We’ve Found The Toughest Gym Class Out There – And It Isn’t What You’d Expect

You might be surprised with our verdict...

Throw us into a functional training class any day. Weight lifting we can manage. Spinning? Easy peasy. OK, well maybe not easy, but it’s not unbearably testing. And kettle bells? Well we are well able for them too.

Yep as far as exercise goes, we’d consider ourselves fairly capable. Then we tried Ballet Barre.


I always wondered how the VS models got their incredible bodies and when I heard it was from ballet, I was skeptical. Little girls in tutus sprang to mind, but it’s what the goddess-like creatures swear by. From Karlie Kloss to Candice Swanepoel to Alessandra Ambrosia, they all go to Barre for their full-body workouts. Back in the day, the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn were also big fans, so I had to try it out and see.


There’s a few places dotted around Dublin that teach Barre classes, and I visited Rebel Barre on Merrion Square. The studio is small and the classes have a capacity of nine people, something I was thankful for when I realised just how difficult I would find it. Rebel is run by two friends, Orla and Jade, who both have long and varied careers in dance, pilates and barre, and my first two classes were with Orla. And she really put us through our paces (in a great way).


The class was an hour long, and what I initially thought was going to be a walk in the park, was actually the most difficult class I’ve done in a very long time. The movements that you have to do are tiny, but after a number of repetitions, you really start to feel the burn. You’re moving muscles that have probably been lying dormant for a pretty long period, and soon the tiny movements are near impossible. Before long the one kilo weight that we had to use for certain exercises, felt more like a baby elephant.

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I was surprised how quickly my heart-rate increased as you wouldn’t really think it would be good for cardio, but I was sweating buckets within the first five minutes of the class. I also felt every SINGLE part of my body being worked, from my legs, to arms, to my bum and my tummy. By the end of it, I was genuinely exhausted, but still feeling energised and invigorated, having really pushed myself to my limit. I slept like a baby that night.

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What’s great about the class is the way you have to stretch after each different set of exercises, rather than just stretching at the end of the class. This gives the muscles that you targeted the chance to recuperate, before moving on to the next set, minimising the pain you feel the following day.

I expected that my body would be in bits when I woke up the next morning, but Orla assured me it wouldn’t be the case, and she was right, I was nearly as good as new.

As for the final verdict? I couldn’t recommend Rebel Barre any more and I’ll definitely be keeping it up. Sure why wouldn’t I? I’ve been promised longer limbs and a leaner physique, and I’m not one to turn my nose up at that.

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