WHAT I TRIED
The X-Tend Barre Workout at Body Tree Abu Dhabi.
WHAT I EXPECTED
I arrived at Body Tree (formerly called Yoga Tree) full of enthusiasm. Two of my favourite things - Pilates and ballet - rolled into one. What could be better?
The studio is a lovely place. I have been to yoga classes there, and once you step inside you feel like you could be in London or New York.
The sprightly American instructor, Carol, only reinforces this image. She is a woman of a certain age, but has such energy and attitude that I knew we were in for a tough time, even though she told us she might go easy on us because she has a cold.
We all picked a spot by a portable ballet barre and were told to collect a stretch band, weights, a mat and a ball. Above me on the wall was an enormous list of tasks, such as ball squats and roll-backs. It was only after the warm-up that I realised we would be working our way through them. This really is a full body workout. In fact it made me realise how paltry my exercise regime is, despite the fact that I play tennis about four times a week and run around a football pitch now and again.
This works your muscles in a way that flitting about a tennis court just never does. It is all about control and form. There is no kicking or yanking around, as every moment is deliberate, determined. You work your arms, legs (after a few pliés it felt like my thighs were on fire), your glutes and most crucially your core, which is what Pilates is all about - strengthening your core to avoid injuries and also taking you closer to a six-pack.
I am happy to say that exercise has moved on since I first started hopping around in a step class some 10 years ago. I can see that the future lies in more focused and isolating workouts such as this one, which are so effective and a far more intelligent approach. Not that we didn't do any cardio - we did knee lifts, which are guaranteed to get anyone out of breath. But the focus is on body awareness and improving your strength, which as you get older is essential. And you only have to look at Carol's toned arms and fabulous fitness level to know it works.
X-Tend Barre Workout classes run three times a week and cost Dh90 for a drop-in or Dh400 for a package of five. For more information call 02 667 6579 or email email@example.com