Ah, the thigh section of class. Glorious, yes? One of our favorite things about thigh work is not simply that it inevitably seems to be the most challenging part of class, but that it truly is each individual person’s “Everest” that you never will really summit (you can always challenge yourself more, coming lower or releve higher to find those shakes – never, ever truly conquering!). Sounds painful…and it is, but we keep coming back for more!! Why? It works: there is definitely nothing that brings about such tangible and clear results (as in, newly and clearly defined thigh muscles) as the barre’s thigh section. We happen to like seeing the results of our hard work, and using that as a reminder to dig deeper and keep the mental strength next time. That is why we love the barre more every day…some of us have been doing this for almost 10 years and still feel proud when not taking a break from chair or giddy with newfound definition!!
The bonus (and we’ll often remind you of this, to help mentally push yourself harder) is that we are also increasing your resting and working metabolic rate. Our thighs are one of the largest muscle groups in our body, which means we have opportunity to create a lot of lean, strong muscle. The more muscle we create in our body (and conversely, the more fat we melt away in the process), the more calories you will burn both in class and through the rest of your day – the fact is simple: a pound of muscle is much more efficient at burning calories than a pound of fat (and takes up a lot less space, not to mention looks better!), so the more muscle we can build, the more calories we’ll burn morning until night. How awesome is that? Stick it out and grit your teeth to hold on through thighs in class…and burn calories more efficiently while you sleep or relax on the couch? Worth it!!
This week’s focus on form series moves to one our favorite thigh positions – the flatback chair. This series is usually in contention for one of the most-dreaded thigh series at the barre (often neck-in-neck with waterskiing or thigh dancing), and for good reason! It’s nearly impossible to “cheat” in this position (not that you ever would…), completely engages and challenges your upper body strength while relying on your thighs’ and even your glutes’ strength to completely defy gravity. It’s a beautiful thing!
Key points to this position:
- make sure your body is always in all right angles – shoulders over hips, knees over ankles (especially watch those knees as we take movements…they might have a tendency to push forward, toward your toes, and you won’t want to spend long with that angle for your knees’ health)
- your seat should always be at knee level, not above and not below (a modification is to let the seat be up higher as you work on your thigh strength, but it is not a modification OR a challenge to have your seat below knee level – only lower your seat if your teacher instructs you for a specific action we are taking)
- keep your arms straight – otherwise your form is compromised and your arms take some of the work away from your thighs…your arms have their time in class and this time is intended for your thighs!
- think of your abs and torso – you are tucking under, engaging your abs and seat, and opening your chest to keep your spine straight
- releve onto your tiptoes for a challenge – whether your instructor has given you the option yet or not! At this point, very little of your body’s surface area is supporting you on the ground…calling on your muscles to work harder to hold your position!
- feel free to take challenges, like releve-ing or releasing one leg as on the right – or just maintain your initial posture to focus on YOU and building your strength at your pace!
Once again, please ask us any questions and your instructors are always more than thrilled to help an individual student with specific questions or concerns.