Comfort zones are called so for a reason. They’re familiar, effortless to function in and, hard to leave. But great things never happen in comfort zones. Believe it or not, that zoning can extend as far as your barre class. If you are not stopping for breaks or coming out of exercises earlier, and if the ‚shaking' is becoming a little less prevalent, you might be ready to extend yourself!
tips on how to raise your game at the barre:
Definitely make sure you are not hungry before class. Snack on something light and nutritious like a banana, a protein ball, or a smoothie. Be well hydrated too, as your heart rate will speed up and you will be breaking more of a sweat. Do some release work, such as easing your muscles with a roller or spikey ball. Do some gentle stretches before or after you hit the studio.
De-stress by breathing naturally and being present. Leave the mobile phone in your bag and come to the mat a few minutes early to meditate and focus on your breath before class. because once class kicks off, it’s time to start challenging yourself. Choose the full plank and side plank positions, take balances on one leg and try taking your hands off the barre to test yourself and get a sense of where your centre is.
INCREASE YOUR LOAD
Challenge yourself to do the whole arm set with heavier weights. It’s completely doable. You can also lift your heels when stood in parallel, Pilates V or Second Position Plié - great for strengthening ankles and intrinsic muscles of the feet and tip your torso further forward when inclined. Take the full-plank position in push-ups and lift your pelvis off the mat in tricep dips. Feeling that burn?
FIND THE BALANCE
Unless you’re in a position that requires a grip, most thigh work can be done without holding the barre. This is a great way to check you’re not using your arms to help take the load from your thighs. Lifting your heels or, where appropriate, your toes off the mat can change the intensity on your thighs – sometimes even just changing the sensation in the thighs can be a way to raise the game.
ENGAGE YOUR CORE
For abdominal work, go for full planks rather than modified. Lift your shoulder blades off the mat in all supine curl variations, and taking your legs lower – drawing your thighs further away from your abdominal wall in exercises with a lower abdominal focus – will challenge the core more. During core (and every other set, for that matter) we encourage you to embrace the burn. Stick with it and persist through that burning sensation to advance your practice, your strength and ultimately your workout results.
Give yourself that extra lovely push and you will get addicted to the feeling of achievement you receive when trying new positions and extensions in class – and might surprise yourself by wanting to come back for more!