STRETCH - Barrecore, Moorgate
It's finally February. Which for we all seem to have groaned an audible sigh of relief, with January resolutions discarded as hastily as they were committed to in that fleeting moment of weakness, while deep in the throws of Christmas revelry. Veganuary, dry January, gym schedules and more. Kick starting the year with an emphasis on diet, exercise and general well being. It was a hard month, not just for the hammering our bank accounts took or the rain that poured down.
While I consider myself a 'regular gym go-er' I too resolved to do more, better and different for January - signing myself up to a free ClassPass month to hunt down new workouts to inspire my 2018 fitness journey. All the buzzwords, but after all, what's the fun in free fancy classes if you don't embrace it? So this is how I found myself after six gym sessions in as many days, signing up to STRETCH at Barrecore, Moorgate as my seventh.
Firstly, I should iterate, I had no idea what to expect. Neither did Kate, my unsuspecting friend visiting from Manchester, whose January fitness goals were exploited in my bid for company. Luckily, the choice of both studio and class worked out spectacularly well. Which I cannot in good faith say has been the case for all my ClassPass selections.
Since it is located in The City, where space is premium, Barrecore Moorgate is inevitably a basement, but does well to have a bright and airy interior which is both practical and stylish. Minimal, but with all the embellishments you could want to ensure it feels cosy - think benches with cushions, a large juice / snack bar and piles of complimentary fluffy white towels. Not to mention high quality equipment and large, clean exercise and changing rooms. On the more expensive side of ClassPass' pricing structure, I can see why: It feels high end without being imposing or condescending. Much of the welcoming environment is down to the instructors themselves. The greeting at reception comes with a warm smile and the trainers retain a level of enthusiasm without straying into artificial or disingenuous behaviours. It is possibly the most friendly and accommodating studio I have visited to date; helping us sort out a booking mishap and chatting about my blogging ambitions.
As for the class itself, it too is unlike any other I have attended. With elements borrowed from Yoga, Pilates and Physiotherapy this a recovery class making use of a wide array of training accessories. Familiar stretches incorporated with new tools, the Barre ball is a revelation. Unassuming both in appearance and its use, I was hugely skeptical of Kathy's description of what to expect to feel after sitting on it for a short moment and mentally rolling my eyes. Astonishingly it did indeed relax my pelvis (which I didn't feel), which manifested in noticeably straighter posture accompanied by the sensation of my centre of gravity being pulled through the floor by about a foot. Not to mention a much deeper, easier forward bend. I don't understand the technicals, but I urge you to go to a class to feel for yourself. It's magic.
Slightly more standard are the stretches combined with strength building poses, but the accompanying voice-over explaining 'how to' and 'why to' striking the tricky balance of knowledgeable and accessible for all levels that other classes have failed to acquire. This helped considerably in the painful section involving the foam roller. A torture device for which I have a love hate relationship, at one point I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when Kate caught my eye as we laid across our hip flexors 'breathing into the muscle to release it into the roller'. Immediately after the class I was grateful, at the time I was cursing myself and anyone who hadn't warned me that when you are forced to use the equipment correctly it hurts much more.
Would I recommend STRETCH at Barrecore, Moorgate? Yes. It is interesting, fun and you leave feeling relaxed and restored. The people are well-informed and the place itself is lovely in all aspects. It is a recovery class that offers something different and one that I can imagine working into my programme more regularly. If you do go, I hope you enjoy it as much as me!