Get excited, wannabe figure skaters
When I was growing up, the highlight of the winter Olympics was always the figure skating. I loved the music, the costumes, the grace, and, of course, the gravity-defying jumps, which I would "practice" in socks and a nightgown on my living room rug. Sure, it wasn't quite the same thing as being on ice, but in my mind I was completing a flawless triple Salchow that would bring the crowd to their feet.
I never found much personal success in the rink, but I still find watching Olympic performances magical. I've come to respect skaters not only for their beautiful, balletic movements, but also for their strength and endurance as they jump, spin, and glide through their four-minute long programs. (P.S. Figure skating is one of the winter sports that torches the most calories.)
Figure skating has long been a sport that's hard to access as a beginner, especially when you're an adult. You might get on the rink once or twice a year around the holidays, but that's probably about it. It's not like cyclists who can get their fix at spin, ballerina lovers who can head to barre, or Missy Franklin fans who can hit the pool.
But that's about to change, thanks to none other than Tara Lipinski, who stunned the world when she won Olympic gold in ladies' skating singles at 15 years old during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. This past month, Lipinski launched Gold Barre at Equinox, a class that brings elements of an on-ice figure skating routine to the studio.
After she went pro, Lipinski spent years switching from one workout fad to another, constantly searching for something that reflected the challenges of her Olympics training. Barre finally felt like a better fit. (Try our At-Home Barre Workout.)
"It was the first time that I really noticed results, but I felt that there were still things you get on ice that you don't get in a normal barre class," Lipinski says. "Barre is great at targeting small muscles, but I wasn't getting a full cardio workout."
The Olympian approached Equinox with the idea for an ice skating-inspired barre class. The result of those conversations is a 45- to 55-minute class that mimics the sequencing of a skating routine.
First up is a twelve-minute warmup at the barre where you'll do a series of graceful, dynamic moves. Then it's time to hit the ice, so to speak. Everyone goes to the center of the room, takes a pair of gliding discs, and goes through a series of stroking and footwork exercises. That's followed by spins at the barre (you wrap a yoga strap around the barre for help with balance), a jumping sequence in the center of the room, a brief thirty seconds of active recovery, and a final jumping sequence.
"By the time a skater gets to her first jump in her program, her legs are already fatigued," says Nicole De Anda, Equinox's National Barre Manager. "That's what we designed this program to feel like. After all of the warmup, the stroking, and the footwork, when you finally get to the jumping sequence, your legs are tired."
That's what makes a skating-inspired barre class the ultimate workout. While traditional barre classes focus primarily on strength, Gold Barre's skating elements challenge your cardiovascular and muscular endurance, De Anda says.
Your butt will thank you for it.
"Compare a ballerina's booty to an ice skater's booty," De Anda says. "This class gives you an ice skater's booty, which is still strong and toned, just like a ballerina's, but has more curviness." (You should still try the The Butt Workout a Professional Ballerina Swears By)
Adds Lipinski, "Skaters are definitely known for that and I never thought twice about it, but when I get on the ice now my glutes are definitely burning."
Don't expect your traditional barre soundtrack, either. Gold Barre is set to instrumental music, the kind that would accompany a skater in her routine, but with undertones of EDM and hip-hop to give it an edge.
The class launched first at select Equinox locations in California and will be followed by locations in New York City, Boston, and more beginning in April.
While, I may never get to the Olympics, at least now I have a place to get my fill of spins and jumps. Join me on the "ice"?