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Barre, Barre, Everywhere… even in your underwear!

Seems like some fitness classes, like barre and yoga, have become particularly portable these days.  We’ve seen classes in the park; at your favorite retail store; on the beach; in a brewery; and (maybe most intriguing) served up with bubbles and Botox. When the foundation of your fitness routine is based on your own body weight – or body weight training – the options for where you can take it are endless. From home (as the title suggests) to the great outdoors, sometimes it’s fun to mix up your barre routine.

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What’s better than fresh air, an energetic crowd and a tough work out? What if that workout is on a boat in the Charleston Harbor on a beautiful fall morning? Hard to beat. When we bring classes out into the community like we did on the 100-foot luxury yacht named “Carolina Girl,” we’re trying to give something back to people who might not normally have access to our classes, and to do it in a fun and interesting way.

It’s also a great way to demonstrate that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment, a posh gym or dedicated personal trainer to get in a great workout on the fly.  With body weight training, no equipment is needed; you use your own weight (and perhaps a railing, bar or stool for balance) to get fit. Can’t hit the gym or studio? No problem. Read on and see why using the resistance of your own body weight is about going back to the simplest form of exercise, while yielding maximum results.

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1) It’s Portable, with a capital P. It’s hard to make excuses about skipping a workout when everything you need to exercise, travels with you all day, everyday.  Find a small space at home, work or in your hotel room, grab a chair for balance, and you’ve got everything you need for a barre class series of small V, parallel thighs and foldover. No experience with barre fitness positions, no problem. Hit the floor for planks, side planks, push-ups and tricep dips and you’ve completed a well-rounded upper body and core exercise session.

2) Using your own body weight is efficient.  There is no equipment to adjust, move, put away or wait for. Simply set up the exercise and get started.  Less down time means more time in the work, which yields faster results. Plus, you can incorporate exercises that work different parts of the body at the same time, maximizing caloric burn and instilling the foundation of functional fitness. Think squats (thighs & gutes), lunges (thighs & glutes) or plank (core, upper body and lower body). Why is that important? Because you can train to be stronger in everyday life and activities, like carrying your groceries, your child, or a small husband (hey, you never know).

3) It creates mindfulness. We know how easy it is to zone out in a gym or while running on a treadmill.  When we rely on weight machines and exercise equipment, we grow accustomed to simply going through the motions and sometimes we aren’t even present enough to feel the muscles we are working. With body weight training, like barre exercises or yoga, you must connect your mind to the motion to activate the proper muscle, all while maintaining good form. Mindfullness also encourages working in balance – so the front, back and both sides of the body are strengthened equally, reducing the risk of muscular imbalance and risk of injury to the bone and the joints.

4) Results are achievable.  What’s the biggest secret to a successful exercise regime? Consistency. If consistency is the one thing that keeps you from attaining a sculpted physique, then body weight training is just what you need to stay motivated to look and feel your best.  There are simply no excuses to skip exercise even if you can’t make it to class.  In fact, one Mayo Clinic study found planks, particularly side planks, extremely effective in strengthening your core without straining the spine.  Why not turn on the TV and plank during each commercial break? Trust me, you’ll be searching for your easy button during the next Staples ad.

5) Progress can be measured and felt.  There is a tremendous amount of satisfaction that comes from mastering an exercise, and moving deeper into the work.  When you use your own body weight, you are constantly working against gravity, which can be a workout on its own.  However, when you are mindful enough to connect to the the muscle or muscles you are engaging, you can make a conscious decision on the spot to advance to the next level – whether it be holding a plank for 30 seconds longer, executing push ups in the fullest form for the first time, or completing a set of lunges without holding on.  Consistency, motivation and progress, each a catalyst for the other, leads to feelings of success, achievement and personal wellbeing.

So, the next time you take your favorite barre class, make note. Many of the exercises we teach at Barre Evolution can be replicated at home or in your favorite outdoor spot, with just a little motivation and imagination.  If you’re ready to put your skills to the test off the barre, be sure join us November 19th at 10:00am for our second Barre on a Boat!

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Inspiration and various facts came from Women’s Health Magazine supplement, NO GYM REQUIRED.