There is something I just can’t stop talking about.
Like I literally bring it up in nearly every conversation – with my friends, my sisters, with the girl at the Young Life office when I was turning in my son’s camp paperwork.
And if I’m not talking about it, I’m making people do it with me – out of town guests, my mom and dad, around the pool at girls’ weekend.
It’s mildly ridiculous, but here’s the thing: I feel like this is transforming me. My body, my breathing, my strength, my mindfulness.
What is this magical thing, you might ask? Well, let me tell you :)
When I was a girl, I danced ballet. It was everything to me. At one point, my ballet company brought my parents into the office and told them that they saw promise in me as a dancer, but my feet were not right. They wanted to break the bones and reconstruct the arch so that I could dance on pointe. Needless to say, my parents thought that wasn’t the best idea for their 12 year old daughter and my ballet career was over.
Fast forward 26 years and I still love ballet. As a new year’s resolution a couple years back, I took an adult ballet class. I felt like the biggest fish out of water and never returned.
A few years later, I found a barre class at my local YMCA and fell in love (I blogged a little about it here). If I couldn’t dance ballet, at least I could do some of the moves in a workout.
When we moved to our new town, I took a barre class at a local studio and felt like I was going to die. I’m only barely exaggerating; it was shocking how terrible I felt the entire class. Come to find out, my iron levels at the time were dangerously low and my poor body was not producing enough oxygen for me to keep up. Thankfully I survived, but it did keep me a little afraid of working out for several months.
This spring, I was finally feeling better and decided to give an at-home workout a try. I pulled up an old video I have in my Amazon video library (this one) and did it a couple of times. I really like the video, but was feeling bored of doing the same workout over and over.
After a bit of digging into who the teacher of that video was and discovered that she is the founder of a barre studio out of Portland, Oregon called Barre3. I was happy to find that while they do not have a physical location in my area, they do offer an online workout library for a monthly fee. I signed up on the spot and could not be happier with my decision.
Since May, I’ve been completely smitten with these online barre workouts, fitting in a 30, 40 or 60 minute session 3-5 times per week. I don’t say that to be braggy – I’m just really surprised at how much I now LOVE working out.
Let me tell you a little bit about the workout, where I do it, what the moves look like, what gear you need and then at the end I’ll tell you why I love it so much.
I explain barre as a mix between pilates, yoga and exercises inspired by ballet barre moves. You definitely do not need to have ballet experience to take or enjoy this workout. Also, you do not need to be well-versed in yoga poses or pilates form.
Barre3 explains it like this:
“Barre3 mixes the best moves of yoga, pilates, cardio, and weight training to balance your body while giving you a deep muscle burn and endorphin high.”
WHAT YOU NEED
Before the kids got out of school, I worked out in my studio. I just pulled out my gear from the bottom drawer, turned on a video and when I was finished, put it all back in the drawer and would get to my regular work.
This summer I’ve been switching the location up. Ryan moved his office into the studio for the summer (and beyond?) so he can work without distraction, so I’ve been mainly working out in the house (or the front porch, as seen below). Lately, I found that the entry way is the perfect spot since there is a mirror I can check my form in and I just open the front door to let the breeze in.
All you need for the workout is a yoga mat, light handheld weights (I switch between 2 lb and 3 lb), a small pilates ball and band. Some videos use the weights, ball and band, others do not use any props.
I prefer to work out on a hard floor (carpet makes balancing much more difficult) and you really only need as much space as the yoga mat takes up.
HOW TO TAKE THE CLASSES
There are a handful of online and in-studio options for barre. Just do a quick google search for “barre + your city” and you’ll likely find a studio. Or if you find another video, youtube channel or online library of workouts, go for it! You certainly don’t have to take from Barre3. I just happen to think it’s great, enjoy the workouts, the instruction, the well-done website and working out online makes it super easy to do anywhere.
I joined the monthly program and pay $29 per month for access to all of the 300+ videos. There are also meal plans and regular Q+A sessions as part of the subscription. TRY FOR 15 DAYS FOR FREE.
When you log in to your account, there is a library of online workouts to choose from. You can do 10 minute, 30, 40 or 60 minute classes. There are a handful of instructors and variety of moves, modifications and areas of focus in each workout.
Every class is laid out in about the same format.
You start with lower body- lots of squats, lunges, carousel horse pose. Your quads, hamstrings and glutes will start burning quickly!
You move between large range of motion, small range (think down and inch, up an inch, over and over) and isometric holds. Your muscles will begin to vibrate as you get deeper into working them and while it is super hard and strange feeling, it feels so powerful to be able to push through and know your body is getting stronger.
Barre3 loves a good plank.
After lower body, you move into combo work with light handheld weights.
This gets your heart rate up, uses every muscle in your body and is very low impact, but super efficient.
After combo, you move to core strengthening.
Barre3 really focuses on the complete core – not just your abs, but also your back, shoulders, hips and seat.
To finish, you do a few minutes of cool-down stretches and end with a big inhale and exhale, like in yoga class.
Some videos are more ballet-inspired, using a chair for a barre, so I took photos of those moves as well.
WHY I LOVE BARRE SO MUCH
So here’s what I’m learning about fitness – you have to find the workout that feels right for you and go for it. I know barre is not for everyone, it just happens to completely energize me (which is why I can’t stop talking about it).
For years, I tried to run with my runner girlfriends and just couldn’t get into it. I tried cross fit once and decided quickly that was not for me. I’ve done step aerobics, dance, pilates and spinning. All were fine, but not totally my thing.
Barre is my thing. I feel strong and graceful; I push my body, but it never feels painful; I finish the workout feeling good and excited to do it again.
You guys, those statements I just made DO NOT SOUND LIKE ME. I’ve never been fitness-crazy. I probably should have been caring for my body long before now, I just never knew what to do. And now I know. And I want you to be as excited about it as I am :)
Okay, so here’s what I love about Barre3:
YOU CAN DO IT ANYWHERE
I would honestly love to take a class in an actual studio, but we do not have many options in our town. Therefore, I workout at home. Sometimes that’s much more convenient anyway. I can choose my own time, location, duration of class.
This summer I’ve taken to working out on the front porch, which is quite delightful.
INSTRUCTION IS SO GOOD
The online instructions for my Barre3 videos are friendly, approachable and very knowledgable. They talk you through each move, explaining just where your toes should be, where your knees should be, reminding you to relax your neck and shoulders, etc. As you learn to do the postures correctly, you move deeper into strengthening and lengthening your muscles, so it is helpful to have someone reminding you throughout the whole workout to check your form. This is also why I like working out in front of a mirror, when possible.
WORK THE MUSCLES THAT NEED WORKING
As they say in nearly every workout, the Barre3 method really focuses on the back body to support, lengthen, improve posture and counterbalance how front-body focused we are throughout the day. A lot of attention is paid to our glutes and side seat (yes, please!) and for nearly the whole workout, you are engaging your core for a full-body workout.
QUIET, MINDFUL, HARD
Some people need fast-pace, pounding, punching, super sweaty workouts. You won’t get that with barre (well, maybe except for the sweaty part). There is a lot of balance, controlled movement, isometric holds, attention to form. It is not a workout you chit-chat with your girlfriends through, but instead requires intentional focus.
I am surprised by how much the instruction in breathing has made its way into my regular life. When I feel anxious I remind myself to inhale deeply through my nose, and exhale fully out my mouth (just as my barre instructors remind me to do in every workout). It’s truly amazing how getting a good, deep breath can release tension and allow you to push through hard moments physically, but also mentally and emotionally.
Perhaps my favorite thing about these barre workouts is how easy it is to modify for your particular body. In every video there is a main teacher and two others – one is doing every move full out, the other is modifying to show how things can be done if your knees, back, neck, shoulders, etc are not able to do the full movement. And the best part, is there is no guilt! The instructors say multiple times to do the workout that feels best for your body.
Which makes sense, right? My mom is in her 60’s and had back surgery last year. Surely, she can not (or should not) be moving in ways that will strain her, but instead should modify to build strength, balance and flexibility for her body. There are times when I can do the combo work with 3lb weights and other times when I need to put them down all together (like yesterday). You’re still getting a good workout whether you do the moves full out or modify for what feels right for your body in that moment.
(I just looked at the word count while typing and this thing is over 1900 words. I think that is a record for longest post in JDC history. If you are still reading, hi. And thanks for humoring me.)
So if we were real life friends and you were over at my house, the chances of me begging you to do a class with me are very high. I find great joy in trying to get everyone I know to love barre as much as I do :) Partially because it is fun to exercise with friends, but also because I truly find it to be an effective workout. It has been so good for my body, my mind and my soul.
But since most of you do not live nearby, perhaps you’d like to give Barre3 at try on your own. You can try it for free for 15 days and then decide if it’s something you want to spend your money on each month.
Use THIS LINK to join the free trial and I’ll get a small commission if you end up joining the monthly subscription.
I can’t wait to hear how you like it!
And now I’ll stop talking about barre. At least for today.