Openfit: My Xtend Barre Adventure

Openfit: My Xtend Barre Adventure

I have been taking Xtend Barre classes on Openfit for nearly two weeks. This is my personal experience of exercising in the middle of a pandemic.

Getting proper exercise in a Coronavirus-hit city can be complicated. The gyms are closed, and the streets are packed with people who either don’t wear a mask, wear it improperly, or do not care about social distancing. So what’s a girl gotta do to avoid getting crazy after several months of confinement in a teensy apartment? Enter the world of barre.

What is Xtend Barre?

Andrea Rogers showing XtendBarre position
Image via Openfit

Xtend Barre is a full-body workout designed by instructor Andrea Rogers. It combines elements of Pilates and traditional ballet dance (hence the barre) to create a fun yet low-impact workout that engages multiple parts of the body.

Although Xtend Barre has apparently quite a bit of a following with 40 studios worldwide, I have to confess I had never heard of it until I started seeing Instagram ads for Openfit. I guess my franctic Google search for easy home workouts with limited equipment tipped the algorithm that I needed something to make up for my weekly super long walks on Manhattan. I quickly discovered that the online dance routines I was following weren’t cutting it after I knocked down a lamp and surely managed to give my neighbors a major headache. So I reached out to Openfit to ask some information, and they kindly offered me a trial subscription to test and write about my experience. I hope it’s useful!

Online Fitness Classes: Friend or Foe?

Here is the deal: I am not good at following online classes. They have to be tremendously engaging, or otherwise my mind just wanders. I guess I am a very social person, and nothing substitutes having a live teacher.

Now, to make matters worse, I personally don’t like traditional exercise routines. They just don’t agree with me. Dance classes? Fun. Gym? That feels like a punishment, and I always end up a grumpy hot mess. Nope, thanks.

But here’s the fun part: After beeing cooped up in my teensy apartment for months, I decided to give Openfit a fair try. Andrea Rogers seemed like a very engaging teacher, and her teaser videos on Instagram were pretty attainable with minimum equipment and space. Perfect for the desperate New Yorker who is gaining weight after learning how to bake bread in a dutch oven that pairs extremely well with homemade Nutella. [Yep, all this is true, and you can click on the links for my recipes. The best calories ever invented by mankind!]

Xtend Barre: My Personal Experience

I am not going to lie. My first Xtend Barre experience was good, but a bit scary. I thought that Openfit offered brief workouts that, taken everyday, would be good to help me shape up and stay healthy. In my mind, that is 15 mins tops. In Andrea Rogers’ mind, however, those are full 30-minute classes.

Now, it is important not to confuse low-impact with no-sweat. Low-impact exercise means that it won’t strain your joints, which is very important if you have some knee or joint issues (I happen to accumulate some injuries in one leg, so high-impact training is a no-no for me.) Andrea Rogers knows how to engage different groups of muscles in her Xtend Barre system, and boy it works. After five minutes, I was sweating. I honestly thought I would not make it to the end of the class (yes, I am lazy), but I just loved her energy. Surprisingly, I did not get bored, and was able to stay engaged with the training despite being a pre-recorded class. And the exercises made sense to me, and reminded me of my dancing classes. So after the 30 minutes were done, I felt tired but exhilarated. I took an Epsom salt mini bath just in case immediately after, just in case 🙂

The way that the pre-recorded classes are presented also makes a lot of sense. They have them classified by level, but also by targeted areas. It is also worthy mentioning that Xtend Barre’s aim is to help your body become stronger and leaner, giving you an elegant and non-bulky shape.

Although Openfit has a super cool daily program recommendation, I have found that my sweet spot are three classes per week. Due to my work commitments I haven’t been able to join one of Andrea’s live classes yet, but I am looking forward to it! I think it’s pretty cool to be able to have the chance to speak with the instructors and ask specific questions, which is very important to prevent injury. On the subject of injury, do not skip the first explanatory video, and do not push yourself too hard. Andrea always suggests modifications, and I personally think it’s best to stick to what feels comfortable with your body until you gain the strenght and suppleness to take it a bit further. There is nothing wrong with that. Every body is different, and Xtend Barre is not a competition!

Basic Barre Equipment For At-Home Training

Woman using a chair to do barre exercises at home
Image via Openfit

My investment in barre equipment has been minimal, leaning towards non-existent. I already own a yoga mat, an elastic resistance band, and yoga socks (which have a gripping texture on the soles so I don’t slip and fall when I change postures.) I also use a chair as the “barre”, and my weights are two small bottles of water. I have ordered a small ball, and in the meantime, I’m using a folded towel to provide the support required. Pretty simple.

In terms of real estate, you will need to have a space where you can extend your arms or legs with ease. No worries, you won’t need to turn, so your lamps will be safe! It’s also important to have enough space to put a yoga mat on the floor. All in all, it doesn’t require a lot of square footage or equipment to get you started!

It is important to mention that Xtend Barre is a neighbor-friendly workout. No jumps, no thumps, and no loud music will guarantee that you aren’t bothering anybody. At a time when we all are spending a lot of time at home, I think it is very important to respect other people’s space.

Now, if you want to splurge and get the exact same equipment that Andrea Rogers uses, Xtend Barre has an online shop. However, chances are that you’ll have most items at home, so if you have a limited budget, the only two things that I recommend getting are a yoga mat and the yoga non-slippery socks (these are my favorites, by the way).

Beyond Xtend Barre: The Openfit System

Closeup of the openfit app on a smartphone showing the workout categories, including Xtend Barre

Xtend Barre’s online classes are exclusive to Openfit, and the subscription includes access to a wider variety of workout categories and contents: Yoga, Pilates, Xtend Barre, Tough Mudder, Rough Around the Edges, and 600 seconds (my beloved 10-minute workouts.) It also offers nutrition tips and meal plans, and the possibility to buy nutritional supplements. I have to confess I haven’t tried the latter, because I stick to a varied Mediterranean diet and that works well for me. But if you’re looking for healthy meal plans, it is also included as part of the subscription!

Openfit is super convenient and portable, and you can stream your classes from your TV, computer, or your phone. And here is the fun part: Aside from taking pre-recorded classes, you can sign up for challenges or even join daily live classes supervised in real time.

In terms of pricing, they offer different types of subscriptions based on how long you purchase your seat for. They also offer a two-week trial, and the annual subscription costs around $100, which is a fairly good price even if you only work out once every month.

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