Modify Barre to Modify Your Body
Contributed by BE Client Colleen Payne
When I hear someone say she “can’t do” Barre or that Barre is “not working” for her, I think, “You are missing out on so much! You have to modify the class for your body and it will work.” Barre class addresses every level of fitness. A Barre Evolution-trained teacher can lead almost anybody with ANY body through a safe and effective workout, regardless of age, weight, injuries, or limitations by guiding students through modifications. I modify exercises for my body, put in the effort, and I do get results. I modify many of the Barre moves during class and I continue to get stronger and leaner, even after five years of two to four classes per week.
A modification can be an assisted position while you build strength and balance. A modification can be a protective adjustment to avoid stressing an old injury or to accommodate a pre- or post-natal body. A modification can be a challenge position really pushing oneself to work harder for a few reps or an entire sequence. I can feel my muscles working and getting to the transforming “shake” in all of the modifications I use.
I would never say a modification is an “easier” or “harder” position; if you are doing Barre correctly, it
is never easy in any position–even the stretching is active and it feels wonderful. I get the most out of my workout time at BE when I use all types of modifications. After a long weekend of gardening, if my wrists or shoulders are recovering, I take push-ups at the bar, bend my knees in plank, and sit on my bum during triceps dips. When my sports injuries of years past have my knees achy, I work higher, keep my heels on the floor, and try to stay on both feet. When I am well rested and feeling strong, I start with the open level moves and push to the challenge positions. Once I became accustomed to the studio and to how open-minded the instructors were, I started to take modifications, whether cued or not. I do what I need for my body and my workout, even if that means I’m working at the bar while everyone is doing thigh dancing on the floor.
My Barre workout has come a long way since I started. It took me over a year using assisted forearm plank modifications before I could complete the plank sequence. Eighteen months before I could lift my knee off the ground during pretzel on the floor. Even now, I can contract my muscles during seated leg lifts, feel and see the shake in my quads, and my foot never leaves the floor. It looks like I’m doing very little, but the fit of my jeans and the altitude of my tush let me know that modified Barre works.
I have enough life experience not to worry about what others think about what I am doing or not doing. It took some time to learn and remember all of the options for modifications. If you need help, just ask. The minutes I have spent asking questions before or after a class have really helped me progress, yet I still love it when a teacher cues modifications and form reminders. Modified Barre modified my body. I am stronger and leaner than I was as a student athlete decades ago.
I am not perfect inside or out, but that doesn’t stop me from evolving. The photos, taken by my patient husband, are untouched; it took about 30 shots to get a few that I am willing to share. Barre has helped me whittle down some tough spots and Barre classes continue to firm and improve some squishy areas. I look forward to checking out Scott’s photos after another year of Barre! Thanks, BE!
Colleen, 49, Barre Evolution student since 2011. Modified Barre Body in Belize 2016.