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To put it bluntly—2020 was a real bummer. When we entered the year, we all had that “20/20 vision” mindset of making the year one of travel, joy, discovering new hobbies, and conquering our fitness goals. But come March, that vision became a blurry mess of sheltering-in-place and being forced to throw our normal routines and our aspirations out the window.
Who would have thought that something like getting a haircut would be off-limits? Or that those monthly massages wouldn’t be around to help us unwind? 2020 forced us to get creative, and you blew us away with your stick-to-itiveness.
We recently polled you on Instagram to see which beauty and wellness services you missed the most and how you’ve re-vamped your self-care routines to stay sane during this train wreck of a year. And I must say, as I read your responses in my sweats, rocking the messiest top knot of all time, I definitely felt like I need to take it up a notch when it comes to getting ready for the workday.
Seriously—an alarming number of you have been on point when it comes to sticking to your daily morning routines and actually wearing work clothes while on Zoom calls. Kudos to you!
Curious to see what the takeaways were from our Instagram poll? Keep reading.
According to your responses, you're all sick of your exposed roots and split ends equally, with 51% of you preferring to get a haircut and 49% opting for hair color. The numbers were also pretty close when it came to your nails—with 52% of you opting for a manicure over a pedicure. Due to the pandemic, the state of the beauty industry has been on a rollercoaster of openings and closings—and they need our help and support now more than ever. If you happen to live in an area where you’re able to enjoy beauty services, make sure you show your stylist or nail artist a little bit of extra love when tipping them.
Anybody who knows me will tell you the thing I miss the most is getting a monthly massage—and 71% of you seem to agree. With most of us working from our beds or hunched over our laptops on our couches, our posture (if not our comfort) has taken a serious hit. While most of us either live in an area where massages are off-limits or we just don’t feel safe going in for one quite yet, there are some touchless spa treatments you're ready to try.
Call it wishful thinking, but I was fully expecting most of you to say, “Zoom camera off” as your go-to beauty tip—but I guess that’s just me. Instead, you've all been pretty consistent with your morning routines—working out, showering, and dressing like you're actually going into an office. Some of you are even going the extra mile and putting on a red lip and some earrings. I’m taking notes.
And even though this year’s challenges put a damper on our normal routines, it's inspired us to get creative with our skincare regimen. Some of you have added new serums and masks to your skincare arsenal, while others have tried out at-home facials for that quarantine glow. By far, one of the most popular answers was the incorporation of Gua Sha to help detoxify, brighten, and tighten your skin.
This year was one for the books. But I think it made us realize there is always wellness—and that taking care of ourselves is crucial. If you're in an area where in-house beauty services are an option, book that appointment (if you feel safe to do so). If your only option right now is to stay at home, keep carrying on with your feel-good, at-home routines.
If you're curious to see what some other wellness trends you should take note of in 2021, check out this blog.
Alicia Sokol opened her barre3 location in Washington DC after a series of career pivots. As an equity analyst, she never set out to be a fitness instructor or business owner. Through self-reflection, she realized that studio ownership meant she could fully express her values in a meaningful way. She opened her studio to help people find a movement practice that not only feels good but nurtures a supportive community.
As a kid, one thing Sokol struggled with was a sense of belonging—which is precisely why she created a place where simply walking through the door validates acceptance. Alicia's always striving to bring versatility to her community through connecting people from all different backgrounds. She's consistently motivated by what barre3 has brought to individuals—it's a challenging and effective workout, but more importantly, it's the practice of feeling our intuition and following it accordingly.
We recently chatted with Alicia to learn more about her and how she views the world of wellness.
I was slow to find joy in movement. As a kid, I shied away from sports. I don't have a competitive nature and I was an awkward kid—always picked last in gym class! A friend invited me for a run along Lake Michigan when I was in college—that was the first time I realized the healing power of movement. I felt so alive! I remember thinking: why didn't anyone tell me this was a thing? I have always enjoyed movement that doesn't require hand-eye coordination or special skills. I also tend to enjoy movement that is meditative and allows me to be in nature—running, hiking, swimming, and paddleboarding.
My career path has been a series of pivots. Each opportunity has been a chance to learn about myself. I started my career as an equity analyst at an investment bank—it was what I thought I should do with my undergraduate finance degree. I never set out to own a business. I never set out to be a fitness instructor! But through a series of asking tough questions and connecting with what makes me feel purposeful and alive, this is exactly where I have ended up.
Owning a barre3 studio has allowed me to fully express my values in a way that is meaningful to me. My studio is staffed by kind, wise people who love what we do. We are a place that instantly welcomes anyone who wants to be a part of what we're all about. I'm constantly trying to diversify our community—a wider range of ages, shapes, sizes, goals, experiences, backgrounds. Moving together helps us see that we all crave the same thing—a sense of belonging, a space to express ourselves, to be seen and heard, to know we are loved just as we are. My favorite part of my work has always been teaching barre3 classes. My studio is now 5 1/2 years old, and this is still what I love to do best.
Even though I went to business school, I never set out to be an entrepreneur. When I discovered barre3, I was working as a freelance writer and photographer and exploring a more creative path to my career. I had two small children and I knew it was time to make yet another career pivot. barre3 provided peace at a time in my life when running hurt and I needed both an effective workout and an endorphin release. I fell hard for the workout (tough), the community (kind), and the feeling of being in the studio (better—ways better!).
One of the reasons I opened my studio was to help people find a movement practice that felt good and a community that felt supportive. You don't need to be a dancer. You don't need to be fit or flexible. This workout is truly for any human body. As a kid, I struggled mightily with belonging. I wanted to create a place where simply walking in the door permitted belonging and support. I am always so happy to hear people say, "I've never been able to stick to a workout routine, but this is the first exercise I've really loved! I WANT to do this!"—that was the feeling I was going for.
On a day-to-day basis, I'm motivated by what barre3 has brought to people's lives. Yes, it's a tough and effective workout. But more than that, it's a practice of feeling and responding to our inner voice. It's been a tough couple of years, and for most of us, it would be easier to just go numb. What we are doing in class is permitting ourselves to feel the uncomfortable physical sensations, and in doing so, giving ourselves permission to face the uncomfortable mental work of being human. We all need that. We all struggle at some point. I love to see our community members find love and acceptance of their bodies just as they are. Diet culture has made it difficult for us to do that, and it puts us in a state of constantly trying to change and improve. I love to see people stand a little taller and become more confident in who they are.
I also love to hear when people have been able to use their voices more effectively because of the work they are doing in class, which is all about listening to one's own voice. Over the years the studio has been open, my clients have developed the courage to ask for a promotion, leave a toxic relationship, come out as gay, apply to grad schools, start new businesses, and so much more. When they connect the work they did at barre3 to the courage to do those scary things? Chills. Every time.
To me, wellness is a continuum rather than a destination—kind of like "balance.” It takes constant attention and continued work. There is no getting there and staying there. When I was younger, I thought of wellness as something that was much more physical—staying active, getting enough sleep, eating nutrient-rich foods, enjoying some treats. But now I see wellness as much more complex—the mental component is substantial.
I have also noticed that when the mental health piece is off-kilter, it impacts the physical! I discovered that when I had a pain in my back "for no reason"—oh, there was a reason. And it had nothing to do with the mechanics of my body and everything to do with sorting out some stressors in my life. That was a serious a-ha moment for me. I am the mother of teen boys (the hardest work I have ever done!) and I think it's important to show them how I process emotions in a very real way. Even just saying "I'm feeling frustrated right now because ___" or "I'm sad because ____" or "I'm angry right now, and I need to _____ to deal with my anger." It makes everyone uncomfortable, to say the least. But I hope they are taking note somewhere deep in their brains and seeing that being able to recognize, sit with, and process our emotions is at the core of our mental health. There is no ticket to overall wellness without that.
If you’re in the DC area, you should definitely check out Alicia’s barre3 location to help you advance your wellness routine. Not in the area? No worries—barre3 offers live stream studio workouts that can be done at home. Or find a studio near you at one of more than 150 locations sprinkled all over the US (in cities like Seattle, New York City, and Austin—just to name a few) and Canada. They even offer a complete virtual membership for folks who prefer to work out at home—so everybody has a chance to get that barre3 experience they are known for. Ready to lengthen and strengthen with Alicia and her team? Book barre3 classes on the Mindbody app.