Before I took my first class, I had no idea what barre would be like, and now, I cannot get enough! The hour passes by in a flash, and every workout is challenging. I swear, I'm actually having fun still! My current routine is barre every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (with yoga on Wednesdays). I love this workout, and I've learned a few things in my 50 classes.
Here's "I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger"--barre version:
1.) You have to keep increasing the challenge
Just like any workout, your body will eventually adjust more and more to barre classes. It's up to you to challenge yourself. Increase your weights; I often have my goal weights and current weights next to my mat. I'll start with the heavier set, but if I need to drop weight to finish the moves, I can easily do so. Push ups can be down on your knees, but lately, I challenge myself to do as many as possible on my toes. I hope one day that I can do every single one of them that way.
2.) Form matters
Here are the basics...you need to learn how to correctly tuck your hips. I feel like the word "tuck" comes up about 100 times per barre class. It's important. When standing at the barre, your support leg should always have a slight bend in it, but often the working leg should be completely straight. Once you learn what the moves should feel like, it is easy to remind yourself constantly of form. Often, my leg isn't really truly straight, or I need to relax my shoulders, square off my hips, or tuck. If you feel glute work in your back, you probably aren't squaring off your hips. Remember that pulses should be small tiny, tiny movements. This blog post about 10 common form mistakes was super helpful to me. I also like to place my mat near the mirror, so I can keep an eye on my form. PS--shaking muscles are common and a good sign (it means you are exhausting your muscles). I swear they are also contagious! If I see someone else shake, I will start shaking!
3.) Beat matters...sort of
If you are like me and don't have much in the way of rhythm, don't be afraid to try barre. Yes, you are supposed to be "on beat," but the teachers will count it out for you, making it easy to follow along.
4.) There is a lot of variety
I thought maybe after 50 classes, I would have every single move memorized, but no. There is a surprising amount of variety. In class last night, we did glute work from the water-ski position. That was new (and really hard!) Never underestimate the barre!
5.) Barre has an inaccurate reputation
According to the internet, every woman in barre class is wealthy, looks like a model, and shows up wearing Lululemon...obviously, that isn't true. My studio has women of all ages and body types (and the same was true of the studio I visited in Austin). Sure, some people do wear Lululemon, but you can wear whatever brand of clothes you want. I don't own a single pair of $10 grippy socks, and it's fine. There is no need to overly focus on what others look like or are wearing anyway; when I show up to class, I'm there to focus on me.
6.) It is expensive...but
There is no real way around this one: barre is an expensive workout. I find the best way to get my monies worth is to sign up for unlimited monthly packages (as opposed to paying by the class). I also have had luck with buying specials and taking advantage of opportunities to earn discounts. By doing all this, I have spent 24% less on my months than what my studio would normally charge. I also do not hold a gym membership, which makes the cost easier to handle. Finally, I believe that the workout you will actually commit to and enjoy is the workout that is worth paying for. I understand why my studio charges the amount they do. The teachers are well trained and create the class content themselves, so it is different every time. The classes are small and personal. The studio provides all the equipment and little extras (deodorant, tampons, bobby pins, etc.) to make your workout space truly comfortable. In the end, I see it as an investment in my health that I'm happy to make.
7.) You still need other forms of exercise
I would never give up my beloved yoga, which allows me to stretch, strengthen, and challenge my body in amazing ways (also, I have the best yoga teacher ever). I know cardio is still important. I try to work it in on Fridays while Brendan plays basketball with friends after work.
8.) What you eat still matters
I know, it's so annoying. If I'm going to workout six times a week, shouldn't I be able to have all the margaritas and french fries? Well, it turns out, no. Barre is effective, but not magic. You still have to be conscious of what you put into your body. That's why I put spinach in my smoothie this morning and vowed to be a little more careful this weekend than last with what I eat and drink.
9.) It's a workout for your mind too
Barre has made me more aware of my body. It doesn't require deep and crazy concentrated focus like yoga, but it does require 100% of your attention, since the moves will change rapidly, and you have to keep an eye on your form. I feel like I've finally gotten the hang of all those flex/point changes. I think this workout would keep anyone mentally sharp.
10.) It really does work
Yes, I have definitely seen results. I've lost a little weight. My arms look more toned. I have more energy. I'm happier on a daily basis. If I took measurements, I'm sure I'd see a slight difference in those. Barre isn't a quick fix or a miracle, but if you go consistently, you will get stronger.
I hope you enjoyed my musings about barre class. I'm so happy that I discovered another workout passion.
In other news, I made this tonight, and it was AMAZING:
|Louisiana Stuffed Mirletons|
I just had to share it. This Louisiana dish got me in the mood for New Orleans...just 10 more days until I head there.
Brendan's grandma Nancy broke her pelvis today, but she should be able to return home tomorrow (hopefully). Please keep her in your thoughts. We are wishing her a speedy recovery and wishing that we could be there to give her a hug!
Get some rest everyone; tomorrow is a new day!