Written by Taylor LeBlanc, Barre Instructor At Yoga Mamas
One of my favourite things about barre is that it explores a sense of grace and fun while working out. Barre is a form of fitness that uses classical ballet barre technique and infuses it with pilates, strength training and cardiovascular fitness. The benefits include; toned muscles, better posture, core stability, improved coordination, balance and improved gait (walking, running and weight distribution on feet).
I have worked with pre and postnatal mamas for 4 and a half years as a Yoga teacher, Pilates instructor and personal trainer after birth, it is incredibly fulfilling as I get to be a part of their well being and personal growth, that aspect is especially rewarding. Through movement we can bring our goals, either mental, emotional or physical into alignment with a daily (sometimes weekly and let’s just be honest... sometimes monthly when you add a baby into the mix) routine and practice. Barre, for me is a fantastic way to feel that muscle burn and get a great workout while also dancing and feeling the music!
In the lead up to the exciting launch of Barre at Toronto Yoga Mama, here are my top 5 ways to make your barre class workout amazing:
1. Warm Up Your Core
During the warm up in class pay special attention to the contraction and support of your abdominal muscles. Sometimes we hear cues in classes to” tighten” or make your “belly flat and firm” and yes that can be one way the muscles will fire, but we want to think of flexing the muscles from the deeper core system. Picture an apple core, that is the depth we want to go to flex our core system. We’re working from the inside out!
Breathing is directly related to our core muscles flexing, we must be breathing to make that happen! As you’re learning new exercises, working on coordination and using your brain power, it is important to breathe throughout the class to make sure you are detoxifying, supplying the muscles with oxygen to avoid cramps and getting all the relaxation benefits at the end of your workout.
3. Strive for Eccentric and Isometric Muscle Contractions
It sounds more complex than it is… an eccentric muscle contraction is a muscle firing by lengthening. Isometric is a muscle contraction in holding or maintaining support in stillness. These are key aspects of ballet and ultimately barre fitness. Learning how to fire the muscles by lengthening and in stillness can lead to long, lean, toned and strong muscles!
4. Pay Attention To Your Feet
Your feet are like a second brain, they feel the world first thing in the morning, carry you throughout your day and they are the last thing to be able to rest in the evening. Now imagine the extra stress they are under during pregnancy and with a baby constantly in your arms. Footwork is a very important and often overlooked aspect of a fitness class. Pay attention to your feet in barre class by visualizing them firmly planted on the floor, articulating them thoroughly and balancing your weight evenly across the front and back of the foot.
5. Enjoy The Process!
Although the demands of pregnancy and motherhood can change the amount of energy you have to give toward your fitness routine, if you combine all these tips together you WILL feel a difference in your body! When we engage with our deep stability system, breathe, learn to flex eccentrically and work from the feet up with concentration, the whole body responds! Think of being under a gentle resistance from gravity throughout your class. Don’t take any movement for granted and allow yourself to give your best every day.