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We Tried It: A Ballet-Inspired Barre Workout

03/28/2013 at 09:00 AM ET

Exhale Spa Core Fusion barre classCourtesy of Exhale Spa

Last week Senior Style Editor Zoë Ruderman tested out a Core Fusion Barre class in an attempt to get in shape for summer. She would have written about it sooner, but she’s been too sore until now to do so.

The last time I entered a ballet class was over 20 years ago and I wore a tutu, but after finally accepting the fact that obliques-baring cutouts and crop tops are here to stay, I decided to return to the studio and try one of the most of-the-moment workouts: barre classes.

Exhale Spa has quite the Hollywood following (Allison Williams is one of their many fans) and offers a barre class called Core Fusion Barre, which is described on the site as combining “core work with Pilates, yoga, ballet and dance principles to stretch, tone, and lengthen muscles like never before.” Just what I needed to get ready for bikini (and yes, cutout) season.

I’d heard that the classes could be intense so I dragged along my friend Emily for moral support. We showed up to the swanky Meatpacking location, put on our special sticky-bottom barre socks and set up our mats next to the ballet bar. What followed was a full hour of the most muscle-burning, shake-inducing, draining-in-a-good-way workout I’ve experienced in a long, long time.

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The instructor Karen worked our abs, calves, quads, butts, backs, shoulders and arms (plus some muscle groups I never knew existed) with a mix of sit-ups, push-ups, planks, squats (on our toes!) and a bunch of exercises using the bar (think: stretching, more squats and sitting pull-ups).

We ended the class by hanging from this wooden ladder affixed to the wall, which is designed to help decompress your spine and make you appear taller and svelter. Within a few hours my muscles were already burning. And by the next day, I could barely walk up the stairs and my abs were so sore that anytime I moved in my sleep, I woke myself up (!).

Each class costs around $37 depending on the location (there are discounts for buying packages), but I’ve already signed up for my next one because if Core Fusion Barre get me toned enough to wear a dress like this, I’ll consider it well worth the price.

UPDATE: I just learned that is offering a special deal on Exhale Spa core fusion: You can get five classes for 50 bucks! (You just have to start using the packing during Spa Week, April 15-21, and the classes expire 60 days from the date of purchase.)

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