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When I tell people I’m a barre instructor, two-thirds of them don’t know what I’m talking about—or exactly what barre is. I tell them to imagine a class featuring a hybrid of ballet, yoga, Pilates, and some standard workout moves. Adding small, controlled movements, we use props like different stretchy bands, balls, and free weights, so you’re working your booty off (literally!).
You don’t have to be flexible, a dancer, or even have experience exercising to benefit from barre. If you put in the effort, listen to your instructor, and have fun, barre can transform your body so quickly you won’t even believe how incredible you feel within weeks!
Debating if barre should be your next sweat session? Or maybe you’re wondering if your first barre class was worth the burn? Here are five reasons why you should join in on the barre craze because it’s here to stay:
Barre is designed to exhaust—then stretch—every muscle group. This combo is a highly effective, low impact way to increase your physical strength super fast. Tired of getting tired going up flights of stairs? Take some barre classes and kiss that goodbye. Keep in mind your body position is essential to working the right muscles, the right way. If your instructor says “Keep your knees in line with your toes” or “Pull your left hip back and right hip forward to square your hips,” DO IT. The results you’ll feel (and see) will be worth the effort.
Pro tip: Eat some protein and healthy carb combo (yes, both!) within a couple of hours after your class to fuel muscle recovery. That—along with some before-bed stretching—will help ease any soreness the next day.
With barre, you’re working all of your muscles, especially around your knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, and spine with no impact or shock to your joints (in exactly the right body position, amiright?). By doing that, you’re giving your body the strength it needs to support you. Strong joints are instrumental in keeping your body safe from things like, let’s say, tripping over a crack in the sidewalk, lifting heavy objects, and twisting your ankle on a dog toy in the dark. Also, as someone with herniated disk problems and knee injuries for the last 21 years, I can tell you that nothing at all, ever, has rehabilitated my broken body like barre. Strengthening the muscles around your injury (like I did) is essential to healing.
Pro Tip: Stretching the muscles around the joints is also necessary. Strong and flexible will keep you safe well into your “hip replacement years”...but without the hip replacement!
Every movement in a barre class involves working your core. This includes your back! You know how ballerinas are known to have amazing posture? There’s a reason for this—and it’s because of the core + upper back + hip strength needed at all times. So when you’re in barre class being told things like “Pull your belly button toward your spine” and “Lift up out of your standing hip,” you’re setting yourself up to walk out of class taller and poised than you’ve ever been!
Pro Tip: Remind yourself to pull your shoulder blades together and down your back while lengthening through your neck, all day long. Do it while you walk, drive, sit at your desk, have drinks at happy hour (you get the point). Practicing good posture will prevent upper back and shoulder fatigue. Plus, you’ll also look and feel more poised and confident in the process. That’s a win-win!
So, maybe one of your excuses for not taking a barre class is, “But I’m not flexible at all.” Barre is so much more about correct body positions and tiny movements than flexibility. That being said, how will you ever become more flexible if you don’t try? In class, you’ll stretch what you’ve strengthened, and that combo is going to loosen you up everywhere. You have to give it some effort as flexibility doesn’t happen overnight, but you’ll feel the difference as you become looser over time. Baby steps, my lovelies, and you’ll love the way you feel.
Pro Tip: Holding a stretch for more than 30 seconds while taking deep breaths is the beginning of genuinely increasing your flexibility. But holding a stretch for 60 seconds or more is how you permanently start to change your muscle fibers, making the lengthening and flexibility really, really real.
Speaking of breathing, this last part is probably the sneakiest (and maybe even the very best) part of busting your butt in barre. The breathing you do while working your muscles in class will not only support the effort you’re putting in, it’s also forcing you to focus your attention on the air coming in and out of your nose/mouth. A great instructor is going to talk you through this for the entire class—guiding you when and how to inhale and exhale. This is exactly what you do in mindfulness meditation to focus your attention inward.
Breathing exercises are also instrumental in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. When you are fully concentrating on your breath and the precise muscle movements, you’re focused on what you’re doing at that very moment during class. Bam! You just meditated for 60 whole minutes. Notice that when you walk out of your workout, your mindset will feel entirely different (and more positive) than when you came in. Thank yourself, because you did that.
Pro Tip: When you’re about to give up the current movement because your legs are shaking while simultaneously on fire, bring your attention to your breath. Focus. And I’ll bet you $50 you’ll make it to the end of the squat-pulse series that feels like it’s killing you.
So, go kick butt in barre (you can even book a class on MINDBODY.io)! Plus, you haven’t lived until your muscles are numb and trembling during a workout, and you haven’t lived until you’ve given yourself a strong, healthy body you feel great living in!
I’m celebrating week 21 of pregnancy. Baby is the size of a banana or bell pepper. I don’t know why it’s so fun to compare a growing fetus to a fruit or veggie, but it gives me a much-needed laugh while I make note to avoid consuming bananas for the week. This is also ultrasound week. I’m no longer able to bring my husband and daughter to the appointment, but we understand that these restrictions are put in place to protect us. Like so many pregnant women and mothers across the world, I’m doing my best to adapt to the new norm and changes that COVID-19 has introduced to my already stressful life.
Pregnant women across various metro cities are beginning to face fears of delivering their baby without a birthing partner by their side for the duration of the hospital stay. Family members and friends may not be able to meet baby in-person for quite some time, so those special first meetings happen over FaceTime. New mommy groups switch to virtual meetups. I’m feeling the weight of it all (and I’m not referring to the extra weight I’ve gained from WFH snacking), the heaviness of the unknown that we all carry as we navigate through all of this change.
Tuning into nightly news or googling the latest COVID-19 death tolls is a surefire way to lose sleep, but we do it anyway because we want to stay informed as we wrap our heads around how much this pandemic will change our world. Maybe your anxiety and personal despair grow as you hear from a friend who recently lost their job or read about your favorite restaurant unable to keep its doors open. Canceled events, long-anticipated vacations, and temporarily closed fitness studios are not only inconvenient, but force us to reframe our attitudes.
I can hear my mother’s voice telling me to relax. She tells me that the baby can feel my stress, and that isn’t good for anyone. I begin to feel guilty about my inability to quiet the negative feelings and decide that something needs to change. We can’t change what the media reports, the pressure at work, or predict how long it will take for the economy to recover. But what if we reminded ourselves to do the best with what we have and keep moving forward—one day at a time. Amidst the chaos, we’re becoming a stronger, kinder community, and that is truly a beautiful thing to see.
The journey to my second trimester wasn’t an easy one. I suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage a few years ago. I made time for my body and mind to heal after the loss. Float tank sessions, meditation, vinyasa power flow, and frequent facials helped me connect with my body. I can’t say self-care alone healed my depression, but it certainly helped me discover the importance of self-love and repaired my self-confidence.
After many pregnancy tests and negative results, I was at peace with accepting that having another child may not be in the cards for me. Fast forward to age 37. I was shocked to see a + symbol on three pregnancy stick tests. Although I’m medically referred to as a geriatric pregnancy, my OB/Gyn said there was no reason for me to go into this pregnancy with a negative mindset. Eat healthy, stay active, and focus on being POSITIVE. Maybe the pursuit of happiness and path to personal wellness was really that simple.
On my 38th birthday, I celebrated my 20th week of pregnancy—I’ll refer to it as the “Pregnant in a Pandemic Party.” I blew out a candle on a warm chocolate chip cookie that my husband and daughter baked together. They were my only party guests, but I didn’t need a room full of people at a fancy restaurant to feel pure gratitude. People across the world continue to test positive for COVID-19. I was safe in my home with my family. I was right where I needed to be.
Although the past few weeks have brought a wide range of emotions for all of us, I’m choosing to use this extra time to self-reflect and bond with family. I’m mentally recording my five-year-old daughter as she whispers to my stomach and tells her baby sister that August couldn’t come soon enough. This is life. So perfectly imperfect at times, but beautiful in more ways than we know. We may be housebound, down to the last few rolls of toilet paper, and our hair hasn’t seen a salon in over a month. The loss of control and routine over our daily lives can make us feel like failures. Trust me; we’re not. We were never meant to get through this alone. Together, we will get through this—one day at a time.