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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!
For the first time ever, the globe will be watching surfing take center stage at the 2020 (postponed to July 2021) Olympics. People from all over the world will be appreciating the sport, many for the first time.
This symbolizes the surfing community breaking through centuries of negative stereotypes. Though conditions play a big part in the sport, the biggest hurdle the athletes will have to overcome to see success is mental. The winner will be the one who chooses their waves wisely with their understanding of the conditions and ability to intimidate and therefore overcome components. Meanwhile, they will be challenging themselves to emerge from crashing barrels, fly into the air, and land on the shifting surface gracefully. No big deal.
You’ve probably heard the invention of a wave pool, which creates the perfect man-made wave. In 2007, Kelly Slater founded his wave company with a passion to build the perfectly rideable wave at his surf ranch. It was debated whether the Olympics should be held in the ocean or on a manufactured wave, with many differing opinions on what would be right. The decision was made, and the event will take place in the sea, at Tsurigasaki Beach in Japan, about 40 miles east of Tokyo, where the rest of the 2021 games will be hosted.
As you watch, take a moment to reflect on the century of effort for this to happen. This initiative can be traced all the way back to the 1912 summer games that took place in Stockholm. Duke Kahanamoku, known as the father of modern surfing, won three gold medals in swimming, and while accepting his medal, he expressed that it was his dream to see surfing be added. To add fuel to the fire, International Surfing Association, recognized as the surfing world's governing authority by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), began lobbying for the inclusion of surfing in the Olympics in 1955.
Surfing is a multidimensional sport unlike any other. Nothing compares to paddling out to the serene silence that awaits beyond the breaking waves. Once you get out there, you immediately escape the many annoyances ingrained in everyday life—the constant notifications on your phone and laptop, your back-to-back schedule, answering to other people. You’re no longer on the time that your watch reads, you’re on mother nature’s time. You’re also no longer in control of your surroundings. Now, all you can do is surrender and wait for the next set to come, while trying to position yourself for when it does.
The high from catching the perfect wave is so addicting that surfers would fail on one hundred in a row just to catch that one. After you catch that perfect one, you replay it in your mind for the rest of the day.
A successful session is reliant on so many factors of mother nature—a force way bigger than us. For ideal conditions to exist, a good-sized swell must approach from the right direction, the wind must be flowing offshore, and you have to time your session right with the ebb and flow of the tide.
The sport is always teaching you life lessons. It is humbling, even if you’ve been practicing it for many years. One reason why it takes so long to master is that the conditions are going to be different every time you get out there. You might have caught a million yesterday, but today makes you feel like a kook because you can’t land one decent wave.
The community of people that you become a part of when you surf is special. A shared obsession with the ocean that brings you to dive into the water at dawn to get a session in bonds you quick. When you’re out there, you’ll find yourself interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds. People enjoy sharing the stoke of the sport. When you see someone out there teaching somebody new, you’ll encounter them cheering at the top of their lungs when they catch a good wave, and as you look around, you’ll see smiles all across the lineup. The other day, I caught a long wave in to be met with a cheering crowd of locals who frequent the spot that I do. When I got to shore, a local showed me their secret stash of hot packs to access in case I, or someone else, gets stung by a stingray when they aren’t around.
Being out in the ocean and abiding by her rules gives surfers a deep love and connection to nature. It’s common to see sea animals out there, like dolphins, stingrays, and fish. When you have an encounter, it’s a reminder that we are invading their territory. It sucks when you see trash floating in the water, or on the sand in its route to the water. It’s a sad reminder of the negative impact that humans can have on natural environments. It inspires you to pick up trash and advocate for sustainability so that we, as a collective, can take care of the beauty that we are lucky to have access to.
Tune in to see surfing break into the biggest international sporting event in the world beginning on Saturday, July 24th.
Do you live by the ocean? Paddle out with an instructor.
Don't live by the water, but still want to train for your next surf trip? Consider these classes.
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