There seems to be a trend of former barre class instructors creating their own methods in New York City.
The latest to do this is Kate Albarelli. Physique 57 or Core Fusion devotees would probably recognize Kate as their instructor with the gorgeous red curls and engaging teaching style. But to the yogis at the Upper West Side’s Pure Yoga, Kate is the creator of a brand-new barre-style class called Figure 4.
Developed exclusively for Pure Yoga, Figure 4 opened its doors the first week in April. A brand-new class in a brand-new room is a learning experience for both the students and the instructor; yet Kate was clearly thriving in her new home. I absolutely loved this full-body, high-energy workout. I also loved how Kate distinguished Figure 4 from the pack, creating a whole new experience at the barre.
How is Figure 4 different from the countless other barre classes popping up all over our city?
Most barre classes follow the same basic format: upper body, thighs, glutes and abs. Figure 4, however, delves directly into the thigh section after the ballet-inspired warm-up. As anyone who has ever taken a barre class knows, thighs is the most difficult (read: burning) part of class. Getting the most grueling part out of the way early on made me happy, but Kate has her own reasons for sequencing class this way:
“Ultimately, I chose to change the sequencing from the ‘standard barre class’ because Figure 4 creates the most correct sequencing for postural alignment, body wellness, blood flow and pace,” Kate explains. “The body works in the most natural and logical way, not harming any joints or tearing any muscles along the way. Ballet has been around for centuries and has maintained the same structure. By following a structure that clearly works, we are emulating a tried and true program.”
Before the thirty-minute mark of this one-hour class, I was dripping with sweat. While starting off with fat-burning thigh work provided a major boost, another reason is Kate’s variation on the upper-body dumbbell section.
“There is a missed opportunity to incorporate cardio and fat burning exercises with many barre classes,” says Kate.
Rather than isolate one muscle at a time, Figure 4 incorporates leg exercises with arms to keep the body in a fat-burning zone, elevating heart rate, burning more calories and, according to Kate, ultimately providing quicker results.
I wasn’t surprised to see the playground ball, a common prop in classes like this. I was, however, surprised to see a pillow. In my workout. Nap time? Not so much. The pillow – made from memory foam to conform to each person’s body – is used for lumbar support during the abdominal curl section.
The pillow made a huge difference. The pillow’s placement under my lower back dictated exactly how deep into the curl I should be, so I never wondered if I was positioned correctly. The pillow also relieved the pressure on my back so I could focus solely on my abs.
Kate’s spin on the classic barre formula simply makes sense. While Figure 4 is membership-only – a big deterrent for those of us used to an easy drop-in or class package – I am thrilled that Kate developed a fresh new contender in the barre class arena.
Dori Manela is a writer, content manager and social media consultant. Raised in Queens, Dori now lives in Manhattan, taking as many exercise classes in NYC as possible in search of the perfect workout. She started Dori's Shiny Blog in November 2007. As her passion for fitness grew, DSB turned into a health & fitness blog. With the help of her favorite social networking site Twitter, Dori has connected with other bloggers, boutique fitness studios, companies and readers to share her love of working out.