7 Tips To Advance Your Next Barre Class
The beauty of barre fitness is that it transcends fitness level. A novice could work side by side with an expert, and both students should be able to work to their edge, pushing past their individual comfort zones to achieve results within their capacity at that given time. Each modifies and intensifies where they need to reach their individual challenge.
As co-owners of Barre Evolution, Nicole and I are constantly asked how to keep our barre classes fresh and challenging for our veteran students and most frequent attendees. Committing to taking it to your edge, and beyond, each and every class will ensure that you continue to make progress, stay challenged, and stave off boredom in every class; a trifecta that yields big results.
Here’s how to advance your next barre class :
1. Use heavier weights: We encourage newer students to use lighter weights. Once you are familiar with our exercises, its time to bump it up. Like all the segments in barre class, you should be taking your muscles to the point of failure. Don’t worry, you will not bulk. Unlike men, women produce 20-30% less testosterone … the major factor that drives muscle growth. Got that part down? Add some functional movement. Plies, chair pose, lifted heels to name a few.
2.Embrace the mind body connection: Do you ever zone out in class? It happens. But when you do, you rob yourself of precious time to take your work to a deeper level. Instead, close your eyes and connect your mind to your body. Understand the movement and truly embrace the feeling when executed correctly. If you are distracted during the exercise, you miss an opportunity to take the work to the next level. And who wants that? Not us.
3. Find the contraction & squeeze: This one’s easy, but takes focus. Concentrate on the working muscle —contract it first, squeezing at the point of contraction, and then create movement from that contraction. Then squeeze harder. And then harder again. And then don’t lose the contraction once you move. In fact, don’t ever stop squeezing until the exercise is over. Challenge yourself — try to squeeze harder … the ball, heels, thighs, whatever…then the previous squeeze until the exercise is over. This is taking it to your edge and beyond. Trust me, it works. Ouch! Oh, by the way, you need to master #2 to really master #3. Just sayin…
4. Work lower: This is the most important tool in your arsenal and can take you from coasting through the class, to completely transforming the work and your body. Think about thigh work. As one of our largest muscle groups, thighs are metabolic furnaces, moving lower will not only increase the feel of your thigh burn, you will do just that, burn… more calories, more fat. Your goal is to shake. Not there yet? Come lower, squeeze harder. Feel your heart rate rise. Check in. Can you do more? Then repeat. See the pattern? Love it!
5. Add a layer: A layer can be anything that you do in class to add additional work to the exercise or variation that has been cued. Adding a prop — a small ball or a 2 lb weight can add wonders to your glute work. Add a functional component. If you are in wide second doing weights, add in a pulse down. Take the heels up higher. Come up to releve. Work in the fullest form of foldover. Skip the child’s pose when cued; go into plank instead. Stretch actively – point your toes and really find extension in your legs when working thighs or glutes; find your straightened and strongest leg. The options are endless. Ask your instructor before class for ideas. There are so many and trust me, these are just a few.
6. Focus on your form: Ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over heels. Whatever exercise is cued, bring your shoulders down and back. Pull the navel in and drop your tailbone. Hold your core tight throughout. Good posture is one of the most important hallmarks of our method; when held correctly, you will get into the work correctly and as a result, achieve results. Holding that posture throughout class, and then bringing it outside the studio will help you build core and lower back strength, and encourage bone density strengthening throughout your day.
7. Support yourself outside of the studio: You can’t build a healthy body with exercise alone. Your muscles need resources to repair from the work you have done. Combining barre classes with lots of clean eating — lean protein like chicken and turkey, plenty of veggies and water, combined with adequate sleep, will help your muscles repair; a pre-requisite for building muscle density, a highly desirable bi-product of your barre practice.
These are just 7 ways to take your class to the next level. This takes a tremendous amount of focus, but if you can sync your mind with your body and create new challenges for yourself, you won’t be bored and you will reap the rewards in no time. Nicole and I have been doing barre classes for over fifteen years. We are still challenged, each and every time. If we can do it, so can you!