By Kaliah Hobbs
Every day for 30 minutes to an hour, a small group gathers in a studio above Rugged Warehouse and Starbucks to practice barre — a ballet-rooted, low impact workout.
Lauren Filocco, University of Maryland alumna and the owner of OpenBarre Studios, started doing barre three years ago. She decided to open a studio in College Park, an area she knows well, because she saw a gap in the market for small, inclusive exercise classes.
The classes at OpenBarre are open to various different types of people. Filocco explains that marathoners, pregnant women, students and even a University of Maryland football player have come in for classes.
OpenBarre also offers options for beginners. Barre 101, is the beginner’s class that focuses on the basic movements. Throughout each class, the instructors provide beginner-friendly variations for each exercise.
“We guide people into it in a very non-ballet way. It’s always layman’s terms. It’s make a slice of pizza with your feet…We make a conscious effort to recognize that not everyone has a ballet background,” Filocco said. “It’s important for people who do have that background and who don’t [have that background] to feel comfortable in that class.”
In addition to offering a beginner level class, OpenBarre gives classes for people who are looking for a workout experience different from the university’s gyms. The studio includes a class called Barre Games, which takes games and turns them into an exercise circuit, and Date Night Partner-Barre, a class that focuses on partner workouts.
While this unique workout experience may seem expensive, OpenBarre offers affordable classes to the College Park community. The studio has discounted prices for university students and faculty who show their University of Maryland IDs. One feature is the $5 classes at 6:30 p.m. every Friday.
For someone who didn’t enjoy cardio, Filocco saw that barre’s low impact classes were instantly appealing.
“You aren’t pounding the pavement. It’s not high impact. It’s not killer knee work. You aren’t out of breath,” Filocco said, explaining the exercises.
“It’s a different kind of workout. If you’ve read our flyers or website, then you know that it’s a blend of ballet, Pilates, and yoga minus the dancing. So it’s not like we’re choreographing dance routines,” Filocco explains.
Although barre workouts are low impact with slow movements, participants of the classes are still working up a sweat . Barre exercises incorporate isometric exercises, the slow, repetitive pulses, which are good for building muscle and strength, according to the Harvard Men’s Health Watch.
“We get people working in a completely different ways, so that it’s tiring for them. We stretch their bodies in ways they aren’t accustomed to,” Filocco said.
For those who are nervous about coming out to their first barre class, Filocco offers encouraging words.
“I guarantee you that you’re not going to leave feeling like you didn’t work hard. But you’re also going to leave feeling like you accomplished something,” Filocco said.
“Anytime someone comes into our studio we want them to feel like they did something positive for themselves,” she said.