyasa, Turbo, Bikram)
The sweat factor at Dailey Method classes (I know, I know, this is about Barre 3, but we’re getting there, I promise) was low to non-existent, which I liked, once I got used to it. I accepted that if I wanted to sweat, I would need to do a different workout. Meanwhile, the limited sweat factor meant I could hit an evening class without being amped up right before bedtime. I liked the fun music, I liked how the teachers would pay attention to each student and correct your form, if needed (and for me, it was certainly needed). The emphasis was not on range of motion but on proper form and alignment, which I appreciated. The teachers offered modifications of most exercises, or at least didn’t mind if I made up my own, to protect my core. Even though my physical therapist said my diastasis is functional, I should avoid certain exercises (eg V-ups). I can’t say I’m sad about never doing another V-up.
Why I decided to try Barre 3 streaming
Regular barre classes do not fit into our budget. As much as I love the classes, I do not love them enough to give up my gym membership or to justify both expenses.
Maybe the Dailey Method spoiled me, but the Total Barre class at my gym, which I hoped would be an adequate replacement, didn’t do it for me. I went consistently for over four months and was disappointed that the class is 95% the same every time, including the playlist. That said, the class is generally pretty full, with many regulars. Apparently there are many women who enjoy knowing exactly what to expect, but I prefer variety.
For a month I tried Dailey Method streaming and was extremely disappointed with that, too. The video quality was poor, the music annoyed me, and the workouts were consistently way too easy.
For another month, I tried random free videos I found on YouTube. Some of them (specifically, a Pure Barre video) were fantastic. But alas, the fantastic ones would have disappeared when I’d try to find them a week or two later. Or I’d start a video with high hopes, only to find it sorely lacking, and I’d be annoyed that I’d wasted 20 minutes. I just felt like I never knew what I was going to get and I was getting tired of wasting time with videos that didn’t give me what I wanted.
When a friend recommended Barre 3 streaming, I decided to give it a try.
What I loved
The video quality was excellent. The lighting was good, the sound was good, and the camera angles allowed you to see each of the three professionals doing the workout. Generally, one did the normal moves, one did a modified (easier) version, and one did an extra-challenging version.
Barre 3 offers the option to mute the generic background music without muting the instructor’s cues. This is pure brilliance. (Copyright laws preclude the streaming videos from using the awesome music they play during studio classes.)
There are many class options, as far as length and area of focus, and it’s easy to narrow down your preferences to make it easy to select the video that meets your needs. The video library includes ten minute, 30 minute, 40 minute, and hour-long videos. You can also filter them by equipment needs (some require no equipment, some require just a chair, some require a chair, a ball, a band, and light weights). You can filter your choices further by choosing a workout focus (options include core, upper body, lower body, full body, prenatal, and stretching).
Some of the moves were really challenging and different. I’m looking at you, side plank-regular plank- other side plank –thing-with-resistance band!
What I didn’t love
The buffering wasn’t annoying… It was out of control. To the point where over a full minute would pass and I’d be stuck looking at the frozen screen, listening as the instructor advanced the workout, but unable to follow along without the visual cues. (Maybe a more coordinated person would be fine with just audio cues but that doesn’t work for me). I wouldn’t even mention it if this were an intermittent problem, but it was pretty consistent- every video, multiple times per video. When I asked customer support for assistance I was told it was most likely a problem with my internet connection. Considering I had no problems streaming Netflix, YouTube, or Dailey Method classes, I wasn’t convinced this was true.
I love talking… with my friends. I don’t love being talked at by a stranger through a screen. In each video, the instructors made a point of sharing personal facts, whether about themselves or the other instructors featured in the video. Each video had one instructor teaching the class and two other instructors taking the class. The teacher would typically say something like “Jenny here has two kids! She runs around after them all day. She is strong!” Or “I’ve turned my dad into a Barre 3 addict! Hi, Dad!” It struck me as fake and cutesy. I just want to focus on the workout.
Excessive Yoga poses
There was too much yoga and not enough strengthening, burning, and shaking for me. If there’s one reason I avoid group fitness, it’s that I hate coming for one thing and getting another. Barre 3 was no exception. What I wanted was a workout that required me to do a gazillion reps of teeny, tiny, burn-y movements. At least once in every workout, I wanted to feel every major mucle group—shoulders, arms, core, glutes, quads—burning. I wanted my body to beg me to quit while my mind forced it to keep up with the instructor. What I got was a decent burn in two or three muscle groups in each workout if I was lucky, interspersed with enough warrior pose to last me through 2025. If I wanted warrior pose, I’d go to a yoga class.
The cardio added nothing to the workouts, beside frustration. If wanted cardio, I’d lace up my running shoes, hop on my bike, take a spin class, get on the elliptical, or go for a swim… in other words, I’d do anything but a barre class. The cardio they mixed in felt like a distraction from the muscle burning I came for. Not only that, but it was barely enough for me to break a sweat. If you’re new to fitness or returning from a break, a mix of some ass-burning barre moves and light cardio would be a fantastic well-rounded, heart pumping challenge. For me, it wasn’t enough cardio to be a true cardio workout and not quite enough strength to feel like it was a great use of my time. Ugh.
While I am unlikely to do another Barre 3 video, I can’t say I wouldn’t recommend it. It just depends what you are looking for in a workout. I will definitely incorporate some of the new moves I learned from Barre 3 into my routine when I do my own barre workout in my basement (which is something I actually do about once a week, not just something I say I should do). But I don’t have time for buffering, excessive warrior pose, and light cardio, which is why it’s not for me in this season of my life. All of that said, if they re-vamped their video library and let you filter workouts by difficulty level, I would give Barre 3 another chance.
If you want to know more, please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments. Also check out Stephanie Hsiang’s fantastic blog, A Mom Walks Into a Barre. Stephanie is a barre fanatic and she’s funny, to boot.