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Most of us work out regularly hoping to change into a slender Black-Swan extra, not a muscle-bound field hockey hitter, yet regular cardio and weight-training often create thick, strong limbs, rather than lithe, lean lines. Since the early 20th century, body-conscious women with the workout skinny have sought the lengthening benefits of Pilates, a form of strenuous stretch-and-hold style exercise developed intuitively by Joseph Pilates, whose father was an Olympic gymnast, and mother a brilliant naturopath. The natural extension of Mr. Pilates’ challenging but effective practice, barre, a new fusion of ballet, Pilates, and yoga, helps us achieve a more svelte bod in as little as one month of dedicated class attendance, three to four times per week, with bouncy music in the background.

Can anyone attempt barre, even the clutziest, least-ballerina-like among us? Aimee Fulchino, who co-owns the only local studio for barre, aptly named simply Barre.–http://barreonline.com/ swears, “Yes, there are numerous modifications [the instructor can employ depending on the client].”

How does it transform us exactly? “Barre is a practice that focuses on each major muscle group in the body, burning it to fatigue and then stretching those muscles to achieve a leaner, longer and stronger body,” Fulchino explains. “Barre also has a meditation aspect. During class, you focus so strongly on the particular muscle group that you are working, you can lose yourself in the class. This is such a wonderful gift to the brain as well.”

Caution: It may take a few sessions before you mentally transcend the burning and muscle fatigue. What to expect, on a practical level: The hour-long class starts with a user-friendly warm-up series of knee-lifts and plies, followed by pushups and plank work, then a manageable arm weight session, moving on to a thigh series and seat-focused segment, followed by well deserved cool down. Repeat 12 times monthly, and carry your new kinder, gentler mantra: Now Natalie Portman has baby weight.

Barre. 2632 Quarry Lake Drive (410) 486-8480



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