Tuesday, June 13, 2017

GUEST POST: Adding Barre to your Fitness Routine by Libby

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a creature of habit. I have a hard time stepping outside of my comfort zone - whether that comes to joining group runs or going to fitness classes. Although I don't venture outside of my routine often, that doesn't mean you shouldn't. And because I've never been to a barre class before, I asked fellow Sparkly Soul ambassador Libby to give us a rundown of the popular workout that seems to be a combination of ballet, Pilates and yoga.

Adding Barre to your Fitness Routine

My name is Libby (@RunninBoots) and I'm a Colorado native, born and raised in the Denver area. I recently graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with a degree in Engineering Physics. By day, I'm basically a rocket scientist. I work in manufacturing of Antennas for major satellites including GPS satellites, communication satellites, and weather satellites. By night, I am a Barre fitness enthusiast and running addict. I also have 2 fur babies named Elle and Fara.

I started running in the summer of 2014 and ran my first half marathon at Rock 'N' Roll Denver that October. By fall of 2015, I was completely addicted. By the end of Rock 'N' Roll Vegas, I started to experience my first running injury. I was in complete denial and thought rest would be the magical solution. When I tried running a couple months later, I was still not feeling better. The verdict: a stress fracture. Still in denial as a senior on my college's cheerleading team, I insisted on continuing with all activities except running. As you can see, I sported the hideous boot at the front of the pyramid.

When the boot came off, I started physical therapy. A week later I was running my first half of the year at Rock 'N' Roll Dallas. While physical therapy was helping, I knew I'd need to start building more strength if I was going to complete my goal of running 10 Rock 'N' Roll half marathons in one year. Since I was a dancer growing up, I thought ballet would be great to try again. I used the google machine to try and find an adult ballet class nearby. Instead, I ran across this thing called Barre. I signed up for my free class IMMEDIATELY! The photos on the website made it look like so much fun!

PC: Barre Forte

I would describe Barre as a low-impact strength training workout that totally kicks my butt! Basically, you do teeny tiny movements that make your muscles burn like CRAZY. I convinced my mom to start going to Barre with me. She told me, "I bet this will be great cross-training for running!" I had a feeling she was right when many of the exercises were similar to what I had been doing at physical therapy. Turns out, mom was totally right! Here is an article from Women's Running to back her up: 8 Reasons Why Barre Specifically Is The Perfect Cross-Training. We are now both addicted, and although the cute sticky socks are optional, we think they're totally necessary.

One of my favorite things about Barre is the unexpected challenge. I attended an event recently called "Bring a Boy to Barre." It was HILARIOUS watching all of the buff guys struggle with such a "simple" workout. A picture is really worth 1000 words here... First, we have "flat back chair" for thighs, followed by "dart with the ball" for booty.

PC: Barre Forte

PC: Barre Forte

Basically, every class at Barre Forte follows the same format: Warm up, arms, calves, thighs, booty, abs and cool down. However, there are so many different exercises, so class is always different! One of my favorite new arm exercises is pull ups under the Barre. I'm shocked to actually have upper body strength after always focusing on my legs for running.

PC: Amazing Barre Forte Instructor Sasha

One part of Barre that I think has the most impact on improving strength for running is the thigh series. The thigh series often has my legs literally convulsing. That's when the instructor starts yelling, "Embrace the shake!" This is also known at Barre Forte as a "Barregasm." A Barregasm has been officially trademarked by Barre Forte and is defined as "the involuntary shake or quiver of a body part in response to intense Barre exercises." The exercise below makes me shake EVERY TIME. I was even shaking when I had this picture taken.

PC: Amazing Barre Forte Instructor Sasha

Overall, I believe Barre is something every runner should try at least once. Even if you aren't a runner, I would highly recommend finding a local studio and seeing if they offer a free class. If you live in near Denver, CO, Wichita, KS or Gainsville, FL definitely check out Barre Forte. If not, use the google machine to find a Barre studio near you! 

Thanks to Libby for teaching me about a workout that I may never have given a second thought. Although I have very little rhythm and am NOT a dancer, I could see the isolated movements giving your body quite the workout!

Have you ever tried a Barre class before?

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