Taking a Barre Class in Panama

Last week I wrote a post about keeping in shape while traveling, and this week I took my own advice.

My friend Kelly moved to Panama City, Panama for work. Over Columbus Day Weekend I popped down to the narrow waistband of the Americas to pay her a visit, butcher the beautiful Spanish language and do some exploring.

Kelly and a few of her coworkers (all expats) bought the equivalent of a Groupon deal to a Panamanian boutique fitness operation called The Daily Barre. They had plans to take the 6:15am class and I decided to join. At 6:05am we left Kelly’s apartment and hopped in a cab and headed to a shopping center called Punta Pacifica.

When we arrived at the studio (which shares its space with a Muy Thai facility) the door was open but the lights were off.  A boxer was warming up to Taylor Swift.  We sat on a couch in the dark for 20 minutes waiting for the instructor.

(waiting for barre to start)
(waiting for barre to start)

At 6:40am the teacher showed up and explained the 6:15am class had been cancelled today (none of us had checked the site before coming) but we were welcome to stay for the 7:30am.  My barre mates had to get to work so we stopped by the Dunkin Donuts next door for some iced coffee (it was already 80 degrees) and then they walked home.  I decided to stay for the class.

Dressed for success but all they got was iced coffee

Welcome to the Daily Barre
Welcome to the Daily Barre

I walked back in the studio and signed up.  The instructor (who was 8 kinds of adorable) tried to parse my level of Spanish (about a 0).  “I’ll just copy you,” I tried to assure her but she didn’t speak any English so my attempts at an explanation ended up in a tasteful mime dance.

The Central American Lululemon line
The Central American Lululemon line

There we only two other students in the class:  A hottie Venezuelan who spoke perfect English and a Panamanian mother.

The class was awesome.  It was almost identical to a Physique class but sadly no thigh dancing.  Parts were really hard, we did a modified crab that was much tougher than usual.  All of the props were the same: barre, blue playground ball, strap, light weights and a thick mat on a carpeted floor.

posed by the teacher

The teacher gave me a ton of physical corrections since her words were mostly lost on me.  The next day my triceps ached.

Taking a class in another language posed no real hurtles. But getting back to Kelly’s apartment apartment was another story.  Addresses exist in Panama but nobody knows them.  Locations are described by reference point.  Kelly told me to explain to the cab driver  to drop me off in”Marbaya enfronta de Fridays.” Because you see, American chain restaurants are huge in Panama City and Kelly’s apartment building faces a Fridays.

After the class I hopped in to a cab and got a grand tour of the many TGIF Friday’s restaurants Panama City has to offer. We eventually found that right one.  Overall, I am so glad I took the class. It was a terrific workout and a great social experiment.

Has anyone else taken a fitness class abroad or in a foreign language?

Also, some more photos from Panama:

panama canal
At the Panama Canal
Coconuts in San Blas
Coconuts in San Blas
Floating in the Caribbean Sea
Floating in the sea
San Blas Islands
San Blas Islands


  1. October 12, 2015 / 11:38 am

    Hi! I am also moving to Panama for work and I am a barre addict here in London. Is your friend still in Panama, has she discover any other classes?
    Thanks for your post and reply!!

    • Nicole
      October 12, 2015 / 12:09 pm

      Great question. I can ask! Congrats on the new gig

      • October 12, 2015 / 12:49 pm

        thanks! so kind. Also I don’t seem to be able to pay for a class on their website, you said you purchased via Groupon?

        • Nicole
          October 12, 2015 / 1:17 pm

          they purchased it w/ a Panamanian groupon equivalent. i purchased my class in the studio.

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