A former Moulin Rouge dancer is helping Brisbane find their inner ballerina

Nearly every little girl dreams of becoming a ballerina and for a growing number of Brisbane ladies that dream is coming true in Stones Corner.

In a world where weight lifting, cross fit, mud runs and other such extreme (or messy) sports have long held the spotlight, a new form of exercise has tiptoed onto the stage.

Xtend Barre brings together elements of dance, ballet and Pilates to create an adrenaline-fuelled workout that strengthens, lengthens and chisels the body.

Stones Corner’s Xtend Barre studio is owned and operated by Shay Stafford, who brings an all-encompassing knowledge of dance, performance and fitness to Brisbane following a successful career as a Moulin Rouge and Lido dancer in Paris.

The author of the best-selling book Memoirs of a Showgirl spent the past three years teaching Xtend Barre in Sydney and training clients such as Sarah Murdoch.

But now the Brisbane girl has flown back to the nest, bringing her unique blend of dance and fitness experience to a whole new flock of ballerinas.

“Xtend Barre are 55 minute group fitness classes,” Ms Stafford says.

“It’s a high intensity work out, not a gentle ballet class. It improves posture, flexibility and body awareness and there are definitely toning benefits as well.”

“Getting your heart rate up is essential for good heart health. It depends on what your goals are but if you’re doing Xtend Barre to tone and lose weight then they’re definitely going to do that.”

“We use light hand weights so there’s toning as well as learning hold to hold yourself beautifully like a classic ballerina. You’ll learn to have a beautiful long neck and no rounded back, which I think is very important because most of us now lead a very sentry lifestyle.”

“People now spend all day sitting at a desk and have very hunched shoulders. If you look around people’s necks are craning forward to look down at smart phones all the time so it’s very important to oppose that and stand up tall with your shoulders back.”

Xtend Barre classes may seem like they’re only for the fittest of ladies whose hair is always fashioned into the perfect ballerina bun, but Ms Stafford days that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Our youngest client is 16 and our oldest is about 66 so the ages are very varied in each class,” she says.

“Everybody has an inner ballerina. You can modify the classes to suit your level and people progress very quickly. It only takes a couple of classes to understand the terminology and follow the moves; so you’ll be dancing in no time.”

“I love to dance and I love how dancing made makes me feel. I think a lot of people love coming here for an hour to escape the stress of their life and feel beautiful.”

“My time in Paris really had an effect on me and I loved the elegance of the French women and the discipline involved in the shows I did there. We did 12 shows a week and I love bringing the elements from those performances to my class.”

For more information visit www.xtendbarre.com