Food for Thought · Health and Fitness

Ballet-inspired fitness: interview with Veronika, BarreConcept instructor

I took some ballet classes when I was about 5. I still remember the studio where an assistant would play the piano and the teacher would line up all the wee girls’ shoes in a wide row on the floor and we all practiced leaping over them without stepping on the shoes. Sadly, my dad thought it wasn’t a worthy venture and enrolled us into piano lessons instead as there were more occupational prospects.

The thought of ‘what if I continued with the ballet lessons, would I still enjoy it?’ sometimes lingers in my mind. I’ve not go the advantage of a 5-year old’s body when it comes to flexibility, so starting and training to become a dancer won’t be as easy. When I was invited to attend a BarreConcept taster class, I was intrigued.

I decided to interview Veronika, one of the few instructors in Scotland who teaches BarreConcept in Edinburgh.

The studio at Alva Street where I attended my taster class

Michelle: Tell us a little about yourself.

Veronika: I’m originally from central Europe, spent 5 years living, working and training in Brussels and another 5 years in London. Moving to Edinburgh is a new, exciting chapter in my life.
 I’m a fully qualified Pilates instructor and BarreConcept trainer. I’ve been working in the fitness industry for more than 12 years and started teaching Pilates in 2007. Health and fitness have always been part of my life and I feel really lucky I could turn my hobby into a living.

M: Can you give us a bit of background about what BarreConcept is?

It’s a wonderful and truly unique method that combines ballet, Pilates and yoga. It’s a low impact, total body workout; a great way to lift the butt, tone the thighs, flatten the abs while protecting the joints. During the class small isometric contractions are performed and integrated with an interval training approach, which will improve cardiovascular fitness. It also helps to improve posture, flexibility,stamina and core strength.

M: Can you give us a bit of background on how BarreConcept was started?

V: It’s been inspired by the Lotte Berk method, which for a while was hugely popular in the US. In the last decade or so, it has been revived and has lots of different off shoots all over the world. BarreConcept itself was created by Emma Newham who studied classical ballet and is a well known Pilates instructor and teacher trainer. She wanted to create a workout that would include all elements of fitness – strength, endurance and flexibility. BarreConcept is the first barre course to gain international accreditation.

M: Is there anything anyone joining a class would need to bring?

V: Everything is provided; lovely studio space, the ballet barres, mats and small equipment. Anyone wanting to join just needs to bring good vibes and lots of energy!

M: How does BarreConcept differ from other fitness classes already available in gyms?

V: There’s a lot of attention on good form and posture, on making sure everyone works at their own level of fitness. Workouts are designed to make sure clients get the most out of it, it’s always adapted to individual needs. It uses muscles that are very often overlooked in a regular fitness class. There’s a ton of variety, so everyone can enjoy it, from hard core yogis, runners to people just starting on their fitness journey.

The classes sizes are usually smaller than in the gyms so it’s more intimate. The aim is to create a sense of community where people know each other’s names.

M: What are the benefits from attending class regularly?

V: After 5 sessions clients usually see an increase in stamina and strength. What felt like torture the first time, it suddenly seems much easier, manageable. Over time, as the core muscles get stronger, there’s a huge improvement in posture. Stretches are a major part of the workout so there’s an increase in flexibility. It improves mind and body concentration and the extra dose of cardio helps to kick-start weight loss.

M: Do you need to have yoga or pilates experience to start BarreConcept?

V: No previous experience is necessary, classes are designed to accomodate all levels of fitness and abilities.

M: What inspired you to become an instructor?

V: I’ve always been quite active and teaching what I enjoyed seemed like a natural extension. Helping someone to reach his or her goals is truly inspiring. The energy people put in always amazes me, makes me want to work harder, become a better person, a better instructor.

M: What made you decide to teach classes in Edinburgh?

V: I was just about to start working on opening my own studio in the South East of England when my husband was offered an amazing job in Edinburgh. So here we are. 🙂 It’s a beautiful town, lots of potential for a fitness professional. There are only a handful of BarreConcept instructors in the whole of Scotland and lots of people are really excited about having barre classes in town.

Heriot’s Sport’s Centre where Veronika also holds BarreConcept classes

M: How popular is BarreConcept in the UK?

V: It’s become quite popular, it’s THE workout to do, especially in and around London. It’s slowly spreading throughout the country, there are more and more lovely people training to become instructors.

M: How does this compare to international interest in the classes?

V: Barre workouts are really popular in the US, Canada and Australia. Europe is just starting to catch up.

M: I understand from your Instagram photos you’re also a ballet dancer?

V: Ballet is my way to de-stress, to escape reality. I’ve tried lots of different dance styles while growing up, but ballet is something I’ve only just started recently. It’s extremely hard work, challenging and it’s a world where it’s OK to wear pink as an adult.

Photo from Veronika’s Instagram

M: Lastly, what advice would you give to someone wanting to start BarreConcept classes?

<strongV: Wear comfortable,stretchy clothes, something that will make you feel fierce and happy. Don’t be intimidated, have fun and embrace the shaking muscles!

Having attended my first taster class, I definitely noticed where my strengths and weaknesses lay when it came to my core strength. I already attend 4 classes a week, but my legs were so shaky walking down the stairs I knew I worked them hard – and here I thought that was my strongest point! I very much enjoyed the class and can see how it would complement the hard work I put into my Pump, Balance and Combat classes.

Personally, I believe if a person (man or woman) wishes to wear pink, they should go for it, regardless of age! I take my own advice very seriously, seeing as how pink is my favourite colour 😉 I try to get a few items here or there in every shade possible that catches my eye.

A very big thank you to Veronika for inviting me along to the BarreConcept taster class and for the interview! If you’re interested in learning more about the classes, have a look at the BarreConcept website. You can also send Veronika an e-mail about class times and prices. Classes are held at a studio on Alva Street or at the Heriot’s Sports Centre on Lauriston Place.

All photos in this post unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Veronika and should not be used without prior permission.


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