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When I tell people I’m a barre instructor, two-thirds of them don’t know what I’m talking about—or exactly what barre is. I tell them to imagine a class featuring a hybrid of ballet, yoga, Pilates, and some standard workout moves. Adding small, controlled movements, we use props like different stretchy bands, balls, and free weights, so you’re working your booty off (literally!).
You don’t have to be flexible, a dancer, or even have experience exercising to benefit from barre. If you put in the effort, listen to your instructor, and have fun, barre can transform your body so quickly you won’t even believe how incredible you feel within weeks!
Debating if barre should be your next sweat session? Or maybe you’re wondering if your first barre class was worth the burn? Here are five reasons why you should join in on the barre craze because it’s here to stay:
Barre is designed to exhaust—then stretch—every muscle group. This combo is a highly effective, low impact way to increase your physical strength super fast. Tired of getting tired going up flights of stairs? Take some barre classes and kiss that goodbye. Keep in mind your body position is essential to working the right muscles, the right way. If your instructor says “Keep your knees in line with your toes” or “Pull your left hip back and right hip forward to square your hips,” DO IT. The results you’ll feel (and see) will be worth the effort.
Pro tip: Eat some protein and healthy carb combo (yes, both!) within a couple of hours after your class to fuel muscle recovery. That—along with some before-bed stretching—will help ease any soreness the next day.
With barre, you’re working all of your muscles, especially around your knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, and spine with no impact or shock to your joints (in exactly the right body position, amiright?). By doing that, you’re giving your body the strength it needs to support you. Strong joints are instrumental in keeping your body safe from things like, let’s say, tripping over a crack in the sidewalk, lifting heavy objects, and twisting your ankle on a dog toy in the dark. Also, as someone with herniated disk problems and knee injuries for the last 21 years, I can tell you that nothing at all, ever, has rehabilitated my broken body like barre. Strengthening the muscles around your injury (like I did) is essential to healing.
Pro Tip: Stretching the muscles around the joints is also necessary. Strong and flexible will keep you safe well into your “hip replacement years”...but without the hip replacement!
Every movement in a barre class involves working your core. This includes your back! You know how ballerinas are known to have amazing posture? There’s a reason for this—and it’s because of the core + upper back + hip strength needed at all times. So when you’re in barre class being told things like “Pull your belly button toward your spine” and “Lift up out of your standing hip,” you’re setting yourself up to walk out of class taller and poised than you’ve ever been!
Pro Tip: Remind yourself to pull your shoulder blades together and down your back while lengthening through your neck, all day long. Do it while you walk, drive, sit at your desk, have drinks at happy hour (you get the point). Practicing good posture will prevent upper back and shoulder fatigue. Plus, you’ll also look and feel more poised and confident in the process. That’s a win-win!
So, maybe one of your excuses for not taking a barre class is, “But I’m not flexible at all.” Barre is so much more about correct body positions and tiny movements than flexibility. That being said, how will you ever become more flexible if you don’t try? In class, you’ll stretch what you’ve strengthened, and that combo is going to loosen you up everywhere. You have to give it some effort as flexibility doesn’t happen overnight, but you’ll feel the difference as you become looser over time. Baby steps, my lovelies, and you’ll love the way you feel.
Pro Tip: Holding a stretch for more than 30 seconds while taking deep breaths is the beginning of genuinely increasing your flexibility. But holding a stretch for 60 seconds or more is how you permanently start to change your muscle fibers, making the lengthening and flexibility really, really real.
Speaking of breathing, this last part is probably the sneakiest (and maybe even the very best) part of busting your butt in barre. The breathing you do while working your muscles in class will not only support the effort you’re putting in, it’s also forcing you to focus your attention on the air coming in and out of your nose/mouth. A great instructor is going to talk you through this for the entire class—guiding you when and how to inhale and exhale. This is exactly what you do in mindfulness meditation to focus your attention inward.
Breathing exercises are also instrumental in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. When you are fully concentrating on your breath and the precise muscle movements, you’re focused on what you’re doing at that very moment during class. Bam! You just meditated for 60 whole minutes. Notice that when you walk out of your workout, your mindset will feel entirely different (and more positive) than when you came in. Thank yourself, because you did that.
Pro Tip: When you’re about to give up the current movement because your legs are shaking while simultaneously on fire, bring your attention to your breath. Focus. And I’ll bet you $50 you’ll make it to the end of the squat-pulse series that feels like it’s killing you.
So, go kick butt in barre (you can even book a class on MINDBODY.io)! Plus, you haven’t lived until your muscles are numb and trembling during a workout, and you haven’t lived until you’ve given yourself a strong, healthy body you feel great living in!
If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.