Summer Barre-BQ: Santa Maria, California

This summer, we went on the hunt for some great barbecue. But you know what makes barbecue even better? A post-workout appetite. After you’ve gotten your sweat on, sometimes choosing succulent slow-roast over a salad is an indulgence you just have to go for. So, in the spirit of summer, we’re bringing cardio and culinary together with a combo for the ages: barre + barbecue.

We asked barre studios in four of America’s most famous barbecue regions to tell us what’s hot in the studio, and on the grill. If you’re not familiar with barre, it’s a wicked workout for core and strength training, utilizing ballet positions, yoga and Pilates (see what’s it’s all about). With the help of these studios, we learned that there’s quite a range—from hot barre to haute cuisine, check out these diverse styles of barre-BQ.

The barre

A lifelong athlete and coach of over 25 years, Julia Pickslay discovered barre and wanted to bring the trendy, total-body workout from the Bay Area down to the Central Coast. In March 2012, Julia opened Assets barre fitness boutique in San Luis Obispo. Now a favorite of SLOcals, Assets offers a wide variety of classes, including BarreFitness™, CardioPunch™ and Tabata barre. The studio embraces the athleticism inherent in barre and its focus on micro movements: “You'll hardly move a muscle, and you'll work harder than you ever have.”

The barbecue

Though lesser known than Texas or Kansas City style, we couldn’t ignore the barbecue right in our own backyard. Santa Maria style starts with the grill itself—a cast-iron monstrosity with a hand crank used to raise and lower the grate for the desired distance from the heat. The ‘cue consists of beef tri-tip slow cooked over California coastal live oak, served with a side of fresh salsa, garlic bread and pinquito beans. This regional style is popular across the entire California Central Coast, including San Luis Obispo. (You know what we’ll be ordering up at the Farmer’s Market this Thursday.)

Barre studio: Assets
Barre-tender: Julia Pickslay, owner
Location: San Luis Obispo, California

Where can we find you?
We’re uptown—so on the northern end of downtown.

What’s unique about Assets?
We’re based on Lotte Berk, but we take a more athletic, dance-focused approach. We embrace dance movements and the dance community.

What do students get out of your classes?
Most importantly, they get an efficient workout. The moves are designed to engage multiple muscles throughout the body at the same time, so you burn a lot more calories. You see changes right away.

We’re also very hands-on. Our teachers are constantly walking around, making sure students understand the positions. You need someone’s eyes on you to make sure you’re in the right form and being safe—and that makes the class more effective.

How do you feel after a barre workout?
Most people walk out of class feeling like they’ve been worked, and definitely feeling fatigued from that. But I also think what’s unique about our community is how we embrace that feeling—so that being tired and worked is actually energizing.

What’s your favorite local ‘cue joint to chow down at after class?
We like Old SLO BBQ Company. It’s good and they have good portion control, too!

Any lighter, local options for an after-class snack?
Petra offers some good healthy options, including vegetarian and gluten-free. And SLO Provisions has delicious food, coffees and teas, everything from breakfast to dinner. They also have a great take-out rotisserie chicken dinner.

I think one of the most unique aspects of Assets is that we have so many people who’ve met inside the studio and have become friends outside. People meet for class and then go off and get coffee or a meal.

Describe your region's signature BBQ style.
We are definitely in the land of the Santa Maria tri-tip. It’s delicious, and what’s nice is that tri-tip isn’t smothered with a super sugary barbecue sauce. It’s a nice, healthy slab of meat!

Fennel and Cabbage Slaw  
A recipe from Rachel Hill, owner of SLO Veg

Servings: 4
Time: 25 minutes

1 fennel bulb, core removed, cut into quarters and sliced very thinly, fronds reserved
1 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced
2 scallions, chopped
2 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and chopped

1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toss the fennel, cabbage, scallions and bacon together in a medium bowl. Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, fennel fronds, sugar, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a small bowl. Add the dressing to the slaw and toss to coat.

Be sure to check out our other barre-B-Q posts!

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