5.24.2010

Raising the barre on fitness

There’s a ballet barre at the new fitness studio in town, but you won’t find ballerinas in tutus clamoring around it.

However, the barre is central to the classes that will be taught when the Barre Strength studio opens June 1. The 60-minute workout program is a fusion of isometric exercises and interval training that relies on the principles of ballet conditioning, yoga and pilates. Mats, stretching bands, balls and weights are used.

The studio is owned by Connie Crane, who grew up in Stillwater and attended Skidmore College and Green Mountain College before moving to New York City, where she worked for years as a lobbyist.

Crane turned to exercise to relieve stress from juggling her demanding job and motherhood. When a serious illness forced her to put her high-pressure, fast-paced life on hold, working out became even more crucial to her health, so Crane practiced yoga and pilates to help her recuperate.

“If I ever get better, I’ll start a fitness business,” Crane told her friends.

After exploring different fitness styles and classes, Crane went to Pure Barre Studio while visiting a friend in Kentucky and fell in love with a fitness method that used the ballet barre and a combination of aerobics, yoga, pilates, stretching and weight-lifting.

Crane returned home to New York and sought out Andrea Fornarola, owner and operator of Elements Fitness and Dance LLC, and asked her to design a similar program.

Several years later, the petite 54-year-old businesswoman, who now makes her home in Loudonville, is opening her own studio — the next chapter in her life, she says — on the second floor at 468 Broadway, above Max London’s.

“The Barre Strength Studio is for women and men who need a place to go where you feel you can be yourself and feel comfortable,” Crane said.

While she’ll be managing the business rather than teaching classes herself, Crane has hired a growing roster of local women who’ve been certified to teach the fitness program.

“It combines all the classics,” she said. “It’s everything you’ve always done in a one-shot workout.”

Group classes start at $17 for adults and $10 for students. Packages and private sessions are also available. A free class will be offered at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 25.

A grand opening event is planned for 7 p.m. June 11.

For more information, call 583-0361.

Photos by Erica Miller. Pictured are Connie Crane (top) and instructor Gail Picillo.

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