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A Barre Forte class before COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Amy O'Connell

Shaped By COVID-19: Barre Forte’s All-Body, Quivery Muscle–Making At-Home Workout

This 60-minute workout will literally leave you shaking in your grippy socks.

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Editor’s Note: “Shaped By COVID-19” is a weekly series designed to help you stay active while you’re homebound with workouts from some of Denver’s leading fitness and wellness professionals. Got a fitness tip or favorite studio? Email us at digital@5280.com.


The Gym: Barre Forte
Year Founded: 2012
The Trainers: Amy O’Connell and Sarah Brittenham, co-owners Barre Forte Wash Park
Membership Options: Barre Strong ($100 per month), unlimited in-studio, live stream and on-demand classes; class packs (from $95); single class (from $10)

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a dancer or one of those impossibly foldy people to see the benefits of barre. In fact, Barre Forte Wash Park co-owners Amy O’Connell and Sarah Brittenham’s backgrounds were more 10K than plié before becoming owners of a studio. The two long-distance runners had fallen in love with the movement as a cross-training method after discovering that it helped them stay injury-free. “It’s great for IT band injuries,” Brittenham says. “You work your butt so much. And that’s often the cause of some of those injuries.”

Brittenham isn’t kidding. Like other studios, Barre Forte isolates muscles you didn’t even know you had and forces them into poses that will leave you quivery for days. But eight-year-old Barre Forte—the first studio opened in Southmoor Park in 2012; Barre Forte now counts 11 locations in three states—isn’t content to leave you shaky-legged. “The Barre Forte differentiator is that it’s faster paced, a little more dynamic,” O’Connell says. “Our workouts are to the beat of the music.” She’s not talking about “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” either. She’s talking about rocking, beat-dropping club tunes.

You’ll get to hear them even on Barre Forte’s live stream and on-demand classes, thanks to the helpful mic setup the instructors use. Just as the studio did prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Barre Forte offers four styles of classes—Barre Forte, Sculpt Forte, Barre HIIT, and Express Barre (a shorter version of the Barre Forte class)—in its live stream and on-demand classes. Fortunately, barre translates well to at-home workouts, because, as O’Connell notes, you don’t need a ton of equipment. Ideally, you’ll have a small band and light weights (although wine bottles work), but if you’ve got nothing except a chair, you’ll still have all you need to challenge yourself. In fact, the online classes have been so popular that now that the studio is open to small groups again, Barre Forte is keeping them as an option. “You have everything you could want—depending on your COVID personality,” O’Connell quips. Whatever your personality type, it better just be one that likes to get sweaty—and shaky.

Workout type: Barre
Muscle focus:
Shoulders, legs, butt, abs
Duration: 60 minutes

The Workout
Note to self: When instructor Melissa Farrar tells you you’ll need heavy weights for this Barre Forte class, she means heavy like five pounds, not 50. The reason? The first 18 minutes of this hour-long body buster essentially have you lifting, holding, pulsing, elevating, extending, and otherwise not letting go of those pesky dumbbells—or wine bottles if that’s what you’re working with. Then it’s all legs, butt, and core for another fast-paced 40 minutes that will leave your thighs, triceps, abs, and all those other little muscles whose names you never bothered to learn exacting their revenge for being ignored all this time. If your everything is shaking at the end of this, you’ll know you’ve done it right.

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