Barre Life.

Happy May Day Guys!!!!

What better way to start May than with a motivational Monday muse. Speaking of motivation . . . . did I tell you I have loved (and I mean LOVED) reading all of the ‘Real Results’ client blogs?!! They have been inspiring, heart warming and of course beautifully written . . . We cannot stress enough, how much you inspire us daily! Well actually we could (and we will) but let’s save that for another blog 😉

Can you believe it’s May?! Lets rejoice and welcome the lighter nights, longer days, Vitamin D and the start of ‘Al Fresco’ dining (a barre team favourite)!! Most of you reading this were in studio today. You ALL worked your Barre butts off !!! Let’s be honest ,the heat in the studios can vouch for that 😉 . It’s a great way to start your week and to burn off the long weekend!!!

We open our doors on some bank holidays every year and have been for a couple of years now. Some people think we’re mad but to us and to you guys it’s just well . . . the norm. Barre to us and to you is a lifestyle. It’s just how we roll.

The best results that you will ever achieve both mentally and physically (in anything you put your mind to) are when you make something part of your daily routine. It then becomes habitual. Not a hassle or a hindrance just something that you do because it makes you YOU.

Hence where the term ‘Barre Life’ stems from; you may recognise this term. It’s our go to answer to a very commonly asked question . . .

‘What do I need to do to reach my personal goals and how do I do it’?!

Whether that’s losing weight, toning up, building muscle, ‘de-stressing’, learning or maintaining a hobby the answer is always the same. Make Barre a consistent part of your life. The rest will follow.

But how do I do that?

Here are a few pointers that may just help you:

  • Book your barre schedule in advance – don’t leave it till last minute (nobody likes a wait-list).
  • Balance your schedule – mix it up and utilise our extensive range of classes. Challenge different muscle groups. Don’t just stick to the same class. Keep yourself mentally challenged as well as physically.
  • Take your Barre Kit to work, get changed at work orrrr if you feel that your colleagues won’t enjoy your sassy leg warmers as much as we do . . then we have changing rooms. Oh, we also have spare kit if you ever encounter a legging mishap.
  • Have evening or weekend plans?! Work your barre schedule around them. Take your barre class, get ready in studio and meet your company afterwards. Your only a skip,hop and a plies away from the most gorgeous bars and eateries. Just pack some dry shampoo and meet them after.
  • And if you really can’t afford to be that bit later to your arrangements then why not just squeeze in an express class. A cheeky 30 mins when it comes to plans is neither here nor there.
  • Reward yourself. They say nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. We strongly disagree . . . nothing tastes as good as a post Barre tipple or tea. Besides, skinny is not a word we use at Barre – it’s so 2000 and late *cue eye roll*.
  • Barre hard. A consistent exercise schedule dictates you work out at least 4 times a week. Whenever that may be or for how ever long. If you can’t fit in 4 separate days then join the double whammy crew and layer it on.
  • And lastly. Fall in love with your schedule, make it part of who you are and what you do. Treat your body with the respect it deserves and utilise it. It’ll thank you.

Life sometimes moves so quickly. Days blend in to weeks, weeks into months and months into years. Enjoy every day for what it is and use your body to its potential. Make Barre a part of you, just like YOU are a part of The Barre.

And that’s what we mean by #BarreLife !

See you soon Barre Crew 🙂

MisMaxine

XOXO

 

 

#RealClients and the legend of the spreadsheet…

The enemy of progress, certainly in fitness, is the excuse.  Its the force of evil that ‘convinces’ us that we simply can’t or aren’t able to do a class.  It tells us that its okay to cancel or miss because something infinitely more important has come up or happened to us.  Its the rationale that we give ourselves to make us feel like we’ve got no choice.  “I really want to workout, but this thing that has happened just won’t let me…”  Its not easy to own up to our use of the excuse.  We’ve all been there and it is a very difficult obstacle to overcome.  It takes real courage to do so.  In our last, but certainly not least, of the #RealClients #RealResults blog posts we discuss excuses, where they come from, and how to manage them.  We have been so very thrilled with all of your blogs and we are so proud to have you all as clients.  That you have been so willing to share your stories and possibly help others is a testament to your wonderful character.  So to all of our contributors we want to say thank you.  With that in mind, today’s post is from someone who has quite a lot to teach us all about courage…and spreadsheets.  In her own words we give you the one and only:  Jane Bruce.

My name is Jane and I’ve been a fan of The Barre fan since November 2009, when I did a whole two classes before coming down with a case of the excuses for 3 months.

Between 2010 and 2015 the amount of time that I spent in class was variable. To paraphrase one of my lovely friends, I’ve had more comebacks than James Brown. For the record, if you ever need an excuse for missing class, being sent to a different continent is the winner.

The reason for this little history lesson (and no, it isn’t just for my token graph, but I do love my spreadsheets) is that if you’d asked me what my attendance has been like, I’d have said it was a solid 2-3 classes a week when I could. But it wasn’t. I hoped you noticed the excuse that made its way in there. I’m pretty logical but my brain is prone to, how shall I put it… fibbing and leaving wiggle room?

JaneyBruce

That technical and logical head is also home to a nagging horrid voice that hasn’t quite cottoned on to the fact that I’m not 14 doing sports training 5 days a week and that at 41¾ ‘things’ are different. It couldn’t really understand how, since if I’ve been going to class for so long, I wasn’t, well, better at it.

In early 2016 that voice peaked niggling away and telling me that I had no right to be in class. That I was obviously taking up someone else’s space. That people (including instructors) were obviously just being nice to the tubby lass in the corner who was having a go but not quite nailing it. That voice goes by the name of Morag, and damn it, she’s persistent. She drowned out everything else including logic. For a few months afterwards I was MIA from class (again) and filling the time by topping up my levels of the sweeties that melt in your mouth, not in your hand.

Logical brain didn’t leave completely. I know that Barre gives me breathing space in life. I’ve always loved is the utter lack of judgement from the Instructor team (Morag was just plain wrong on that one). Every class is a clean sheet and making it in the door is your first win. I say this because I know that there are times when the easiest thing to do is cancel or not show and then that just gives Morag some more ammo to add to the list.

Eventually I realised that I needed and wanted to come back. I shot an email to studio asking if I could have a quick catch up, ideally under cover of darkness, to work out how to get ‘back’. I knew I needed a plan since on previous comebacks I’ve gone with, ‘hey it’s been a while but barrdio isn’t going to kill me’. You can guess how that worked out. This time I needed to get into a routine so that I could build some strength and stamina to give me a solid base to work from.

I started with a combination of 1st Barre (that’s an hour people, an actual hour!) and Express classes, mixed in with fortnightly Express 1:1s with #BarreBoss. Over the time I’ve built on this and I’ve got a nice variable programme to tackle. I’ve even made it back into BRX (cheers to Charlotte and her blog which got me into that one). I’m (reasonably) consistent in the number of classes I’m doing so that I don’t have that rollercoaster from week to week. I’ve set myself a couple of targets for this year and I’m in a pretty happy place. You might want to remind me of that if you’re next to me while I’m muttering ☺ .

I’ve found express classes have that focus that makes them fantastic building blocks in their own right and help me work on stamina and technique. Anyone who tells you 1st Barre or any of the Express classes are easy options is downright deluded. I think of 1st Barre as the place where you can’t hide; the set ups are precise and technical. The fudge of sliding into position at the last available minute*, won’t cut it. (*busted.)

The revelation for me was regular 1:1s. That technical bit of my brain loves breaking down the mechanics of the movements that I struggle with or think I’ve nailed only to find that it felt ok because it wasn’t getting the requisite ‘welly/edge’ behind it. Breaking things down in a 1:1 when I’m fresh as a daisy, as opposed to trying to focus when I’m 45mins through class makes it all so much clearer. I’m constantly saying, ‘oooooh, that’s what you meant/why you say that/what we should be doing’. I think my favourite lightbulb moment was realising I was effectively trying to hover off the ground holding straps in re-ab.

There are some other things I’ve learnt since the last comeback (all things willing, it’s THE LAST comeback, I’m here and I’m planning to stay)…so here we go:

  • 1. I used to come armed with excuses to each and every class, effectively, giving myself a get out for not trying, for giving up (I favour a face down starfish position on the floor) or breaking a set. Now I don’t. Or at least, if I know it’s a get out, I don’t mention it on my way in the door.
  • 2. I don’t use my, ‘ooh I need some more water, I’ll just go now…’ trick to dodge the bits of class I know I find tricky. I bring more water.
  • 3. I accept that I CAN do it. It’s not pretty and it’s very much a work in progress, but it’s happening and the only way it keeps happening is if I keep doing it.
  • 4. My questions help me. Anyone who’s ever been in a masterclass, it’s me! The one with all the questions. Questions work for me and I am utterly shameless about asking them. Join me!
  • 5. Morag hasn’t quite toddled off, but she’s offset by Candi, my spirit Cheerleader. Toward the end of last year I was going into class thinking, ‘Eeh, I was rubbish last week, it’ll be rubbish again’ and I realised I needed a tool to wave at myself. There is now The Spreadsheet. It’s set up to highlight the good stuff rather than being a stick to beat me with. It’s only ever a best guesstimate of what I remember happened but it helps me focus on what I’m doing. Most importantly it’s what works for me. I’ve drawn the line at bringing a paper copy to update in class, but stranger things have happened.

I love Barre; I love what it does for my mind and my body. It’s taken a while for me to realise that utter honesty with myself, focus and consistency are what I need to see progress but I think we’re there. It’s not all me though, the support from the Barre team and the Barre Squad of lads and lasses, both in and out of class is amazing. I’ll see you in class!

#Realclients and their real strength…

Working out is hard.  If it weren’t it might instead be called ‘playing out’, or maybe ‘funning out’?  Either way its tough, and for many reasons.  No matter what anyone tells you there is no easy way to getting stronger and more fit.  It takes hard work, discipline, and proper direction, and that’s without all of the obstacles that get in the way.  Schedule conflicts,  stress, injury are all culprits.  But sometimes your worst workout enemy isn’t something external, but instead its yourself.  We would argue that more often than not a person’s biggest challenge is not the class, the arabesques, or the pretzels, but instead it’s their lack of faith in themselves.  All too often we truly do not know our own strength, we don’t know what we are capable of or what we can overcome.  Today’s #RealClients #RealResults blog post comes from someone who has some experience with this particular challenge.  She shares with us her journey of overcoming at The Barre.  We are very pleased to have her as part of The Barre family and she brightens our day every time she walks through the door.  In her own words, we give you Dawn Potkins:

My friend, who, at the time was 60 years of age and training for an Iron Man Triathlon asked about my first visit to The Barre. I had come across the principle in a woman’s magazine and much to my surprise found a studio within driving distance.

Although the private Physio plus homework had really helped after the hip fracture I felt stuck. I was underweight and looking like a lemon on a stick. Being a ‘bit young’ for a hip replacement the fracture had been pinned and I was discharged with no NHS physio to a life on crutches for three months. My exercise regime was very good but a boring weekly swissball circuit.

My response to the enquiry was quite morose. In a nutshell, I had arrived quite late for the 1st Barre class being delayed by traffic jams. It was in the time of the old studio and I felt very exposed arriving in my flustered state to be greeted by an open area with sofa and magazines plus a very well groomed middle-aged woman at a desk facing me. I came out of the class really narked and frustrated: sets were counted to 10 and not 8 like in the decade of Jane Fonda classes, there was not a mirror to see what the instructor was doing and it was so fast a class with really stupid poses that I had no idea what I was doing. Even worse the music blared out so how could I hear these instructions anyway and the woman Maxine looked like she was far too young to have proper teaching skills.

My friend and I decided that another shorter class with a different instructor, Natalie, may be worth a try. ReAb was chosen as I remembered in the dim and distant past it was loads of little tummy crunches so surely with all the coughing from my chronic chest condition that should be ok? Plus, there would not be any standing on my legs. I was met by a diminutive Natalie: figure of The Sugar Plum Fairy topped by a shock of cropped, bleached hair. The first exercise required me to stand on a bent leg reaching out with one arm, tuck my butt with other little adjustments leading to a very precarious stance and then lift the raised leg even further to tap the still elbow. We started on my weak leg.

I still go to The Barre.

Yes, I still attend the Barre.

The Barre still sees me coming through the doors of the current studio. If I am early, I may sit on the cushion marked with an L so then you will see the word PIES across the sofa.

Despite the high DNA rate and late cancels The Barre and I have melded in some way. In the conversation with Natalie after ReAb class, I knew I had to leave the small bubble of a world that chronic ill health brings as I had lost touch with reality in terms of my potential for becoming stronger.

My health conditions require a medication regime of 6 puffs of inhalers a day plus a daily tablet regime that alters across the week from 9 to 11 per day. When the chest plays up I graduate to the dizzy heights of Domestos Strength meds pushing the daily intake up a further 6-8 tablets.

Breathe: is my litmus test class and one I will attend if I can make the car journey. No matter how long I have been away or how early it is in the recovery stage I can focus on the lateral breathing I will need in other classes and test my hip muscle strength with the M stretch. The roller keeps the hip muscle spasms at bay. I have a roller for use at home peeps! Sometimes, I come out feeling as tired as some of you do as you pour out of Barrdio to give me your welcoming hugs but I have a real sense of achievement with it because we should all celebrate reaching the top of whatever mountain we have climbed.

1st Barre is great as Maxine’s cheerful voice gets me through the plies. I can really focus on technique as it really does slip, my friends, so that all sorts of ‘little cheats’ appear. I get inspired by the newcomers and sometimes there is a known Barre attender keeping me company.

At the moment, I am just entering the faster Open Barre and have a little clutch of Express classes to hand. I have not left 1st Barre behind as I can really push the edges of the exercises at a safe pace which will stand me in good stead for more technically demanding classes.I have attended Power classes in the past but do not have the stamina for them at the moment. They are really fun you know.

My bubble has grown as The Barre has provided intellectual stimulation, great folk for friendships and a much better understanding of mind/ body connection. I have gained weight as my appetite has improved and I am not a lemon on a stick anymore. I have learned how to use eye liner plus loads of other stuff that comes from a better quality of life.

So what to the future then. Well, no-one can predict it but it is my wish that if all goes well and I am here in 15 years time for my 75th birthday someone at The Barre will roll out the red carpet as I arrive in my driverless car.

Editor’s note: Dawn and Max are now best of friends 🙂

#RealClients and School of Hard Knocks…

Life is hard.  There is no doubt about it.  It’s hard in many ways, and its hard for everyone.  Whether its stress, grief, exhaustion, or injury…everyone has hard times.  At The Barre we do our best to help anyone who comes through the door try to manage all the hardship and difficulty that life sometimes doles out.  Exercise, and particularly non-impact activity like Barre, is statistically proven to help reduce stress, strengthen the body, and help recover from injury.  Life can be a real mother francis sometimes and its important to remember that each of us needs time to recover, to heal, and to regain strength of body and of mind.  Today’s #RealClients #RealResults blog post comes to us from someone who knows a fair amount about the school of hard knocks, and who also knows a fair amount about what Barre can do to mitigate those difficulties.  She has been with us through thick and thin with us and we always love having her in the studio.  Today she shares her insight into injury, recovery, knowing when to push and knowing when to maintain.  In her own words, here is Anna Ridley:

The Barre. It is and has been so much more than an exercise class.

It has been the welcoming and safe space which I needed back in 2009, it was where I came to learn how to respect and love my body again, it’s where I made some good friends and it was also my place of employment for a time.

It’s where I came to recover.

I recovered both mentally and physically by attending The Barre. The connection between my mind and body is so intertwined, they are one.

When I started attending class regularly not only did I see an improvement in my physical fitness and wellbeing, I could quite literally feel my mind breathe a sigh of relief too.

Healthy Mind – Healthy Body.

Healthy Body – Healthy Mind

Sounds like something you’d find on a twee inspirational meme but we can’t escape from the fact that if one goes, the other will follow suit.

I tore my meniscus (cartilage behind the knee) last year pretty badly and had to stop coming for a while whilst it healed but truth be told I didn’t give it enough time and came back too soon and went straight back into it where I left off. So after 2.5 and Reflex on Saturday, a loud crunching sound and a yelp, a very pale-faced Ridders ended up stuck. It was extreme hokey-cokey, I stuck my left leg in but it refused come back out again!

I’m now happy in Open and avoid Reflex despite my desire to flounce around with my leg in the air thinking I’m a cross between Misty Copeland and Loui Spence.

The one thing I hold on to in life is to appreciate where I am, right here, right now.

I can wish my life away, wanting the next best thing, the bigger this, the more handsome that and to be back in 2.5 and 3rd again but I don’t.

We’d all like to move up to the more advanced classes, use weights in sit-ups or the strap in C-curve, but don’t. Take a moment, appreciate where you are and enjoy it. Appreciate that you’re body is allowing you to even do this and have fun!! I know I am. Sweating and swearing in the corner saying very inappropriate comments under my breath!

Barre isn’t just an exercise class for me, it’s my way of life.

Lots of Love

Ridders xoxo

 

The miseducation of #RealClients…

Preconceptions, misinformation, inaccuracies…almost everyone who walks through the door of The Barre is plagued by these.  Its the first, and many times, the biggest hurdle that a person faces on their fitness journey.  There is so much information regarding fitness these days and there is no shortage of trendy diets or hyped-up fitness fads.  Unfortunately these are usually based on falsehoods, untruths, or omissions of crucial facts.  Even worse our own minds often times betray us by attempting to convince us of that which is most certainly not true.  At The Barre we spend as much time dispelling this misinformation as we do teaching you correct form.  Our next #RealResults blog contributor shares with us today her efforts of overcoming this culture of fitness fiction.  She is full of life and enthusiasm and we love that she applies these qualities to her Barre journey.  She always comes to class with courage, conviction, and a clever quip so today we are happy to share with you the story of The Miseducation of Sophie Brydon:

‘There’s no such thing as can’t!’

“Hey Soph, why don’t you try Barre?”                                                                                                  “Nahhhh mate, I definitely can’t do that”                                                                                                     An actual conversation, August 2015

Ohhh how wrong you were Sophie, how wrong you were. But the one thing that I’ve learnt on my Barre journey is the power of that one word, ‘can’t’.

A lot of my workmates started going to The Barre around 2013/14, but I always told myself that they were much thinner/fitter/stronger than I was, so of course I couldn’t do it. Thankfully I saw the light and finally got myself to a class at the end of September, 2015. Fitness had never really been a part of my life, and I definitely didn’t think that Barre was going to change that. Once again, how wrong I was… After a few classes I was hooked, and regularly coming three or four times a week.

And then she lived happily ever after… Except that’s only half of the story. As I started coming more and more and wanting to get better at things, my own worst enemy reared its ugly head – my brain. I started to look around in each class and think ‘why can’t I finish this plié set when everyone else can’, ‘why the hell can I not work this lower abs set, every single other person is doing it!’ and the worst of all (I’m embarrassed to even admit it) ‘why am I the only fat girl in the room?’. Yes it’s embarrassing to admit, but when you read it like that you can realise just how unkind we are to ourselves.

It’s taken some time but the past couple of months I’ve had some sort of epiphany. I’ve started to realise what my body is capable of and that if my mind works WITH it, instead of against it – together we’re pretty unstoppable. Sometimes this means being kind to myself, sometimes it means having a word with myself mid-class and resetting my focus – and sometimes it means telling myself ‘well look mate, if you don’t drop your plié sets in Beautcamp, you can’t exactly drop ’em in open barre now, can ya?!?’. But none of these things is telling myself I’m useless, or that I can’t do it. Because (to paraphrase a campaign that I’m kinda fond of) this girl actually CAN – and you can too. Instead of looking around at everyone else now, I focus entirely on myself – my sets, my class, my journey, my little victories and pushing just that little bit harder in every class. And if today isn’t my day (we all have them every now and then), it’s fine. You turned up and did it, and that’s half the battle. Get up off the mat, come back for the next class and try again. It’s also worth noting there’s some barre guys and girls I know with AMAZING game faces. Just because you can’t see the sweat, or the beetroot face, or the panda eyes from the make up that *was* there when they walked in the door (yep, all me – I ain’t a pretty sight inside the studio) – it doesn’t mean that they aren’t absolutely dying inside. Since I has this epiphany my performance has started getting better than ever. Each class is a little better than last week, my edge gets just a little bit edgier. And because I can see this now, and because I praise myself for the good classes, and let the bad classes go – I actually have a new found respect for my body, for the first time in my life (and it’s a pretty awesome feeling!).

One of the (many) great things about Barre is the community. Even if you’re having a bad day it’s worth turning up, there will always be someone there to make you smile and spur you on. Having those people there definitely made me realise that it’s not just me feeling this way and doubting myself at times. But where I used to hate going to the gym by myself because I’d be signing up to an hour of self hatred, I absolutely LOVE coming to The Barre (which is now my second home) to hang out with my wonderful barre buddies whilst we work our asses off to some awesome tunes.

If there’s one thing I think we could do with being reminded of from time to time it’s this; We are ALL #barrebarians – so don’t let yourself forget it.

#RealClients working real hard…good for more than just the body.

When it comes right down to it The Barre is a physical fitness studio and its goal is to affect physical change in the body.  In the world of Barre, The Barre economy is built on movement, on burning energy to accomplish that movement, and on building strength to maintain the movements.  And our currency is pliés, arabesques, and pretzels. Our banks are Barre, Express, and Power classes…we make deposits and sometimes we make withdrawals.  But like any economic ecosystem there are unforeseen side effects…some might call them benefits even.  Over time these benefits increase the overall value of the community at large.  The more that is put into this economy the stronger the side effects are.  In this case the benefit is confidence.  There is a direct connection between taking class and the amount of self-confidence that one possesses.  In today’s #RealClient blog post we hear from someone who has experience in this particular part of Barre.  She is quietly enthusiastic when she comes to class and its always inspiring to see her work as hard as she does in studio.  Her Barre journey has been linked to confidence and it is a pleasure to share her thoughts in her own words:  Kimberley Taylor 

Okay, let me be open and honest from the get go, I LOVE Barre. I love what it does for my body, but mostly what it does for my mind.

I’ve never been a dancer or performer, I’ve pretty much always done my best to stay away from been the centre of attention and lacked in confidence when it comes to body image. However from a very young age I absolutely loved gymnastics and the flexibility and power it gave me. My dad would take me every single Saturday morning to class and watch proudly from the side line, that is something I will cherish forever, until one day I simply felt like I wasn’t really good enough and sadly gave up.

Now I’m not a quitter, I try my very best at everything I do I just simply didn’t feel like I was good enough compared to others. I have felt like that many times since and initially when I heard of The Barre being stripped back ballet exercises I thought “there is no way I could do this”. 2 years down the line and I love it just as much then as I do now, if not more.

I’ve tried so many conventional gyms but none have ever been a perfect fit for me, until now. I need structure in my workouts and someone to tell me exactly what to do and what not to do. I’m definitely used to hearing “heels higher, squeeze your bum tighter” but to know I am doing it right makes it so worthwhile. Having that support instills a confidence in me that I love.

The Barre gives me a sense of achievement and accomplishment and a “I know I can do it” attitude. I’m not the most experienced or anywhere near the level of some of the amazing women and men in my classes but I refuse to give in. (Side note my balance is atrocious!) I have only ever felt supported and championed by my fellow classmates and trainers. That little smile or nod to know I’m doing okay mid way through class from someone gets me through every time!

I love how I feel when I walk out of class every single time, some weeks I only go once for 30 minutes but I feel so good afterwards it will always keep me going back. I talk about Barre to all of my friends and try to gently force them to go and see what it’s all about! Everyone needs to know how to get a BarreBum after all! 🍑

No one in class judges you or thinks your incapable. When I first began going to class the floor to ceiling mirrors terrified me, I would think “oh no I can see my tummy roll over, or why is my bum so flat” but now I try to see my positives over the negatives. The Barre is full of different people, from all walks of life, all ages, all shapes and sizes and we all have something in common. Our love of the studio and the workouts.

I am proud of myself for committing and never quitting. Barre is a lifestyle for me now and I won’t be giving it up so easy, my mind needs it and so does my ass!!

Kimberley

Real Clients getting real…

In our experience there are many many reasons why people choose to workout.  Some are forced to for injury rehabilitation reasons, others for their job, still others to impress someone else.  These reasons and many others are all valid and worthy of the effort that they inspire, but today’s blog is written by someone who has an altogether different reason.  One that many of us might not be very willing to share.  One that perhaps many of us in fact have in common but either ignore or hide.  Today’s contributor is someone who has now been attending The Barre for about 8 months.  She is in some ways relatively new to The Barre family but in many ways she represents some of our most experienced veterans.  We are moved by her words and thrilled to get to share them with all of you.  You’ve most likely seen her in the studio, she is unassuming, often quiet, and fights through class with an uncommon fierceness.  Here are her thoughts in her own words:  Amy Holford:

I’ve just pouched an entire box of Jaffa Cakes and I’m not sorry. I knit my ribs together 1465 times this morning, tightened my lower abs, clenched my butt and stretched my hammies to the point of no return. This is my biggest challenge; not devouring all chocolate items within grasp after exercise. I overheard Natalie say the other day that the best time to eat sugary foods is right after your workout. I play fast and loose with ‘right after.’ By about eight hours, give or take. Listen, I’ve got that pleasant ache in my joints and an ability to run up the stairs without sounding like I’ve run a half marathon dressed as a white goods item, so if a pack of Jaffa Cakes is my reward, I’m inhaling it.
When I started attending The Barre last Summer, it was the first time I’d “worked out” in years. I danced as a teenager until I gave it up when I left school. After that, motivating myself to do any form of exercise was impossible and just felt unnecessary. I’ve always been slim, but as I hit my mid twenties (I know, moan, moan, whinge, to be young…) I started clicking and popping in places that one would only hear resonate from a seventy five year old. I felt weak and I felt unhealthy. I figured I didn’t want to get to my Mum’s age and not feel as fit and healthy as I should be. I started taking contemporary dance classes with Eliot Smith who’s company is in residency at the studio, so The Barre made perfect sense to me. It combined core training, stamina, endurance and a little element of the dance I had missed for so long. Because when you’re in class, you almost feel as if you’re performing. Not only for yourself, but to make sure you don’t get a finger in your butt from Natalie when you’re not clenching as hard as you should be. And that’s another bonus- you’ve got a team of ladies on hand who push you and prove to you how far you can take your body. To have faith in your ‘edge’ and take it one step further.

Faith in myself. This has been vital for me. On top of this motivation to become a stronger, better me, I had another more personal reason. Since April last year, I started noticing I was sadder than usual. I was sighing all the time, feeling as though something terrible was going to happen. As if I didn’t belong in company, and all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball in my room and never come out. I was frustrated and angry around my family, and I complained too much to my boyfriend. I hated my job, and I was tired all the time. I had wrist and shoulder pain, and I started to feel colourless. Admittedly, looking back, I can see that these symptoms had been coming on for awhile, and what I was experiencing was depression and more notably, anxiety. This was something I had seen friends go through, but never myself. 

I didn’t notice as it become a state of normality for me, and that has been the worst thing. The illness slips under your skin as if it’s wearing you for bed.

But I did notice, and I realised I had to work on my self worth and kick this thing in the teeth. It was imperative that I started to colour in the blanks that I felt had consumed me. I need to feel in control, and I have to prove to this thing that I’m as strong as it says I’m not. It is still a battle, and the hardest thing is keeping the faith in yourself. Sometimes I go for weeks feeling positive- I walk into the studio ready to fight it out. Other days, when I’m not so, I’m there because I NEED to be there. I’ve pushed myself every step of the way to get in the car and get down. As I walk in, I stare at the floor, my mouth is set into a hard line and the cloud is well and truly settled above my eyes. And then we start, and suddenly the mist starts to lift a little, set by set, arabesque by plies. Every push up is a punch in the face of the thing that wants to see me sprawl, defeated across the floor. I glance in the mirror and I don’t shy away, but kinda dig how red I’ve become, how my stray pink hair is stuck to my forehead. ‘God, my roots are looking terrible…I have to sort that out…’ But I’m also looking into that mirror as if to say, ‘You’re not stopping. Ten more reps, nine, eight… you’ve got this, you’re doing it,’ until the class is over. The demon is beaten back to behind the door, and I have an instructor telling me at the end that I’ve nailed it…I’ve turned this thing into something positive, something to be proud of. There’s barely been a moment, inside that room, where I’ve given up. The most valuable thing I’ve taken from The Barre is an undeniable sense of strength and pride in myself…and also a solid reason to plough through the biscuits from the highest shelf in my kitchen.

Oftentimes, the anxiety still makes a return the following morning, so in that case I just combat it with another class, with another achievement. As I feel my abs strengthen into a wee four pack, and my boyfriend tells me fondly how my bubble butt is still a bubble butt, but it’s a strong one, and I click and pop less now, I feel a worth in myself that is so important in the times where shit gets hard. And that’s priceless.

Coming in to The Barre is a positive experience in itself. So many different people, men and women, all absolutely slamming it in every class to be the happiest version of themselves. Women double my age absolutely rocking plies and dance stretches better than I ever have (or probably ever will), murdering Barrdio as if being out of breath and sticky was in fashion. Big strong dudes who look like they’re wanting to cry in pain as much as you. Everyone is equal, everyone is striving for something. I’m inspired every day that I go by the people that share The Barre with me. There’s something for everyone. If you feel self conscious, you forget about it immediately. There’s no time for it. The only person you have to impress is yourself, and if you give it enough time, you will. One thing I’ve learned is how much stress you can put on your body, and how much it can take. The only thing holding you back, is you. The only person watching you, is you. And if you can walk out a couple inches higher (or lower if you’ve done BRX)…hell, if you can walk out ALIVE, then you’ll be impressed with yo’self. I promise.

The Barre has become a therapy of sorts for me, and I’ve never had to whinge on about my problems to anyone in order to achieve a sense of clarity. Sure, I’m on waiting list to get some proper help. But The Barre is always open for me.

Thanks guys! x