Question of the Week

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Will I plateau in barre?

Answer (from Paula): No.  I’ve heard numerous times in class that the workout seems to get harder the more classes students take, and I agree completely!  A very common question is “Will this get any easier?”  While the positions are challenging from the start, as you start to master the form, it’s easier to understand how to engage your muscles in a deeper way, and how to engage (or ignore!) your mind’s cues as you experience the deep burning of your muscles that signifies you getting stronger.  Students thereby develop a craving for not only the physical results they see emerge from their hard work, but the mental challenge and emotional boost they get from committing and conquering a series.

Question of the Week

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I tend to bulk up with weight lifting.  Will barre class trim me down?

Answer from Paula: Yes.  The barre’s classes were built around the traditional Lotte Berk method, which has been lauded as the exercise of choice to tone and transform bodies since the 1970s!  There’s a reason dancers enjoy sculpted thighs and perfect posture – they work at it, and we do, too.  During the first three-to-five months that you take class however, you may feel your muscles more. This is because newly toned muscles hold additional water, and also because intra-muscular fat that has been pushed outwards.

After around five months of classes, the intramuscular fat will burn away, your muscles will become more compact and elongated, and you will lose inches.So if you’re going through the initial strengthening stage, have faith! A few more months of classes will tighten your muscles, burn away excess intramuscular fat, and give you a new, trimmed down shape.  And bonus, our stretching will elongate your muscles, while our focus on posture will have you walking taller throughout life.

Question of the Week

Question: Is it ok/normal for my standing leg to seem to work almost as much as my working leg?
 Answer (From Rachel):
YES! Every time I take class, the standing leg burn is as much of a challenge as the working seat. If you think about it – you are balancing almost all of your body’s weight on one leg for 6+ minutes…of course that will tire the leg out! We actually want that to happen as that’s our “bonus” work in our unilateral seat work – simple, weight-bearing exercise like that is absolutely amazing for building bone density as well as challenging/sculpting your muscles (that are already very tired from thigh work :). However, the challenge is to not let that standing leg burn take over your mind and have you lose focus on your working seat. Often people will say their standing leg is burning MORE…and while that’s possible, it’s only possible if you let it be that way: ie you are not thinking about squeezing the seat muscle that we want to be working. I always say seat work gets much, much harder the longer you come because as you really learn to isolate your seat muscle, you then are really burning that side while your standing leg is working, too. Initially, clients are just feeling their standing leg burn (which again, is great…but shouldn’t be the focus) and not the working seat because they haven’t quite made the mind-muscle connection yet.
Remember in seat work we say to “shift your weight to the instep of your standing foot” – and if you have your hands on the barre to shift weight into the opposite hand (this is compensating for one of your legs not being on the ground) – the goal of this isn’t to make your standing leg stop burning, but rather to minimize it slightly so you are a little more comfortable and then able to keep your mind on engaging the opposite seat.

Question of the Week


Question: If I need to give my wrists a break, what modifications might be available?

 
Answer (from Kristin G.):
As many of you may know, I have had challenges with one of my wrists for a while now. Over the course of the last few months, I have learned a lot about modifying my exercise routine to ensure I do not cause further damage and still get a fantastic barre workout!
First and foremost, if you are experiencing pain please see your doctor to discuss your workout routine and what you need to do to avoid injury! I saw my doctor as soon as I started experiencing pain in my wrist and was given instruction to rest and stabilize my wrist. That is why I sometimes wear a brace when I teach and take class. Since I began taking modifications in class, I have seen significant improvement.
So what modifications did I try to give my wrists a break? Below are some tips that I have used and will continue to use in the future!
  • Pushups: There are a few different options I tried with pushups. First of all, using a heavy set of weights (one weight in each hand) can help keep wrists more in line with your forearms. This may actually be more challenging since you are creating more distance between you and the mat. Another option is to use the barre for pushups starting in a similar position as the semi-pushup seat position. This has been a great option for me and still allows for taking different challenge options like pulsing one foot.
  • Straight arm plank: One modification here is to stay in the forearm plank position instead of moving up to straight arms. Forearm planks still offer a great challenge and there is always the option to send your hands out in front of you for a deeper challenge. Another option is to use heavy weights under your hands, but I would only do this when you have both hands down and not for side planks. The side plank modification is to stay on your forearm which you will always see me do when on my right side.
  • Tricep dips: Similar to pushups, using heavy weights in your hands is a great modification to keep wrists in line with your forearms. I began using weights for tricep dips and will probably continue to use weights. Not only has it helped my wrists, but it also helps me go even deeper in my tricep dips because I am lifted further off the ground. I have also had clients tell me that using weights has completely changed this part of class for them in a positive way. Give it a try sometime to change your routine a bit! One other option is to keep your seat on the ground with hands pressing into the mat and just focus on pressing your elbows back to flex the tricep muscle.
  • Tabletop: This might be my favorite seat position so I am thrilled that there are so many options available to modify. First, you can use a heavy set of weights under your hands. Another option is to make fists with your hands instead of placing your hands flat on the mat. I tend to shy away from this option because I feel unstable. My favorite modification is to come down to my forearms. I find that it gives my wrists a break allowing me to really focus in on my seat and legs. The beauty of tabletop is that you do get some upper body work along with a killer seat burn, but we never want anyone to lose focus on their seat because of too much upper body distraction.
  • Semi-pushup: If this position causes you any wrist pain, first ensure your wrists are staying in line with your forearms and are not bending. If it is still too much, modify with the standing bent knee position. You can still do the same combos but are standing up instead of leaning in to the barre. The only thing you miss out on is that added upper body bonus work!

Again, these are some tips that have helped me. If you have any questions please talk with your instructor as modifications are always available. Keep in mind that modifications may not make a position easier. A modification may indeed add an extra challenge!

Question of the Week

What does having the ball between our legs during thigh series really do?

Answer (From Erin O.):

“It totally enhances your barre workout! Yes, you can still fire up those thighs and feel those shakes without a ball, but when you add that ball it’s an extra challenge!  It targets those inner thighs to sculpt and strengthen them.  Each time you squeeze in the ball you are burning fat and creating muscle! The more fat you burn the more muscle you create and the more muscle you build the higher your metabolism, and more calories you burn!

The ball also helps promote stability and a proud posture. When you place the ball in between your thighs you immediately stand up a little taller, your shoulders roll back and you engage your core, your lower abdominals always get a workout when you use the Barre ball!  It’s a little extra cardio work too because your heart rate goes up!”

 xoxo,
Erin

 

Question of the Week

Question: How do I know if I’m ready to try the HIT class?

 
Answer (From Kristen S.):
HIT the Barre is based off of the High Intensity Training method.  At the barre, we worked to keep our signature barre moves and workout, and add a kick of cardio to keep the heart rate up for a solid 50 min.  While our open class is still a cardio burn, the HIT classes keeps a steady pace so that our heart rate does not come down throughout the workout.  We recommend you take at least 5 open barre classes before attending the HIT the barre class.  This will help to  be familiar with a lot of our movements and set ups, so that you can transition quickly from one move to the next.  Posture is always of utmost importance, therefore it is beneficial for you to have a grasp on correct form to ensure you get the very most out of each movement, and, each and every minute.
By adding the HIT class to your open and mini barre workout, you will see quick results, while enhancing your metobollic rate and strengthening, and sculpting every muscle in your body.  If you have been taking our open class and are ready for the next challenge, you are ready to HIT the barre.  Remember…you are always stronger than you think you are!!
xoxo,
Kristen

Question of the Week

Question: What are the benefits of doing barre while pregnant?
 
Answer (From Kim D.):

Oh I love this question because you get all the regular benefits plus even MORE!  
 
First, assuming you have no complications upon doctors approval, barre is absolutely safe throughout your pregnancy!  It is the perfect way to stay toned and keep up that desired strength for delivery and just overall in general.  I always tell clients to “listen” to your body and let it be your guide.  Maybe at times you need to take a little break (which is NO biggie), and other times you will be simply amazed at what your body can and will do for you!  Also, the strength of your mind is a powerful tool!  Throughout pregnancy, and the three trimesters, you will be challenged in different ways!  For example, when I was pregnant with my third, I had to really focus on my breathing throughout first trimester.  In my second trimester, I had so much energy to push myself and felt so empowered by the strength and endurance I still had.  In my the third and final trimester, simple modifications and mental power came into play.  I remember having to fight through tricep dips, but also knew I could push myself for such a small increment of time.  🙂  Our instructors are always there to support you so if you have any questions on those modifications just ask as we are more than happy to help!
 
One of the best benefits is when other clients watch you working so hard and see that you CAN do it, you motivate every person in class to work even harder!  The ladies at our studio are so incredibly supportive that you will love coming to barre pregnant and will feel so great about yourself!  
 
Lastly, continuing barre throughout your pregnancy will help in delivery, keep off the extra pounds, and absolutely will help you bounce back after baby (who doesn’t want that)?  You will be craving to come back after maternity leave!
 
WARNING – You better be ready to come show that little bundle off upon delivery; we love babies!  🙂 

xoxo,

Kim

Question of the Week

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How long do I need to go to barre classes before they become easier?
Answer (from Rachel): We like to say “barre classes never get easier…you just get better!” 🙂 it’s honestly true, though; you never ever will truly conquer a barre class – if you ever feel like you have, then <unfortunately> that probably means that you weren’t quite pushing yourself hard enough! Paula and I have collectively been doing barre classes for almost 20 years between the two of us, and if you’re ever in class when we’re taking class, too, you’ll notice that we are shaking more than anyone else in the room – we are as challenged now as when we first started…if not more, actually, because we have got the posture correct and know what we SHOULD be doing to maximize each position!
That is the true beauty of our classes: you can have them grow with your level, you will never plateau and need to move on to something new to challenge your muscles, and you will be able to continue seeing new changes in your body and your strength. Our workouts are varied enough that your muscles will keep getting surprised, and as long as you are listening to your instructor’s cues, and being honest with how hard you are working (think: how low you are in thigh work, how tucked your hips are in seat work, and trying to take less breaks than last time) you should always be challenged to the point of shaking (which means you are working hard enough and therefore, getting results). Hence…the more you know what you should be doing, the more you are probably shaking – so your workout is not getting easier 1 month, 6 months or 2 years down the road!
That said, MENTALLY our classes can get “easier”: the more you come, the more mental strength you gain (along with physical strength, of course) – so your mind is tough enough to say: “I know waterskiing is only 2 minutes; I can do this, no breaks no matter how much it hurts – it’s not going to kill me!” vs in your first couple classes your mind probably was saying “Oh my gosh, how long do we waterski for!? This hurts so badly! Ouch, I’m taking a break!” Having that perspective of knowing each series in finite and will be followed by a stretch will really help you push and make everything feel a little “easier” to tackle.
Remember that you should never feel defeated by a barre class, and so don’t let the fact that the classes don’t really get easier make you feel like you are climbing an unending hill! Remember that all you need to do to be a success within our studio walls is try your hardest – so if you do that in class, no matter how many breaks you take or if you aren’t sure if you are doing something right, you are leaving a success. Always feel free to chat with your instructor to help you maximize or clarify any questions you have after class – we are there to help and we literally get overjoyed when YOU get a great workout! We want to do whatever we need to to make that happen!

Question of the Week

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What does it really mean when my muscles shake during class?
Answer: (from Cindy H.) Have you experienced “the barre shakes” in a recent class?  We wear those shakes as a badge of honor!
At the barre, we isolate individual muscle groups, and work those muscles to the point of exhaustion.  Shaking kicks in when your muscles are getting to the point of fatigue, or “overload”, and when this begins, you know you’re pushing your body to its max.  A muscle that is being challenged deeply to the point of shaking is a muscle that’s increasing in strength…and, therefore, a toned appearance!  Holding on a little longer each class through the “shakes” will increase your endurance and stamina, and you’ll begin to see the amazing cumulative effect of building on your progress each week.  The best thing about barre classes, in my opinion, is that nothing gets easier.  The more you attend, the more challenging the classes seem to get, because you have a better understanding of how to get into proper form, and challenge yourself to achieve those shakes.
So, ladies, embrace those shakes!  It means change is happening!  And who doesn’t love that?!

Question of the Week

Is there a certain body type that is more likely to get a bigger benefit out of barre classes?

Answer: (from Kim D.)That is great question, and one I’ve been asked many times. The answer is…no!  The barre is a place for all body shapes, sizes, heights, and ages.  It’s a practice for anyone who wants to strengthen, tone, and create longer – leaner muscle.  Naturally, we all have different body shapes, metabolisms, as well as genetics, but our studio is the perfect place for all body types.  Ideally for best results, we suggest taking at least three to four classes a week accompanied with healthy nutrition, and a good nights sleep to mentally push yourself in class!  Also, its very important to challenge yourself throughout our stretching portions of class – these are built in with much purpose to create those long muscles (who doesn’t want that?). Once that heat is radiating within (especially after our thigh burn), you’ll be so impressed by the flexibility you’ll be gifted with!

So… come one, come all, the barre studio has something to offer everyone!  And remember: “No body transformations happen overnight or without consistency and dedication!”.
-Can’t wait to see you in class!