Since I can remember I have always been involved in some sort of athletics or competitive sports. Finishing up my senior year of Division I college volleyball, I counted back the years and totaled 12 years of volleyball playing that were coming to a close. This meant no more coaches, scheduled work outs, or pressure to stay in shape. It became easy for me to stop going to the gym or schedule my own work outs because I was so used to having my own trainer giving me strength training programs and high expectations. Not only that, but I found myself nursing a number of nagging injuries that were constantly keeping me from getting a full work out in.
My lack of discipline was a red flag that I needed some sort of work out class schedule so that I had a way of holding myself accountable. I joined the local gym in town and started trying out new classes to see what would spark my interest. I knew that I needed a work out that I could accomplish in one hour due to my crazy work and coaching schedule.
When I took my first Barre class, I was pretty defeated, but in the best way possible. The class was low impact yet extremely difficult, and completely exhausted all of my muscles. Being as stubborn as I am, I was determined to master the class and went back two days later. I knew from that moment that I was officially hooked.
A few months later I took a new job that required quite a bit of travel. Once again trying to find an adjustment with my work out schedule, I began looking for online workouts plans that I could do. Then I came across an online Barre class subscription titled Barre3. The subscription was only 15$ a month and included a number of classes with various lengths of time including 10 min, 30 min, 40 min and an hour. This could not have been more perfect for someone staying in hotel rooms every other week. I immediately subscribed and started taking my iPad everywhere I went. That way, I knew I could work out from the comfort of my hotel room in even the tiniest of Montana towns that did not have fitness centers.
Barre class is mentally and physically taxing, while having the grace and serenity of a yoga class. It is the one time in my life where I find myself focusing on me and nothing else. Not only that, but it has changed my body immensely. I now have a stronger core than even my most powerful time in college athletics. My posture has improved leaps and bounds, and my flexibility continues to improve. I am so happy that I discovered this work out at this phase in my life, as I know it will become that much more important as I age and my schedule gets busier.
For all the newbies out there, here are a few key things to expect your first time taking a Barre class:
- You are going to shake. A LOT. I am talking like an earthquake to the point where you feel like your body is going to fail. You will often hear instructors say “embrace the shake” or “go until muscle failure.” Let me reassure you: you are not going to die. Take it as a mental challenge as well as physical!
- You are going to do nothing but tiny movements and a very high number of reps. Yes, these look extremely easy to the human eye. Yes, you are going to get cocky. You will learn very quickly that those tiny moves will switch from easy to unbearable in a matter of seconds. Stick with your light hand weights (3 lbs max) and take your stretch breaks when you get them!
- It is going to be very difficult and you are going to work muscles that you didn’t even know you had. All of those tiny movements you are doing followed by stretching are meant to lean and lengthen your muscles. This is a very different strategy than lifting with heavy weights and low repetitions. The perks of this are that I find I am not nearly as sore, just exhausted.
I strongly encourage anyone who has not tried a barre class to try it out at least once. I have heard that the classes at barre studios can be quite expensive, so I suggest joining a community gym that offers the class or trying a month online. Online is also a great option if you don’t want to be “seen” in class for the first month when you are learning the moves. I know that’s how I feel when I attempt those yoga moves!
Even if you are not a fan of Barre or just aren’t interested in trying out this form of a work out, I hope I’ve at least inspired you to try a new class or a new challenge. Most importantly, take care of YOU before focusing on the million other things going on in your life. If you aren’t taking care of yourself and keeping yourself healthy, you aren’t giving 100% to the other priorities and people that are depending on you.