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As a fitness blogger and Instagrammer, I’ve made it a point to try just about every fitness class in NYC: the bizarre combination of cycling underwater, a dizzying aerial yoga class, and over a dozen different barre classes throughout the city.
But the truth is, I never loved barre. The moves felt awkward in my body—I’m not very flexible despite being a yoga teacher. I always felt unsure about my form and worried I was going to hurt myself as a result. I figured barre classes and I were just not meant to be.
All of that changed after I took my first class at The Bar Method two summers ago. At the time, my body was craving low-impact movement. I had run the NYC Marathon a few months prior. Before the marathon, I was all about the high-intensity fitness classes and thought if I didn’t sweat (or feel like I was going to puke) it wasn’t a real workout. After the marathon I had no desire to push my body like that anymore, nor did I want to force myself to.
A friend of mine was obsessed with The Bar Method and raved about it all the time. I decided, why not try it and see what the fuss is about?
During that first class, I noticed a few key differences that separated The Bar Method from all the other barre classes I had taken over the years:
Within the first 5-minutes of my first class, I learned that The Bar Method is all about hands-on and verbal adjustments. Throughout class, my instructor came over to correct my posture. She’d call me out by name to both praise me when I had good form and also correct things I was doing wrong. Which let’s be honest was a lot of things in my first class.
I was impressed with the attention to detail and had never experienced something like that before in a group fitness class. Nothing got past her hawkeyes and there was no room for poor form, slacking or giving up in the middle of a set.
I left feeling confident and safe that, with the helpful adjustments from the instructor, my form was spot-on.
Before my first class, the instructor really took the time to learn my name and if I had any injuries. This level of interaction isn’t just for newbies though. Whenever I take a class with a new-to-me instructor, they take the time to learn my name (and will use it in class!) and learn if I have any injuries. The most amazing thing: the instructors are incredible at remembering your name. Seriously, how do they do it?
After taking a number of classes with the same instructors, they’ve really gotten to know me. And they’re not afraid to call me out when I drop to my knees during push-ups because they know I’m strong enough to do them on my feet!
Despite being a low-impact workout (no burpees or jumping jacks here!), I was shocked by what a thorough total body workout the class was. We worked every major muscle group to fatigue (and then some!) leaving me just the right amount of sore. I realized then that you don’t need to be sweating buckets or doing burpees in order to get a full-body workout.
Whether you’re pregnant, dealing with an injury or a newbie to the class, The Bar Method offers a ton of modifications. I learned firsthand just how many modifications and variations there are for injuries when I was dealing with my own injury — a hip impingement thanks to something I tweaked while teaching my own fitness class. The instructors took such good care of me during this time and checked in throughout the class to offer modifications for my hip.
After taking my first class, I was hooked and started going to class once a week. As time went on, I craved more and decided to join Club Bar at the Williamsburg studio. I really mean this when I say I never thought I’d be the kind of person that takes barre classes 3-5 times a week—I was previously the queen of bootcamp and cycling after all. But now, I’m all about The Bar Method and it’s the class I look forward to taking each and every time I go.
Acupuncture is extremely beneficial for various ailments ranging from digestion to carpal tunnel, but the level of effectiveness varies from person-to-person. I’ve had Sciatica patients spend months combating their back and leg pain, and others hop off the table in two hours, never needing a follow-up appointment. Some rotator cuffs take six weeks; others take two years.
Why is this?
While your body's response to acupuncture depends on the complaint or injury, it also depends on your overall health, and how well you take care of the injured site between sessions. If we eat junk food all the time, are inactive, don’t sleep well, or overwork ourselves, then injury is imminent, and recovery is going to be hard. Equally, if we ignore an injury or don't care for it, then we will likely stay injured for longer.
So, let’s break down what’s best for you when it comes to acupuncture:
“How often should you get acupuncture with specific ailments?”
This is different for everyone, but here are some general guidelines.
More is better.
Acupuncture has cumulative effects, so while most feel relief after one session, it likely will not have resolved the issue. Multiple follow up sessions are needed, and for your own comfort, it’s recommended that you use sessions before the effects have completely worn off each time.
Every time you receive a session, your relief should be more significant, and the effects should last longer—bringing the injury closer to resolution. With this in mind; the worse the injury, the more frequent you’ll want to receive acupuncture. Several times a week is standard, that way you will get out of discomfort faster, and you’ll need fewer sessions overall.
Understanding acute versus chronic ailments.
Some acute symptoms like nausea, dizziness, bleeding, swelling, or anxiety will clear up on the spot. However, for recent injuries pertaining to tissues, like a strained muscle, you can use three acupuncture sessions in one week with great effect. For example, with strained lower back muscles, you will feel less pain in one session, a significant reduction in inflammation and symptoms within three sessions. An ankle sprain is a little more serious and may take two or three weeks, but the general idea is the same.
With stubborn pain, or chronic issues like sciatica, skin rashes, nerve pain, hormone irregularities, it can take a bunch of sessions to see lingering results. Often there will be relief right after each session, but the symptoms return quickly (albeit with a little less vengeance). This just means the results are happening in smaller increments. For this reason, your practitioner will tell you to come in over three times a week for two or three weeks so you’ll get more relief faster, but you can space the sessions out as you begin to feel better.
“What can I do to make my acupuncture benefits bigger?”
As mentioned, how you care for yourself between sessions makes a big difference. Here’s a few pro tips.
Your practitioner will give you specific directions they want you to follow for your ailment, but generally, after an acupuncture visit, it is wise to drink a lot of water and rest.
Here’s the obvious thing we don’t often consider. If you get instant relief for your pulled hamstring, but then you go running the next day, it’s going to take forever to heal! That injured body part needs to be pampered and catered to. Your acupuncturist will give you food, supplement, lifestyle, and movement suggestions to use between sessions– use them all.
I’ve seen countless patients walk in with frozen shoulder, spend 90 minutes in the chair with various points and stimulation techniques, and then leave swinging their arm painlessly with 50% more range of motion. If they eat well, do their physical therapy, and are kind to their shoulders, the effects will last. Then, next time, we can add another 50% on to their range of motionBut, if they paint a house or swing a baseball, then I see them go right back to square one overnight. How we take care of ourselves between sessions really matters.
You will want to note any changes; no matter how small or irrelevant they seem. Your practitioner is armed with many protocols and techniques. They will always start with the combo that they’ve seen work best for your complaint, from there they will work backward or tweak it slightly based on the information you give them. Make sure to tell them every detail, even if it seems unrelated.
One lady, with unrelenting pain, finally revealed a game-changing nugget to me while nonchalantly laughing about her need to wear neck scarves everywhere. I found out she had been experiencing chills and had a significant aversion to wind during the summer. This “irrelevant” snippet made me radically change the protocol, and she was pain-free and healing rapidly within four sessions.
So, there you have it. How acupuncture benefits various body parts depends on the area concerned, but also on how we treat our bodies before, during, and after injury.