At the start of a new year, we tend to apply “set it and forget it” resolutions. “I want to eat better, drink less, exercise more,” are often heard. I’ve been known to fail at setting a goal or two, without following through. It’s usually because my goals are not attainable.
I wanted to change all that in 2016. This year would be the year I focus on my fitness again. In order to realize my fitness goals, I needed to set realistic expectations. I needed to find something I could see myself enjoying while getting fit.
Enter barre. I loved barre classes. I had spent many-a-day at the barre pre-wedding to get in shape. It was also the only form of exercise I could see myself actually committing to. Inspired by the movements at a ballet barre, a “barre” class can include a mix of pilates, yoga, dance and often uses light weights, exercise balls and/or bands with an emphasis on small repetitions, pulsing movements and core engagement.
My objective was to complete 100 barre classes in 2016. That breaks down to two classes per week. It was just the right amount of challenge but within reach.
To accomplish this goal I put in time at no less than 18 studios in the city. Some studios I went to offered it as a class once or twice a week while other studios, where I spent the majority of my time offer barre classes exclusively. Hint, get a ClassPass if you want to shop around or try out different studios in your city.
The majority of my time was spent at Pure Barre, the most challenging of the classes I took but also the most rewarding.
Here are 10 things I learned in my journey to reaching the 100 mark.
1. There are times when you may feel like giving up. I definitely had some lows in my quest to reach 100 classes, including an injury that had me sitting out for most of July. The activity itself can be very intense with some classes being a lot harder than others. During some classes, the challenge was so intense that I couldn’t wait for it to be over. They don’t call it a “barre burn” for nothing. That’s how you know it’s working, though.
2. You’ll become more addicted to it, the more you go. My love for the barre grew as the frequency of going to class increased. Like a snowball effect, the more classes I took, the more I wanted to go, more often. I was hooked and I couldn’t wait until my next class. I was even taking classes every day of my vacation when I visited Oregon and Washington State in August. One of my highlights of the trip was being able to take a class in the flagship Barre3 studio, where one of the biggest Barre franchises from the US started.
3. Your overall outlook will improve. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve noticed changes in my overall happiness and outlook. I feel more confident and calmer. I feel like I can take on more challenges and I definitely don’t feel as sluggish at work. That could also have a lot to do with an improvement in diet, however, there is no denying that exercise can have many positive effects on the body.
4. You will see a change in your physique. There are many claims that regular barre workouts will give you a long, lean physique. While this is something that is worth striving for, the reality is that the picture isn’t a portrait of perfection for everyone. While I have seen noticeable differences, they are subtle and there is still a lot of work to do. It would be naive of me to think that I would become a size 2 ballerina after only a few months. That’s why I believe it’s important to not get worked up if you don’t see noticeable changes right away. The small changes to your body that creep up over time will be enough to keep you motivated to stick with it.
5. You will naturally eat better. When you are working as hard as you are, the last thing you want to do is throw it all away by eating foods that would undo all your efforts. Naturally, as I made going to the barre a routine part of my week, I also found I was wanting to eat better too.
It started with a curiosity to know more about nutrition and slowly I found myself saving more and more inspiring recipes to Pinterest, like these delicious no-bake energy bites or this simple overnight oats recipe.
6. Barre will start to creep into your everyday life. From being more aware of my posture at work to following dozens of barre-inspired Instagram accounts, and even subscribing to a barre subreddit, I started to notice how much more interested I became in everything barre-inspired. My athleisure wear collection quickly expanded too. It was fun to pick out the clothes that I was going to wear to class. After all, the more I went the more options I needed, right?
7. You will feel sore in muscles you didn’t even know you had… but that’s the sign of a good workout.
Invest in a foam roller, your muscles will be working hard every time you go. It’s important to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for injury.
8. You will have feelings of self-doubt. You will compare yourself to others..but try not to. You may think the woman next to you at the barre is clearly an undercover professional ballerina sent to make you look bad.
Think of this instead, everyone has a Day 1. That’s what you have to remember. Those people who can do a perfect split stretch probably have been working on that for awhile. Look at it like an opportunity to work your way up to it. Someday you’ll be in that split stretch too. Also remember it’s not a race to be perfect and even those that go regularly can find things to constantly improve on.
9. You’ll push yourself harder than you thought possible because you can do it!
If you focus hard enough, you can achieve anything. Take it from me, I had completely abandoned exercise for a good chunk of my twenties. I hated going to the gym and would come up with a million excuses not to go.
It’s all about finding something that motivates you. For me it was barre. I hope you find your equivalent.