Category Archives: Yoga Enthusiasm

Something that should be practiced by everyone

Research Leans Towards Pilates for Improved Athletic Performance

Joseph Pilates started exercising to combat his physical disadvantages, such as asthma, which allowed him to form his own system that we know today as ‘Pilates.’ Since the workout routines boom in recognition in the 1970’s, studies have followed on the effects of Pilates.

Studies show that Pilates improves lower limb muscle strength and trunk flexibility in women, lowers the rate of depression in postpartum women, and improves  hamstring flexibility in football players. Is Pilates the best option, over Barre, for improving athletic performance?

Barre is designed to be a workout for every woman, but not many studies can be found on the effects of a Barre routine.

Mariska Breland of Fuse Pilates in Washington D.C., says Barre doesn’t make you better at sports. “It’s not a complete workout,” says the instructor, “It’s not very functional.”

Jennifer Rockwell of Pilates 4 in Virginia Beach says “equipment Pilates is definitely good for people that are post physical therapy, it is a very rehabilitative type exercise, it is a full body workout, but it is slower paced, it is much more mindful, you’re getting more one on one, so you get lots more corrections, vs. in a Barre class, you can only correct to the general, you can’t spend all your time on one person.”

An article by USA Today in 2003 reported on athletes improving their performance through Pilates, such as quickness, power, flexibility, weight loss, and injury-free seasons.

Barre- An Exercise Routine Designed To Be For Every Woman

What started as a combination of ballet and rehabilitative therapy, variations of Barre have quickly become the new go to work out for women, but unless you live in a populated urban area, you may not have heard of it yet.

Barre workouts have been spreading for the past decade across the United States and Canada. The market is for women who desire a dancer’s physique or in need of a post physical therapy workout. Each type of Barre is a variation of the original, The Lotte Berk Method, and consists of a workout that is slightly different from the others, but the consistent element is using a barre, and simple ballet movements, and creating a workout that does not require experience or a background in dance.

Lotte Berk, a German dancer and fitness pioneer, created the exercise routine in 1959 after sustaining a back injury. One of her students, Lydia Bach, brought the routine to Manhattan in 1971, starting the first Lotte Berk Method studio in the United States. With popularity of the effective routine starting to rise, different types of Barre started to appear, most notably Pure Barre, and Barre3.

Source: Esther Fairfax

A barre used for balance and simple ballet movements during a Barre workout. (Photo by Jillian Knight)

What is the difference between Barre, Barre3, and Pure Barre?

The word barre itself is a ballet term meaning a horizontal handrail that sits at hip height. It is pronounced the same way as the word bar.

“That is to me what Barre class is, it’s group exercise, but incorporating simple ballet type exercises that are modified for the general public so that you don’t have to have any dance experience whatsoever,” says Jennifer Rockwell, owner of Pilates 4 in Virginia Beach.

“I just think because it’s (Barre) result oriented, it’s fun, it also does great things for your butt, it tones, it doesn’t bulk, and it burns calories,” said Jennifer, who has had her studio open for two years now.


When asked who her typical clientele consisted of, Jennifer says, “I think it really, and this would be the California in me, it is for women over 40, who have money to spend, and the time to invest in it.”

Barre is not a cheap investment. Jennifer is the cheapest rate in Virginia Beach at $10.00 a class, but recommends coming three times a week for best results.

Alicia Sokol, studio owner of Barre3 on 14th Street in Washington D.C. says Barre3 uses cork floors, “so the workout can be done bare foot or with socks, there is no tucking involved, it’s easier on your lower back and knees, incorporates small range of motion, as well as large range, and includes more cardio.”

Tucking is a core engaging technique used by Pure Barre.
Source: PureBarreCompany

“Barre3 is really designed for any type of body,” says Alicia, who discovered Barre3 in 2012.

When asked about her goal as an owner, Alicia says “I want everyone to leave confident, feeling strong, and good in their skin.”

An element that sets Barre3 apart is that most studios offer child care services to accommodate busy mothers.

Barre3 uses cork floors instead of carpet, making non-slip socks optional (Photo donated by Alicia Sokol of Barre3 in Washington D.C.)

 

Pure Barre has been the most popular franchise, with over 400 studios. Founded in 2001 by Carrie Dorr, and franchising starting in 2009, Pure Barre is a mixture of ballet, yoga, and Pilates. Pure Barre uses balls, weights, mats, and resistance bands in their workouts

Balls used in Pure Barre routines. (Photo by Jillian Knight)
Light or heavy weights used in Pure Barre routines. (Photo by Jillian Knight)
Mats used for Pure Barre exercises. (Photo by Jillian Knight)
Resistance bands used for Pure Barre routines. (Photo by Jillian Knight)

Pure Barre corporate policies do not allow photos or video of the equipment being used, unless for advertising or marketing purposes.

Deanna Graham, co-owner of Pure Barre in Virginia Beach, attributes the popularity of Barre to being “the simplest, safest, really workout that you can do.” She says it is great for pregnant women, it allows people with injuries to continue working out, it allows people to gain flexibility, and is great for people with athletic injuries like bad backs, or knees. Nancy, a breast cancer survivor, and a Pure Barre client, says the workout allowed her to gain her strength and flexibility back.

Deanna also attributes the success of Pure Barre to lack of judgement in the studios. “It’s a community, it’s a community of like-minded women, we are all here, not necessarily to lose weight or to get skinny, but to get strong.”

Deanna also encourages people to attend three or four times a week, and that people will start to see results after 10 sessions.

Source: PureBarreCompany

So, what caused Barre to rise in popularity? Mariska Breland, founder of Fuse Pilates in Washington D.C. says Physique 57 and Pure Barre are what made Barre explode by adding music. She also says a lot less training is involved for Barre instructors than Pilates or even yoga, so it is easier for studios to open quickly.

“You can get teachers up and running in two weeks,” said Mariska, a certified Pilates instructor.

She also says it is a cheaper investment for studio owners, as opposed to the upwards of $100,000 investment in Pilates equipment.

Mariska, a Pilates instructor since 2002, and a Barre instructor since 2005, says “Pilates is core strengthening, more functional fitness, makes you stronger”, and “Barre makes your body look nice, depending on your body type. Some people find it bulks them, but for thin people, the ‘dancer body’ is more attainable.”

Other Barre franchises exist across the country including The Bar Method, and Physique 57.

Both are modern takes on The Lotte Berk Method. Physique 57 does not franchise, so only 9 studios exist.

Infographic by Jillian Knight at easel.ly

The conclusion on whether Barre is here to stay according to Steph Mignon, a blogger and fitness enthusiast says “Barre has been around in the mainstream for almost ten years now, so I definitely think it’s here to stay. I already think Barre is on par with Pilates or Yoga as a fitness discipline. “

Continue to follow the progression of Barre on Twitter.

Women, Wine, and Self Defense Class to Help Women’s Confidence

The 2016 Fall edition report by The American Association of University Women (AAUW),  shows us that in 2015, women working full time were paid 20% less than men. That equates to a woman making 80 cents for every dollar a man makes.

This ongoing issue of gender inequality is one of the reasons Angela Meyer started teaching the Women, Wine, and Self Defense class in Washington D.C.  Angela gathers anywhere between 10-30 women on the first Friday of the month at the 202strong gym in the Farragut West neighborhood of Washington D.C to teach them to be comfortable in their own skin and to be safer.

“My whole life I have worked for women’s rights and have a strong passion towards women and men working together to change current structures,” the 10 plus year yoga veteran said about why she teaches the class.

“We have come such a long way in our world towards women being treated as human beings, not objects, and yet we still have SO far to go.”

“I want to stand with and for women, not as competition, but as a movement to say NO to being treated as objects and YES to being our own heroes.  I am also a huge believer in community, so bringing together Women, Wine and Self Defense seemed like a no brainer,” says Angela who has been doing Krav Maga training for the past six years.

The class is $20.00, and includes wine after the lesson. Do your part to build the movement of strong women by taking the class, or encouraging women you know to sign up for a self-defense course in their area.

Which Barre Should You Choose?

If you’ve heard of, or have tried Barre before, maybe you haven’t been informed that there are numerous types of Barre workouts. Just like yoga, and Pilates, there are various options to choose from to meet your health or physical requirements.

The word barre itself refers to a stationary, horizontal bar that ballet dancers typically use to stretch. Since the 1970’s when Barre was introduced to New York City, different variations have been produced.

The different types of Barre to be aware of are Pure Barre, Barre 3, The Bar Method, Physique 57, and Figure 4.

Pure Barre is the largest of the Barre options, with over 375 studios in North America. Pure Barre is low impact with stretching in-between sections.

Barre 3 is new, having only started in 2008, it values three elements; exercise, nourishment, and connection. Barre 3 focuses on isometric holds, small range movements, as well as large range movements.

The Bar Method focuses more on physical therapy, and keeping joints safe by offering exercises that are safe and therapeutic.

Physique 57 started in 2006, and uses a process called Interval Overload, focusing on arms, legs, and abs.

Figure 4 stems from Pure Yoga, and incorporates high energy dance and interval cardio.

There may be just small differences between the types, but the main elements come from the Lotte Berk Method. Lotte Berk was a dancer in London who wanted to increase strength and flexibility. Esther Fairfax, Lottle Berk’s daughter, continues to teach her mother’s technique in the U.K.

Most Barre types fuse Pilates, yoga and ballet into one exercise routine.

With the five Barre techniques, and the popularity of Barre growing and growing, it is no wonder that the number of Barre studios in North America continues to grow. The following is a bar graph showing the number of Barre studios of each method.

Barre
easel.ly
Pure BarreBarre 3, and The Bar Method, all offer franchising options, which has allowed them to expand so quickly in the past ten years of Barre being a well known exercise routine. It is still a new routine to people outside of metropolitan areas, but it is only a matter of time before it breaks into rural America.

If you are interested in seeing if there is a Barre studio in your area, the following links will bring you to the five types of Barre websites to locate the one closest to you.

Pure Barre

Barre 3

Figure 4

The Bar Method

Physique 57

Where is the Barre?

Barre fitness hasn’t been well known for long, but the popularity is quickly growing and spanning across the United States and Canada. It is difficult to trace the actual history of Barre fitness, but most articles written on the subject agree that there are numerous benefits from Barre, including weight loss, strength training, and motivating.

Barre is a combination of yoga, Pilates, and ballet. It is designed to create a dancer’s body with a low impact, high intensity, and fun workout.

Pure Barre has been operating for a decade and has studios across the country. The founder is Carrie Rezabek Dorr, a dancer, choreographer and fitness guru. Her company has grown to more than 375 studios. One of Carrie’s studios is owned by Michelle Garcia Davidson in Washington D.C.  Michelle opened the Pure Barre studio in 2012. Michelle isn’t the only one with a Pure Barre studio in the area. There are two more in the district, 8 in Maryland, and 20 in Virginia.

A counterpart of Pure Barre in the Washington D.C. area is B.Fit Barre. One of the instructors is Katie Oyama, a veteran with over 300 hours of yoga training. You can find Katie’s classes, biography, and other barre-tenders here.

Barre hasn’t interested only fitness gurus, medical professionals like Sara Gottfried, MD have taken an interest in the movement as well. Dr. Gottfried is an expert on women’s health, and gives the workout an A+ for its benefits for women.

There are different variations to Barre. Barre3 at Union Station in Washington D.C. offers a routine that is just slightly different from regular Barre. Some differences are carpet vs. wood flooring, and flexibility vs. stability. Jill Warren, the studio owner of the Barre3 at Union Station, and two other locations, opened the studio in 2011 to focus on her fitness career.

Washington D.C. isn’t the only city with numerous Barre fitness experts. The Open Barre Fitness Studio in Walnut Creek, California, owned by Andrea Holbert, offers a team who are raising the Barre. The Barre Fitness studios in Vancouver, Canada, have the motto of inspiring people to live happier, healthier lives one plie at a time.  Jen Varney, the owner of the Barre Fitness studio in Port Moody, has been teaching professionally for 15 years.

In case you’re brand new to Barre and want a demonstration to help make you comfortable before your first class, Michelle Fondin offers some demonstrations on her Google+ page. Her website also offers answers to beginners’ questions.

Many workout routines start small and then branch out into different markets. Stacy Hinkel has found a new market in Stroller Barre, a Barre workout for new moms.

If you’re looking for a new workout routine, read the positive reviews of Barre, and take a look at what is available in your area.

Take Your Workout Outside to Relieve Stress and Lower Blood Pressure

Almost every exercise picture on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter probably shows you someone doing Yoga or some form of exercise outside. Even in colder weather, people enjoy taking their mats to their surrounding environment to reap the benefits of being outside.

Yoga Journal defines yoga as a union. A union meaning the joining of two or more elements. Yoga is the practice of balancing yourself, and aligning your chakras through various poses and meditation, so it seems valid to see so many people going outside to achieve harmony and joining various elements.

dsc00320
A typical backyard offers simple benefits such as fresh air to make your workout more enjoyable. Photograph taken by Jillian Knight

Yelena Moroz Alpert from Yoga Journal wrote an article about the benefits of doing yoga outside. Some of those benefits included replenishing depleted energy, heightened awareness from the natural scenery, and boosting meditation benefits.

Yoga Weekly discusses the benefits of doing yoga in water, such as added resistance and improved flexibility. Besides the peaceful sounds that come from the wind in the trees, or the movement of the water, exercising in the woods offers clean oxygen, and exercising in the water offers heart benefits, such as low blood pressure.

Business Insider published the scientific benefits of being outside. Among the eleven benefits were improved mental health, especially combined with exercise, immune system boost, possible anti-cancer effects, better vision, and reduced inflammation. An interesting benefit was the last one where researchers explained people who lived near green spaces recovered from stress, and were encouraged by physical activity, which therefore reduced the risk of early death.

dsc00322
Local parks such as this one offers the benefit of scenery to relieve stress as you walk your dogs, do yoga under a tree, or jog along the path. Photograph taken by Jillian Knight

Yoga isn’t the only exercise you will see outside in the warmer season. The new fitness fad Barre, is starting to take classes to the outdoors. Barre fitness is a mixture of yoga, ballet, and Pilates, using a stationary barre as a prop to enhance the workout. People are incorporating yoga and Pilates with many outdoors experiences, such as paddle boarding in Maine. It won’t be long until Barre fitness is incorporated into hiking clubs or water aquatics.

For more information on places to exercise outside, visit your local Department of Parks and Recreation’s website. 

For motivation, join a local running club or yoga studio, or use Twitter to follow people like @YogaLoveSpirit, @placestoyoga, or @Purre_Barre.

A yoga instructor for you, A yoga instructor for me

Yoga has made quite the introduction into the modern world hasn’t it? But, what are you actually doing that the yoga instructor asks you to do?

IMG_2258
See, I’m really qualified to be a Yoga instructor!

I, like many people, signed up for yoga courses because it was the thing to do. A stretch here, a headstand there; it was a great time. When I went to South Korea for the…second time, yes the second time, I decided to sign up to become a certified yoga instructor! I didn’t have anything else to do on Saturdays, so why not. I signed up to take the Raja Yoga Teachers Course from the Magic Pond Yoga School in Seoul. It was a very enlightening course. For instance, the word yoga actually means to stand still! Can you believe that? There is an exercise in this world that literally means to stand in the same pose. So where did this continuous motion of yoga or hot yoga come from?

I’m not here to tell you to go get certified and become awesome  like me, I’m saying hey, here’s the difference and why not follow me and what I like to do and give it a try yourself.

I am a firm believer that yoga cures simple and extensive ailments depending on your level of meditation incorporated with your poses.   I have to admit that I have been out of the game for a little while since I have joined the military. But, I’m working my way back up, so I think this will be a perfect example of how powerful yoga really is. The military took a toll on my physical form, so now it is time to fix it. I have a horrible rash on my stomach induced by stress, I have non stop back aches, and my knees feel like they will buckle at any moment. So, let’s see how doing some yoga poses will help rid me of these ailments. Stay tuned.

IMG_2259
I couldn’t draw his feet together, so remember arms to the side, back erect and feet together!

The pose of the week is the basic standing pose. Believe it or not, just standing can be a yoga pose. Be conscious of what you’re doing of course. Have your back straight, control your breathing, feet together, and be erect as possible. Refer to my stick figure drawing for guidance.