All my life, I have avoided gyms as much as Kim Kardashian dodges talking about her 72 day marriage.
The scary equipment, the peppy instructors, the thought of having to sweat and breathe heavily next to strangers?
No thank you! And while I love to get outside and turn a park or open space into my own safe work-out zone, I've still never found a form of organised exercise that suits me.
That was until I hit the Barre.
So what the fuzzy leg warmers is Xtend Barre and why do I keep seeing studios for it on every second street corner?
Think of it as the ultimate mash-up of all the most popular disciplines of late. It's a glorious fusion of Pilates, yoga and ballet that leaves your body buzzing with satisfaction. Classes begin with a fast-paced, dance-inspired warm-up before moving onto interval training which focus on strengthening, cardio and toning.
The movement was first founded back in Germany in 1959 by German ballerina Lotte Berk and has had a huge resurgence in recent years.
1. It's got the celebrity seal of approval
You know it must be good when a Victoria's Secret Angel takes a Barre class ahead of the inaugural show!
And that's exactly what Alessandra Ambrosio does.
"Train like an angel," the statuesque stunner tweeted hours before the VS runway show. "I'm obsessed with the Barre Method, which I do three times a week and reminds me of the ballet classes I did for eight years as a kid," Alessandra mused.
Other stars to get behind the unique workout include model Jessica Hart, beauty guru Zoe Foster Blake and Madonna.
2. You DON'T have to be a ballerina or have a dancer's background!
At first glance, an Xtend Barre studio might look like something straight from Center Stage but don't be fooled! Anyone can get involved, even if you have two left feet. Exercises can be tailored to suit your skill-set.
But perhaps the most life-changing thing about Barre I've found so far? None of the teachers ever yell at you to keep going (ahem, shout-y gym instructors I'm looking at you!). In fact, you're always encouraged to go at your own pace and reminded you can put down the weights during the arm routines at any time. Essentially, it's a chilled-out, judgement free zone!
3. It's a one way ticket to Tone Town
Within a few weeks of starting, my adorable back-fat roll (which I'd affectionately named Barry) had vanished. Not only that, my once weedy arms that couldn't even lift a jug of beer without wobbling had been transformed into svelte ninjas, ready to take on anyone in an arm wrestle. You really can see the results almost instantly.
4. Classes are fun and fast-paced
Working out for an hour by yourself can often feel like an eternity but in a Barre studio, 60 minutes flies by! With curated musical soundtracks to complement each class plus the mixture of fast-paced sets spliced in with slower stretches to slow down the heart rate, you're constantly kept on your toes and never bored.
5. Silent camaraderie
Another bonus is how focused the class becomes. No one is ever looking at what you're doing as everyone becomes very present in their own minds, if you mess up a move or take a breather no one bats an eyelid. However you're still bound together by a kind of silent camaraderie. It's all very encouraging but in an understated manner.