Pop over to the barre for a work­out

Los Angeles Times - - MIND & BODY - BY MARY MACVEAN If you have sug­ges­tions for classes, please let me know by email, mary.macvean@la­times.com, or on Twit­ter, @mmacvean

If you take work­out classes, you’ve surely heard about those us­ing a ballet barre. Hav­ing never taken dance of any kind, I was un­cer­tain; surely ev­ery­one else would have per­fectly turned out, pointed feet and ter­rific bal­ance? But barre is ev­ery­where, and not ev­ery­one is ballet-ready. The class I took at Pop Physique in High­land Park was a good work­out and good fun. Pop Physique, a chain founded in L.A. by Jen­nifer Wil­liams, a ballet dancer and Pi­lates teacher, and her hus­band, is meant to help you get long, lean lines us­ing dance tech­niques.

Pop Physique, 5709 N. Figueroa St., a block from the Gold Line, and other lo­ca­tions. www.pop­physique.com

Aura

The room is sunny and long, with bar­res at two heights (so you can lift your leg onto one of them) along both lengths and a mir­ror on one wall. For me, the mu­sic was too loud and a lit­tle dis­tract­ing, but per­haps if you know the rou­tines you’re not as con­cerned with hear­ing the teacher’s di­rec­tions. Six­teen women took the class I was in, mostly young but with a range of fit­ness lev­els.

Ef­fort

How could it be so hard to work with 1- or 2-pound hand weights? There are plenty of ex­er­cises that just ask for a lit­tle move or a lit­tle weight but, done prop­erly, re­ally let you know you’re work­ing your mus­cles. I ap­pre­ci­ated the brief stretches in­ter­spersed through­out the class. And the teacher, An­drew Pear­son, counted down, never start­ing with a num­ber higher than eight, so you al­ways felt you could push through.

Style

Pop Physique sits far from the likes of CrossFit on the fit­ness con­tin­uum. The low­im­pact work­out, us­ing weights, a ball and the ballet barre, is in­tended to fa­tigue a mus­cle with small moves, pro­vide a short rest or stretch and move on. And the classes are re­li­ably sim­i­lar at all the lo­ca­tions. A par­tic­u­lar Sculpt class might have some ex­er­cise vari­a­tions, but the over­all work­out is the same.

Cost

$20 for a class, with packages avail­able, in­clud­ing a new-client of­fer of a month of un­lim­ited classes for $100. Stu­dents wear those grippy socks, which are sold at the stu­dio if you don’t bring them.

Pho­tog raphs by Mel Mel­con Los An­ge­les Times

MARIE GUILLOT uses a strap for lever­age to work her ab­dom­i­nals at Pop Physique, where low-im­pact work­outs are de­signed for a range of fit­ness lev­els.

POP PHYSIQUE in­struc­tor Katie Schaar gives di­rec­tion while tak­ing her class through a se­ries of barre-fo­cused ex­er­cises at the High­land Park lo­cale.

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