How you all are prioritizing wellness in the wake of COVID-19.
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Barre is becoming all the rage in the fitness world. But what exactly is it? Although barre originated from dance, you don’t need to have a dance background to participate—it’s a low-impact fitness workout that anyone can do. The exercises develop long, lean muscles (similar to a ballerina’s) as well as increase flexibility and improve balance. Barre is a great way to work muscles you may not normally focus on—and to earn that drink at the other bar later on.
Barre is all about micro movements—the smaller the better. The point is to fatigue the muscles quickly and break them down so they grow back leaner. That’s why your starting position will be something like a deep bend, from which you’ll pulse, lift and tuck slightly to really hit those muscles. You might shake like crazy, but the more you shake the faster your muscles will fatigue. Don’t be alarmed, that means it’s working. The best thing to do? Breathe, embrace it and try to stay in the position as long as you can.
Just because barre is low-impact doesn’t mean it’s any less of a workout. Expect to burn anywhere between 200 and 600 calories in one class—and your muscles will continue working and burning them even after you’ve left the studio. It’s a total body workout, so you’re always working multiple areas at once. Plus, you can constantly push your limits by increasing your weights.
Like many workouts, your breath is crucial for getting through the tough parts of barre. Consistently exhaling sharply will not only send strength to where you need it, but will also help you focus on something other than giving up. The more you breathe, the more you tell your body that you’ve got this (smiling helps, too).
Nothing lifts your spirits higher during a tough sequence than turning to a friend and exchanging that “What have we gotten ourselves into?” look. Feed off the energy of the class, groove to the music and maybe make a new friend in the process. Don’t forget to high five them at the end and celebrate what you’ve accomplished together.
Barre classes share a similar foundation of movements, so after a few you’ll have a general idea of what to expect and the target areas you’ll hit (though the actual moves will always change). Depending on your studio and instructor, the order of movements varies, too. To give you an idea, here is one example of how a class may flow.
You’ll start with a warmup that gets you familiar with lifting to a beat. From there, your instructor may throw in some light bicep curls or squats. Next is a push-up and plank series, followed by arm sequences using weights (shoulders and biceps and triceps, oh my).
At this point, you may be eyeing the door and planning your escape, but hold tight! The best part about a barre class is that it follows a pattern: after every challenging portion of class you’ll take a rewarding stretch.
Once your work on arms is over, you’ll move to the barre for some stretches that boost your flexibility. Then, it’s right back to work with a lengthy sequence focused on your thighs, typically using a resistance band or ball. This can be one of the most difficult parts of the class, but afterwards you’ll balance it out by stretching your hamstrings and hip flexors.
You may feel tired but you’re not done yet—glutes are next. Push through these last sets, and you’ll surely feel it the next day. Last on the list are your abs (as if you haven’t been using them this whole time) and some back-building exercises.
Whew! You made it. Now enjoy some relaxing final stretches and cleansing breaths—you’ve earned them. If you find a studio you like and return frequently, you’ll get to know their sequence better and better. Or, if you’re the type who likes to explore different places around you (on the MINDBODY app), your experience could be something new every time!
When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do.
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 self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.
When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:
In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect.
Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.
When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:
In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.
Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion.
When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:
That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain.