I am a runner, and I was very set in my ways about staying in good running form. I tried many different workouts to see if I was willing to adopt them into my fitness routine. Although they were fun to try, nothing kept me hooked. I often felt awkward and uncoordinated. It always came back to running, interval training, and yoga.
In 2013, as I was training for a triathlon, I noticed a limited range of motion and growing discomfort in my left shoulder after each swim practice. It turned out to be rotator cuff tendonitis, only exacerbated by my bad posture. I was prescribed exercises to help treat it – but they felt like a separate “chore” instead of something I was motivated about completing to get back in better shape.
After I completed the NYC Marathon in November 2013, I knew it was time to rebuild. Vinyasa/Flow yoga keeps me mobile day in and day out, but I needed something else that kept me pumped to strengthen over the cold winter months. When I saw that Pure Barre was opening very close to my office in early 2014, I said to myself “OK, let’s see how this goes for a month.” I knew other women that swore by barre workouts in other regions of the country, but I had to judge for myself.
I could never have predicted how much Pure Barre has changed my view of an efficient and effective workout. I know I am not alone when I say that I feel challenged every time I walk (or waddle) off of the studio carpet. Although it’s been more than a year since I first joined, I firmly believe that “It doesn’t get easier. You get stronger.” I am always encouraged to get on my highest heels, sink that seat, and shake like crazy during thigh work. It is still so tough to hold a tuck throughout seat work. Abdominal work is never pleasant, but the variety of exercises kept me engaged – literally and figuratively. As for my previously mentioned upper body issues, I am always reminded to keep a heavy tailbone and flat back for good posture, so those issues are long gone and my posture has improved immensely (which was apparently a problem for years before my previous physical therapist pointed it out!) I’ve noticed huge improvements in my upper body strength. I was trying on a top when I put my hand on my bicep and thought “Whoa, there’s muscle there. And hardly any jiggling.” I have tried and tried to tone my arms for years – and Pure Barre made it a reality.
The music played in class helps me stay focused – I wind up closing my eyes and singing to myself during most of the class to not focus on getting out of the burn/shake. I’m convinced some teachers think I’m so strange because of that!
Pure Barre has helped me change my eating habits and hydrate a lot more, because you should be mindful about taking care of yourself outside the studio.
More than the physical work, the teachers are incredibly helpful and they always let students know that they’re committed to helping them reach their goals. When in class, if I feel like I’m getting tired, it’s as if they’re reading our minds and say, “I know you’re fatiguing, but stay strong.” One of my favorites is, “What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.” It is so true – in Pure Barre AND in life! Their verbal cues keep me focused on correct alignment and where I should be feeling the intensity, and with each class, the mental notes build and you can put it into practice in the next class. The “Breaking Down the Barre” workshop is especially helpful in gaining awareness – I encourage everyone to take it, as you’ll be surprised at how much you learn. Although I’m usually quick to head out and avoid the people traffic (typical Type-A personality), I try to thank the teacher after every class because I am truly thankful to them for guiding me through such a great workout, and it boosts my self-esteem tremendously. Who wouldn’t be thankful to anyone who brightens up their days?
I advise anyone to not to be discouraged if you have trouble early on. It is tough stuff and there is a learning curve to it. You need to practice the technique before you see any progress. For example, abdominal work took me a while to understand before it all really “clicked”. Tucking my hip on one side and using my oblique muscles, while I hold my leg out – what?! Focusing on the verbal cues from your teacher – contracting muscles, keeping hips tucked, correcting alignment in forearm plank – helps things make sense. It sounds obvious, but it can be easily forgotten or pushed aside. If you commit to it, you get stronger after every class. You’ll find that you can stay on your toes longer during plank or you can sink your seat one inch deeper with a flatter back or you can raise your leg a little higher with your hips tucked under. There is no definition of “perfection” – it’s all about the journey.
From Pure Barre Enthusiast Sonya Mazumdar, client at Pure Barre Alexandria, VA.