Approximately two months ago I started attending barre on a regular basis. My goal was to attend 3 classes a week, but depending on my schedule, it ranged anywhere from 1-3 classes per week.
As I’m sure anyone who has ever attending barre will tell you – barre is hard. Like, really hard. Like, you think you’re dying hard. (Danielle wrote an awesome post about barre a while back). But it’s also really, really fun and enjoyable.
Ten days ago I attended my first BODYPUMP class since the end of March and was fully prepared to feel like I was dying and to hate every second of it. It turns out, I felt pretty good throughout the class. I purposefully chose lighter weights as I didn’t want to do any damage, but I’m quite certain I could have used my normal weights for many of the tracks – especially the arm track. It turns out that do high reps (like, really high reps) we 3lb or 5lb weights, really does improve your arm strength!
Last week on Thursday I attended a Brewga (beer + yoga) class at a brewery with some members of the Blog Squad. I have quite the off-and-on relationship with yoga, but there are poses that I always struggled with thanks to my weak hips. This class I was able to hold a standing split post with my pelvis squared off and no pain on the outside of my hip. This is a significant improvement for me.
Those to classes proved to me that attending barre on a mostly regular basis for two months has made a really big improvement in my strength and stability.
With that intro – let’s dive into what a class looks like at my studio (since it a bit different from the post I linked) and why I think each element has made me stronger.
Many, many runners will admit to not really warming up before, well anything. Not at barre! We start with a warm up of marching, squating, bending and stretching to wake up the muscles and joints we’ll be using throughout the class. This is obviously something I need to include when I run.
Once the warm up is complete it’s time to grab weights for arm torture. I think this lasts 57 minutes, but in reality, it’s probably more like 8-10 minutes of arm work which hurts, but is highly effective, as evidenced by my performance in BODYPUMP last week. I’ve moved up from only ever using 3 pound weights to using a combo of 3-5 pounds depending on the day. Most instructors are really good at letting you know if you should be able to up weights that day, since every day is different.
Before we hit the barre, it’s time for our first cardio session. I’m pretty certain this lasts no more than 4 minutes, but I still feel like my heart is beating out of my chest and there might be some sweat dripping on the floor by now.
Now we move into barre work. Barre work typically focuses on the hamstrings, hips, and glutes, with some quads thrown in just for fun. Posture at the barre is super important as it ensures you’re able to properly engage the appropriate muscle groups and won’t get injured. For fun, exercises may include a ball, a band, or an awful torture device called a twizzler band. However, the more awful the equipment is, the better the burn.
We then pulse, move up and down in tiny movements, and try to breath into our shaking legs while actively not cursing the instructor (as I attend at least one of Megan’s classes per week, I may or may not be picturing her in my head while writing this).
Oh, you thought you only needed to do cardio once? Silly rabbit. Time for another 4 minutes of heart pounding torture.
Depending on the day, you may do a second turn at the barre, or you might go straight to the mat for some clamshell-like activities.
After your legs thoroughly hate you, and you aren’t sure if you’ll be able to make it home, it’s time to dive into the corework. But – don’t forget you’ve actually been engaging your core this whole time in order to maintain good posture throughout the class – but, let’s work it some more shall we?!
As Megan likes to remind me – runners never stretch. And, it’s kind of true. I know I need to stretch, but I also don’t typically stretch immediately after a run, and then I forget about it – this is why one of my goals for June is to stretch more – my body needs it!
All of the arm, core, glute, and accessory muscle work really has made me stronger.
While I’m keeping my runs slow and easy, I haven’t had any shin pain in weeks, so I know I’m doing a few things right.
I only have 4 classes left on my punch card, so I’ll need to decide if I want another card, or if I want to try the membership route.Learn how barre at @BarreBodyStudio has made Ange stronger in just 2 months! #barresohardClick To Tweet
What has been the best cross training for you as a runner?
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