Pilates meets yoga as new exercise craze comes to UAE
Designed to tone without adding bulk, while also improving strength and flexibility, Xtend Barre is the latest exercise fad from the US – and it has now arrived in our city. Las Vegas-based Australian Rockell Williamson, Xtend Barre’s international director and master trainer, has just launched Dubai’s first class, following similar trips to London and Paris. We caught up with the 33-year-old former dancer and Pilates instructor to find out more.
How was Xtend Barre formed? Creator Andrea Rogers, a Pilates instructor and ex-dancer, was looking for a way to give her Pilates clients something new. She started to layer in some elements of dance and ballet, bringing people off the floor, up to a functional, vertical position, and with that she fused the best bits of Pilates and rolled it into a fun cardio package. We’ve now launched in Australia, Brazil and Canada, and I just did Paris and London before coming to Dubai. Classes are now held in almost 100 studios all over the world. It’s really exciting to see so many people embrace it, and women love the results. We have male clients too, although Xtend Barre is still dominated by women, in the same way that Pilates was 10 years ago.
Does it make the average Pilates workout more interesting? It adds in a level of cardio, so people who already do Pilates can burn more calories than they would in their usual classes – it’s a great way to enhance an existing workout. It adds variety and more flowing movement, and it makes people feel the grace of a dancer. When you watch people leave the class, they have a certain poise and lift in their body. Which areas does it target? It’s a total body workout, but we streamline through the thighs and lift up through the butt, then we look for that nice definition through the top of the arms and the core section. Even though the core has a separate section in the workout, it’s actually used right from the beginning because we stand up and use the core muscles to stabilise right from the get-go, then that intensifies when we get onto the mat and start doing some deeper core work. The first changes people see are leanness through the thighs, and their seat [butt] lifting, as well as a nice toning through the upper arms.
How often do you recommend people do the class? If people do it three times a week, they’ll start to see results within the first few weeks.
What kind of workout should you combine it with? It works beautifully with [equipment-based] Reformer Pilates, but I have marathon runners that do this class for a different challenge. It’s designed to either be done on its own, or to enhance any existing programme. If you’re a runner, or play basketball or netball, the muscles can tighten up, so this is a great way of lengthening and toning the muscles to balance what you’re already doing.
Do you need to have had any previous ballet experience? No. Like any new programme, the shapes and the terminology become more familiar after four or five lessons, but you certainly don’t need to have done a dance class before. We can modify it or amplify it to suit anyone – anyone who has a heartbeat can come and do the class.
Obviously it’s open to all, but are certain types of people particularly suited to Xtend Barre? Anyone who wants to switch up their exercise programme. It’s good for shifting those last few kilos, or just taking things to a new level if someone has already been in an active training programme.
Can people do the workout at home? Definitely. If you want to do something while travelling, or in the comfort of your home, the Xtend Barre DVD is available throughout the Middle East. In place of the ballet barre, you can use a sturdy chair – the DVD is shot with instructors using a chair, to make it achievable for people at home.
The Xtend Barre: Lean & Chiseled DVD is available at www.amazon.com for Dhs49. Xtend Barre classes run at Real Pilates, Palm Strip Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road. For information on schedules and packages, call 04 345 3228.