If you’re tired of Berlin, go to SOULBASE. It’s the ultimate antidote to filthy backyards, smelly subways, and graffiti-splattered city doors. Because JOHN & JANE’s are the exact opposite of all of this: From the first moment I step on the woven carpet and walk into the softly lit reception area, I am filled with a feeling of calm and well-being. Just being here instantly lifts my mood. I only suspect how I will feel after my workout.
The SOULBASE was only opened in the summer of this year. The aim was to offer the health-conscious Berliners a wellness oasis. I check in with my Urban Sports Club app, go up the stairs and am amazed when I see the waiting area in front of the classrooms. Egg-shaped armchairs with white cushions hang from the ceiling as swings. There’s a curved sofa in the corner with pillows so incredibly comfortable that I wonder how I’ll ever get up from it. There are clean, fluffy towels rolled up on dark mahogany cabinets and stacked in baskets. There is also a tea station where you can get aromatic chamomile tea that tastes like pure relaxation.
The changing rooms actually deserve their own blog post .. They are spacious and luxurious with huge mirrors. There are some makeup mirrors with professional lighting and baskets of hairspray, creams, and deodorant. The showers were, I believe, designed to simulate the monsoon season in the Amazon. To put it bluntly: JOHN & JANE’s SOULBASE is a wellness paradise. But don’t be fooled by the laid-back facility – the courses here will push you to your absolute limits.
Today, on a wintry Wednesday afternoon, I’m here to attend a Strong Barre class with Alex Hipwell. If you don’t know who Alex Hipwell is, I’ll briefly introduce her to you. She is no ordinary fitness trainer. She is originally from the Australian Sunshine Coast and has been training a variety of sports at a professional level since she was 14. She has completed several Iron Woman competitions, is a trained netball player and worked as a professional dancer for 14 years. With several prizes and trophies in her pocket, she is now a Nike Master Trainer. She develops her own courses and uses all her experience and knowledge from the world of dance and bodybuilding. So: Alex Hipwell is no ordinary trainer. And today I’m trying out their Strong Barre class.
Alex pokes her head out of the classroom. “Come in!” She says. “Grab a kettlebell and two dumbbells each.” About 20 students, a good mix of men and women, come in and get their weights. Alex stands hip-width apart in the middle of the room. She is short, has blonde, curly hair, and hazel eyes that make direct contact with everyone in the room. Her presence is powerful, her confidence is palpable, which makes sense – she looks like she’s made of marble. This is a woman who knows what she is capable of. One who has spent most of her life figuring out what it’s like to push your limits and then work even harder. And that means that she knows exactly what we are capable of and she will not be satisfied with less than 100% of our performance.
We stand on our mats next to the ballet bar, the weights and kettlebells placed in front of it. “Why did you all use the lightest kettlebells?” Asks Alex. “This class will challenge you. And if you start shaking, that’s good. If you shiver i love you We start by lying on our back. Isn’t that nice? ”
I know this won’t be pretty, but your confidence and humor are contagious. It’s like she is transferring her relentless energy right onto me. We lie on our back and begin with guided, deep breathing exercises up to a warm-up with Downward Dog and High Planks. The tremor she spoke of was right there. It has kept us in this position for an insolently long time. “Don’t put your knees down!” She says. She speaks in short, explosive sentences and motivates me immensely.
Our first exercise includes several high planks. We hold it until we shiver, then kick one leg back and then pull it forward in a crunch. And then back to the Downward Dog. It is, and I do not say that easily, an immense challenge. My arms are shaking like crazy and a man next to me is making alarming noises. I can hear sweat dripping onto his mat. And that’s just the beginning. “Okay, relax a bit,” says Alex and everyone collapses with a collective moan.
We grab our dumbbells and give our abs and arms a break by doing a series of deep squats combined with impulses and heel lifts targeting the glutes – for a perfect butt. “You will all look amazing naked!” Says Alex. She has a playlist full of songs with matching lyrics. In one song the refrain is: “Why does it hurt so much?”
“Okay, grab the bar,” says Alex. “Press your heels together as if there is a $ 1 million bill in between that you mustn’t lose. Do not let go of him – I repeat – under no circumstances. ” Alex shows us how to bend our knees while holding our heels together. This is how we train hard-to-reach muscles in the legs. “Now pretend you’re sitting on a chair and pulsing.” The man next to me looks like he’s about to be electrocuted. Sweat pours down his face and he clenched his teeth so hard that I’m surprised they won’t break. My legs are on fire. I’ve never really pushed myself to the point where my muscles burned so hard. But that’s the magic of barre training with Alex Hipwell. She will push you to your limits and then show you how far you can go.
Alex leads us through low lunes, hip raises, bicep curls and tricep extensions. It sets every part of our body on fire and then, just when we think it’s over, sets it on fire a little more. But the most impressive thing is that everyone has a smile on their face throughout the course.
When the cool down starts, Alex congratulates us. “Well done!” She says. “You are fantastic.” She says we did good barre training and that she is proud of us. She knew we could do it. And that’s when I realize: What really makes Alex a remarkable trainer is not just her athletic background. But that she believes in us more than we believe in ourselves.