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Having a ‘Brawl’ at The Barre Code

I returned to the Design District studio to try its kickboxing class.
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The Barre Code
The Barre Code in the Design District. Catherine Wendlandt

It’s generally not a good idea to take a high-energy class like, say, kickboxing, on four hours of sleep and after working a full day. But not too long ago, that’s exactly what I did. 

A while back, I did a barre workout at The Barre Code. When I was booking the class, I got three free classes as part of the studio’s new client special. So, I signed up for the studio’s “brawl” kickboxing class. I liked a boxing class I had taken before, and I hoped this would be similar. Day of, I was nervous, though, with how tired I was and how it would all go. I drove to the Design District, yawning and anxious. 

When I got there, the class was packed—I was waitlisted when I first signed up—and filled mostly with studio regulars. We had assigned stations on the bar, like in the barre class, but we spent most of the session in the middle of the room. 

The instructor started the class by teaching us the various moves—i.e., jab, hook, and block—plus a few kicks and leg swivels. Then, starting on our right side, she led us through the first combination. Like dancing, everything was in eight-counts, which helped me keep pace and memorize the moves. 

We did a lot of jumping jacks in the various combos, then transitioned to punches and dodges. We did high-low punches, side-kicks, jabs, and more. (As a note: the only thing we were punching was air, but we definitely pummeled it.) The instructor would teach us a combination or two, and we’d do many repetitions. Once we got the hang of an eight-count, she’d teach us a new combination and string it together with the previous ones. In total, we learned probably six-to-eight eight-counts. While I stumbled a little through them as we practiced them, they all felt manageable to learn in one session. 

The class was high-energy, which did not mix well with how sleepy I was. But a quick look at the rest of the class in the mirror showed me that people had varying degrees of energy levels—and all were accepted by the instructor. 

After 20-ish minutes of kickboxing, right when my heart was pounding and I was wondering if I might collapse, we moved to the barre. The break in punching wasn’t unwelcome. The barre work allowed us to catch our breath, slow our heartrates, and get some strength work in. We did wall pushups and curtsy lunges into passes. As a former ballet dancer, I loved these. We also held our legs out behind us and raised and lowered them slightly. This was surprisingly hard, and I felt my body and my glute rebelling and protesting. Then, we stretched it out then switched to the other side.

For the last third of the class, we returned to the center for more kickboxing. We did the same routine but faced the left. I was surprised by how awkward I felt. I thought this side would be a piece of cake because we had already learned all the moves. But, because I was so used to the other side, it was harder for my brain and muscle memory to reverse the combinations. This side also felt faster than before—probably because we already knew the combinations and I was so tired—and I fumbled through it more than the first part of class. 

The class ended with high-kneed jogging in place and stretching at the barre. I enjoyed moving through an exercise class where I didn’t have to be perfect or work with weights or handle heavy equipment. All I needed was myself and my own will power (and maybe more sleep) to make it through. 

Final Thoughts


This class was in the same cushioned-floor dance studio as before, which made all the jumping easier. My class was filled with what appeared to be regulars, who were all chatting with one another before and after. Outside the dance studio, there was a progress poster for a challenge the studio was doing. Members could put stickers up for how many classes they’d had taken during the challenge. There’s a community atmosphere here, and it’s nice. 


I wouldn’t call this class difficult—we didn’t have to work with any equipment or machines to participate—but it’s hard in its own way. Like I said, the class is very high energy and fast. You’re moving pretty much nonstop and need to be ready for it. 


Like my first Barre Code class, the instructor didn’t ask us if we had any injuries. If you’re disabled, this is a place where you need to advocate for yourself. However, my instructor did offer plenty of modifications throughout, like trading a jumping jack with a toe touch, which I appreciated. There also wasn’t pressure to keep up or have perfect form—we just did what we could, and that was perfectly fine. 

The Cost of It All

I recommend taking advantage of The Barre Code’s three free classes introductory offer or one of its free weekend community classes. After that, a single class is $25. Class packs start at $110 for five sessions and four-class monthly memberships begin at $69. 

Would I Go Back?

Yes, I did all three intro classes. 


Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…

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