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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.
Pro tip: If you're interested in taking your virtual barre experience to the next level by trying out multiple studios all over the country, you should look into trying out Mindbody Flex. Mindbody Flex gives you the power to try all the best livestream fitness classes from the comfort of your own home at a super affordable rate. There are thousands of livestream classes to choose from, at hundreds of great studios—and more and more studios are opting in to Flex each week. Check out this blog post to get all the deets on a Mindbody Flex membership.
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.
Since 1992, April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month. It was established to help shed light on the issues behind stress, teach us how to fight it, and create methods to overcome it. While this initiative has existed just shy of three decades, this year it seems particularly important.
With a year under our belts in pandemic mode—a lot of us had to get creative when it came to keeping our cool. On top of that, everyday stresses didn’t just magically disappear during this time either. Just think about it—have you ever been in a situation that was overwhelming? Maybe you’ve had a looming deadline or a to-do list that seems, well...totally un-doable? If you’ve ever felt you were in over your head, please know you’re not alone—you never are. At one time or another, we’ve all been affected by stress—although each person may manifest it differently. Me? I'm definitely a frequent rider on the "hot mess stress express."
There are many ways to help combat stress—some of us seek out support from friends and family, while others find solace in taking up meditation or unwinding with a relaxing yoga class. Whatever helps you find peace, just keep doing you. But also know we have some resources to help you overcome stress whenever the need arises.
Here are some blog posts that are always available to you when you feel a little stressed out:
When in doubt, breathwork expert and sound healer, Shanila Sattar, always has tips to help ground yourself—especially in times of need. In this blog post, she gives you the recipe for incorporating self-love into your daily routine by encouraging us to ask ourselves these questions: How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love? As we all know, self-love defines and redefines itself for everyone over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep,” is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and it aims to restore the mind, body, and soul through deep, guided meditation. The way it works is like the way a power nap helps one feel refreshed during a particularly exhausting day, except you aren’t technically sleeping. I describe it as a long-form of savasana—anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. (Real talk: savasana is one of the best parts of practicing yoga, am I right?)
TLDR: I learned that I could conquer stress in a matter of minutes with Yoga Nidra.
Are we safe in saying this last year brought up a ton of emotions the likes of which we did not plan for? The good, the bad, the “unprecedented”—our hearts and minds have been taken on a wild rollercoaster ride, and for many of us, our mental health is suffering. With our minds running in thousands of directions, it’s hard to notice our own needs. Yes, our attention to the goings-on of last year is vital but caring for ourselves is as important as ever. Here are some tips from our favorite yoga instructor, Dani Schenone.
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last year is the Big Anxiety. Coupled with the stress of what the COVID-19 pandemic has bought for millions of people, disturbed wellness routines, and worry, we have a recipe to create massive damage to ourselves. Adjusting to the new normal, with social distancing practices in place and adapting to precautions and routines, may be the root of even more anxiousness for many as we’re navigating uncharted territories.
If you've got those familiar feelings of stress and anxiety coursing through your body right now, you're definitely not alone. We get it. Times are uncertain, our mental health is taxed, we're doing what we can to reduce stress and anxiety in general, and relaxation has taken a back seat. It’s no secret that stress is proven to weaken our immunity, so now more than ever, it's important to relax, deal with what's happening, and find the coping mechanisms to help you reclaim your mental health and reduce your involvement in stressed moments. Let's deal with stress and anxiety together and see what we can do to reduce them.
Meditation will change your life if you let it. The pace of our modern life is at least ten times what it was just 10 years ago. Technology improved our lives but also created a more frenetic and stressful pace. If we decided to stop, breathe, and become more mindful, we would reduce stress and experience much more enjoyment in each moment of our everyday lives.
There’s always something to worry about. Whether it’s our career, relationships, dating, or trauma, we go through moments that bombard us with negative thoughts that can make us feel anxious and stressed. Our worries may often define our choices, our view of the world, or ourselves. This doesn’t mean they are faults, flaws, or downfalls—we just need to practice managing them in a healthy way, placing deserved value on self-care. Yoga is only one connection. Check out these seven yoga poses that can help your mind and body when you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or overall stress.
We’re all guilty of our routines and habits running our lives at one point or another. We’re all guilty of being attached to our schedules and our to-do list. We’re all guilty of running on a loop every now and then. As the energies of 2021 continue to shift, we get to ask ourselves the intentions of why and how we are participating in the places we are participating in, the thoughts we are thinking, the habits we are cultivating, and the communities that we are a part of. This intention and mindfulness process can not only shift our own experiences but of those around us as well.
If you have found meditation to be useful in trying times, right now is an incredible time to also try virtual sound baths to receive the deep sound healing benefits. As many of us are processing a variety of emotions as a collective—stress, worry, fear, anxiety, uncertainty—we can start to cause long-term damage to our bodies, especially to our immune and nervous systems. Giving ourselves self-care in a way that is easy, non-intrusive, and simple, can be the perfect way to help your body restore.
These resources aren’t the only thing we have to help you deal with stress—they’re just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, there are tons of classes available to you on the Mindbody app and through Mindbody Flex to help you reignite your calm whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. And always remember, at the end of the day, your best is always good enough.