Owner of barre studio says results come quickly

craig.hill@thenewstribune.comJanuary 5, 2014 

When it comes to fitness, Lianne Gamble says she knows what women want and how to give it to them.

“Strong, fit glutes, abs and arms,” Gamble said. “And that’s what they get with barre.”

Barre is the French word for bar and the last word in full-body exercise as far as Gamble is concerned. The exercises in barre workouts are done using the handrails (the barre) ballet dancers use to warm up.

Gamble has offered barre classes at her Gig Harbor Pilates studio for several years and has seen the workouts grow rapidly in popularity.

In fact, they’ve lured so many women across the Narrows bridges that she decided to open a new studio in Tacoma.

That new studio, 253Barre, opens Friday night at 915 Pacific Ave. The 1,200-square-foot studio also will offer personal training and other types of fitness classes.

Barre workouts are growing in popularity nationwide because participants are having fun and getting quick results, Gamble said.

“You’re done in one hour and you don’t need to go for a run or do anything else because you’ve worked out your entire body and you’ve done cardio,” she said. “And I always hear, ‘I can’t believe it’s been an hour already.’”

While the classes are open to everybody, mostly women are drawn to barre. Gamble says it’s rare to get more than two men in a 20-person class “unless it’s invite-your-husband day.”

From the Lululemon yoga pants on sale in the lobby to the ballet motif of the workout area, “it’s definitely geared more toward women,” Gamble said.

But that’s not to say men can’t benefit from a barre class.

“We are working on the small muscles, not the big bulky muscles,” Gamble said. “We work on flexibility. Men are so tight. We work on glutes. Males’ glutes tend to be weak, which can lead to lower back pain, especially if they are sitting around and working all day.”

Barre is done in nonskid socks and is designed to strengthen your feet, something that benefits both men and women. “So many people are developing foot problems because of the shoes they wear,” Gamble said.

Gamble says she’s been surprised at the number of men who have pre-purchased classes at 253Barre, and she’s anxious to see how many are taking the class and how many were just buying classes as a Christmas gift for a significant other.

Gamble is a former professional dancer who worked on cruise ships and in Las Vegas and says barre is the toughest exercise class she’s ever done.

“We have a few football players who take our class, and they say they’re surprised by how hard it is,” Gamble said.

Hard as it might be, participants still won’t find themselves dripping sweat as they would in a spin class.

“You aren’t at a high cardio peak for the entire class,” Gamble said. But participants still get a cardio workout while lengthening and strengthening muscles, improving flexibility and balance, and burning fat.

Still, it would seem there must be a rather high intimidation factor with barre. A simple Internet image search for “barre workout” returns almost exclusively pictures of limber, athletic women wearing tight clothes.

But Gamble says her classes are open to all sizes and any athletic clothing is acceptable.

Then there’s that matter of dancing. Zumba is hard enough to follow along with. How are you going to keep up in a ballet-based workout?

“That’s what I hear most,” Gamble said. “‘I’m not a dancer, can I still do this?’ And, yes, you can.”

While barre is derived from dance, it is not a dance workout. And while the room is filled with music, there are no choreographed moves to learn such as those that have made Zumba so popular.

“It’s more like a group fitness class,” Gamble said. “It’s very simplistic so you can go at your own pace.”

Gamble said anybody who might be intimidated typically gets over it quickly because results don’t take long.

“That’s why there’s all the hype (around barre),” Gamble said. “You’re not wrecking your back, and you’re getting leaner and toner quickly. Results are quick, two to three weeks and people see their body changing dramatically.”

BARRE253

Location: 915 Pacific Ave., Tacoma

Grand opening: 6-8:30 p.m. Jan. 10

Cost: The first class is free. The first month is $75, or $50 for students. Monthly unlimited passes are $175. Drop-in classes are $18. Punch cards are available for five ($80), 10 ($140) and 20 ($240) classes.

More info: 253-272-0700, barre253.com

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497 craig.hill@thenewstribune.com thenewstribune.com/fitness theolympian.com/fitness @AdventureGuys

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