Summer Issue 2017 Positively Physical: Raising the Barre

Dancer stretching on a barre while practicing dance

By Alison Canavan

I’ve been choosing a different exercise to practice each month and it’s proving to be a lot of fun. You don’t get bored, and each type of exercise challenges your body and mind in different ways. I’ve a bad back for years, so I need to be very careful and can only exercise under supervision, which can be frustrating. The temptation to leave exercise out is always there, but movement is a key part of real wellness and it’s essential for anyone with injuries to tend to. When you find something that is both exercise and fun, like Barre, then it’s something you can actually look forward to doing each week.

I’d heard Barre being mentioned around town. Having had a brief fling with ballet in my youth, I thought that I would give it a go. I also thought it would be quite easy and that I’d be great at it. Clearly my memories of my ballet abilities had been grossly exaggerated over time in my mind, as I soon realised I’m more of a Swan Fake than Swan Lake ballerina. The good news is that I grew to love it and although I might never be the ballerina I once dreamt of being, I can have a toned tush in time for summer.

It was interesting to read that ballerina, Lotte Berk, created Barre after injuring her back. She came up with the idea to combine her dance conditioning routine with her rehabilitative therapy, and opened her first studio in 1959 in her London basement. Famous faces such as Joan Collins and Barbara Streisand would regularly arrive there to lift, tuck, and curl. I started taking classes with the girls at Rebel Barre. Jade O’Connor was my first teacher and her energy was infectious. Barre really is a wonderful exercise class that mixes ballet inspired exercises, Pilates and HIIT training to sculpt and tone your muscles. It’s the perfect addition to your cardio routine and it covers legs, bums, arms and tums, all those harder to reach areas. I developed shaky leg syndrome early on in the class as Barre is all about tiny isometric movements. ‘Isometric’ movements are less stressful on your joints and muscles than other forms of exercise. They are strengthening exercises where the joint angle and muscle length don’t change.

In a nutshell you; hold, don’t move and feel the burn (or the shake in my case!). In Barre class you also use props like hand weights, balls and resistance bands. The exercises are easy to follow and the girls at Rebel Barre are really supportive and encouraging. I found it great for posture, as sitting all day at a desk can cause you to bend over and leave you stiff and strained. Barre lengthens you out, as you train yourself to stand tall during each exercise. At Rebel Barre there are various different versions of Barre on offer, like cardio-dance and H.E.A.T. (High Energy Amplified Training). These are next level, more advanced Barre classes, for those who want to ramp up the cardio and work on the harder barre moves. The newest addition is ‘bounce’ which helps to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The mind-body connection in exercise is important for me as I try to bring an element of mindful living into my everyday life. I felt this connection during Barre. Because you’re so focused on isolating the different areas of your body, I felt very connected to each moment and, in turn, to my body. It’s lovely to have those experiences in such a chaotic world.


 

Rebelbarre.rocks for more information.

For more about Alison: becomplete.ie follow Alison on Instagram @alisoncanavanwellness

 

 

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