Inside the Cardio Barre studio at the Beverly Hills location. Photo by Janice Jann.

No pain, no gain. This is the mantra you’ll likely be forced to repeat to yourself if you take a class at the newest workout studio in Beverly Hills. A new Cardio Barre location (one of only seven) just opened in the area and it’s a low-impact, high intensity workout that’ll make you feel the burn in your butt, arms, calves, hamstrings . . . and pretty much anywhere there’s a muscle. I was lucky enough to be able to take classes for a week at the six-week old studio, thanks to the ever-so-lovely Alisa Rattner Gonzalez (she’s the owner and the peppy person you’ll see right when you walk in).

In a nutshell, the hour-long sessions at Cardio Barre test your flexibility, balance, and core muscle strength by using light weights (one or two pounders, your choice!), your own body weight and quite a few ballet moves.

These small dumbbells bring more pain than you would think! Photo by Janice Jann.

“You develop long lean muscles because you’re not using heavy weights,” said 22-year-old Gabby Sansosti, who’s been doing Cardio Barre for the past three years and started instructing her own classes at the Beverly Hills studio. “It’s real repetitious so you tone everything out and lean everything out in the process.”

Cardio Barre is nothing new to celebrities who want to get lean for their next big movie role and dancers who want to maintain their physique. But to me, someone who barely started sessions again with a personal trainer after a year hiatus, it was slightly intimidating. (Google “cardio barre” and look at the pictures that pop up — you’ll get what I’m talking about after that.)

But this class is geared towards people of all ages, of all sizes and endurance levels. “I think it’s for everyone — people who are exercise fiends, who this is a new thing they’ve fallen in love with it, people who are trying to get back into [shape],” Sansosti said.

I don’t consider myself too out of shape, but I sweated more in my first class than I think I would running a marathon. Luckily the upbeat music and constant motivation by the instructors kept me going. That, and the fact that it’s a group class — about 30 or so people when it’s full — gives you that extra push to try harder.

Exercises like this incorporate standard ballet moves so you can get those killer lean legs. (That’s me in the pink.) Photo by Janice Jann.

In a seven-day period I managed to make it to five classes — four beginner ones and one advanced. I was a bit gung-ho about getting in shape, so I pushed myself as hard as I could and tried to go as much as possible. Gonzalez said it’s typical for someone to attend three to four classes a week to see results.

“There are people who buy the unlimited [package] and who are here everyday,” Gonzalez said. “There’s people we see sometimes in the morning and in the night, but I think a typical person comes every couple of days.” Gonzalez is proof that with consistency and dedication, the class does wonders for the body — she lost 70 pounds over the four years she’s been doing it.

For $150 you can go as much as you like within a 30-day period, or you can pay $16 per class. Another option is to buy sessions in bulk, which saves you quite a bit of money if you plan on going often.

So when should you stray from the newbies in the beginner class and start playing in the big leagues? It might take a few classes for you to learn the movements and terminology so that you’re comfortable with it. The advanced classes are faster, incorporate more reps, and add in some tougher moves. But, I learned (after being semi-forced by Gonzalez) that there’s nothing to be afraid of by challenging yourself to the advanced class. Gonzalez’s 10-year-old daughter, Annabelle, can even tough it out and get through the advanced class! But if you’re not sure, don’t worry about it — both types of classes are offered all throughout the mornings and evenings every day of the week. You can go as early as 7 am or as last as 8 pm on the weekdays. Check the schedule online.

If the flexible schedule isn’t enough of a reason for you to throw your excuses out the door, how about the FREE daycare?? That’s right, you new mothers don’t have to worry about finding a sitter for only an hour or trying to find a workout that involves pushing a stroller around the block. The well-furnished and spotless daycare room is free for you to drop off your little ones (infants included) while you get your sweat on. No more excuses, ladies!

Though my time at Cardio Barre was short-lived, it’s not the end of my workouts with the classes. I purchased the portable package — complete with a barre, one-pound weights, instructional DVD and carrying case. I have never been, and will likely never be, a fan of the treadmill or elliptical machines, so something like Cardio Barre will hopefully cure my less-than-slim waist problem and slight muffin top. (Yeah, I admit it. It’s hard not to notice when I’m sporting summer dresses every day because my jeans don’t fit quite as well anymore!)

Oh, and here are some tips for first-timers:

– Arrive 20 to 30 minutes early. It’ll give you time to snag a great spot and you won’t run the risk of being turned away if the class gets full (which it often does).

– Stretch! Before class starts, be sure to stretch since the exercises do require a bit of flexibility.

– Make sure you bring a towel. And LOTS of water. There are some exercises that require you to be laying on the ground, so having a towel comes in handy.

– Go at your own pace. It might seem intimidating if everyone is going at a faster pace than you, but don’t stress your body too much. It’s great to push yourself through the pain, but overexerting your muscles can do major harm to your body. If you need to slow it down, it’s ok — just do what is most comfortable for your own body.


Cardio Barre Beverly Hills

469 S. Robertson Blvd.

Beverly Hills, CA 90211