As a rule, I’m not the biggest fan of classes as a way to exercise. It’s not that I don’t think they offer a good workout, but often the cheesy, over-the-top enthusiasm of the instructors puts me off. If it’s not fun, you may as well be working out in the gym alone. Yet after 60 minutes of Booty Barre at Dubai’s Zen Yoga I’ve changed my mind, largely thanks to the sunny yet empathetic demeanour of instructor Laura (right), who makes the whole class feel like genuine good fun.
The class itself combines elements of yoga, Pilates and ballet, but contrary to what the derriere-centric name may suggest, it’s actually designed to work all areas of the body, from the glutes and hamstrings to your core and triceps. And don’t make the mistake of thinking this class is only for women: Zen runs ladies-only sessions in the mornings, but evening classes are mixed.
Before the class begins, a quick chat with the others in the room reveals I’m not the only first-timer – and I’m pleased to report that there are only six of us gathered in the small studio for the class. It’s a perfectly sized group for the room, and for anyone who would feel intimidated working out in front of a larger crowd. Laura glides into the studio and switches on some upbeat music (mercifully, not uptempo versions of pop music), and we begin.
The first portion of the class is spent moving through a series of squat-like exercises, holding in a number of positions to pulse on the balls of our feet, and after just ten minutes my thighs are ‘on fire’, as Laura so aptly puts it. I’m relieved when we pick up the weights, hoping for a little respite for my legs. Instead, we combine the weights with another round of squats and sideways lunge-type movements, but focusing on the weights and the burn in my arms has the welcome effect of taking my mind off the growing ache in my legs.
In the second half of the class we move over to the barre, which acts as a stabiliser for the next series of exercises, which includes squatting and pulsing with heels together on the balls of the feet, and some agonising leg raises that really test the backs of my legs. As we move fluidly from one exercise to the next, Laura offers encouraging words, and smiles whenever she spots one of us wincing through the final reps.
The name may make the class sound frivolous, but the jelly-like feeling in my legs towards the end suggests it’s far from it. As we reach the end of the class, we do a few deep stretches, but there’s no lengthy wind-down – the workout lasts for the full 60 minutes, which means maximum fat burning for your buck.
Booty Barre is definitely worth a look-in. If you’re not a fan of the gym, it’s a fun way to get your exercise fix – and if you do enjoy the gym, it could be a great complementary activity to give your routine some diversity. Dhs80 per class. Sun 7.45pm-8.45pm, Mon 9am-10am (ladies only). Zen Yoga, Jumeirah Town Centre only (next to Mercato Mall), Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 2933).
More barre workouts
Xtend Barre This fast-paced workout combines dance, Pilates and ‘sculpting’ exercises at the ballet bare, working on your upper body, abs, legs and rear. Dhs65 per session. Real Pilates, Palm Strip Mall, Beach Road (04 345 3228).
FlyBarre Indoor cycling studio Flywheel has just launched this class, which combines yoga, dance, circuit training, Pilates and strength building. Dhs110 per session. Flywheel, Burj Views, Downtown Dubai (04 423 2544).