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How to really get your sweat on in a Barre Class

How to really get your sweat on in a Barre Class

Barre classes are everywhere at the moment. Particularly in London, around every Instagram account there’s a new style of barre workout: barre-yoga, hiit-barre, cardio-barre- even barre-boxing!

There’s a simple explanation. It’s a fun, but effective workout.

It’s always a bit of a struggle getting up on a Sunday morning to go to work (#freelancelife). However, by the time I’m up, dressed and out the door, I’m completely awake and really excited to go teach my weekly barre classes.

I love personal training, and HiiT classes are always great fun to teach, but my Sunday barre sessions are special. They take me right back to the days when I never set foot in a gym because every waking hour was spent in a ballet studio.

It’s lovely to see clients returning week after week. Dancers and non-dancers alike are satisfied- if a little surprised- by how effective the class really is.

Of course, not everyone always feels that way. Barre is one of those classes, particularly in a large group, where it’s a bit too easy to cheat. It’s going through the motions, whilst avoiding the burn.

It’s called incorrect technique.

So if you’re going to a barre class regularly but you’re not quite sure whether you’re doing it right, or if you’re a first-timer who just wants to make the absolute most out of the class, here are some key points to bear in mind.

Done correctly and trust me, you’ll leave the class sweating.

 

How to get your sweat on in a Barre class

How to Get Your Sweat on in a Barre Class

 

Little Toes on the Ground: This is the easiest way to explain foot positioning for beginner barre-goers. When stood up, think about pressing your weight into your little toes (rather than the big toe). This helps lift up the arches of the feet and avoids unnecessary tension on the ankle or knee joints. It also helps to target the correct muscles- i.e. the glutes, which should be constantly working.

Go Low: Nice and simple – the lower you pulse in a plie, the more you’ll feel the burn in the legs and the glutes. There’s a big difference between a bob and a full range plie. You wouldn’t do half a bicep curl and then stop would you?

Turn-out from the Hip: The big difference between Barre and Ballet is that barre work does lots of exercises in a parallel position, while classical ballet focuses almost completely on turn-out (heels together, toes pointing outwards). When you do go into this turned out position during the barre class, the whole leg should be nicely aligned. If the toes point out to the side but the knees still point forwards, this is a clear sign that something is wrong. Correct this by making sure that the rotation comes from the top of the leg, externally rotating in the hip joint. This will make your glutes work even harder!

How to get your sweat on in a Barre class

Engage the Core…constantly: Barre really starts to become effective when clients begin to really engage their core muscles. Think about putting a wide belt just underneath your belly button, and cinch it in nice and tight. From there, imagine that there are two strings attached to the bottom of your lower ribs. Pull these imaginary strings down gently to close the distance between the lower ribs and the tops of the hip bones. Don’t forget to keep your back straight, chest up and shoulders back. It’s a lot to think about (welcome to barre) but the moment you achieve this abdominal engagement you will feel much more stable. Not only does this mean your six pack is working (hard) it also helps to avoid any overarching in the lower back (bum sticking out) which can cause pain and muscle tension.

Remember to Breathe: It’s the simplest technique but is so often forgotten about. Holding your breath throughout exercises  raises the blood pressure and encourages unwanted tension in the neck and shoulders. Work for a controlled inhale and exhale, which will help your focus, balance and strength.
Use the Teacher: The teacher is there for you- so make the most of it! I love it when clients ask me to help their technique or correct their stance. Even just ask questions in general, because it shows your are there to work hard. If you don’t feel certain about anything, ask and you’ll get ten times more out of the class.

 How to get your sweat on in a Barre class

Do you have any tips or methods to help feel that ballet-barre-burn? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Motivation Management: Into February and Beyond!

Motivation Management: Into February and Beyond!

When it comes to motivation, the last few days in January are a dangerous time of the year.

With February poking its head around the corner, the motivation for all those goals, targets and resolutions that seemed so important back on 31st December, suddenly begins to dissipate.

The drop in motivation is a change that is particularly obvious in gyms and fitness studios nationwide. Gym floors become emptier, spare bikes begin appearing in Spin class- and that outdoor boot camp that you were waitlisted for back on Blue Monday is suddenly drained to the last few, resolute survivors.

This is what I don’t like about New Year’s Resolutions; their shelf life. If you’re serious about your goals then a) it shouldn’t matter what time of the year you create them and b) you should stick at it even when it stops being trendy to be “dry”/gluten free/vegan/going to a different gym-class every day.

Resolutions should be made for you – not for a mark on your calendar.

But how can you keep up that spark of motivation all year round, while everyone else’s January fad is left by the wayside?

How to Maintain Your Fitness Motivation- all year round

Fitness Motivation

Break down your goals throughout the year:

What is it that you want to achieve? Think about what you would like to be in 12, 6 and 3 months time. Give yourself realistic targets that you can then narrow down into a month by month – or even a week by week schedule. Don’t keep it in your head – write it down! If you have something physical to stick to, it’ll  be easier to stay right there on that wagon.

Think about why:

What are the big events happening in the year? In two years? Do you have a wedding to plan for? A marathon to train for? Even a target weight to hit? Create and keep visual reminders, whether it’s a photograph, a “save the date” or a dress that you’re darn well going to look stunning in. This will help remind you why on earth you made the resolution in the first place.

Remember, the gym will be emptier.

Unless suddenly everyone happens to be inspired in 2017, all those people who maxed out their credit cards on a fancy gym membership back on 3rd January and packed out the gym during peak hours are going to start dropping like flies. It’s the perfect time to stick to your resolutions because you’ll no longer have to queue for a shower or hover by the squat rack. You’ll get to your goals in half the time!

Fitness Motivation

Create a routine:

Same time every week. Same time every other day. Weekday mornings and Saturday afternoons. There’s a whole selection to choose from! You may not be off to the gym every single morning like you did back in the first week of January, but the regular habit of a routine will slowly start to change the way you think about this new way of life. You’ll stop having to waste energy motivating yourself to get up and go – because it’ll be an instinct, a habit. This is key to long-term behaviour change.

Regular Rewards:

While routine is crucial, and it’s important to try not to build up your workouts into being such a big deal, there’s also nothing wrong with a little bit of positive reinforcement. Rewarding good behaviour is a tried and tested way of learning. So what if it takes a brightly coloured foam roller, a fancy new water bottle or a shiny new pair of gym leggings at the end of the month to keep you going? After all this isn’t a resolution, it’s a lifestyle, so you’ll surely need it. Plus, at least it’ll keep your insta feed looking on point.

Fitness Motivation

 

To HiiT, or not to HiiT

To HiiT, or not to HiiT

In one of those frustrating, catch-22 coincidences, in the past couple of weeks since I made the shift to become a fully-fledged freelance fitness trainer, I’ve actually been working out far less often than I used to.

It’s driving me up the wall.

Back when I was an office minion, the gym was my respite. Every morning, like clockwork, I’d be up and out the house by 6.30am, fitting in a 45 minute session before the working day had even begun.

Now, I’m getting up even earlier so that I can be there for all the other 9-5 workers. Only this time I’m the one teaching their 7am HiiT or 8am Barre class that they diligently fit in before work.

To HiiT or not to HiiT

I think that somewhere in my head I took for granted that when I didn’t have a steady 9-5 job, I’d have much more spare time on my hands for my own training.

Urm, wrong. Me being me, (I have a compulsive need to be busy) I somehow managed to fill up every spare moment of my time either training clients, teaching classes or travelling from one to the other. Most of my blog stuff and writing gets done on the bus or tube in between studios.

When I do happen to have a spare moment to myself, I’m too shattered for a truly productive workout.

To HiiT or not to HiiT?

My clients often comment at the end of the class that I must not need to go to the gym very often when I spend so much of my time teaching back-to-back classes.

I see where they’re coming from. On the one hand, teaching a fitness class, particularly a fast paced one like HiiT, is both mentally and physically taxing. I always put my max into demonstrations: If a demo is half-arsed then you can hardly blame the class if they don’t go all out to push themselves.

I always do some sets with the class for motivation purposes- which, by the way, is a million times more exhausting when you’re also simultaneously timekeeping, talking, giving teaching points and making sure everyone is pushing themselves just hard enough. It’s a lot for your body and your brain to handle.

So add that all up and then take into consideration the fact that I normally teach at least two to three classes back to back, you would think that covers my own workout, somewhere along the way. I certainly am exhausted at the end of my working day!

The truth is, though, that I spend so long in a class stopping and starting, talking and teaching as well as demonstrating that I never quite get the same level of post-workout satisfaction as when I spend an hour solely focused on me.

To HiiT or not to HiiT

It’s no surprise really. Particularly as my own training is focused on strength training, doing lots of heavy compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts. My classes, on the other hand are primarily HiiT style- so lots of cardio, lots of speed, lots of power. I absolutely love teaching these classes, but in these past couple of weeks I have really missed my own good, old-fashioned weight training.

I guess it’s just one of those things that I’m going to have to figure out along the way – how to find the time to fit in my own training as well as keep up with all my classes and all my clients, without pushing myself to breaking point!
We’ll see how it goes.

To HiiT or not to HiiT