One of the things that takes up a part of my day is my anxiety and quieting down my mind. Another thing should take up more of my day, is physical activity and exercise. Like most people, I find excuses not to work out. Oh I’m tired. Oh I need to get laundry done. Oh I turned on Netflix already…
But recently I’ve tried to strike a balance in life. My goal is to quiet down my anxiety and ramp up my fitness levels. The decision to change wasn’t something I’ve done alone. In fact, its taken encouragement from a therapist, my parents, my family, and my boyfriend. But I need to give a portion of the credit to my sister and her active efforts to increase her physical activity and get into shape.
On a phone call with her, she let me in on a secret of hers…She started going to Barre classes to get fit.
What Are Barre Classes?
Barre classes use ballet techniques/ballet barre work combined with strength training, cardio and yoga to get a wicked workout. My sister and I like to describe Barre classes as Ballet on crack. If you’re sitting there thinking that it can’t be difficult to do, think again! Because barre classes target groups of muscles in the legs, core and arms, everyone walks out of there a little bit sore and with shaky legs (picture Bambi walking on ice for the first time).
The routines in a barre class differ depending on where you go and how often they like to change the barre routine. Most classes involve movements that require the ballet barre, some movements that require a yoga mat, and some movements that just need your feet and the ground. At the studio I go to called, Big Bliss, there are two different types of Barre classes. There’s the Bliss Barre class which is a basic Barre class, and then there’s Bardio which is a Barre class with a lot of cardio thrown in. The similarities between the classes are the targeted arm movements, leg movements and squatting.
If you’re #trendyaf, you know that everyone is obsessed with squats to get that perfectly toned bum. The truth is that squats paired with some ballet leg movements will get you more than a nicely toned backside. I know for me personally, my legs feel a lot stronger and there’s more tone and definition to them. Even areas that I didn’t realize could be targeted are now starting to look a little more lean. So while you can expect your bum to look a bit more like a peach emoji (mine is sloooowly getting there) you’re actually helping out your entire lower half.
Barre classes also involve teeny tiny pulses of muscle groups in the arms, legs and core. By doing tiny pulses in barre positions you engage your muscles in controlled activity because you’re not going into a full range of motion. For example, if we’re meant to be squatting for a set the instructor may say to “Pulse!”, which means making the squatting movement much smaller in range. If we’re using handheld weights, squeezing our shoulder blades back and the instructor says “Pulse!”, it means you need to make little squeezes instead of going full range. These teeny tiny pulses result in your muscles feeling a lot of burn! Teeny tiny pulses are what makes you think, “hmmm, will my muscles ever move again?”. As someone who’s beginning to pulse like a pro, I can tell you that you will survive!
My Barre Experience
During my first barre class, I thought my thighs were going to snap and that my arms would never move again.
I still feel this way after every Barre class, but I’m also noticing some of the physical health and mental health benefits. In terms of physical health, I can feel that my muscles have more strength and my posture is starting to improve because I am more aware of how my muscles work. I also have a slight increase in flexibility. Although I haven’t lost any noticeable weight, I think my muscles are getting leaner and tighter. If it’s any indication to go by, my clothes are feeling a bit looser than when I started. But what’s more important to me is the impact these classes have on my mental health.
During Barre classes, I throw a lot myself into the class and focus on the movements. I find that the more I concentrate on the movements and pushing myself, the more free my mind feels later that day. I also sleep a lot better on days that I go to Barre classes. I think the energy spent on physical activity rather than worrying helps me to become physically exhausted to take a mental hiatus and sleep peacefully.
What Are You Waiting For?
I really enjoy the Barre studio I go to. Being comfortable there helps me to put my best foot forward (pun intended) in all my classes. The instructors are always smiling and ready to get everyone pumped. They’re also happy to help you get as much out of the class as possible within your limits.
If you have the opportunity to try out a Barre class, I highly recommend it. Although I don’t know how much longer I will be going to these classes (because I want to try out other things) I think it has made a positive impact on my physical and mental health. If you need a challenge to get your muscles leaner and keep your mind occupied, Barre classes may be just the thing to add into your routine.
Will you try a Barre class? Let me know in the comments below!