Getting Out of a Fitness Rut – A Gym Rat Goes Barre
Getting out of a Fitness Rut – A Gym Rat Goes Barre by Dana Waggener
Recently, I read an article online about the biggest mistakes we make in our fitness routines. According to the health editors at MORE Magazine, one of the classic mistakes that smart women make in their fitness routines is doing the same routine all the time (read all 31 tips here). I’ve always known that it’s important to switch it up for better results, but we are all guilty of getting into a “fitness rut.” It’s just so easy to always do the same thing. If you can list out your workout plans for the coming week on a Sunday (GUILTY as charged) it might be time to try something new. After all, variety is the spice of life, right?
So, I devised a personal experiment: try one new fitness class per week that I hadnever tried before. This posed a challenge for me, ask anyone in the Stonewear office– I’ve gone to A LOT of fitness classes….Athletic Intervals, Ski Fit, Cycling, Climbing Training Classes (check out Team of 2 Training Online!), Yoga Sculpt… I’ve done it all and more. The Stonewear team will tell you that I’m a Certified, Grade A, Gym Rat.
BUT, there are tons of classes that I’ve never tried. So last month, I tried four new classes–one per week–and I have the low-down about each class for you here.
Week 1 – Cardio Barre at Lakeshore Athletic Club
First a little background on Cardio Barre and Barre style classes. Barre classes stem from ballet-style workouts, but they are not necessarily “dance-based” fitness classes. Be not afraid – your Barre instructor is not going to ask you to demi-plie. Barre classes incorporate the use of the ballet bar, resistance bands, and sometimes very light weights. Cardio Barre combines short-bursts of cardiovascular interval work with low impact resistance training for the core, butt, legs, and arms with the ultimate goal of strengthening and elongating muscles, leading to a svelte “Ballet body” (http://cardiobarre.com/the-class/).
I chose to try Cardio Barre because cardio is an important heart-healthy component in any workout routine. Also, cardio+strength training burns more calories. I walk into class and grab the weights that I always grab–8 pound. and 5 pound. I also grabbed a soft ball, a step, resistance band, and a mat. Ready for class! I’m always up for a challenge so I chose the heavier weights and the more advanced resistance band…WRONG! Don’t do this, at least for your first time in Barre class. We worked on getting the heart rate up first with some cardio-step work, and then switched to arms. I used my 5-pound weights and at one point was completely sure that my triceps might explode. I was surprised at how such small movements could feel so hard! In fact, towards the end of the tricep sets the instructor came over and gave me the 2.5-pound disks to work with instead. Then we incorporated more cardio work before moving to the Ballet Barre to work the lower body.
I will only say this once: LADIES, if you want to feel derrière muscles that you’ve never felt before go to a Barre workout. My bum hurt for three days after this class and it wasn’t just the big muscle groups. It was the tiny little muscles deep down… you know the hidden ones that you never think of and could never isolate doing squats with weights in the gym. The Barre work consisted of wrapping the resistance band around our thighs and doing small isometric exercises on tip-toes, squatting, and sets of lateral thigh exercises. The resistance from the bands and the small movements definitely made me “feel the burn.”
Overall, I really liked the Barre style and it is a total departure from my normal workout. If you want to build lean muscle, this is an excellent workout choice. My only complaint is the cardiovascular work was lacking and not very challenging. Every good workout routine requires cardio, so if you want to get into Barre I’d recommend incorporating cardio work along with Barre for good results.
Next week I’m trying Zumba. Do it with me and share a moment from your experience with us on Instagram @stoneweardesigns
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