Yes. Pole fitness at home is actually a thing.
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Anybody who knows me will you tell you I am a fitness fanatic. In fact, before COVID-19 hit and shut down all the gyms where I live, I was partying on a bike at my favorite indoor cycling studio up to seven days a week. To help keep the momentum going in my fitness journey, I immediately looked on Amazon to purchase workout equipment to outfit my tiny apartment. Unfortunately, I was greeted with several “sold outs” on every search I made.
What was I supposed to do now? Refusing to succumb to the temptation of endless Netflix binge sessions and inevitably gaining the “COVID 15,” I knew I needed to get creative with my at-home workouts. That’s when I remembered I tried a dance-inspired barre workout a few years ago that required little-to-no equipment to get a good sculpt in. All I really needed was yoga pants and a countertop to act as my stationary handrail.
Ready to trade in my typical cardio-focused routine for an intense, strength-training workout, I grabbed my phone and pulled up my app to search for online barre classes. I live in Phoenix, and to say the barre scene here is popping would be an understatement. With the city at my fingertips, I decided to try streaming workouts from one of the local hotspots around here—barre3 Scottsdale.
Upon booking (just $10 for my first class!), I received a confirmation email letting me know I’d receive the link to my class 15-30 minutes before it started—they even suggested hopping on 10 minutes before class started to introduce yourself to the instructor (hey, Ashley!) and chat with the other students. The morning of my class, I slapped on those yoga pants, propped my laptop on my kitchen counter, and got ready to plie my little heart out.
When I logged into class, I was greeted by my instructor, Ashley, and a handful of other barre students.
Then I learned, I was the only newbie in the class. On top of that, my back was to my wall of windows, so I literally looked like a creepy shadow trying to pawn myself off as an elegant dancer. Not even five minutes into class, my entire body became a wobbly mess. To put this into perspective for you, I’m a part-time yoga instructor so I’m used to holding poses that make your muscles want to scream for an ungodly length of time—but movements involved in barre are no joke. Seriously.
I felt every inch of every single plie I did—almost landing on my butt half of the time. By the end of the class, my fingertips were clinging onto my countertop like I was a rock climber dangling off a 50-foot cliff—completely out of breath and wondering if I even had legs anymore.
All in all, it was a great, full-body workout and one that I (and my muscles) would not forget for several days. No—really. When I woke up the next morning, I could barely release my heels to the ground, requiring me to not only wear high heels to walk my dogs (it’s a great look with sweatpants by the way) but also around my apartment. Come to think of it, I should probably write my downstairs neighbor a letter of apology for causing so much ruckus.
Stretch before and after class. This one is a little embarrassing because I should have known better. While I did prep my muscles before the workout with some light stretching, I was so gassed after class that I completely forgot to cater to my limbs post-workout. Even just a few yoga stretches probably would have helped with the recovery process.
Invite a workout buddy. Hey—the more the merrier, right? I’m not going to lie—being the only newbie in this class, my ego took a huge hit. As someone who not only works out every day but also teaches fitness for a living, I was surprised at how humbling this experience was. I’m used to working out with others, and I think inviting some other beginners to partake in this class would make it even more entertaining. Who knows? Maybe if my boyfriend took the class with me, he would take back all those chuckles he had whenever I wore my heels to grab a glass of water during my recovery phase.
Find better lighting. Next time, I would probably set my laptop up at a different angle, so I didn’t look like a backlit, dancing ghoul. I’m sure it would have been easier for Ashley to offer me feedback on any of the movements I was doing if she was actually able to see me.
Stock up on Epsom salt. Or magnesium supplements of any kind. When I say you will be sore from a live-streamed barre workout, I mean it. Get yourself a big bag of Epsom salt and run yourself a bath to help your muscles recover—you’ll thank me later.
Even though I felt like a baby deer taking its first steps throughout the entire class, one session was all it took for me to want to add virtual barre classes into my COVID-19 workout routine. Did this class make me feel sore for days? Yep. Did it make me realize I had muscles in places I never even knew existed? You bet. But those are the types of workouts I crave because you start seeing results immediately and the recovery process gets shorter the more you go. Needless to say, I’m excited to take my next virtual barre class knowing what I know now.
Ah, 2020—the year that truly put our sanity to the test. On top of that, something that most people use to navigate through a tough time has essentially been stripped away from us—our normal workout routines. I don’t know about you, but even skipping a week at the gym can send me into a tailspin. But several months of sheltering in place and being forced to adapt to this new normal?
That’s a different story.
While I think we can all say we’re grateful that fitness studios were quick to offer virtual classes when COVID-19 hit—there is something about constantly working out by ourselves that may trigger some of us to hit pause on our workout routines and start turning towards less robust habits. *Reluctantly raises hand*
The other day I came across a stat that really set off some alarms. According to a recent study, Americans are spending an additional two hours each day on their couch since March 2020. As of recently, I can say I’m totally guilty of a little too much R&R. While an evening of Netflix and wine once sounded like heaven on earth for most of us, I think it’s safe to say the repetition of this is starting to get kind of old. Also, Schitt’s Creek is over now, so I really don’t have any excuse to not dedicate my free time to jumping back into my at-home workouts.
I started pondering what made dial back my fitness routine in the first place? Was it a lack of motivation? No, not really. Screen fatigue? I think my Netflix history outlined above would tell you that’s a solid ‘no.’ Then it hit me—the thing that motivated me to stay on top of my fitness goals was being around other people with the same goals. Pre-COVID, going to my favorite spin studio and the local yoga hot spot was how I typically spent my social hour during the workweek. I realized the best way to amp up my at-home workout routine was to re-connect with my workout buddies and start doing virtual classes together to create that sense of community I craved.
If you’re also experiencing some form of live stream lull when it comes to your workouts, then getting a virtual workout buddy may be exactly what you need. Here’s why:
Just like in-person workouts, making plans to sweat it out with one of your friends motivates you to show up and be your best self. According to the Mindbody Wellness Index, 25% of the folks we surveyed said they found it difficult to hold themselves accountable to their workout goals on their own—and an additional 20% of people said a lack of support was responsible for missed workouts.
Everybody enjoys a little friendly competition, right? Maybe you have a friend who is a powerhouse at virtual HIIT—try signing up for a class with them to help you take your workout to a whole new level.
Getting a workout sesh in with a friend is the perfect time to try a new exercise such as virtual yoga or virtual barre. Trying something new can be scary—I get it. But by trying a new type of exercise with a friend, you can both give each other a confidence boost by acting as each other’s personal hype man.
Look, we’re all craving human interaction these days—and I know I’m not the only one who is missing weekly happy hours with friends. Luckily, fitness studios are getting creative with their virtual offerings post-workout, too! When we asked members of our MindbodyOne Community how they are keeping things interesting for their students in the virtual space, they said they are hosting monthly virtual wine dates to share fitness stories and personal victories. Not only do you get to drink wine, but you and your buddy get to meet other like-minded people at the same time.
As 2020 winds down (thank goodness), you have a unique opportunity to reconnect with your friends and take your workout sessions to the next level with a virtual workout buddy. So, why not start now? Book a virtual fitness class and encourage your friends to show up for you and themselves today.