Senior Editor Savannah Waszczuk visits Physique Fitness, downtown Springfield’s newest gym, to try out hot barre.
By Savannah Waszczuk | Photos by Brandon Alms
Some girls cringe at the thought of getting sweaty, but I’m quite the opposite. I’m not ashamed to admit it—when I work out, I get drenched, and I love it. In fact, one time after an intense run, I ran into a friend at the store, and she noticed my wet hair and asked, “Oh, did you just go swimming?” Yes, I’m serious—that’s the kind of sweaty I get. That’s why when I was assigned to try out Physique Fitness’s Hot Barre class for this story, I was actually excited at the thought of performing already challenging moves in a heated studio.
Physique Fitness is located in downtown Springfield three blocks north of Park Central Square on Boonville Avenue. I was super-worried about parking on my first visit, but when I arrived, I was relieved; two large, free parking lots sit near the gym, and finding a spot wasn’t a problem at all. Most people might not care about this, but it’s great to know if you’re not the biggest fan of finding parking downtown.
When I walked into the studio, I was blown away. I’m telling you, this place is seriously gorgeous. Housed in an old brick building that’s registered with the National Register of Historic Places, brick walls and tall ceilings provide an urban-like vibe, and on-trend décor gives the entire place an edge. “I would say it almost feels like a fitness boutique in New York City,” says owner Darby Brownfield.
Open since July 21, Physique Fitness offers a variety of classes, including Barre Physique, TRX, Pound Fit, Thighs & Assets, Guns and Buns, Jam, Hot Barre and DEEP. “Hot Barre and DEEP are actually signature classes that we designed ourselves,” Brownfield says. Exclusive to Physique, these classes aren’t currently offered at any other gyms in 417-land. “I actually couldn’t find any other hot barre classes in Missouri,” Brownfield says.
I felt the heat from hot barre as soon as I walked into the workout studio. “We heat it to around 88 to 90 degrees in here,” Brownfield says. It wasn’t an uncomfortable heat, but it was definitely noticeable, and it got me excited: I hadn’t worked out in a few weeks, and I was ready to sweat out some toxins.
I first tried a regular barre class a couple of years ago, but I had never tried heated barre before. “The movements in the class are similar to our barre physique class, but they’re a bit slower and sexier,” Brownfield says. We started the class out with a warm up of stretching and slow movements that got our blood flowing. Considering it was already 90 degrees in that big, open studio, this warm up session brought me to a sweat. Yep. Lots and lots of salty, dripping sweat was happening all over my body, and all in the first few minutes. That’s always a good sign.
With a smile on her face and a spring in her step, the always-energetic and amazing Brownfield went on to lead the 55-minute class. We performed a variety of movements, many using the bar, that worked our arms, behinds, cores and every part of our legs. Each move was executed slowly and carefully to help us lengthen our bodies, and while many of the stretches and moves were challenging, they were all attainable. And while I say that with confidence, there were, of course, a few moves that stood out as being pretty killer. The one that haunted me the most was the sexy chair pose, where Brownfield had us tie bands around our ankles and hold a sitting squat for longer than two minutes. But of course we couldn’t just stand there. No. We were instructed to open and close our knees, pulse and lower and lift our bodies. Blah! It was so hard. After those super-long minutes were finally over, a series of groans made their way throughout the studio, and Brownfield announced, “This is the stuff that comes to me in my dreams!” Immediately, a girl working out a few feet away said, “In a nightmare, maybe,” and we all giggled. I didn’t know these girls, but I felt comfortable around them. The instructors and members here are almost like a family, and they welcome visitors with open arms. This made the entire experience much more enjoyable.
“Everything in this class is designed to target your secondary muscle groups, which helps tone the body without bulking,” Brownfield says. “The moves also help tighten the skin to the muscles and increase flexibility, and the heat helps detox the body.” And doing the class at Physique, where the lights are turned low, the energy is high and Brownfield is cheering you on the whole way, makes this class as beneficial for your frame of mind as it is for your figure.
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