Close to 30 women steady themselves by holding the ballet barres that line the walls of The Bar Method studio in Roslyn Heights. Balancing on one leg, with the other bent, they look like rows of human flamingos.
"Your standing leg is burning fat and calories. Your leg will shake. That's a good thing," encourages instructor Pam Kenlon, who walks among the women speaking into a headset microphone, correcting their form. "This is why you're here. Don't waste the opportunity to walk away feeling the best you can."
The standing leg of Karen Solon, 35, of Manhasset, trembles visibly. The feeling is "good and bad," she says after the 60-minute class. "You know it's paying off, but at the same time, it hurts."
This is the barre workout, and the fitness technique is blooming on Long Island. Five new barre studios have opened in the past six months: Pure Barre studios in Woodbury, Huntington, Oceanside and Manhasset, and Elements Fitness Studio in East Hampton. Another Pure Barre is scheduled to open in East Setauket. They join The Bar Method, which has been in business on Long Island since 2008, first in Port Washington before moving to Roslyn Heights in 2012.
"It seems like it's exploding right now in popularity, as more and more people find out about it and how it works," says Molly Mulholland, co-owner of The Bar Method.
"A lot of people think it's a ballet class, but it's a lot different than ballet," explains Allyson Wood, studio manager for the Pure Barre studios in Huntington and Woodbury. Participants don't chassé across the studio. "You just have to be able to hold onto a barre, and you can do it."
The routine is low impact, so participants aren't bouncing or jumping. But that doesn't mean the class is easy. The technique uses interval training, alternating isometric movements that contract the muscles until they fatigue with periods of stretching, Wood says. Classes target the butt, hips, thighs, abs and arms.
Plenty of brow-wiping, grimacing and "whew"-ing goes on as the women -- classes are 99 percent women -- pulse and tuck and squeeze in a quest to create a toned and lean ballerina-like body.
"It takes a handful of classes before you feel comfortable and you understand the directions you are given," Mulholland says. "As your flexibility and strength improve, you can go deeper into the position and hold it longer."
FOR ALL AGES
Jacqueline Higgins, 30, of Freeport, pays $160 a month for an unlimited monthly pass at Pure Barre in Oceanside and tries to get to classes four times a week. The mom of two -- ages 10 and 7 -- says it's more expensive than a gym, but worth it. "When I go home, I'm a better mom. I have more energy," she says before entering the studio to take a class led by former Knicks dancer AmandaEve Ramos.
Joyce Goodman, 64, of Great Neck is a disciple; she takes classes at The Bar Method in Roslyn Heights, where an individual class is $25 (although prices drop with multiple classes). "As you get older, your bones, your posture, your flexibility is so important. I watched my stomach get flat. My body toned and got smaller," she says. "I've been telling everybody about it."
Studios across Long Island offer barre classes, which usually last 55 to 60 minutes and start at $25 a class, although prices drop for multiclass packages and monthly memberships.
Here are a variety of barre classes on Long Island:
345 Main St., Huntington, 631-351-4859
1681 Northern Blvd., Manhasset, 516-365-9090
3563 Long Beach Rd., Oceanside, 516-766-0465
8025 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury, 516-496-2817
ELEMENTS FITNESS STUDIO
66 Newton Lane, East Hampton
THE BAR METHOD
250 S. Service Rd., Roslyn Heights
INFO 516-484-0200, roslyn.barmethod.com