This Peloton barre class review is part of Class Action, FLEETSTREET’s workout review series. We get sweaty to give you the low-down on what the workouts are really like.
The Brand — Peloton
Peloton has become the Kleenex of fitness, hasn’t it? It won’t be long before Pelotoning becomes a verb. The brand has taken over both fitness regimes and our Instagram feeds since the pandemic hit. Even with wait times of at least 10 weeks for a bike, the brand has managed to achieve launches of classes outside of the cycling scope (barre and Pilates) and the new Peloton Tread. The fit tech company has been around since 2012, but 2020 is when Peloton really went mass, infiltrating tiny condo living rooms and suburban spare bedrooms alike. And because of the active nature of its programming, the bike or treadmill are one piece of equipment you won’t see relegated to a dusty makeshift clotheshorse anytime soon.
The App — Peloton
Peloton has a reputation for positivity-reinforced cycling classes, so much so that it inspired the SNL parody, Pelotaunt. And that seeps over into its other classes too, including barre, HIIT and Pilates.
One of the reasons I love the Peloton app is because of how customizable you can make your workouts. Not only can you search for a workout by class type, you can also filter based on how much time you have (as little as five minutes!), with equipment or not, as well as music, mood, intensity level, your favourite instructor and so on. Plus, if I have a bit more energy at the end of a workout, I can stack on another quickie class.
To keep motivated, you can earn fitness badges on your profile (I have 17, thank you very much!) and sign up for monthly fitness challenges. The app also clocks your workouts and acknowledges milestones and streaks. I’ve also used the meditation sessions to help me fall sleep, and it does help.
The Workout — Barre Class Series
Peloton barre classes launched in September 2020. It was a small collection, but timing worked out nicely, as my favourite barre studios were heading into the winter lockdowns. A second collection of barre workout videos were added to the Peloton app in early 2021, totaling 20 classes. Only two on the roster are full 45-minute classes, the rest you can piece together at your will. See, I wasn’t exaggerating how customizable the workouts are. You can start with the five-minute warm-up, choose a 10-, 15-, 20- or 30-minute workout, and end with the five-minute cool-down.
Either Ally Love or Hannah Corbin instruct the classes. You may recognize them from the cycling classes if you have the Peloton Bike. Equipment, like most barre classes, is minimal. You can use a ledge, chair or a wall if you don’t have a ballet barre installed at home. For weights, you can use one-, two- or three-pound hand weights. I just use the ones that came with my Peloton Bike. You don’t need too much room, either. Just enough space for a yoga mat and for you to reach your arms from second position all the way to fifth (from stretched out wide to overhead).
I just airplayed the workouts from my phone or computer onto my Apple TV. You do not need to buy the whole cow (bike or treadmill) to access the barre classes or any of the workouts, either. You can download the app and use it free for a month (it’s $16.99 a month after that).
We Tried It
As I noted above, I took a 45-minute full class, I stacked classes to create my own barre workout and I even used a 10-minute one as a finisher to a cycling class. I really like targetting the abs, especially lately with my COVID bloat. I find most workouts never do enough abdominals, so this is a great way to sneak in extra tummy tightening moves. Since most of the barre ab exercises are done on the floor, I never have to motivate myself for energy to do it.
As for the workouts themselves, I find the 45-minute classes to be the most effective, compared to stacking. Ally and Hannah keep the breaks short, whipping through the reps of tendus, kicks, toe taps, bends and more. For me, combining and layering the barre classes for an hour workout doesn’t feel as challenging. The barre workouts include some cardio, but nothing too intense, heart rate-wise. I find the breaks between stopping and starting the stacking classes to be too long for my liking. So, I’m waiting for more 45-minute classes or even a creation of 60-minute classes.
The barre classes are good. And a beginner to barre will like them. The user-generated difficulty ratings range between 5 and 7 out of 10, with most at 6.3. (For context, any spin class I do is at least an 8.)
All of the basic positions are there, so if you ever go to a real-life barre class later, you’ll know the fundamentals. The instruction is spot on, with descriptions like: Position feet to hold “a small pizza slice,” and squeeze your butt to look like “an elephant’s knee.” The instructors also show a few perspectives, so you get a sense of how deep to bend, how far your butt goes back and exactly how your feet are positioned. All are important to feel that burn, as any barre belle worth her weight in sticky socks knows. The reps go quickly, and the holds are tolerable. Ally and Hannah even allow you to dance to the music to help get through the burn.
But I have to admit, as a barre fanatic who’s worked out at Body Barre, Pop Physique, In Studio at The National Ballet of Canada and others, I don’t find that this barre is targetted at me. I’m used to shaking from muscle exhaustion from isolated holds and pulses. I’m used to a ton of reps. I expect my barre instructor to say “eight more,” followed up with “eight more” two more times. I’m used to the silly thoughts of how I look while tucking. I don’t get any of this from these workouts. There are no tucks given in Peloton barre classes.
Granted, Peloton isn’t selling memberships based on its barre workouts. Nor is it selling any barre equipment – except for a sole pair of barre socks. And it doesn’t seem bothered at this point. The collection seems more like a palate cleanser between its intense Bike Bootcamps and Tread classes, than a focus for the fitness brand.
So, I will reach for these classes when I am craving barre and I can’t get to a studio. But it’s not going to replace my in-person barre classes.
Peloton, onepeloton.ca. 30-minute workout; $16.99 a month (first two months free); package pricing available ($64 a month with the bike, or $2,495); app downloads available at the App Store and Google Play.