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Friday, May 14, 2021
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Amazing Clean

Canberra’s only dedicated barre studio offers something for every body

With their philosophy of empowerment for every body, Xtend Barre Canberra City offers something on the timetable for everyone. Fusing elegant dance inspired moves with high intensity workouts, the studio opened in July 2020, offering Canberra new, multi-level, safe, fun and effective fitness classes.

CW sat down with co-owners Lauren McBryde and Lorena Kanellopoulos to find out more about the Xtend Barre method and Canberra’s only dedicated barre studio. 

Tell me about yourselves; how long have you been doing barre workouts?

Lauren:

I’m an ex-ballet dancer. I studied dance from a very young age but after pursuing it full-time after leaving school at 16, I got an injury and decided to reassess where I was going in life. I went back to school, completed high school, and then went to university. While I was at university, I discovered Xtend Barre. It was like coming back to the barre for me, coming back to what I loved and everything I had missed for many, many years but it was this incredible workout and such an amazing community. It just incorporated everything that I felt was what I was both good at and loved but also all my experience in business management. I became an instructor very quickly and I’ve been teaching now for over four years, both in barre and all of our variations as well.

Lorena:

My background is business and management. I met Lauren through the General Manager of Xtend Barre. Lauren was looking for a business partner to open Xtend Barre that had business expertise and had the same passion as she did. I have a background in dance and also teach Chilean folkloric dancing and I did ballet and jazz as a young child. The love of music, the love of dance in combination with business, I wasn’t going to refuse the offer.

For those who don’t know, what is Xtend Barre?

Lauren:

It was originally created in the US by Andrea Rogers. It came out to Australia and we now have over 20 studios Australia-wide including our newest sister studio in Tassie. It takes elements of Pilates and dance and fuses them together to create this dynamic workout that is approachable for everyone. Whatever walk of life you come from, this is an amazing workout in that you can start in the beginning and start progressing and keep challenging yourself. There are so many modifications for injuries, for pre- and post-natal, so it really is for everyone which is what makes us unique. We try to offer something that is a complete body workout so that you can tick all the boxes and know that you don’t have to go do something else elsewhere.

Lorena:

Xtend Barre has reciprocal rights. What that means is if you have a membership here, you can also use it with other studios across Australia. It is also an area that empowers women and makes them feel comfortable in a space that is not as daunting as a gym. We provide themes throughout the year and we also put on events. We also put on a great spread on International Women’s Day or for breast cancer week. We’re always quite embedded with the community and that’s what Xtend Barre is all about.

Can men come to the Barre?

The boutique size of the studios ensure the qualified instructor can monitor everyone’s form and make sure they’re doing it as safely and effectively as possible.

Lorena:

Absolutely, everyone is welcome! Our members range in age as well.

Lauren:

I think women gravitate towards it a bit more naturally because, for men, I guess it’s not culturally as acceptable, but men benefit from it just as much as women. Men still need to work their core and pelvic floor just as much as women and they still need to stretch. In fact, it’s probably more important for them because they’re used to doing heavier weightlifting and more dynamic movements that don’t incorporate stretch into their normal workout. That is so important for mobility, for flexibility going into our old age.

The Barre opened in July 2020; did you have any issues because of COVID?

Lauren:

We were meant to open just before COVID. In fact, we had just found this space and were in our lease negotiations and I think we saw the writing on the wall and we just held off for a little bit. We were lucky in that regard. We just had to wait out lockdown and do the little bits and pieces that we could keep our team warm and make sure they were still excited and then we opened as soon as we could.

Lorena:

Of course, we have followed all standards required regarding social distancing, signage, hand sanitiser and wipes. We have done everything for people to feel comfortable to come to the studio and to be safe during these times.

Lauren:

We keep our class sizes small because of the social distancing so we maintain the 1.5m distance in every direction. But our class sizes would have been small anyway because we always offer those boutique sizes to ensure that our qualified instructor can monitor everyone’s form and make sure they’re doing it as safely as possible but also as effectively as possible, so they’re getting the most out of those 55 minutes they have with us.

What is beneficial about the fusion of ballet and Pilates compared to going to the gym?

Lauren:

Ballet works on quite a few principles that activate certain muscles and Pilates does as well. We’re taking Pilates principles that offer strength and stability so we’re really working on muscles in key areas that provide stability in the joints. So, whether it’s from injuries from other, more high intensity exercise, especially knees, lower back, hips, we are working on stability around those joints to prevent further injury but also the wear and tear of getting older. The Pilates elements can also work on pelvic floor and on diastasis, making it safe for pre- and post-natal. For women, something that is going to keep them moving during their pregnancy and after pregnancy is just not accessible at most other places. I know I struggled finding something that was suitable during my pregnancy. Just to keep them moving in a safe way that’s also going to give strength so they’re not losing that strength going into labour but also for that post-partem period where you’re lugging a baby around. It’s providing all of those things I feel is really unique in its fusion.

Lorena:

In a gym you have weights and cardio, so when you’re pregnant you may require to adjust your training; your body is changing and it’s probably not recommended to use heavy weights…at Xtend Barre we are focusing on strengthening and supporting your joints, particularly if you’re injured. A lot of people use it as a complementary as well. They do both Xtend Barre and gym.

Lauren:

We have a powerlifter in fact, she competes competitively, and she does this in complement to that.

Why did you want to open an Xtend Barre in Canberra?

Lauren:

Xtend Barre takes elements of Pilates and dance and fuses them together to create a dynamic workout.

There’s definitely a need for it down here, that dedicated studio that provides barre classes and the variations as their soul focus. In comparison, we’ve got gyms, we’ve got other places that do offer it as a side, but I really feel like this is a workout that is safe and effective and is approachable for women and men from any walk of life. I’m really passionate about women’s health and providing that at every stage, whether you’re in your late 50s or later on. I had a client who was in her 70s and was still wanting to come to the barre and move. In a fun way that engages them and keeps them motivated but at the same time really focusing on that strength and stability in a safe way. The more we know about our body and how it works and what we can do with it is just so key, so vital.

Lorena:

I believe it allows you to have a better understanding of your core functionality of your body and how important it is to strengthen those types of parts of your body. Strengthening your core and glutes are fundamental, in particular if you have back issues this will assist you in having a better lifestyle. Our members vary in age, and the beauty of barre is that you don’t have to know anything. There are no prerequisites, you just come, you give it a try and yes, flexibility is so important, but you’ll get there with time. Our instructors are there to guide you if you are in a position you may harm yourself.

What do you want people to know about Xtend Barre?

Lauren:

The connection here is so important, the community, the sense of community is so important and having people talk to, it’s just incredible.

Lorena:

Everyone is welcome and we have the first class for free. If you’re interested in coming along and trying it out, you’re more than welcome. We’re open seven days a week, but people have to pre-book via phone, email, Facebook or Instagram. We highly recommend coming and trying it to experience it. It’s hard to articulate exactly the benefits of coming to try barre.

Lauren:

There’s so many misconceptions like “Do I have to know ballet? Do I have to have done Pilates before? I don’t have any flexibility, I’m unfit.” And especially post COVID is that “I’m starting from scratch” because people just didn’t exercise or move during COVID because they were inside and so there’s that real misconception of “I have to get fit before I come to class.” That’s the point of coming to class; you start wherever your starting point is, and you can take as many modifications as you need and then we just progress, and we can work on that together. 

To find out more visit xtendbarre.com.au/studio/xtend-barre-canberra-city/

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