By Gretchen Zelek
I was a fitness class nomad and tried everything including boxing, goat yoga, Pilates, tabata, indoor rowing, and yin yoga. Then, I discovered Exhale Barre.
The first time I took a barre class, I was awkward but I was hooked. I loved the graceful intention of every move. Form was a priority. I loved the corrective touch of the instructors and they called me by name. Many people in the class were over 60 and we lingered after class to congratulate each other for making it through and coordinating when we would be attending our next class. Exhale Core Fusion Barre class got its roots from The Lotte Berk Method, a studio in NYC in the ’70s. There are many class members (and the actual creators Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito) who are still at the barre. They were my people.
When the studio closed indefinitely, I had no choice but to turn to online options. I wanted something that would be challenging and as close to an in-studio experience as possible. The internet is inundated with options, but I am particular and have discovered two programs I actually use.
Exhale Barre App
The Exhale on-demand app is easy to use on my phone or computer and I can stream it on my tv. The instructors are still as fabulous as they were in the studio and they still give appropriate prompts and corrections to the camera audience. Some of the instruction was filmed during an actual class, some were by the pool of a resort, and some were filmed with class members who are instructors. There are a multitude of classes to choose from and every class accommodates beginners as well as advanced participants. The class requires little equipment but, desperate to replicate my in-studio classes, I purchased a portable ballet barre online for under $100 and I love it.
Peloton Digital Classes
I have always enjoyed the rush of a spin class. We have owned a Peloton bike for a few years, much like we have owned a nice espresso maker: because my husband worked the numbers and whether its a $30 studio bike class times 2 people or a $5 coffee shop latte times 2 people, doing it at home makes sense monetarily. And it is as good, if not better.
I am not the only person virtually spinning my wheels. Peloton added 1.1 million users to its digital fitness platform in the first 6 weeks of the pandemic, and that platform can be used on other bikes if you don’t own a Peloton. In addition, the Peloton digital platform is not just for the bike and includes yoga, meditation, running, and cardio class options. You may pick an on-demand or live class (streamed from the instructor’s homes) based on your taste in music (pop, ’80s, rock, ’70s) instructor or style of class (low impact, HIIT, interval, beginner). With every class you get to know and befriend the instructors and will find yourself pedaling for the virtual high-fives. The Peloton community is a tight-knit and supportive community as evidenced by over 285k members in the Official Peloton Member Facebook page. They also have subgroups, including the Peloton 60+ Better Rider Facebook Group. The Peloton positive attitude and supportive nature has created a real cult following. Births, deaths, triumphs, and honest advice are all shared via the page. It is also a class you will continue to enjoy even when the gyms open.
Health, Happiness, and Time Well Spent
These are just two of my at-home fitness choices, and this is not an ad. Let’s be honest: I pay them for “the honor” of using and enjoying their services so the only thing in it for me is my health, happiness, and time well spent.
Will I ever go back to the brick-and-mortar gym? I hope so. I miss my instructors. I miss my “class friends,” I miss how easy it was to go to an in-person class. I miss having a schedule. In the meantime, I think about Fred DeVito, the co-creator of Exhale Barre, saying, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” I am looking at some big changes to come.
Gretchen Zelek, AFAA certified group fitness instructor, Functional Aging Specialist, Ageless Grace Educator
www.donutsandpiefitness.com, Instagram:@donutsandpiefitness, FB:@donutsandpie