Best New Workout – 2018

Bardio Sculpt
(The Wall Cycling Studio)

By Megan Douress
Photography provided by Van Le


It’s no secret that Manayunk is one of the most active neighborhoods in Philadelphia. The workout options in Manayunk are endless, with never-ending trails for running and biking, and a large variety of specialty fitness studios with numerous classes to choose from. But, did you ever think to combine those workouts? Juliet Sabella has — in more ways than one.

Since opening the new location of The Wall Cycling Studio on Cotton Street, Julie has come up with full-body workout combinations from Spin/Barre Fusion to Spin + Sculpt. Her latest creation, Bardio Sculpt, was voted Manayunk’s Best New Workout.

What is Bardio Sculpt? Think of it like this: you take the small-range motions with high repetitions you would typically do in a traditional barre class, combine them with some aerobic-style moving and shaking, and for the cherry on top — HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercises.

“The class goes by so fast because your heart rate is up the entire time,” said Bardio Sculpt instructor and co-creator, Van Le.

Van first fell in love with Julie’s Bardio Sculpt classes two years ago when the workout was briefly added to the weekly schedule at the fitness studio. It was the fast pace of the 45-minute class that kept her coming back for more. While it didn’t stay on the schedule for long, Julie kept the accessible workout alive by taking it on the road for pop-up classes throughout the Philadelphia area.

“They’re workouts you can do anywhere versus the traditional barre class where you have all of the equipment — the balls, the weights, and the bands,” Julie explained. Bardio Sculpt makes it a little easier because you can do jump squats everywhere!”

It was after a conversation with her trainer, Van, when the two decided to come up with a curriculum to get the class back on the weekly schedule.
“Van said to me, ‘Could we try it again?’” Julie recalled. “It’s always been something we wanted to do. We discussed what our clients wanted as far as workouts go, and they wanted to get more of a cardio fix than you get in a traditional barre class versus a spin class. They really enjoy the burn of it, but they also love barre.

Van is now the sole instructor of Bardio Sculpt, which is has been on the the schedule every Monday night at 6:45 p.m., as well as every other Saturday at 10 a.m., since November. She explained the intensity and structure of the class is what makes her clients want to spend their Monday nights with her.

Van breaks the class into four sections. It starts out with some basic movements to get warmed up — think toe-tapping and stepping side to side — along with barre-inspired squats and lunges with extra cardio. Van often uses hand weights and resistance bands to get her clients’ arms and thighs working. The next section is where the music (carefully crafted by Van each week) picks up and the legs start shaking. Van takes everyone to the barre to do more thigh work, which usually consists of your heels raised, knees bent, and tiny one-inch movements up and down. She’ll throw the occasional ball into the mix for extra intensity. If you’re not sweating by now, you’re about to be.

“My clients know at every class, there are going to be burpees, which are the worst but the best!” Van laughed.

The HIIT exercise portion of the class is what really makes Bardio Sculpt different from traditional barre. To work your core and glutes, Van will write a list of exercises for clients to do rotations of in as many repetitions possible in a five-minute span. Finally, this wave of intensity calms down with slower movements and stretching.

And while a good, sweaty workout on a Monday night is good, one of the best parts of the weekly class is the instructor herself. Van does almost all of the exercises and repetitions with her clients, and often yells things like “You look awesome!” and “My legs are burning!” so you know she’s right there with you — motivating you through all 45 minutes.

She’s also a big advocate for getting more of a variety of clients in her classes, and crushing the misconception that barre is “just for girls.”

“I got 10 of my guy friends to come to class over the holidays,” Van said. “It was nice to have them there and show them we’re tough, too!”

As for those new clients — male or female — who are looking to give her class a shot, she has some words of encouragement for you.

“It sounds very intimidating if you’re used to traditional barre classes,” Van said. “Just try something new — you’ll probably end up liking it!”

If Monday nights aren’t enough of a Bardio Sculpt fix for you, Julie has you covered. She still takes the workouts on the road, mostly for pop-ups with Be Kind. Always. Foundation — an organization that brings awareness to mental health. As one of their ambassadors, Julie and her team help spread their message and help with mental health by taking workouts around the city.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds go right to Be Kind so we can help spread the message and mental health information around,” she added. “We always leave people with the thought of, ‘Go do something nice for someone today,’ because you never know what that act of kindness or compliment is going to do for someone.”