At The Barre

The barre workout craze has made its way to Jamestown, and it is becoming increasingly popular among area residents.

After two successful seasons of hosting barre exercise classes, the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet will continue to offer the program through the winter season. Classes are held once a week for an hour at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, and will begin on Sept. 14.

Barre, which is based on basic components of ballet and incorporates elements of yoga and pilates, offers fans of the group exercise model the opportunity to work some grace and discipline into their routine.

According to Elizabeth Bush, executive director for the CRYB, the class is becoming a new craze for exercise enthusiasts in large cities nationwide. Part of the appeal, she said, is that the one-hour classes are a great workout for men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes.

“You don’t have to be a dancer, and it’s very accessible to all levels,” Bush said.

The benefits, Bush continued, range from alignment and flexibility, to core strengthening and balance.

“It’s a nice mix that touches on a lot of things people want,” Bush said. “Unlike a lot of exercise classes, it’s also relaxing because you listen to classical music. I’ve taken the class myself, and it destresses you. I love ballet, so I love taking a class that has beautiful music, and develops your grace a little too. Grace isn’t normally part of an exercise program, so besides being stronger and flexible, you carry yourself differently – a little bit of an allure.”

Participants who walkin pay $10 per open class. A $75 card for a total of 10 classes is also available. Registration for classes is not required. For more information call 664-9766, visit or search for “Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet” on Facebook.


The instructor for the class, Melody Overend, of Falconer, created the class to continue participating in a program which she was involved with as a child.

While a young girl, Overend said she studied dance full-time. Today, in addition to teaching the class to adults, she also works with the program’s youth.

When the class first started last winter, the room wasn’t nearly as full each week as it is now. However, interest had steadily grown, and new faces have begun showing up each week.

“Its encouraging because more and more people are getting back into the health aspect of it – while still having fun,” Overend said. “A lot of people want to do dance or ballet, and this is their opportunity to get into the studio, and still get a workout.”

On average, the class usually has between 10-20 participants, which is a number Overend said she feels comfortable with, but she also feels as if another 10 wouldn’t make it too crowded. Having small classes allows Overend to offer personalized instruction and encouragement, while still challenging the group as a whole.


According to Gina Gerace, of Jamestown, participating in the class is particularly fun because of the interaction with like-minded women.

“I love being here with other women for the same purpose – flexibility, poise and no pressure,” Gerace said. “It’s a different kind of exercise to feel good about. My main exercise is running, and this is completely different for me – I enjoy it a lot.”

Sandi Dohl, an over-50 resident of Falconer, opted to join the classes because she was training for a 5k. Dohl has a desk job, and said she feels she lost her energy and flexibility.

“I started doing this class with Melody, and what has really been helped is my discipline,” Dohl said. “I leave here and I feel more energetic. The discipline of holding your stomach in, and your back straight, really affects you. I’ve actually lost 13 pounds since I started working out. It’s helped me stay with it because I feel good overall.”

According to Bush, barre classes are recommended for older adults who are seeking exercise with an emphasis on balance. Which is part of the reason Jennifer Pierce, of Jamestown, signed up for the class.

“I took ballet as a child, which was many years ago, but then when I met Monika (Alch, CRYB artistic director) at a fundraiser she told me about these classes – I was thrilled,” Pierce said. “I’m not a ballet body-type person, but both Melody and Monika are wonderful at treating you well and giving you individual attention. It is fun being with other women, and some young men, and dancing together – it’s a joy and I feel great afterward.”