Friday, January 24, 2014

Barre Videos and Reviews

A few people have asked me which DVDs I use to work out at home and after responding to a few emails, I decided I should just publish a post that I can link to when anyone asks me in the future. Efficiency!

But first, this is the face that Cora makes when you've reentered her line of sight (and thus, her universe) after exiting for a few seconds:

Her lack of understanding of object permanence makes me feel like a rock star.

And speaking of being a glamorous rock star- below are the DVDs I watch while pretending to be a ballerina with my arm on the back of one of my not-at-all-barre-like curved dining room chairs, my yoga mat at an odd angle between the couch, ottoman, and TV, and my hand breaking out of form to wave away the 3-year-old who wants to "come dance with mommy." (No Claire, Mommy is not dancing, and she can't talk to you right now because she's focusing REALLY hard on keeping her leg straight while she lifts it to the side and a measly few inches into the air.)

I started with the Bar Method Change Your Body Workout. My friend Katie actually bought it for me after I complimented her toned figure after she got hooked on barre classes. You can find them on Amazon, but the Bar Method website store sells them for significantly less. After I got hooked, I also bought myself the Accelerated Workout. Both are good and they are pure barre- frequently repeated, small isometric movements that tone your body (especially your lower half) and make your legs shake while you appear to be doing nothing at all. Your heart rate won't get up very high, but you'll sweat a bit anyway (at least I do), and it's a good way to learn the proper form for the basic barre moves. For these workouts, and all the ones I describe below, you need a chair for balance, a yoga mat if you want a bit of grip and cushion, and light hand weights (3 lbs. max).

Once I realized I would actually exercise at home (only because we now have a separate TV room I can close off from everyone else, as opposed to our super open living room in Austin- I can't stand it when JP can see me workout to an exercise DVD, he doesn't say or do anything, but I feel instantly ridiculous if he sees me), I expanded my collection to include Tracey Mallett's The Booty Bar Beginners & Beyond. This is more of a barre-based weights + cardio workout with some unique "Tracey" moves thrown in. Your whole body gets a workout and my heart rate definitely gets up a bit. She has one or two dance moves in the cardio sections that make me feel silly, but they're effective and it's not like anyone can see me thanks to those doors I can close... The instructor Tracey has a ridiculous set of 6-pack abs and is so spunky and blonde she should be annoying, but I find her genuinely delightful. She has a good demeanor for exercise videos and I'm actually thinking of ordering another one of her DVDs since I've done this one 30+ times.

I ordered Suzanne Bowen's Slim & Toned Prenatal Barre Workout when I was pregnant and it was such a hard workout that I still do it now and find it very challenging. It is completely barre based and she talks a lot about form, which is great. Suzanne focuses nearly as much on arms as legs, which gives you a nice set of shaking arms to go with your shaking legs. Her co-instructor is 36 weeks pregnant, in ridiculous shape, and completely void of personality, but other than making me feel bad that I still can't the moves as good as she can in my non-pregnant state, she doesn't detract from the video (Suzanne isn't a sparkling personality herself, but she's very matter of fact, which I appreciate). I don't find this one to be as fun or fast moving as the Tracey Mallett DVD, but it is a good one to have in the mix with its intense pure barre focus.

And finally, I just ordered Xtend Barre: Lean and Chiseled to give me something new to look forward to when I go back to work and can't go to 8:30 a.m. barre class everyday like I do now. It had solid reviews and I just needed one more to throw in my mix.

(When I was pregnant I also did the 10 Minute Solutions Prenatal Pilates DVD almost every night. I loved it- the instructor, the exercises, and the way they were broken into fast 10 minute segments. Sometimes I only did 2, other times I'd do all 5- whatever I had time for and felt like, but the promise of only 10 minutes got me off the couch more often than not (and more often than not, I'd feel so good for having gotten off the couch that I'd do one or two more). I really think it helped this pregnancy feel so much easier for me.)

If you have any exercise DVDs you like doing at home (not the 30-Day Shred, Jillian and her yelling and scary intense workouts that make me want to never ever turn them on just didn't work for me), let me know! I'm trying Nia on Sunday, so I imagine I'll have a story from that and then I'll try to lay off the exercise talk for a while. I do have a purse I'm obsessed with and I bought a beautiful new pair of shoes and a dress on Clearance at Ann Taylor today. They're for my first day back at work outfit and thus, had to be bought. Exciting things are happening all over the place around here. At least Cora thinks so:


  1. have you tried free workout videos on amazon prime? i used to do that.

  2. I'm a member of a website called FitnessGlo ($12/month; there's a sister website YogaGlo that I'm not a member of) that has a variety of videos, all from a core group of about eight instructors. They have barre videos too. I like it -- the instructors are good (I have a few favorites) and they're always adding new videos but don't restrict access to the old ones.

  3. I also feel ridiculous if my husband can see me working out if I choose to at home, I just feel like a giant moron or at least I look like one. :)

  4. I also love, love, love barre classes, but as a FT working lawyer mommy of two, don't have time to go as often as I like (familiar, eh?), so I live by DVDs. In particaulr, I LOVE Ellen Barrett's DVDs. She primarily does yoga/pilates based stuff, and in particular her DVD "Fat Burning Fusion" which is sort of like a barre class, but without the bar. Sort of standing pilates/cardio. Also, have you looked at the website Its a great resource for checking out workout DVDs - has reviews and great breakdowns of equipment/time/fitness level for each DVD.

  5. I really love Ellen Barrett's Slim! Beach Body Fast (or Bikini Ready Fast) something like that, and I also enjoyed her Crunch pilates spot video. It has three sections of 10 minutes each, with a different area focused on each. It's pretty easy as far as pilates go, but can be really helpful when you don't want to work out hard or are just getting into shape.

    With the Tracy video that you said has some more unusual moves and isn't completely barre--would you say you could do it living on a high floor of an apartment video? I used to do Jillian videos when I lived on the first floor, but now I live on the fourth floor of a creaky old building and don't want to do anything that might bother my neighbors. As an example, I don't even do lunges because I think I might come down too hard too repeatedly. So, with that in mind, do you think it's doable or not in my apartment? Thanks :)

    1. Hey Brittany! Sorry, this comment popped up while I was in Houston sans laptop and I forgot about it till now. I think you could do Tracey's barre video it on a high floor of an apartment building. It's been a few weeks since I've done it, but I can't think of a single time you jumped or left the floor- there's some dance type cardio moves, but it's more moving arms and hips while your legs are still or maybe taking a step or two forward and back- there aren't any jumping jacks or ballet jacks or anything that would have you put hard weight down on the floor. I know in barre class we sometimes do lunges while holding on to the barre, but the whole idea to keep control on your body so you don't come down hard on your joints, so if there is any of that in Tracey's video (I can't remember specifically), I'd say just go really slow and try to come down as light as possible. It's harder that way anyway :). Good luck!