I've been using BarreAmped for 2 weeks now, and it's about what you'd expected from a barre workout: pointing toes, long legs, controlled and elegant movements, and a steady heart rate. It's not cardiovascular in the slightest.
And it's quite possibly one of the hardest things I've ever done (and haven't given up on, but I think Insanity might be within my reach now).
BarreAmped is made up of 4 workouts: light weight work, which is 10 minutes, 'seat' work (bum) which is 20, legs which is 15 and mat work (upper body & core) which is 15. I grouped them up respectively to make two 30-minute workouts which I've been using on alternating days, and let me tell you, I feel it.
I'm used to Jillian Michaels, as you can see quite clearly in my Fitness archive - that means big weights, big movements, big effort and big sweat. Now, I have tried barre before, but it was a few sample workouts from Women's Fitness magazine. I think I forgot how hard it can be - the small, controlled movements and lack of sweating is very deceptive. They're not at all what I'm used to, to the point that even after two weeks I'm still struggling.
It's awesome, and it's horrible. I genuinely am torn at this point, I can't decide if I like it or not, but I do know that I like doing something this different.
I like the delicate, dainty, feminine feeling I get from doing it, I like the concentration that is going into my bum and my triceps, and I like the idea that it's having an effect - it's so hard and so different, and I feel it so much the next day, that it simply has to be having an effect.
But I hate struggling to complete sets, I hate having to take her advice and drop my 1 kg weights to come close to finishing them, I hate how much my quads ache the next morning, and the pain if I accidentally lean my elbows on them.
I suppose, after writing that out, I've decided that I do like it, just not while I'm doing it. I've been following it up with some kickboxing for a little bit of cardio but that's been quite difficult to complete. I think barre takes more out of your muscles than you really realise - either that or I'm just generally fatigued, because I'm struggling to put power into the kickboxing, I'm slower and I'm generally just struggling with it.
The workout is deceptive, it is challenging, but it is not complicated. It's within everyone's abilities, really, but I think patience is quite important. The struggle to complete the sets without putting your foot on the ground, straightening your leg out of a bend, standing up in the middle of a seesaw, that will knock your confidence, but the instructor - and she is clear, and she is lovely - states quite precisely that, with the legs, it's not about how high you lift your leg, it's about how straight it is, and if you need to drop the weights in the 10-minute section, do it. By that point, your arms will fall off anyway, and if dropping the weights is what it takes to complete not only that set but the rest of that section, so be it. As long as you give it your all.
The satisfying thing about this workout, though, is that not only do you know precisely which muscles you're working, you can also very much feel them working, too. Hamstring curls, hello!
I'll update again in 2 more weeks; by that point, hopefully I'll have more of a solid opinion...