Breaking Down The Barre
How I lost 15 pounds and gained my health back through barre classes.
When your fat pants don’t fitA few months ago, I was having one of those mornings. My fire alarm went off in the middle of the night, I got stuck in an elevator, the metro was delayed due to snow storms, and to make things extra fun, I went to get dressed before work and my oversized Marc Jacobs high waisted trousers that I consider my fat pants, did not fit. I should also note that all of these things happened before 5:00AM. I went about my day but when I got home, I did something I have not really done in a while: I really looked at my body in the mirror. I was in denial about my habits and body image. I was out of shape and I did not feel or look my best. My confidence was at an all-time low. I was not making my health a priority and I was really disappointed in myself. Later that day, I got an email from Michelle, the owner of Pure Barre DC, who reached out about working with me. I took this as a sign (I’m rarely approached about fitness pitches/opportunities) and I asked her, when can I start?! The next day, I took my first class. Since then (beginning of February), I’ve gain strength, confidence, and have lost 15 pounds. I still have another stubborn 7 pounds that I need to lose to get back to my ideal weight, but I know these things take time and that it’s a lifestyle, not a diet. I wanted to share with you a little about my highs, lows, tips and feedback on how barre classes have helped me live a more balanced life. Disclosure: This post is really personal. I normally keep things creative and light here, but I wanted to throw myself out there on this one because it’s something I care deeply about. I am not a fitness or health expert. The story I am sharing is intended to motivate you to lead a healthier lifestyle. What works for me, may not work for you, but I hope this helps you find something that does!
No More ExcusesMy excuse for not working out and eating healthy is that I did not have time for it. We are all busy. I know that I am not any different from the next super busy person. I would tell myself that I work two full time jobs and who has time to work out when you have work to do? When I get off of work, I am normally mentally, physically and on the occasion, emotionally exhausted. The last thing that I wanted to do was go to the gym. Also, I am NOT a morning person. I knew that I needed to find a fitness routine that was practical for my lifestyle and was excuse-free. For example, running for an hour or going to a boot camp where the teacher yells at you and throws medicine balls at you was never going to happen. Finding something I would enjoy was important to me.
My First Pure Barre ClassFor my Pure Barre review, I am going to walk you through my first class, and also what a typical class looks like. My first class was a reminder of how out of shape I was. My muscles were shaking the entire class (I’ll explain that later). However, instead of leaving exhausted, I left feeling incredibly energized. It was refreshing. Normally, after a good workout I feel beat and like I am walking underwater. After this class, I was mentally alert and had almost a second wind for the day. To my surprise, I could not wait for my next class.
Breaking Down The Barre – My Pure Barre ReviewThe actual classes are broken down into a few sections so as soon as you’re really burning and/or bored with a move, you’re on to the next one. I like this because I am ADHD and need constant stimulation. The classes are 55 minutes long and flows like this: warm up, arms, hips, thighs, abdominals, and stretches.
Warm UpThis portion aims at getting your heart rate up and muscles warm for the rest of the class. In the image below, we are raising our legs and rotating our upper body. I’m really uncoordinated but was able to get into the groove of it!
Top Right: Michelle, owner of Pure Barre DC, during the warm up
Above: 90 second plank during the warm up
ArmsThe second portion of the class sculpts and conditions your arms. There is light weight work (two to five pounds), and variations of push ups.
Hips/ThighsThis is my favorite part of the class. You will work your inner and outer thighs, and then move to your “seat.” Your legs will start to shake as your muscles fatigue. When this happens, just go with it. It’s a strange sensation at first, but it means that your muscles are changing. This is how you get the fast results. The moves are small, hard, and effective.
AbdominalThis portion of the class uses small, targeted movements in your core to flatten your abs. By squeezing your core and making tiny moves, you get a deep burn in your abs. Throughout the class, it’s important to be aware of your form and to constantly keep your muscles squeezed/firm.
StretchesThis is the home stretch! Focus on your breathing and enjoy the relaxing music.
Track your calories. I use fitbit and MyFitness Pal aps to log my calories consumed and burned. I am less likely to eat that half of a cupcake if I know that the 130 calories equals that thigh work out. Definitely passing on the cupcake. Let me know if you want me to elaborate on these aps.
Don’t skip cardio and a good diet. I’ve incorporated running, spinning, and training into my fitness routine. Pure Barre is great for toning and mental health, but if you need to shed pounds like it did, cardio and a clean diet are essential. I am doing at least 20 minutes of “breathless” cardio per day and opting for fewer carbs and reaching for more greens. Leave me a comment if you want me to expand on my diet.
Weigh your options. For me, this came down to choices. Do I want to work out or do I want to hate my body? I got tired of hating my body, so I started treating it better.
Take photos of your progress. There is no way I am sharing my before/now/after bikini pics, but my friend @RomiFit told me to take them. Hesitantly, I did and am so happy I listened to her. Since I was gaining muscle which, weighs more than fat, the number on the scale was not moving for a while. I was 130 when I started. I moved down to 125 pretty quickly. I got stuck at 120 for weeks. I am finally down to 115. I need to lose 7 more pounds to get to my normal weight at 108.
Being the visual person I am, when the number on the scale was not moving for a while, I could at least see my body changing in photos. I was very frustrated at my 120 plateau, but seeing my progress kept me from getting discouraged.
- PureBarre DC: Located in DuPont Circle and on Capitol Hill.
- PureBarre: Find a class in a city near you here.