Getting fit with Barrecore in Alderley Edge
PUBLISHED: 11:11 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:12 13 December 2019
Barrecore, in Alderley Edge, offers a way to get fit without the stress and sweat of the gym - and it's rather addictive too.
Never has a desire to gallop into Costa Coffee on Alderley Edge's London Road been more heavily battled. Stepping out of Barrecore, after just a 45 minute session, my whole psyche screams for a flat white and a Millionaire's shortbread. Or two. I am not sure why, exactly, as I barely broke a glow during the whole session, but my body is telling me it's been worked hard - very hard.
Barrecore is an exercise class that promises to sculpt and tone your whole body within just a few weeks. That's a massive commitment - is it really achievable?
Katharina Wrather says yes, it is - and offers to show me how. This is what has taken me to Alderley Edge on a chill autumn day, clad in my gym gear, wondering what on earth I may have let myself in for. First, however, I want to know how she came to the fitness regime herself.
'I grew up in a small town in north west Germany,' she tells me. 'I studied Business & Marketing at university and when I graduated I wanted some adventure, so I found myself an internship with the Bavarian tourist office, in New York. This led to a role with Royal Copenhagen and then with Riedel Glassware, so it looked as if I was going to be following a career in high-end homewares - but while I was there I discovered a fitness class called Bar Method. I started to attend classes regularly and noticed very quickly what a change they were making to my body shape. I was fit before I started, but my gym sessions were starting to bulk me up. Barre Method stretched and lengthened my muscles, resulting in a leaner, smoother shape. But what I really loved was that it was in a small studio and that those who attended soon grew into a nice, friendly community where I got to know the other women.
'This is so important, I think. Women especially are often put off attending a gym, or classes, because they're so big and impersonal, so you don't feel really looked-after. It gave me the body I wanted, made me feel good and I enjoyed going every time, so it was worth every penny.'
Katharina, although loving NY life, knew that she wanted to return to Europe and was investigating ways to establish her own Bar Method classes back home in Germany, when her friend, who was also trained in the Bar Method, said she had found an investor in London who wanted her to set up there. Katharina joined her and they established a London studio.
'Three months after I arrived in London I met my now husband, Jonathan. He's an actor and so often has to be away from home for filming. I took a break when we had our first child, but when I was pregnant with our second he was filming Emmerdale and it made sense to move to Cheshire, where we could be close to his family and closer to his work. I knew I wanted to keep going with my classes and met a friend here who had opened a Barrecore studio, which is a discipline very close to the method I had learned. We joined forces and now have a studio in Hale, too, and run classes at Lululemon in Manchester.'
I find it interesting that Katharina was prepared to complete re-write her life plan for an exercise regime. Stepping away from the relative safety of luxury homewares and into the world of self-assessment, business taxes and rental agreements is a brave move. So, I guess, there must be something addictive about Barrecore?
'In a nutshell, Barrecore is a full-body workout that tones and lengthens the muscles using only your own bodyweight and the barre,' she says. 'It's good for everybody. I have women attend aged 20 to 70. I have several people with injuries that come, as it's very safe and very gentle - small movements that allow you to listen to your body and only do what's right. It works to build your core strength. It's easy to follow, but you will feel the burn.'
She's not wrong. I definitely feel the burn.
The class starts with lots of stretching, to warm muscles before we put them through their paces. Then it's into various poses, some standalone, some where we grip the barre for support, some with small weights and others using a strap to support our upper body, while we work our centres. With each new pose, we extend our limbs, pushing them out, up, back, to their fullest reach and then…sort of bob up and down. It's extraordinary how hard it becomes, fast. Balancing on one leg, while stretching the other back, bent at the knee and just tapping the foot back and forwards swiftly becomes a huge challenge. The words 'just eight more!' are never welcome, as the first eight create a strain on the supporting leg that soon sets up a muscle shake, and the next eight starts a burn you feel might ignite your quads, so a third, or even fourth eight seems nigh on impossible. 'Tighten your core' Katharina says, as she raises my leg just a little higher, 'it will take the weight from your hip' What? How - I am balanced on said hip. But I do, and it does. 'The pressure on your supporting leg helps build bone density,' she adds. 'Now hold the pose and lift to a high stiletto.' Really?!
We finish with more stretching and a little lie-down, which in no way eases my need for Millionaire's shortbread, but is very welcome.
Two days later my muscles are telling me they've worked very hard indeed. I feel the satisfaction of a good workout and, interestingly, the desire to go and do it all again.
Shakes, aches and burn - bring it on.