Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review of Xtend Barre: Lean & Chiseled

Xtend Barre: Lean & Chiseled is a great new entry into world of barre workouts on DVD, and the barre workout I would most recommend to beginners.
   That’s not because this workout doesn’t kick it – it certainly does.
   It’s because the DVD has a good tutorial on the moves, there is a great warm-up and cool-down, the workout pace is reasonable, and achievable modifications are shown for each and every exercise.
   Professional dancer, choreographer and Pilates instructor Andrea Rogers of 10-Minute Solution fame developed Xtend Barre.
   Xtend Barre is described on the DVD package as being a combination of dance (ballet) and Pilates. That’s definitely the case, but Lotte Berk Method practitioners will also recognize moves in the workout.
   Rogers says it’s a workout that combines “stretch, strength, stability and stamina.” She’s right: While you’re toning your body, you also get a great cardio workout.
   She emphasizes that consistent practice is the key to gaining the stamina needed to complete the workout in peak form all the way through. It’s good advice – don’t expect to do the workout with the ease of a professional ballet dancer!
   Andrea and her two-woman crew on the DVD wear a type of gripped sock during the workout, but I went with bare feet.
   The entire workout from start to finish is 55 minutes, but it can be broken into different sections.
   The first is the six-minute warm-up that gets the body well prepared for the work ahead with moves such as knee raises and plies.
   Section two is an 11-minute upper-body workout, which I didn’t use because I like the arm work I get with the weight training program ChaLEAN Extreme.
   However, the section looks challenging and is likely effective. Light hand weights are used for most of it with exercises such as tricep extensions, but for other exercises, such as balancing in an arabesque position and flowing the arms in and out, the weights are dropped.
   The main part of the workout is the 23-minute barre section, which is done with a chair.
   Here we find exercises inspired by ballet positions. In one, starting in first position, the heels are lifted up, and the body is lifted and lowered.
   Another is a front attitude. The leg lifted in front of the body is pulsed upwards, then inwards, then in circles around and to the ground.
   Yet another exercise begins in a curtsy position, then the leg is brought out to the side to an extension. At full pace, this provides an amazing cardio challenge.
   Other exercises are similar to those found in Lotte Berk Method workouts.
   One, for example, is leaning forward with the arms bent, resting on the chair back and the head resting on the arms. From here, one leg is lifted into the air and pulsed, creating a killer move for the backside.
   Following the barre workout is a 10-minute core section.
   Pilates is definitely at play here, with many of the moves using both the upper body and the legs to work the core. There’s scissoring the legs while twisting the upper body for the the elbow to meet the opposite knee, and roll-ups, a classic Pilates move that I’m unable to do without first gathering momentum.
   The workout ends with a terrific five-minute floor-and-standing stretch.

Xtend Barre: Lean and Chiseled on amazon.ca

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