Burgers and bars pair well. After taking a Dinner at the Barre class, I now know that mushroom “burgers” and barre classes also pair well. At Hope & Main in Warren, Danielle Rogers from Bristol’s Fitness Fusion and Heather Dupee from Made by Me Cooking School joined forces to create a uniquely healthy evening of fitness and food. It all took place in one of the building’s culinary classrooms, with half of the room sectioned off into a pop-up fitness studio. While Danielle led our 45-minute session of barre, weights and Pilates, Heather prepared our meals in the demo-kitchen on the other side of the room. Luckily, nothing provides me with more motivation to get through daily tasks than promising myself a snack afterwards. Knowing I’d enjoy a tasty meal directly after the workout made the squats and planks easier to endure.
Danielle began our class with barre-style exercises including toe lifts, leg lifts, squats and pliés. I’d been to a barre class previously and had forgotten that the initially easy leg motions become increasingly difficult after each set. As a healthy burn spread from my thighs to my toes, the stretches between sets felt tres bien on my calves and hamstrings. Though I normally prefer fondues over tendus, Danielle’s high-energy style of teaching combined with her positive attitude made for a fun and enjoyable experience, even during the more challenging exercises.
Danielle encouraged us to work out at our own pace and comfort level. Wanting to challenge myself for the upcoming arm exercises, I opted for the five-pound free weights rather than the lighter, three-pound options. I was fine for the first three bicep curls, then the struggle started to show on my rapidly perspiring upper lip. (The only items I usually lift are an iPhone, a fork and a wine glass.) Thankfully, Danielle found me a pair of lighter weights, allowing me to successfully complete the arm lifts, vertical punches, chest flies, squat and lunge lifts without grunting like an Olympic deadlifter.
We then grabbed our mats for the final core and Pilates portion of the class. Danielle led us through multiple core exercises including crunches, bicycles, straddle crunches, leg lifts and planks, finishing off the workout with alternating butterflies. To complete our session, we unwound with relaxing yoga poses including cat/cow, cobra and child’s pose, my personal favorite. I wanted to stay in child’s pose for the next hour but after getting a whiff of the savory deliciousness floating through the air, I sprung to a stand.
The dividers were removed and we made our way into the kitchen’s classroom space. As we took our seats, the women of Made by Me Cooking School plated our meals while describing the dish’s components. The mouthwatering aromas that had filled the room earlier turned out to be Portobello mushroom patties made with black beans, broccoli, panko and parmesan cheese. They were topped with an avocado-based mayonnaise and served in lettuce wraps, with beautiful, large slices of watermelon on the side. As we enjoyed the scrumptiously healthy “burger” alternatives, Heather and her assistant Stephanie gave us a cooking lesson on how to make frittata with chicken sausage, spinach and roasted butternut squash. Since I love to talk about food as much as I love eating it, the cooking class was an unexpected delight, as was the frittata and garden salad that each of us got to take home.
A rejuvenating workout followed by a healthy dinner, plus lunch prepared for the next day? It’s always nice having one less thing to worry about, and extra nice when it comes with a side of endorphins.
Fitness Fusion and Made By Me Cooking School
Next Class: August 9, 6pm
691 Main Street, Warren