Breaking Up with the Barre

If you follow me on Twitter or dailymile, you might have noticed something’s changed about my workouts. And no, I don’t mean the running hiatus that runs from November – April. That happens every year. It’s called “winter.” I’m talking about the fact that what I once considered my staple, my constant in exercise — barre classes — are no longer a part of my life.

A quick summary for those of you who haven’t been reading for the last two years (in other words, 98% of you) — in January, 2010 I was offered the opportunity to take Core Fusion classes at exhale spa for a month at no charge, as a Core Fusion Challenge. The only condition was that I document my experience on my blog and exhale’s blog, and that I take before and after measurements and photos.

From the first day of the challenge, even though it was not my first Core Fusion class, my life was somehow changed. Call it the right place at the right time, but in January, 2010 I needed something to occupy me. I also needed something to help me with body image issues I’d been going through ever since getting sick in August, 2007. And I needed to get in shape. I was running here and there, and maybe going on an elliptical sometimes, but that was the extent of my working out. I needed something.

So I jumped right into that challenge and even though it sounds dramatic, my life did change. And even better, I learned more about exercise and why strength training is important for women. The results were practically automatic. I felt happier and more at peace. I had something to work for and seek accomplishment in. I had an outlet for stress and bad days, and a place to feel comfortable, in my element, at home. The staff was wonderful to me and even when I had an injury went above and beyond to work with me and help me. I went from not liking or caring much about exercise to truly loving it, embracing it, making it a deeply embedded part of my life. I fully credit Core Fusion for that. And I am forever grateful to everyone at exhale.

So why did I stop?

A few things happened to lead me away from the barre class. And I want to note that it isn’t specifically Core Fusion that I don’t do any more; it is ALL barre classes based on the Lotte Berk method (small movements, high rep, ballet-style).

In November 2010, I was treated for a labral tear in my hip. I know when this pain started — during a gluteal exercise in class. I felt it, and I kept taking class and repeating the same movements. I didn’t want to lose what I worked for all year. It was stupid and you know what they say about hindsight. I just didn’t think it was a real injury. But it was. (My Hip Injury – Part 1 and My Hip Injury – Part 2).

The pain was only bad during specific moves that aggravated it. Unfortunately, a large part of barre classes are comprised of those movements and it was too much to modify. I was still able to take other exhale classes, such as Core Fusion Cardio. And I went at least once a week. But the main class, the majority of their class programming, was the class I could not take.

At the same time, I was taking a few Refine Method classes. Brynn Jinnett, a former ballerina and barre class instructor, had just opened the studio.

She explained it better to me than I can explain in an interview last year (which is also up on the Refine Method website under “Why”):

“While Brynn enjoyed the boutique studio atmosphere, she saw many women at these studios working so hard, but still not achieving the results they wanted because of faulty information about exercise. After she retired from dancing and began to think about fitness as a long-term career, she decided to learn more about the body from those at the top so she could really separate fact from fiction. She started a two year period of research into exercise physiology and nutrition which entailed lots of reading and mentorships with some of the top athletic trainers, physiology professors and fitness business owners across the country. Her research took her from time with the most successful collegiate strength coach, watching him work with players training for the NFL, to work with the top exercise physiology professor USC, who is studying how muscles grow. In creating the Refine Method, she tried to apply the incredible knowledge of these top exercise science professionals to the specific aesthetic demands of the thousands of clients she has taught at NYC‘s top boutique fitness studios. Her goal in creating the Refine Method is to educate her clients to not just train hard, but to train smart.

While I was getting the hang of this different type of workout, I had my doubts. In a barre class, you work specific muscle groups as they burn and shake. In Refine, there is no burn. In a barre class, the thighs section is so hard you have to take breaks and you pray for it to just be over already as you try and push through the pain. In Refine, there is no pain. And nothing lasts long enough to have to stop because it hurts so much.

It sounds like I am praising Refine, but at the time these thoughts were me doubting it. I didn’t believe that an exercise that didn’t burn could produce results. I didn’t believe that doing three arm exercises a class could tone my arms — especially when my arms weren’t on fire! Even though the class totally kicked my butt and I really enjoyed it, I had a hard time accepting that I was really working my abs without being in a curl position practically in tears.

I made a couple of attempts at Core Fusion again, but each time my hip would bother me after, even if I thought I was avoiding the things that hurt. Really, my hip injury was an overuse injury from constantly performing the exact same type of movements.

During and after Refine? My hip was fine. I was happy to have a workout to do, and a convenient one at that. But Brynn, the founder of Refine and former barre class instructor, knew that I (and others from a barre background) had our doubts and so she wrote two extremely informative, easy-to-read, intelligent blog posts to explain why the “burn” doesn’t mean we are getting the best workout — or the smartest. (Lowering the Barre Part 1 and Part 2)

As 2010 ended and 2011 began, I was taking Refine most days, and Core Fusion Cardio once or twice a week. And of course, I didn’t lose any strength. As I am sure you all suspected, I got stronger. One day in Refine I looked in the mirror as I was in a hinge-back abs exercise, and I didn’t recognize my own back peeking out from behind my shoulders. First of all, my back has never “peeked out” visibly before. I was strong. I looked strong. I was shocked.

[Photo – Dori & Brynn at Refine, 2011]

I was also well enough injury-wise by then to train for a marathon. I took my training easy because I was so concerned about aggravating my hip injury. I had a training plan designed specifically for me that included just three days a week of running. I didn’t do any speed or hill work because I wanted to play it safe with my hip. And when I completed my first marathon, I blew my 4:59-predicted (and hoped for) race time out of the water with a 4:33:29.

I credit Refine. And overall awesomeness.

I was still scared to truly leave my barre roots behind, and I continued the Core Fusion Cardio and Bootcamp and even added in Core Fusion Yoga every now and then. I craved that abdominal curl position, thinking it was the only way to keep my abs. But as I learned more from Brynn and read other sources about the core and the back and how our bodies work, my back started hurting during this exercise. A lot. I don’t know if it was mental or not, but the pain felt real and I realized one day — I don’t want to be doing this exercise that I now know to be harmful.

I still took the non-barre Core Fusion variations, but Refine remained my predominant workout and I found myself preferring it to the others. So when my exhale membership ended on December 31, I thought about attempting to renew it. And then I decided it wasn’t worth it.

I gave up Core Fusion Cardio — which I loved. I thought I would miss it . . . but it turns out I don’t. I thought I needed to hold four-pound-weights high up in the air for an hour straight because without the burn I wouldn’t be strong or have muscles . . . and it turns out it that is not the case. Because now I am all-in with Refine. And I found this time that by doing these exercises that Brynn vetted and approved and studied and practiced and researched — by doing exclusively those, I’m seeing results faster than before. I’m getting even stronger than before. I took off a few months to train for the marathon, and coming back was so hard. I could barely single pushup (Brynn laughed as I flopped onto my belly) and I turned my jump-backs into less intense step-backs. I felt constantly winded. But now that I’ve been back for a couple of months, I can’t believe how quickly I reached my previous level of fitness — and then surpassed it.

I take class less often now than I used to. And I’m still getting stronger. I don’t need to work out five to six days a week to see the changes. And this time, after the marathon, I decided that I didn’t care about visible results. I’d rather spend time relaxing with my boyfriend, rather than every free second working out, and so my goals changed. I just wanted to get a little stronger again and back in shape. The clearly visible results were a by-product. An awesome one at that.

The Refine class itself has changed a few times in the last year. When Brynn learns that something can be revised or made better, she does that. The class is constantly being tweaked to adapt to new discoveries in exercise science, or small ways to make it even more challenging, while many standard barre classes are the exact same class as they were 50 years ago. They’re firm in their beliefs and don’t adapt as quickly (if at all) to new knowledge. Every class is very much the same. With Refine on the other hand, no two classes are the same. We are always working different muscles in a different sequence, so our minds and bodies don’t get bored and plateau — and no one exercise lasts very long, so you can always push through. Refine teaches you to move in a way your body recognizes. The result is challenging exercises that don’t cause physical pain while you’re doing them.

I had the opportunity to take a different barre class a few weeks ago. It was Figure 4, which I had taken once before and loved. It is different than a cookie cutter barre class; Kate, the founder, combines exercises in tandem for a more effective workout. And even though I adore Kate, I knew while I was there that this class was no longer for me. Knowing what I now know — I just don’t care for barre classes anymore.

Sure, I can push through the shaking thighs and burning pain — but why? Why would I want to be in pain, even if it’s just for a few minutes? What could possibly be THAT important to me that I force myself to accept (and embrace, as the instructors often tout) pain and discomfort for an extended period of time? A good body? Calories burned? Hard quad muscles?

It might be worth it for others. In fact, barre classes are worth it for many. I strongly believe that any exercise you can actually commit to is worth it. It once was worth it for me. But now that I know I can get a phenomenal, safe, highly effective and results driven full-body workout without the pain that is simply a part of the class, well, there’s just no going back.

Update: Please see my follow-up to this post. Thank you!


73 comments on Breaking Up with the Barre

  1. Hannah
    February 14, 2012 at 11:22 am (6 years ago)

    You don’t know how much I needed to hear this, Dori. I’ve been waiting all week for you to post this. I felt so bad for so long because my injury was perpetuated by barre DVDs (ie Core Fusion) but I was also doing too much in general – and yet everyone in the “blogosphere” was doing these workouts and it didn’t seem to be a problem. I haven’t done one of those DVDs in almost two years and my body is still recovering, and now I’m going to gently reintroduce exercise in my life but I am afraid of going back to the barre, so to speak. It’s weird that I’m not the only one who experienced this! But maybe too much of anything is bad? But I guess one can be more susceptible to injury from the barre classes because they are the same all of the time. It sounds like Refine is incredibly hard, though – is it difficult because your heart rate is higher up?
    Hannah´s last blog post ..My Aversion Is Getting The Best Of Me

    • Dori
      February 14, 2012 at 11:30 am (6 years ago)

      Doing any one thing repetitively can result in overuse, which is the problem with most barre classes. Refine is incredibly hard, but in a very different way. You are constantly challenging yourself to get your butt back in squats, keep your shoulders pressed down in lat pulldowns, keep your weight centered in lunges. Yes, the heart rate element makes it that much more challenging, but it is really a mix of elements that just work well together.

    • MelissaNibbles
      February 17, 2012 at 7:11 pm (6 years ago)

      Oh my God! Same here. I won’t get into it here because I don’t want to write a novel in your comment section, but CF screwed me up. I incorporate a few of the leg and ab exercises into my routine, but not the way it’s done in CF. Thanks Dori and Hannah!
      MelissaNibbles´s last blog post ..Go With Your Gut

      • Hannah
        February 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm (6 years ago)

        Melissa, you should write a post about it!!!
        Hannah´s last blog post ..Satya (Truthfulness)

  2. kim
    February 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm (6 years ago)

    Wow!! It was stumbling upon and reading your Core Fusion Challenge a year ago that got me hooked on barre classes, and now I feel really disoriented after reading this.

    Are you going to take down your overwhelmingly positive reviews of Core Fusion (on this site, on exhale’s site, on Go Healthy NY, and many other places in the fitness blog-world)? I can only guess that someone else like me is going to see them and be encouraged to invest a lot of time and energy into something you are now saying isn’t that effective and can cause injuries. !!!!! What you’re saying, in comparison to what you’ve been saying SO adamantly and often over the past 2 years, is so hugely contradictory that it leaves me upset and suspicious that in a few years you’ll be saying Refine has actually been a bad workout all this time….

    I guess my overall comment is: if your reviews are so fallible, why do you spend so much time now praising Refine? Why in the world would you think anyone would read your current praise for Refine as reliable?

    • Mallory
      February 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm (6 years ago)

      I don’t think Dori is acting as a guaranteed source for workout advice. I have always read her blog as an attempt to document her own journey through fitness and health. She addresses her own thought processes and how her mindset has changed — and I think that is really helpful for people exploring their own fitness plans. Choosing a workout should be a unique process for everyone and each individual should be responsible for researching and finding what works for them. Thanks for sharing your fallibility Dori!

      • Kim
        February 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm (6 years ago)

        If you used to date a guy, but then he caused you to have a long-term hip issue and you realized that he was a waste of your time, then you might not be to blame for dating him to begin with, but you certainly shouldn’t continue to vouch for him to your friends.

    • Dori
      February 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm (6 years ago)

      Hi Kim,

      I’m not saying that barre classes are ineffective and cause injuries. I actually found them to be extremely effective for me. As I said, they changed my body and my life. But I did wind up with an overuse injury that prevented me from taking them any more. That injury also inspired me to learn other methods of exercise – otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing any strength building at all.

      I won’t take down my positive reviews because nothing has changed. The love I felt for the classes remains. The positive ways they changed my life remains. I got stronger, had more energy and had a healthy outlet for stress. I came out of every classes feeling like I just did something amazing for myself.

      If you love the classes, I am not saying you should stop! They key is finding what you love ad sticking with it. My issue arose when I could no longer do the thing I love, and I had to find something else I could also enjoy. Once I learned the current theories on exercise, I could no longer make a choice to do something that harmed me. But I am only sharing my own thought process; I still believe that each person should do the exercise that works best for her and that she enjoys. It is a personal choice based on the knowledge at hand. This is my choice but it does not invalidate my past choices.

      My post was not meant to dissuade or discourage you or anyone else from taking barre classes; rather, it was an honest account of my experience.

      We all grow and learn from our own experiences. We adapt to our circumstances because we have no other choice. We also continually grow and our beliefs, desires and goals change. If I stuck with barre classes just because I praised them for two years, I would be dishonest to myself and to my blog readers. This is a blog about my life and my experiences, primarily in exercise. But it is not a barre class blog or a Core Fusion blog. Like anyone else, I grow and learn and change my mind. But it doesn’t negate how I felt about Core Fusion or invalidate my reviews. Just like breaking up with someone doesn’t mean you didn’t once love them. But you grow and move on.

      Does once being in a former relationship mean my opinion on boys is fallible and my current boyfriend should be dismissed by others? The same goes for this. I’m not saying I will love Refine forever, but I am saying that this is what I love right now – as a result of my experience, knowledge and goals. If a change in beliefs makes all prior beliefs fallible, nothing would ever improve for the better. I never proclaimed to be a fitness expert; all I can do is share my experience, and this is my experience.

      • kim
        February 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm (6 years ago)

        I guess I just don’t stand behind your not taking responsibility for your influence and readership, when you spent a lot of time working to gain those things. You’ve encouraged a lot of people directly to do Core Fusion via comments on blogs, Go Healthy NY, twitter, the exhale site. And now you are saying that you have no debt to those people because it is your journey. You’ve obviously invested in being read for your reviews, and when it’s not convenient for you, you shrug off your audience (which you asked for, by praising CF publicly in so many places) by saying “it’s just my journey.”

      • Dori
        February 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm (6 years ago)

        I thought that is what I was doing by writing this post. It was difficult to write. I didn’t want to burn bridges with any fitness studios, but I felt a responsibility to my readers to share this new knowledge I learned along with my experience. I am not sure what you mean by debt? Going back and rewriting old reviews would be changing history, and where is the learning experience (much less journalistic integrity)in that? I stand by my reviews because they were how I felt at the time; just like a restaurant reviewer can say something great about a restaurant but go back a year later, have a bad experience and learn the food is not the best choice in the neighborhood after all. It doesn’t invalidate his earlier review. And he can write a new review about his new experience, which is what I did.

        I’m proud that I have been able to encourage so many women to exercise. But I did so by sharing my journey. I am still sharing my journey. I’m not really sure what else there is for me to do? I’m not an expert and I trust those who read this to take inspiration and then make their own choices — just like I do when I take inspiration from other blogs. If something hurts them in class, I would expect them to make their own decisions on what to do next. I shared my error in ignoring the pain in hopes that someone else won’t. But I don’t think it is my responsibility if they don’t. I really am just blogging about something I’m passionate about.

  3. Catie
    February 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm (6 years ago)

    Love this! Your experience with marathon training reminds me a lot about doing crew. I am about to go back into season (waking up at 4:55 am YIPPEEE), and I feel like I am going to lose all the strength I have gained (during these months off). Everyone thinks “Oh, doing crew ( or in your case marathon training ) what a great way to get into shape”, but reality is that rowing (or running) are both physical exercises that are sort of limited. There is on land extra training (in crew), but it isn’t the same as the other strength training classes I have been taking recently. As you can tell, I am very nervous about crew starting!
    Catie´s last blog post ..Thank You #23

  4. hefspider
    February 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm (6 years ago)

    I am very impressed with your healthy exercise outlook. I think it is great that you are open to new methods and have eschewed the “more is more” viewpoint.

    • Dori
      February 14, 2012 at 3:49 pm (6 years ago)

      Thank you!

  5. Michelle
    February 14, 2012 at 4:22 pm (6 years ago)

    Yay! The trainer part of me is SO happy to read this, and the writer part of me is so proud of you for taking on a difficult topic (something you’ve written about/praised so much) and handled it so eloquently. As we evolve, so do our workouts, and thankfully so in most cases, or else we’d still be using Thigh Masters and Sweatin’ to the Oldies!

    I have a few clients who, despite my attempts to convince them otherwise, still shell out tons of money for barre classes, and while I always tell people to do what they love in terms of exercise and if it’s working for them to stick with it, the women who generally end up with me are the ones who have been doing barre for months/years and not getting the “lean ballerina physique” they were promised. So to those women I always attempt to get them to step away from the barre. Sure they almost always freak out at first when I make them do big, compound movements, a “real” push-up or – God forbid – hand them a set of 10 lb dumbbells (the horror!), but suddenly when they’re losing inches a few weeks later (and not growing the huge, bulky man arms they feared) I have to remind them that that’s something the barre never helped them accomplish :)

    Oh, and thanks to this post, I will start sending Brynn’s posts to my barre-obsessed clients! I was nodding my head the entire time I was reading. And now I feel compelled to try Refine Method, I’m going to try to sign up for a class this month!
    Michelle´s last blog post ..Guest Post: How to Look and Feel Your Best on Your Wedding Day

    • Amber
      February 15, 2012 at 8:36 am (6 years ago)

      “Real” push-ups have been a component of every barre class I’ve taken!

      • Jess
        February 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm (6 years ago)

        I agree Amber! I always see women doing real push-ups in barre classes.

        There are also quite a few women who use 10lb weights in the barre classes I’ve frequented.
        Jess´s last blog post ..10 Week 1/2 Marathon Training Plan

      • Dori
        February 15, 2012 at 10:34 pm (6 years ago)

        I don’t think she meant that women don’t do real push-ups in barre classes, but rather that they are permitted to do modified ones. In Refine, modified push-ups are not allowed. The class is instructed to hold a plank if the push-ups become too challenging, or to do just two or not get very low. From what I was told, the jump to full push-ups is easier using this progression.

      • Diane
        February 16, 2012 at 8:47 am (6 years ago)

        “From what I was told, the jump to full push-ups is easier using this progression.”

        This is why it feels like you’ve switched to the Refine kool-aid. This might be Brynn’s point of view, and it might have some merit, but it is by no means an exercise standard. At CrossFit, you are encouraged to do them on your knees once you can no longer do a full-form one with proper form. This way you are still working through the range of motion for your arms and building arm strength. I think that with either method, what will ultimately get you to doing real push-ups is pushing yourself – unless you actually start trying them, you won’t be able to do them.

      • Dori
        February 16, 2012 at 8:50 am (6 years ago)

        Diane, I never said this method was better or standard. I actually made the switch from knee push-ups and full ones at Core Fusion myself, and I am so happy about my improvements there. I just offered up the explanation I learned because why not share it? Why not offer another option, another explanation? I trust that people who read blogs are bright enough to figure out what works best for themselves. I’m just sharing what I learned.

        I also wanted to add that I stopped taking Core Fusion over a year ago, in November 2010. I spent a year really trying to figure out what works best for me, and I didn’t jump from praising one trend to praising another. Ultimately, I could not make Core Fusion work for me anymore and decided a year later that I should probably share my experience about why.

  6. Diana
    February 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Dori,
    I appreciate that this post was difficult for you to write, and I appreciate you for being up front about your feelings and changing opinions, but it seems that you are trying to have your cake and eat it too. There are two different issues that you seem to be addressing – that you no longer enjoy barre-style classes and that you don’t think barre-style classes are as effective as Refine. The first is your opinion, and you seem to be falling back on that in your response to Kim. And it’s okay to change your opinion. But you also said (about barre-style classes) “I don’t want to be doing this exercise that I now know to be harmful.” If you think barre-style classes can actually be harmful, and that Refine is more effective, why are you still recommending barre-style classes? Like Kim said, you have been championing barre-style classes all over the internet, and when people have questioned the exercise science behind the methods, you have stood by the method. It’s one thing to promote your opinion of the classes, and another to critique the methodology, especially when you haven’t done any research besides reading blog posts by the boutique founders.

    • Dori
      February 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm (6 years ago)

      That is a good question. I believe them to be harmful based on my own experience and what I learned from the Foundation book I referenced (which cites tons more sources) along with Brynn’s research. However, I would recommend them to others because I still believe that committing to ANY exercise regime is more beneficial then committing to none. The key is finding something you will actually stick with. That said, I do tend to steer people in the direction of Core Fusion Cardio more because I find it to be safer, as well as more beneficial from a cardiovascular standpoint.

  7. Joanna
    February 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing your barre class ups and downs. I think there are always positive things in ones life that can turn negative (a strength can become a weakness). Change is good.
    Joanna´s last blog post ..Indy Mini Training

  8. Rachel Wilkerson
    February 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm (6 years ago)

    First, I love how you are unafraid to admit on your blog when you change your mind about something or when things don’t go according to plan (like your marathon). It’s so hard to admit that something you praised publicly is no longer your thing, whether it’s a workout, a way of eating, or a brand of gear. Kim’s reaction basically shows why a lot of bloggers are afraid to admit this — because they worry that they might not be taken seriously anymore, so they keep promoting something they know to be wrong/harmful/just not them anymore for much longer than they would otherwise. I’m glad you talked about this.

    So! As someone who got into Core Fusion because of your recommendations, I’m not upset reading this post. I don’t feel betrayed. I’m glad you wrote it; it would be irresponsible not to. And I get it. I’ve also loved things that eventually stopped loving me back. Who hasn’t?

    The thing is, I can read this, take it for what it’s worth, and decide what I want to do from here. Just like I read your initial reviews and paused to decide whether or not it was good for me. I am all about bloggers taking responsibility for their actions, but I also feel like it’s a big Internet, and if a reader is thinking about trying something new, but is skeptical about whether or not it’s a good idea, it’s not hard at all to find opposing opinions. It’s not hard to do a little research. It’s not hard to find a trainer or doctor or other certified expert who can give you an expert opinion. While blogs are certainly a good starting point for discovering new types of exercise, I feel like we can’t treat them like the end-all, be-all, most researched scientific journals on exercise. If people want an infallible source for that, a blog just isn’t it. (And honestly, I don’t know what is. Didn’t they just change the goddamn food pyramid??!)
    Rachel Wilkerson´s last blog post ..{the life} Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog

  9. Bryan
    February 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm (6 years ago)

    Dori, you are simultaneously decrying and supporting barre. You move fluidly between subjective (I felt at the time that it was…) and objective (barre needlessly causes pain and injury for inferior results) and blur the meaningful distinction between the two. If the latter is in fact true, then the former is invalidated. Yes, you were originally making pro-barre statements without the knowledge that it’s harmful, but the very nature of posting reviews online means that people will experience those reviews on the exhale site and other places as being still valid today. You seem to be misunderstanding the difference between historical integrity and the effective conveyance of fitness-related advice. You seem to think that people are reading for the former, but they are clearly reading for the latter, and on some level you are aware of this, but back out of it, which you are doing in this post and in your comments.

    • Dori
      February 14, 2012 at 5:41 pm (6 years ago)

      It is true from my experience. But I stand by my reviews about what the classes did for me. I never reviewed the class and said it was the safest workout, I reviewed it and said I loved it because of how it made me feel and the results I saw. That still remains. I strongly believe that any fitness regimen you stick to is better than none at all, and just because I injured myself doesn’t mean I should tell everyone to stop doing this exercise. I wrote this post to explain my reasoning on why I don’t do it anymore.

      Are you suggesting I remove all my content about Core Fusion? I worked hard on that writing and I am proud of it, as I am about the classes I took and teachers I worked with. I’m not telling people not to take the class; I’m telling them why I no longer do.

      • Bryan
        February 14, 2012 at 6:16 pm (6 years ago)

        Yes, I do think that you have a responsibility to take down old reviews, even if you worked hard on them. Why? The following sentence, among others: “I don’t want to be doing this exercise that I now know to be harmful.”

      • Dori
        February 14, 2012 at 6:33 pm (6 years ago)

        That is why I posted a disclaimer on the top of the highly trafficked reviewed that say “Update: I no longer take barre classes religiously. Here’s why,” along with the link here.

        Why not leave the content? Yes, the class proved harmful to me. When I take it, my hip hurts — but not everyone will share that experience. That said, taking down posts is not how I find blogs to work. I see my blog as a chronicle of my experiences, and it changes over time as I do. My old posts reflect that change as a person.

  10. JL
    February 14, 2012 at 6:31 pm (6 years ago)

    I usually love your blog but I have to agree with some of the above comments. I understand how one get grow apart from a certain exercise, but I am bothered that this isn’t just so much why you no longer take bar classes but instead as another endorsement for Refine, under a guise. The same enthusiasm that you wrote all over the blogs and internet for Core Fusion, you now have replaced with Refine and honestly, I don’t think you are, but it comes across as if you’re working for them or getting paid to do this. I understand it’s just a blog and views shouldn’t be taken so seriously, but you know that they do and now your reviews come across as lacking integrity.

    • Dori
      February 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm (6 years ago)

      Hi JL, I know I can be overenthusiastic when I love something. But I didn’t intend for my post to be an endorsement of Refine but rather of that method of exercise — intervals, muscle groups in tandem. That’s why I recommend Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred to people lately who have asked for at home DVDs. The exercises are very similar to what we do at Refine (with the exception of the crunches). I guess I just want people to be able to experience the good that I have from the types of exercise I love. I wish I didn’t injure my hip, but I did and I found a new love.

      I also want to add that Refine was the first class I reviewed for NBC NY, a year ago. The enthusiasm was there then too — before I wrote my reviews on there for the Core Fusion classes. I don’t consider it a replacement as much as a gradual shift.

      As for integrity, I write about what I love and there isn’t much more to it. I loved Core Fusion, I wrote about it. I got injured, I took Refine, I loved Refine, I wrote about it. I consider this a natural progression as a person who learns and grows. What used to work for me doesn’t, and I adapted. When I love something, I apparently love the hell out of it! But I would think that is more a criticism of my personality than my integrity.

      Either way, I am sorry if I upset or disappointed. My intent was to share my reasoning behind the change because I felt it would be dishonest to ignore the change happened at all.

  11. Kim
    February 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm (6 years ago)

    Dori, I’m irked that you’re trying to get out of this by saying it was just YOUR personal injury and it was unsafe just for YOU.

    If you are really saying that barre work just hurt YOU and is not in itself UNSAFE and INEFFECTIVE, then why do you link to a page that includes the following direct quotes:

    1) “rounded back core work can cause lower back pain and injury”
    2) “you can’t choose where you lose fat from by targeting that area with exercises”
    3) “Stretching a muscle does not make it longer”
    4) “High-rep activities burn fewer calories in the same period of time, build less strength and lean muscle beyond the beginner level, place higher stress on your joints and connective tissues, and are generally an inefficient way to lose fat.”
    5) “…at risk for repetitive stress injuries”

    Your post is also full of these criticisms. So don’t say that all you said was just that YOU got hurt. You said a lot more than that — in your post and via your links.

  12. Amber
    February 15, 2012 at 8:34 am (6 years ago)

    Wow, I can only imagine how difficult this post was for you to write! As another someone who got into Core Fusion based almost entirely on this blog, however, I don’t see how you owe anyone anything, nor do I feel betrayed or confused. Yes, you inspired me to try Core Fusion but it is my experience with Core Fusion and exhale that’s kept me going on a regular basis for almost a year and a half now. I too suffered from a hip injury, however, Core Fusion helped me recover (specifically, the same gluteal exercises that caused your injury) while Core Fusion Cardio is something I will probably never do again (at least not anytime soon). I think this serves to illustrate that we all have different bodies with different needs and one should do what’s right for them based on experience consultation with experts – not based on what someone else wrote on the internet. I hope you’ll keep your Core Fusion posts up because they are inspirational and informative, not to mention an integral part of YOUR story, which is what this blog is.

  13. Cameo
    February 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm (6 years ago)

    Thank you for writing this! I have been trying to come up with a way to say the same things on my own blog. I found this post to be incredibly respectful of Core Fusion while being honest and true to yourself. Of course you will encounter opposition…but you did the right thing. This is a blog about your journey, not an endorsement for any one studio and if people took it as such that is their fault, not yours.
    Cameo´s last blog post ..Miracle Skin Transformer WINNER ANNOUNCED!!!

  14. Jen Correa @ Mom's Gotta Run
    February 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm (6 years ago)

    Kudos for your honesty. Isn’t that what blogging is about? Sharing your experiences, thoughts and feelings. You are allowed to learn and grown from your experiences and I appreciate you keeping your readers updated.
    Jen Correa @ Mom’s Gotta Run´s last blog post ..Day of Love and Exhale

  15. Sam @ Mom At The Barre
    February 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm (6 years ago)

    Dori-I commend you for writing this. You always write truthfully and with integrity and that is why I respect you and will continue to read your blog. You moved on from Core Fusion and that’s fine. It worked for you at one time and now it does not. I believe your reviews should stay up because they describe what a class is like and I don’t remember you ever advocating about barre class safety.

    Having said that, I do want to make one point. Yes, barre classes can cause injury. But so can running. And weight training. And yoga, as we learned in the recent NYTimes article. Any type of exercise can cause injury if one is careless, has bad form or overtrains, and so I think that’s important to acknowledge.

    That was my two cents. See you at Refine!
    Sam @ Mom At The Barre´s last blog post .."The Physique 57 Solution" Book Event

  16. Mel
    February 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm (6 years ago)

    Very very interesting and thought-provoking post!

    I wish I could see how my own body fared with a workout like this! Do you know if there’s anything similar in Chicago?

  17. Ellen
    February 15, 2012 at 10:35 pm (6 years ago)

    I have to say that I for one a) love this and b) think people are being ridiculous. Just because you changed your outlook on exercise, doesn’t mean you have to go back and edit your blog or history. It is like taking back a relationship or something just because it doesn’t work for you anymore or right now, doesn’t change anything. (I am not sure that was very articulate)

    I for one now want to try refine, maybe I will check it out soon.

    Thanks for your honesty as always dori, it always keeps me coming back!

  18. Jess
    February 15, 2012 at 10:41 pm (6 years ago)

    We’re all entitled to change our mind about a particular style of workout there’s nothing innately wrong with that.

    I agree with Sam, though. Any form of exercise can cause injury.
    Jess´s last blog post ..10 Week 1/2 Marathon Training Plan

    • Dori
      February 15, 2012 at 10:46 pm (6 years ago)

      I agree too!

      How I felt about CF still stands, just because I changed what I do doesn’t mean I didn’t feel that way at the time. And I stopped taking the class over a year ago and gave it a lot of time to see if I could make it work. I tried, and I couldn’t.

  19. Lindsey @ Eat, Read, Run
    February 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm (6 years ago)

    Really interesting post Dori. I’ve never done either, but it does sound like Refine is the best bet for you. I have just started getting into Yoga. Maybe I will venture even further someday and try Refine. But as always, my marathon training always seems to steal most of my time.

  20. Sara
    February 16, 2012 at 3:45 pm (6 years ago)

    So the people leaving angry comments are insinuating people have to pick one workout and stick with it for the rest of their lives even if it stresses/perpetuates an injury? That seems incredibly counter intuitive. I recognize the value in (which Dori did) posting a disclaimer on why SHE no longer participates in those workouts (in case someone has a similar injury and could be helped by that insight/warning), but I find it sad that people choose to spend time criticizing honesty. The blog world could use a little more openness and honesty, and if you feel “personally” offended by Dori’s exercise choices, you should seek intensive counseling to uncover why it is so upsetting to you. Sorry, I’m not sorry. Finally, if you don’t like something, don’t read. I enjoy blogs like Dori’s for the variety of exercise experiences/information etc. I have had the same experiences, being super gung-ho about one workout and then moving on (not due to injury, but due to a thing I like to call “choice” or “free will”) and I don’t think that makes me a bad person. Actually, I know it doesn’t.

  21. Chika
    February 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm (6 years ago)

    Dori, as someone who is still struggling to find her favorite exercise routine, I commend you. Your enthusiasm for different workouts, and your bravery in sharing the good, the bad and the ugly about what you’ve experienced has been such an inspiration for me. Without your challenge two years ago, I would never have found an exercise routine that helped me lose 50 pounds in 2010! Even as I read your posts about core fusion and core fusion advanced, the fact that I way preferred core fusion sport (that you never liked) never weakened any of your opinions. It seems like some of your readers feel like your passion for certain experiences should be unwavering, which is just not human nature. Clearly your passion for what you experience is what motivates readers, so I hope you don’t feel as though you need to modify anything you do on your blog to satisfy a tiny angry mob.

    Just as some exhale leaders who have railed against running didn’t turn on you for your long distance running aspirations, I have to believe that they will understand that your moving on from the barre. Rational people would have to understand that people evolve, and that your experience is just that — your own.

  22. Julie
    February 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Dori, I was just wondering if you only do Refine and running now or are there other workouts that you do as well? Thanks!

  23. Bianca Jade of MizzFIT
    February 18, 2012 at 8:32 pm (6 years ago)

    Well well well, Dori, you’ve sparked some controversy I see. And I have to be honest, I LOVE IT! I could yell at all the people who’ve challenged you here since I adore you, but that’s silly…so I won’t. I’ll just add a rambling of my 2 cents.

    My site, is no stranger to Barre Fitness:

    When the above article was written, I was a loyal Physique57-er and to this day enjoy trying out all kinds of barre workouts (traditional and new). But after about a year of going 2x/week to advanced barre classes,
    I started to feel “bad things” happening to my knees. I’m talking “popping” sensations and extreme pain that wasn’t in line with the usual “burn” I was used to in class. When bad stuff happens or pain (that isn’t addicting in an endorphin-releasing kind of way), I make a shift. I still go to Phy57 but it’s more of an every-3-months-kind-of-thing now. Going regularly to intermediate/advanced classes was killing my knee. And for what I do (yes, MizzFIT is my full-time gig), I need happy & healthy knees.

    The point I’m making is that some workouts just don’t jive with your body. This could be because of how your body is built, the range of motion you might or might not have, or simply because you can’t wrap your head around the workout. The mind/visualization connection is crucial to your fit-performance.

    Every time my knee cursed in pain at me during a tough barre move, I became distracted. I worried that my knee was broken (don’t laugh), that I may not be able to run again (my true fitness passion), or that I wanted my $$$ back for class (because the pain was not worth the cash I had just spent). A ton of things crossed my mind–and before I knew it, I was just a zombie going through the motions in class. And that’s when I knew, it was time to make a shift. I didn’t give Barre Fitness up, I just stopped going 2x/week. My knee issues went away.

    To all the haters of this blog post: Dori has simply made a shift. Core Fusion barre workouts stopped working for her. The poor girl even tried to hang on, like a timid lover who yearns to leave a soured relationship but feels obliged to carry on. Give her some credit. And big F-ing deal, people change! If it weren’t for change, we’d still be doing Jane Fonda workouts with crimped hair and leotards up our butts. What Dori is encouraging everyone here to do is to try The Refine Method! Is that such a big deal? How can you knock something you haven’t tried? I’ve tried the workout and it’s great!

    I’ve also tried Figure4 at Pure Yoga NYC and loved it. But to Dori’s credit, The Refine Method kicked my ass without making me want any moment of it to go away (as you know we all do in barre-fitness classes). Comparing The Refine Method to Barre Fitness is like comparing apples to oranges because they’re SO different from one another. And that’s probably why Dori is in 7th heaven. She’s enjoying the change and the new results she’s seeing.

    Change should always be a part of your fitness routine. Mixing up your workouts is crucial to seeing physical results. You should never know what’s coming next in your workout class. If you’ve memorized the moves and become a pro in class then guess what? It’s time to move on! It should always be hard…challenging…different…eye-opening…etc.

    I’ve rambled enough here and for the record, I’m not hating on Barre Fitness. I’m just saying we all can’t be full-time barre girlzz. I love the Barre. Right now I’m actually loving Pole Dancing Fitness but even with that, there are some drawbacks like “pole burn”. And it might affect how far I actually go with Pole Dancing. You’ve gotta choose your pain or abandon it. Kudos to Dori for finding a workout that empowers her and makes her feel sexy enough to hang with her boyfriend and not worry about working out 24/7. We should all be so lucky!

    Thanks for reading my ramblings and please visit my site if you dig fitness fashion & trends (

    Peace. -MizzFIT

  24. Karyn
    February 24, 2012 at 8:18 am (6 years ago)

    Thank you for writing this post. I appreaciate your honesty about giving up a particular training method. I too have been feeling the same way about CrossFit. Maybe I will have the courage to document that on my blog once I formulate my thoughts around it. Your post has helped me think more about my feelings toward quitting something I used to really enjoy.
    Thanks again!

  25. Kaye Beeh
    March 3, 2012 at 8:28 am (6 years ago)

    I really admire you, no backlash because you inspired me for my workouts and always talk to me over twitter sometimes.

    People’s feelings change overtime nothing is forever, you are entitled to do so. You have to make sure you do what you think is best for yourself and sometimes you have to scale back and take a step back to enjoy life, not only getting results but enjoying you.

    Thank you for being real :)
    Kaye Beeh´s last blog post ..Band Of Outsiders Fall 2011 Lookbook

  26. Kathleen Ivany
    March 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm (6 years ago)

    Change is always good. Usually that is all you need to see results, change up your workout totally and get yourself motivated and excited with the results.

    That also applies to your diet….who says good nutrition needs to be boring!

  27. Mari
    March 6, 2012 at 8:38 pm (6 years ago)

    Hey everyone, let’s remember that doing ANYthing repeatedly for too long will cause stagnation, reach a plateau and with too much repetition, can cause harm or injury. This applies to exercise and SO much more. For Dori, this happened with barre/ Core Fusion. Doesn’t mean it didn’t work for awhile there….

    I understand some of these angry / disappointed comments, but if anyone reads Dori’s review on the exhale site and is inspired to actually sign up, everything from the first class on, is UP TO THEM.

  28. Amy Perkins
    April 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Dori,

    Well, reading your blog has helped to make me feel loads better. I too had to give up barre workouts. They were over stressing my knees and really irritating my sciatica. I was very depressed about this and am still in fear that I am going to lose all of my results but the pain isn’t worth it. I am still in search of something that I can do that I will love.

    Thanks for posting this blog.


    • hope
      April 10, 2014 at 10:37 am (4 years ago)

      I have had to quit pure barre for example t same reason, sciatica.
      What do u do now?
      Pure barre did change my life….I was excited to exercise…bored with walking and trying to stay fit on my own.
      I do not know why pure barre does not develop a milder form and offer 3 times a week.
      I am 53….but repetition and going from one exercise to another without properly stretching creates the injuries….but I love the method….which class was milder.

      So tell me what alternative did u find?

  29. Kiki
    May 25, 2013 at 9:39 am (5 years ago)

    I am thankful for this post. i have been doing bar method classes for 2 months and my back hurts so bad i can hardly stand for long periods of time. i am quitting now and i thought i was the only one with this pain. it started in bar class during seat work on the bar. i’m going back to yoga!

  30. Stephanie Nieman
    July 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm (5 years ago)

    Interesting read, Dori. Thank you for sharing.

  31. Jakki
    December 31, 2013 at 7:52 pm (4 years ago)

    Thanks for posting this! I love barre and have felt results, but have been only doing it once / twice a week max. After doing research online I saw that many studios and individuals said that they needed to go 4-5 times a week. This article gave me perspective that I need to stick with what I am comfortable with and that getting slower results from only going 1 – 2 times a week might be better then pushing it and possibly injuring myself. Thanks!

  32. kathy
    January 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm (4 years ago)

    I took classical ballet for 21 years, and taught it. Barre class is nothing like ballet class, and any time they tout that you will have a “ballet body” from it, I am all at once humored and offended at the incredibly false sales pitch. If you’re not using the proper technique in ballet, you can do the same supposed “ballet steps” for years and not grow much stronger, and DEFINITELY not ever develop a fit and trim body. Believe me, I saw girls who danced for 15 years who weren’t good or just weren’t taught the proper technique and they were more out of shape and far weaker. In the first set of plie’s, a person with proper technique will be sweating and a person without will not be, bc they’re not properly working all the muscle groups.

    with that said, if you want proper technique, you have to take a REAL ballet class from an experienced ballet instructor, not a “fake” ballet class or even a ballet class at a studio where the instructors specialize more in other types of dance and are weak on technique.

    Also, the ONLY people who had ballet bodies were those who were 1. built a certain way to begin with; 2. were taught the proper technique since they were children; and 3. did ballet for many hours, many years.

    Additionally, if youre not turning out properly, among other things, youre not only not getting the actual ballet workout, youre risking great injury to hips and knees. I cringe when I see pictures or videos of the stuff they have people doing in these classes. I went once to try it and will never go again. I hope soon people realize it is a gimmick and not safe.

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  42. dede
    April 2, 2016 at 2:37 pm (2 years ago)

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing these posts. I have been going to Figure Four at Pure Yoga since it started. At first, it was an excellent workout. However, after a year, I started experiencing hip and shoulder pain. Then my wrists began to ache. I spoke to several F4 instructors, and they said I need to work on my “form.” The funny thing is, during many of the classes I attended the first year, those same instructors would compliment my “perfect form,” their words not mine, during class. So I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a labral tear in my hip and was at risk of developing carpal tunnel in both hands. FYI, the latter was caused by my super tight shoulders and upper back muscles (specifically knots that developed around my first rib from the endless free weight reps from class.) So I went to physical therapy, and they told me to continue going to barre. The therapist said, “it’s the best exercise program ever!” The PT also gave me a list of stretches to do that would “resolve” my issues. So I kept going to barre class until the pain became unbearable. I went back to the PT, and she said I should take a break for a month, and when I felt better to go back to the class, and she gave me five additional stretches to do at home. This pattern repeated for years. I kept going to class because I thought my physical issues would work themselves out EVENTUALLY. I kept thinking I AM DOING SOMETHING WRONG–it is not the class–it is me– I just need to fine-tune my form, or get weekly massages…Today after feeling great for two months, my hip starting to ache during barre class. I felt defeated. I GOOGLED when I got home and found your posts. Now I felt elated. It is not just me. I am never going back to barre again. I am going to try REFINE. Again THANK YOU

    • Ann
      August 5, 2017 at 9:57 am (7 months ago)

      Similar experience to you, Dede. I did Barre3 for years and ended up having hip arthroscopy (due to more demanding sports and injuries, mostly). However, after recovering from surgery 3 years ago, I have been doing PureBarre the past year and feel like I now need another hip surgery. No more barre for me. My last PB instructor was a hair stylist that just switched to being a PB instructor. After telling her about my surgeries, she criticized me in class for not straightening my leg and turning my hip out. Many of these instructors (perhaps not all) are poorly trained and know nothing about anatomy and can hurt you. Barre3 Instructors would pull my leg straight and rotate my hip to painful positions. Desperately looking for a new group exercise class, any recommendations?

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4Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Breaking Up with the Barre

  1. […] courage for her to write the article and the resounding opposition blew me away.  (Just read the comments to see what I […]

  2. […] WritingContact A Follow-Up Written by DoriPosted February 21, 2012 at 7:25 amWhen I published my post last week, I expected some backlash, but I can honestly say I did not expect the anger. I really don’t […]

  3. […] I have a lot to say, especially after the backlash I received when after taking Refine for a year, I posted about what led me to stop taking Core Fusion and do Refine instead — particularly the insistence […]

  4. […] [Refine instructors demonstrating exercises on boxes.]You might remember when I admitted that I broke up with the barre  after a 10-month long relationship. The main reason was that I got a permanent injury from the […]

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