NOT "JUST ANOTHER BARRE CLASS"
Barre classes are everywhere these days, even in small-town High Bridge, New Jersey. There are a ton of barre brands, franchised studios and exercise routines that all have roots from one woman: Lotte Berk.
In the 1950s, Lotte Berk, a modern ballet dancer with a back injury, worked with an osteopath to develop exercises that would heal her body. Convinced that she should share her technique with others, Lotte opened a studio in London and quickly became one of Britain’s most recognizable names.
In the 1960s, the first barre class using Lotte’s name was brought to the U.S. Over time Lotte’s original moves were lost, her technique was watered down and props were added. New studios began to base exercises off of Lotte’s original technique but none stayed true to her original moves.
Though Lotte is no longer around, her moves and her legacy have not faded. She trained her daughter, Esther Fairfax, who has preserved the original technique and, at 84, continues to teach classes three days a week. Esther has in the last few years given a handful of women the blessing to carry her mother’s technique around the globe.
After three years of holding onto the original moves she learned directly from Esther, Kelly Wackerman of LA’s theLONDONmethod™ has allowed Favored Life Fitness Owner Rachael McKee to become the first person outside of the LA studio to train in the ORIGINAL class.
“This is not a ballet class,” Rachael wants everyone to know. “Yes, Lotte was a ballet dancer, but she developed this technique as a way to heal her body. Legs are not flying in the air; almost every movement is small. We work every muscle one inch at a time. What I love most about the class, however, is the community the class builds and the fun we all have while we move. Exercising should be joyful, not dreadful, and this technique truly is a joy.”
The class focuses on form more than anything. Muscles are conditioned over time, so the ORIGINAL class is meant to be a long-term class, not a drop-in workout. “Some segments only have a few moves, so it is great to be able to watch people improve over time - stretch a little longer, elevate the body just a little higher or curve the spine a little more forward.”
The class does not use props like balls, weights or bands. Participants can expect to use the barre for support, use blankets to cushion the back or knees during floor work segments and to use the body for all of the hard work. Grip socks are required for each class.
“This is not ‘just another barre class,’” Rachael says. “This is THE barre class - the ORIGINAL technique that Lotte Berk created, Esther Fairfax preserved and Kelly Wackerman branded with so much love and respect for the work of art that is this technique.”
"It’s not just a work out; it’s a work of art!”
- Kelly Wackerman, Owner, theLONDONmethod™