Barre3 shares the science of fitness and how to stay healthy.
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If you’re like just about everyone I know right now, all this time at home has you wondering how you’ll keep up with your workout while your favorite gyms, yoga studios, and other exercise emporiums are temporarily closed. And if you take a step back, turn inwards, you might just realize that this might be the perfect time to consider a new type of workout—an exercise that you were always too intimidated to try. Maybe one that tests your abs, puts your core to work, gets your body into a posture you've never even considered, and teaches you how to inhale and exhale through anything...
For me, Pilates is that workout. At a skinny 6’4”, I’d given up hope that I’ll ever touch my toes, “muscle” isn’t really a word people use when describing me, and double-leg stretches sound more like something I'd do before getting out of bed instead of part of a home workout—so learning about Pilates exercises gives me a newfound sense that those goals are actually achievable.
Beginners like me often pronounce it wrong (typically, a variation of “pirates”), and at first glance, the exercise equipment looks like medieval torture devices more apt to draw and quarter me than whip me into shape. (Editor's note: I will confirm this as that is how it appears to me as well.)
The Pilates method doesn’t date back to the Middle Ages, but it is an older methodology, practiced for more than 100 years since its founding by Joseph (you guessed it) Pilates. He called it “Contrology” to denote controlled movements that, when performed properly, can do wonders for your flexibility, tone and build muscle, strengthen inhale and exhale practices, improve core strength, balance, and endurance, and assist with proper posture. It’s now taught and practiced across the globe, with instructors devoting over 500 hours to their certification.
The family of Pilates styles features two main methodologies:
Classical preserves the original method invented by Joseph Pilates—the traditional repertoire, sequencing, and equipment progression. For the purists out there, this is THE way that Pilates was meant to be taught.
Contemporary blends Classical with other disciplines like yoga and fitness training, incorporating modern Pilates equipment as well as props such as foam rollers and balls. This system operates from a thorough understanding of the traditional repertoire of the classical system, supplemented with a modern-day understanding of kinesiology and often more creative, less regimented, forms of movement. As a veteran instructor I know put it, “Think jazz improv rooted in classical music understanding.”
Both Classical and Contemporary Pilates incorporate specialized equipment such as the Reformer, Tower, Cadillac, Arc Barrel, and Wunda Chair. But don’t call them machines! Seasoned Pilates aficionados refer to them as “apparatus,” the term Pilates himself used to describe the unique equipment Pilates requires.
Which style you choose is up to you, but the overall goal is the same: core and abs strength, spinal flexibility, balance, and generally improved health for your entire body and mind.
You don’t need a Pilates Reformer to build abdominal muscles and improve your breathing techniques from your living room, but if you’re new to the discipline, having some expert instruction can go a long way toward making sure you’re doing it right and avoiding injury while getting the core-strengthening exercise you want. Creative businesses are providing a slew of ways for their clients to keep up their fitness routines at home, and many offer video-on-demand and live-streaming classes. You can find them through the Mindbody app or on Mindbody.io—search for terms like “virtual,” “on-demand,” and “live stream.”
Seek out a studio and instructors that are BASI, STOTT, PMA, or otherwise certified, with a comprehensive 500 hour+ certification. They can introduce you to the repertoire in an informed and educated way, one where you can keep your body safe and supported as you come to learn the expansive nature of the system—some call it the “Pilates secret.” There are also lots of Pilates fusion classes out there, which may be a great place to start if you have a yoga background—these classes focus on simpler movements. For those, you'd look for instructors with an AFAA or NASM certification and a Pilates specialization.
You’ll probably need a few key props to start practicing these core exercises at home, such as a mat (usually thicker and larger than a yoga mat), a few light weights, and some resistance bands. As you grow into your practice, you may graduate to more specialized pieces like the magic circle (an exercise ring made of flexible metal or rubber). Also important for Pilates exercises is an open mind, a deep inhale, a fluid exhale, and of course, your glutes.
Grab your props and pull up a video from one of the Pilates studios on the app, or sign up for a live streaming class—and before you can say “dorsiflexion” you’ll be performing single leg stretches, teasers, and pelvic curls in the comfort of your own home. With well-educated instructors that are skilled in teaching mat work (the most advanced form of Pilates), you can start to break down the basic principles of the Pilates system.
Before you can say “dorsiflexion” you’ll be performing single leg stretches, teasers, and pelvic curls in the comfort of your own home.
Trying a new workout at home can be ideal because it builds your confidence and gives you a chance to get the hang of it before showing up to an in-person class. Because, let’s face it—not all of us want to be the fresh face in class, mistaking a Reformer for a rowing machine.
Things are weird. Times are changing. It seems like just when we’re starting to get a grip, there’s another surprise. When it comes to beauty, we've had to adapt on our own due to salon closures, keep an eye on preparations and protocol changes during those closures, try to know what we’re doing before booking an appointment once they reopened, and maybe even brave the journey back to the salon. Whether you live in a place where salons are open, you’ve experienced a second shutdown, or you straight up haven’t had a haircut since March, we can all probably agree that we’re expecting some differences in the salon and spa world thanks to COVID.
We wanted to gauge how everyone is thinking and feeling about all this, so we put out a poll on our Instagram, asking you all what you expect from beauty salons right now.
Here’s what you had to say...
53% of you have returned to the hair salon by now, while 47% of you have not. This makes sense, because every area of the country is different when it comes to cases, closures, and mandates, and every person is different when it comes to risk and safety.
While many hair salons have begun operating outdoors due to government regulations, 58% of you said you’re fine with getting your haircut indoors, while the other 42% are more comfortable keeping it outside.
58% of you said you’d rather go to your hair salon than have your stylist come to you. I get it, home is a safe space, probably shouldn’t let any outsiders in.
69% of you said you’re “totally!” going to tip more for services once you start receiving them again. During this time without our stylists and aestheticians, I think we all realized how much we need them and appreciate them, and many of us are willing to show them a little extra gratitude to make up for the time we spent apart.
But, most of you aren’t. 56% of you said you have not cut or colored your own or a friend’s hair, because it was too risky, while the other 44% just “had to!”
Only 29% of you have returned to nail salons, while the rest are sticking to at-home manicures. Maybe we’re all just getting really good at it? But probably, it’s because a lot of them are still closed down, or because it’s a little more difficult to get a pedicure outdoors (we need our massage chairs!).
Our last poll question asked about what differences you’ve all noticed when heading back to the salon, and you all had a lot to say...
It’s a beautiful thing to see how the salon and spa community has come together, taken precautions, and adjustments, all so they can continue to help us look and feel our best. If you haven’t spoken to your stylist lately (or even if you have), don’t forget to shoot them a thank you and let them know you appreciate them.