“Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.” Red faced and dripping sweat, I clenched my thighs together, cursing the tiny rubber ball wedged between my legs. “Now squeeze and squat. Squeeze and squat,” intoned the cheerful instructor, gracefully demonstrating the plié. I gripped the wooden ballet barre with white knuckles, quads burning and shaking. Barre is not for the faint of heart. 

To experience this challenge, head over to Tuck Barre & Yoga, the latest barre and yoga studio in University City, located at 34th and Lancaster. Founded by Callie Kim, a Penn Law alumna, Tuck offers three types of yoga, various barre classes and meditation sessions. With one location in Point Breeze, Tuck officially opened their second University City studio in mid–April. This week I went to check out their University City classes. 

Barre is a trendy full–body ballet–inspired workout that promises to tone your arms, legs and abs. The workout consists of performing small pulsing movements using your body weight and dumbbells and holding ballet positions to “feel the burn.” As a self–proclaimed Pottruck addict, I was pretty skeptical of barre, preferring weight training and running to fad fitness classes that I thought would have no real effect. Oh boy, was I wrong...

Courtesy of Tuck Barre and Yoga

On Monday at 10:30 a.m., I showed up for my first class, “Break a Sweat Barre,” with my equally unsuspecting friend. It was just the two of us and the instructor, a friendly, perfectly toned, legging–clad woman named Kate. I wanted to be Kate. Little did I know the pain she was about to put me through. 

We set up at the ballet barre, each with a mat, red rubber ball, and a set of two pound dumbbells. I felt a little ridiculous holding these tiny weights—would they really do anything? To start, Kate led us through a a dynamic warm–up with squats and ballet positions. Then we picked up the dumbbells and started to simultaneously squat and curl. After 100 reps, those two pound dumbbells were like lead weights in my hands. My biceps, triceps and shoulders were on fire and I could barely raise them to chest height. 

Next, we put the rubber ball between our thighs. Gripping the ballet bar, we began to squeeze while doing pliés. My quads were shaking. I hated that ball with a passion. Our workout concluded on the mat with a five–minute plank series that left my arms and abs burning. At the end of the 45–minute workout, I was out of breath and true to the class's name, drenched in sweat. But I was also refreshed and ready to return.

On Sunday at 11 a.m. I tried “Core Barre,” which was packed. I snagged a mat near the front, and grabbed my two pound weights, well aware that I could not handle even three or four pound ones. Core Barre was ab–focused so we worked for the majority of the time on the mat. We also did some difficult hamstring presses on the barre—my feet were in the air, back on the mat, and I wanted to quit the entire time. 

Take this class if only for the instructor, Callie K. The owner of Tuck, a Penn Law alumni, full–time attorney and barre instructor, Callie K is a hilarious, unfiltered badass. She had me grinning widely even as my arms and legs were trembling in pain. 

Courtesy of Tuck Barre and Yoga

Overall, Tuck Barre & Yoga offers a challenging, unique workout that I can’t reproduce on my own. After doing barre, I realized that my abs aren't as strong as they could be. The workout targets your entire core, including your upper and lower abs and obliques. There's no time to lie on your back like you might while working out on your own in Pottruck, sneakily checking your phone and calling it quits after a couple half–hearted crunches. 

Tuck offers a student discount starting at $18 for a drop in. While the fees are steeper than Pottruck's classes, the price beats some Center City alternatives.

Offering over 40 classes per week, it’s not too difficult to find ones to fit your schedule. The studio also offers three variation of yoga: Yin, Buti and Vinyasa. I have yet to try the yoga classes but Buti yoga, a fast–paced, strength–based class set to music, looks intriguing. 

On September 15, Tuck and Barre will be hosting a Yoga with Pigs class at their Point Breeze studio. So far, it's completely booked, but keep an eye out for future openings!