Arts & Culture

Yoga studio chain Barre and Soul comes to Wayland Square

‘Barre and Soul’ to open fifth studio in December, combines physical, mental wellness training

By
Staff Writer
Thursday, November 3, 2016

This December, students looking for an alternative to the typical Nelson Fitness Center grind will have the opportunity to take a quick trip down to Wayland Square to check out Barre and Soul.

The barre and yoga studio in Providence is the fifth in a chain of outlets founded and owned by Andrea Isabelle Lucas. The facilities are unique in that they combine barre — a low-impact, endurance based strength training activity — with yoga.

While the studios also offer regular yoga, the Barre and Soul classes Lucas teaches combine the intensity and strength of barre with more stretch- and relaxation-based yoga influences.

In Barre and Soul classes, students use interval training to focus on individual isolated muscle groups for short bursts of time followed by a period of stretching. Because barre focuses on using body weight to fatigue the muscle groups, it’s a low-impact and sustainable form of exercise, Lucas said.

This typically intense barre workout is combined with elements borrowed from yoga, such as an end-of-session shavasana and yoga arm balances.

“It’s safe for the body, and yet it’s incredibly challenging, and it’s very results oriented,” Lucas said. She added that people feel rejuvenation in their bodies after attending class at least three times a week for two weeks and witness change in their bodies after a month.

Barre and Soul is also committed to ensuring clients receive both the physical and psychological benefits of exercise.

Lucas herself became involved with barre as a way to cope while undergoing a divorce and recovering from domestic violence.

“Barre was a source of healing for me because I was building physical strength, but I was also getting the therapeutic benefits as well,” Lucas said.

After falling in love with the method, Lucas became a barre teacher as a way to work her way through a women’s studies degree at Lesley University. She had originally planned to work as a teacher temporarily before receiving her PhD and becoming a women’s studies professor, but after completing her bachelor’s degree, she found herself deeply attached to barre. She saw the barre studio as a place for her to pair her passions for fitness and feminist values.

“I realized I could really bring women’s studies to bear on the students that I reach as a barre teacher,” Lucas said.

At her own Barre and Soul studios, Lucas works to blend not only her love for yoga with her love for barre but also this physical form of female empowerment with her commitment to feminism. Each instructor is encouraged to provide inspiration and support through reading motivational quotes and sharing their personal experiences with the class. None of Lucas’ studios have mirrors, which Lucas says helps to foster a community focused on “positive body image” rather than an “environment of comparison or body shaming.”

“When you have the students there for an hour, you can give them a workout, but you can give them so much more than that,” Lucas said. “You can give them a feeling of belonging to a community. You can give them validation.”

While the Providence facility is still undergoing construction, Lucas said she plans to open it sometime in December.