Total Barre Mix of Dance & Cardio Kicks Dancer’s Bias to Curb

by Leslie Braverman on April 2, 2015

Holly Shaw, brand new STOTT PILATES Instructor Trainer at PNWP and professional dancer, sent this guest blog from Toronto, where she’s training to teach Total BarreTM — a marvelous mix of Pilates, dance, cardio and strength training.  She was impressed at the new skills and mind-body connections she found in this joyful and challenging class and recommends her peers consider our workshops to discover it too. 

Taking Pilates to the Barre

I’ve studied STOTT PILATES® for some time, so checking out Merrithew Health & Fitness’ main stomping grounds in Toronto was high on my personal to-do list.  I was recently certified as an Instructor Trainer, and jumped at the chance to hit the company’s HQ to take a Total Barre™ Foundations course, the Total Barre Instructor Trainer course, and the STOTT PILATES matwork and reformer Instructor Trainer course.


Toronto’s CN Tower

Total Barre and Me

I was a bit skeptical as I began, but I ended up leaving with a smile on my face, confident that Total Barre is something that clients at Pacific Northwest Pilates will have a lot of fun with. It is creative, fun, challenging, and very effective. And it is so much more than dance at the barre.

As a professional dancer, I initially thought certain of the beginning ballet step names were “cute” and somewhat comical. However, I turned off my dancer brain, engaged my STOTT PILATES-trained mind, and did the move the way it is designed. Boy, did I feel the work!


Our small group reflects the international appeal of Pilates: Russia, Australia, Canada and U.S.

Certain steps in ballet should be performed in a specific way for fluidity and artistry. But I discovered that by changing them slightly, I was challenged to new levels of strength and endurance. A charming “curtsy” transformed into a “curtsy squat” made me feel the burn. I may have smiled when I first saw the name “curtsy squat,” but after I did it in sequence I realized that a curtsy squat is no joke. My buns and legs were sore!

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You can see us—in the back of the room—reflected in the mirror. I thought you might like to see how the Total Barre Foundations course room looks.

The Way Total Barre Works

Total Barre is made up of movement segments set to specific music. Participants need to know the music and the exercise segment inside and out in order to be on the proper timing. There are specific count transitions to and from certain moves, so my brain was completely engaged by the need to count the music and keep track of repetitions of each exercise.

It’s not just about doing the moves correctly, but about doing the moves properly within a specific number of counts and at each musical selection’s particular pace. Total Barre takes the Pilates “mind-body connection” to another level than what most people are used to—and challenged this professional dancer and Pilates instructor to new levels!

It made me think about how teaching techniques to connect the moves in a logical, effective way to my Portland clients.  Pilates teachers, you too can discover the benefits of this training in April, when STOTT PILATES Master Instructor Kim Kraushar leads Total Barre workshops that will appeal to beginners and more advanced students.

I’m Bringing Total Barre to PNWP during Pilates Week

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce Total Barre to clients and new friends during Pilates Week 2015. That’s the week that we invite our clients and new friends to experience Pilates at PNWP.

Please join me to see what Total Barre is about. I know it will make you sore and happy. Or happily sore—just like me.

Pacific NW Pilates is studio, school and fitness family under one roof. Click to learn more about our education courses and workshops, private studio sessions and group classes. Or call for details: (503) 292-4409.


100000031_largeHolly Shaw is a STOTT PILATES® certified instructor, and dances professionally with Portland’s BodyVox. Holly consistently used Pilates as a form of cross training while dancing with the Sacramento Ballet, Utah Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Bouand Dance Company, and BodyVox. She has performed internationally in Japan, South Korea, and Germany. University of Utah BFA in Ballet. Holly is eager to help others establish a regular fitness routine and to help build core strength and control for a stronger, more comfortable lifestyle.

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