I first tried a barre workout when my oldest son, now 8, was just 8 weeks old. I have always fancied myself as an “athlete” in one shape or form, so I thought this pretty studio with all these fit ladies walking in would be more like a gentle stretching routine than anything else. So wrong.
3 minutes into my first workout I thought I was going to vomit. My inner voice was telling me “you run the Lyon Street stairs, you lift weights, you do bootcamp and yoga, you can do a Barre class!!” By the time we started the thigh section, I wanted to escape. Literally, if there weren’t 20 other ladies in class looking calm, I might have made an excuse that my meter ran out and bolted. I looked down at my legs, shaking uncontrollably, and wondered if they would even carry me if I tried to run.
After the class, I was sore all over, but in all the right areas. I could actually feel an abdominal muscle for the first time in months.
Barre workouts use the ballet barre for balance and opposition in a series of orthopedic, pilates, yoga, and ballet-inspired positions and exercises that are designed to sculpt the entire body with a focus on thighs, cheeks and tummy. Perfect to target the 35lbs I gained during pregnancy that seemed to like hanging out in those regions. You work the muscle groups to the point of fatigue and then immediately stretch the muscle and underlying joint building long lean muscles and healthy joints.
With names like “pretzel” and “thigh dancing”, the exercises are extremely effective and slightly torturous. You WILL shake, and then you will stretch and move on to push another body part to its fatigue point. Your mind will not be on kids, husbands, work, or school. Rather you will be cursing and praying for the instructor to finally count down the last 10 reps so you can stop.
What I found when I stuck out all the painfully long sets of thigh work, tucks and squeezes, was that my body was transformed into the best shape of my life after just three months. But the best part about it was that it was totally safe for my back (I have herniated discs in my lumbar spine), and non-impact on my ankles and knees.
I became obsessed and have continued this workout for myself as well as teaching it at various studios before, during and after each of my three pregnancies.
Barre workout helps to not only sculpt your thighs, flatten your abdominals and lift and tighten your cheeks, it is also amazing at improving posture and back strength. Mommies spend so much time hunched over, feeding, holding and carrying our little ones, we all tend to have issues with the areas of the mid back and shoulder blades and lower neck as a result. Working out with proper alignment of the joints is paramount to strengthening the upper body and preventing chronic pain and injuries. I have taken the best of all the Barre workouts and combined them with my knowledge of the spine and joints from my 14 year career as a chiropractor to develop the current program at Studio 7 Fitness Pleasanton.
One other great side effect of Barre class is that it actually builds strength in your pelvic floor. You heard me right. I no longer pee when I laugh or sneeze. This dirty little secret nobody tells you about before you give birth can actually be helped!
Looking around a Barre class at Studio 7 Fitness Pleasanton you will see a range of ages, shapes and sizes. There are new moms, college students, mother/daughter teams, and yes, men (mostly dragged by their wives to see how hard the workout is). The participants are encouraging and welcoming and reassure the newcomers that although it never gets easy, it does get better. And most importantly, it works!
Channing Azzolino is a native to the East Bay who has been a chiropractor for 14 years. She is a mother of 4, and owner of Studio 7 Fitness Pleasanton where she teaches Barre classes. She has spent her career helping patients and clients achieve fitness goals in a safe and effective way combining her expertise in biomechanics and alignment with the development of fun and exciting fitness programs.