Confession: I’ve never been a lover of exercise.
It was always a means to an end. Something you had to slog through in order to get the results (healthy mind + body) that you want. In the rare instance I would find a workout I didn’t despise (spinning/running), it would become my long-term de-facto exercise.
Hey, I’m a creature of habit.
As I’ve developed a greater interest in health and fitness (Because isn’t that what your 30’s are for!? You gotta undo all the damage of your 20’s!), I realized the importance of shaking things up. For optimal results, you have to give your most utilized muscle groups a rest, focusing on those that may not get as much action.
Balance is key, y’all!
So when BARRE CLEVELAND invited me to attend one of their BARRE FIT classes, I was all over it. Stolen straight from the studio warm-ups of prima ballerinas, barre classes are famous for transforming the shape of the body. Um, yeah I’ll take long, lean thighs, flat abdominals, high lifted glutes, better posture and more energy ALL. DAY. LONG. The key to barre success is working those small, hidden, muscle groups that traditional cardio and strength training just don’t target.
… and work you will. Trust me. My abs, hamstrings, obliques and arms are still feeling the burn 2 days later.
After class, I spent some time with my barre instructor extraordinaire, Halley to find out just why Barre is so good for you and how we can all squeeze a little more Barre into our daily routines.
Here’s what she had to say — and a few (Hello, awkward!) visuals to help you better nail those moves!
Ask The Expert:
• What should beginners know before trying Barre for the first time?
You are going to work hard! But no fear because anyone can do a Barre class. There are modifications for every exercise. Everyone has abilities and limitations to work with. If ego creeps in and tells you, “I can’t do this,” come back to what you ARE capable of today. When we are light with ourselves and stay curious, the possibilities are endless.
• What are 3 exercises you’d recommend for busy women on the go who may not have the time to make it to your group class?
1) Hamstring strengthener:
Start with your heels together and toes in a narrow v position, soften your knees and then drop your hips six inches. Tailbone is neutral, so no tucking or over extending in the pelvis. First do singles and then pulse. The action is down!
Knee issues, no worries. Simply do less reps and a shorter range of motion. Go as low as the knees allow you to without pain. If you don’t have a barre, use a stool, chair, table or desk — anything you have handy at the time.
2) Oblique strengthener (aka – Side Plank on Forearms):
This move works the love handles. Start in forearm plank with your elbows under your shoulders, make a fist with your right hand and send it to your left elbow. Stack your left foot on top of the right right and left hip on top of the right hip. For an easy modification, drop your left foot to the inside of your bottom leg. Reach your top hand up and pulse up for 8-16 counts. The action is UP! Repeat on the other side.
3) Transverse abdominal strengthener (aka – The Curl):
Start in a kickstand position with your elbows underneath your shoulders. Feet are bent hip distance apart. Tilt your tailbone up, carving out the belly and press the flat part of your sacrum down into the floor. Lightly place your hands at the outsides of the thighs. Keep the chin and chest open. Hold here, keeping your form and release your hands when you are ready. Make fists with both hands and tap 8-16 times.
For a simple modification, bring a small ball under the shoulder blades for added support. If your middle back hits the floor, you have gone too low. If your sacrum is off the floor, then you are too high. Accessing this deep, hard-to-find, sheet of muscle that sits between the pubic bone and the hips, and rides all the way up towards your ribs is key to shrinking the waistline and creating a more hourglass figure.
• We all seem to be obsessed with butts lately. Do you have a favorite bootie buster?
It is called the Glute Strengthener Prone. In this variation the knees are bent and heels are pressing up. To get into the exercise lay flat on your belly, stack your hands and rest your forehead on your hands. Bring your feet to 5 and 7 o’clock and allow the heels to fall in. Bend your knees and press your heels together as you lift your your knees and things off the mat. Imagine you are raising the roof with your heels as your vigorously press the heels together and up. The action is UP!
See if you can challenge yourself by keeping the thighs and knees completely off the floor. As long as the toes and knees are turned out, this gets into the gluteus minimus which is the higher part of your bum. Tighten this and the bootie will be transformed.
Now that you’ve gotten a little taste of the Barre, here’s a special treat for all my NE Ohio people to get your Barre burn on! BARRE CLEVELAND and I are teaming up to give away ONE lucky reader a 5-Class Pass (a $99 retail value!) that can be used at BARRE CLEVELAND.
Make sure that you enter by Sunday, Nov 5th (at midnight) because the more entries you submit, the better your chance of winning.
A firmer, tighter tush, better posture, longer, leaner muscles and sculpted abs AWAIT!
(Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with BARRE Cleveland, although all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Heart’s Delight in business!)