Jordanna Dworkin walked around the exercise studio, reaching up gently to make a suggestion. "Lean the body bar against your shoulder, and it will help you balance better," she told one woman, who was teetering a bit.
Full disclosure; I was that woman, and I was teetering more than a bit. I was participating in "Equinox Barre Burn," at Equinox South Beach this past Tuesday. Dworkin, the co-creator of this new exercise form, was the guest instructor, whom the company had brought from New York City to personally demonstrate the class.
Equinox Barre Burn is a new type of exercise class that blends ballet, yoga and light for a total body conditioning program. It's inspired by the Lotte Berk exercise method, which is named for the 1930's ballet dancer who developed it. The Equinox version swaps the ballet barre on the wall for an individual weighted body bar that each participant uses.
"We wanted to take the ballet barre off the wall and bring this type of exercise to the yoga or exercise studio, so even people who have never done ballet, and might be intimidated, can do it," Dworkin added.
Dworkin began dancing at the age of three. She danced professionally in California, and then moved to New York, intending to become a professional dancer. But, she says, "I had an epiphany. I realized that I didn't want to make dancing my career, but I still wanted a career that involved it," she said.
And so she became a certified Pilates instructor, as well as a licensed acupuncturist. "I love anything that is involves the movement of energy through the body," she says. Then, she teamed up with Equinox's Lisa Wheeler, also a co-creator of Equinox Barre Burn.
"Equinox launched Barre Burn many years ago, mostly on the East Coast. But with the increasing popularity of barre method style classes, we decided to take on a modern approach and relaunch it with a few tweaks," says Wheeler, who is Equinox's senior national creative program group fitness manager.
Freeing the class from the wall-mounted ballet barre makes all the difference, says Wheeler. With this shift, the popularity of the class exploded, and now the fitness company offers it nationally.
In the Miami area, the class is currently offered at Equinox's Coral Gables and Aventura clubs, says Geoff Bagshaw, the company's Florida area group manager. "This class has proven very popular with our members as it offers total body conditioning, which helps to increase the metabolism, and specifically addresses a lot of concerns that women have," he said.
"The targeted exercises focus on the lower body by working the legs, hips and buttocks, while emphasis is also placed on much needed upper body strength," he added.
So, while I wait for Barre Burn to come to South Beach Equinox (I'm sure it will soon), I was happy in the knowledge that I got an excellent total body workout, and also delighted to know that, just as no ballet barre is required, neither is a tutu!
More info: Equinox