Tag Archives: Yoga

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.

Local Instructor Gives Back to the Community with Free Yoga Classes

Local Instructor Gives Back to the Community with Free Yoga Classes from Jillian Knight on Vimeo.

Nya Alemayhu, an experienced yoga instructor in Washington D.C., offers free yoga classes on Sundays at S3 Active, a sportswear store in Union Market. The idea to have free classes came to her after realizing the price of yoga instruction was becoming very expensive.

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A dozen students showed up to practice with Nya at S3 Active on Sunday, December 11th, in Washington D.C. Photo by Jillian Knight

Nya has been practicing since 2004. Her instructors had given her the motivation to take the teacher’s training course, and once completed, she knew she wanted to be an instructor.

“It’s the pillar of my life, it’s just a template to be a better person,” she said when discussing what yoga means to her in her life.

Originally at Dock5 when she started the free class journey, Nya said it was supposed to be just a 30-day pilot period, but it’s been over two years.

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Nya holds her free class on Sundays at S3 Active, in the Union Market area of 5th street in Washington D.C. Photo by Jillian Knight

The room she holds her class in is often used for whatever pops up in the workout world, such as boot camps or yoga.

When discussing modern practices like hot yoga, or Barre, Nya said she enjoys the slower paced world of classic yoga. “I like things slow, and I like things safe, that doesn’t’ mean I don’t like them challenging, it just means that I don’t have the desire to be in a 100-degree room, sweating and moving so fast that I don’t know what’s happening and I can’t control my breath.”

She says that type of workout actually causes her more stress and defeats the purpose of having a clam practice.

“People that gravitate towards that kind of yoga practice are athletic and see it has a workout instead of a lifestyle.”

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Students practice with Nya in a room at S3 Active that is used for various workouts, like yoga or bootcamp classes. Photo by Jillian Knight

“Yoga itself as a lifestyle, as a practice, is good for everyone,” says the experienced teacher when discussing who benefits the most from yoga.

Many students said they simply put “free yoga” into a search engine, and Nya’s class came up, so she is able to serve the community in Washington D.C. by helping them save some money and practice yoga.

Nya can be followed on Facebook or Instagram, and more information on her background and practice can be found on her personal website.

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.