We are back with our next instalment of our #RealResults #RealClients campaign posts…and after the success of our last post we were absolutely thrilled to have our next guest writer contribute. Before we make the introductions we’d like to take a moment to mention that all of the response we are getting from you regarding these client posts has been tremendous and simply reinforces what we already know. That our clients are the bees knees! Please feel free to share these posts far and wide on all of your social media platforms. Our hope is that these brilliant messages reach untold numbers of people who might be inspired.
And now without further delay…our next contributor is a familiar face in the studio. She is a veteran of The Barre and has always been a pleasure to have in class. Her particular style of hard work, over-analysis, and borderline obsessive habits have carved a very special place in our hearts. We have always found her an inspiration and we think you will too…here is her Barre story in her words: Barre Crew we give you…Fiona Hutchinson.
Around three years ago I was due to go on a skiing holiday with a good friend, while discussing our preparation she said, “I know! Why don’t you come to The Barre, it will be great for building leg strength before we go.” This was not the first time she had made this suggestion and while previously this was met with the response, “I don’t do exercise classes.” This time, to try to avoid the aches on the piste, I relented.
To give you an idea of my previous exercise attitudes and experience, I enjoyed sport, I had played a lot of tennis, I swam, I ran and I dabbled in the gym. I was not remotely flexible (I couldn’t touch my toes), and I think I may have mentioned already that I didn’t do exercise classes. My fitness and shape varied, with my dress size fluctuating wildly and from being pretty fit to a couch potato. My attitude to exercise and diet was very much ‘all or nothing’ which accounted for these changes, I just couldn’t sustain a fitness routine for any length of time.
My first experience of The Barre was a ‘doubles’ session with instructor Natalie and my friend Elizabeth. It’s fair to say I spent most of the session in a state of confusion (what the hell were these weird movements that burned like a thousand fires in my thighs?), pain and realisation that certain muscle groups in my body had done absolutely nothing for my entire life. On several occasions I proclaimed, “I don’t have those muscles!” when I was asked to do exercises that my body would not comply with and I definitely shouted, “It burns, it burns!” as I tried not to cry. After a couple of classes I was unconvinced that this was for me and the post-class pain, which kicked in every time I made a movement and was unlike anything I had ever experienced, was making it unlikely that I would stick at it.
On my return from my holiday, my husband had broken his collar bone so was unable to go running or play tennis with me and I spent a month sitting on my couch, eating garbage and hunting for stretchy clothing in my wardrobe, I had to do something to stop the downward spiral into elasticated waistbands, so I decided to return to barre class. I started with one class a week, then after a few weeks I asked Maxine the question, “What is Barrdio?” and decided to give that a whirl. Barrdio, I found, was both exhilarating and horrific, I most definitely thought I was going to throw up within the first ten minutes but was delighted to make it to the end without decorating the studio floor. From there on in I was hooked. Over the next couple of months I built up my training schedule with a mixture of barre and power classes until I was training around five times per week. And the elastic waistbands were a distant memory.
Fast-forward three years and I am approaching my 1000th Barre class and do around eight classes per week. I haven’t dropped my schedule once in that time. There has been no period where I have taken time off from Barre (except for family holidays and the enforced Christmas break). During this time I have had periods of healthy eating, had loads of energy and had 100% focus on my training and I have had periods where I really can’t be bothered, just want to eat all the food in the world and would rather do anything but train. Despite this, my schedule hasn’t wavered. So why has Barre worked for me where other exercise regimes haven’t? There are many different reasons. Firstly, I like the effect Barre has on my shape, so that even if I’m eating all the food in the world and I am gaining a bit more padding, I still have good muscle tone and shape and Barre goes some way to counteracting crisps, wine and haribos and reducing the increase in ass size! In addition, Barre is something I do for my mental health, it doesn’t matter what has happened during the day, how much work stress I have or what is going on in my life, for the time I am in class, I have to focus on it completely. I have so many things to think about: shoulders down, engage my core, long flat abs, back straight, breathing…the list is endless, there is just no room in there for any other thoughts. This brings me to my next point, I love the technicality of Barre, there is always something to work on, more to learn. Just when I think I have mastered one aspect of an exercise, something else pops up that I have to address, this keeps it interesting and means I can never ‘coast’. I have monthly 1:1 sessions with Nat and these enhance my Barre experience infinitely. I learn so much about the technical aspects of Barre in these sessions and, shockingly, it is only in the past four months or so that I have made the realisation that I have the laziest ass in Barre history and I now have to work so hard to activate my glutes in class, but it has been a game-changer for me! I want to get better and know I still have so much to learn and it’s a challenge and I’m stubborn and like a challenge. Finally, I love the people. So many gyms are full of people who are all about showing off how good/ strong/amazing they are. This is not what The Barre crew are about. The atmosphere is overwhelmingly friendly and supportive. Nobody has an air of superiority about them, there’s not ‘look at me, I’m fabulous’ crowd. I have made a wonderful group of friends at The Barre, but even if I’m in a class where I don’t know anyone, we share looks that say “We’re in this together’’. It’s a special place, full of fun, laughter, music and like-minded people and I know that I will always come out of the studio feeling better than when I went in.
So am I a completely changed woman? Am I no longer ‘feast and famine’? Do I still have couch potato periods? Yes .……and no.
I recently had my ‘February dip’ dark nights, long days at work, family bereavement, cold miserable weather…. I sought solace in sausage rolls and wine for a couple of weeks and ate doughnuts for breakfast and chocolate bars before 9am. It could easily have been the start of one of my ‘elastic waistband’ periods, but that was the old me. I kept my training schedule up, even though some nights the temptation to lie on my couch in a blanket with a packet of haribos, a family sized bag of crisps and a glass of wine was overwhelming and seemed like an infinitely superior option, and now, I’m back to being ‘good me’ – fully committed to my training, eating healthily and set on losing a few pounds and drop a dress size. If I had dropped my schedule for these two weeks, it would have been so much harder to get back into it all and I fear the ‘dip’ would have lasted much longer and left me with a much higher mountain to climb.
So, If you are struggling to hit your groove with exercise, or you do Barre but you sometimes have breaks in your schedule and then suffer from ‘The Fear’, my advice is this: be consistent, keep your training up through good times and bad, through healthy ‘clean eating’ and deep fried, wine-soaked bonanzas, through work stress and relaxed, fun weekends, through family crises and carefree days. If you train no matter what, it becomes part of your life and it helps see you through the more difficult times when you’re just not feeling it. You will come out the other side and you will hit the ground running and not have to work yourself back into a schedule and the pliés will hold no fear (well, almost!). Try it, the next time you feel the temptation to cancel class because its cold/dark/you’re too tired etc. just go to class. It will make you less likely to cancel the next one and just not book any for a while and you may find the ‘dip’ doesn’t last as long as you feared!