By Kelly Cisek
Photos by Brevin Blach
Perhaps inspired by Natalie Portman's Oscar-winning performance, many San Diegans (mostly women, though guys are welcome) are busting out their best Black Swan moves at Xtend Barre locations in North County. This new edition to the popular barre craze fuses elements of ballet and Pilates-no pointe shoes required.
Xtend Barre routines are designed specifically to target hard-to-tone problem areas-saddle bags, flabby arms, the beer belly-in a full-body workout that promises to lengthen and strengthen, without adding Hulk-like bulk.
Each 55-minute Xtend Barre class challenges non-athletes and former dancers alike with a non-stop routine of pretzel-izing ballet poses such as pliés, relevés and arabesques. Added resistance band training, lunges and Pilates push-ups make for a serious workout that can burn upwards of 700 calories.
"A lot of clients have pre-conceptions about Xtend, that it's going to be a slow and easy workout because of the ballet element," says Angie Nobile, co-owner of Xtend Barre Scripps/Poway. "But then they leave, dripping sweat, saying, 'Wow, I shouldn't have run five miles before this. It was hard.'"
Sara Peelle, Nobile's business partner, mixes up her marathon training with weekly sessions on the ballet barre. "Being a runner, I thought the only cardio that would give me results was pounding the pavement," she says. "But this work out burns-you work every muscle group to the point of exhaustion, so you're sitting there, shaking and sweating, just ready to drop."
Xtend Barre franchises are located in Carlsbad, Carmel Valley, Encinitas and Scripps/Poway. Each studio maintains a strict, 25-person capacity per class, making for an intimate-and competitive-workout environment.
Like Black Swan's Nina Sayers fighting Lily for the coveted white swan role, Peelle says her clients push each other to practice harder at the barre.
"There is this intimidation factor for first-timers," says Peelle, who notes that newbies will strive to emulate the form of stronger practitioners in class. "But by the end, everyone walks out feeling one inch taller."