The beginners guide to Barre

The Beginners Guide to Barre Classes

Barre is an accessible and beginner-friendly form of exercise for everyone, regardless of skill or fitness level. In this blog, we’ll walk through how barre was created, basic barre movements and terms, equipment used in barre classes, the unique benefits of barre classes, and explain everything you need to know before taking your first barre class.

What is Barre?

Barre was created in the 1950s by Lotte Berk, a ballerina who, after sustaining a back injury, began combining her traditional ballet routines with rehabilitative therapy exercises. Since then, barre has developed into a popular form of full-body exercise that combines movements and positions borrowed from ballet with low-impact, repetitive strength exercises.

Understanding Basic Barre Movements & Terms

Because barre borrows movements from ballet, several terms and movements may be unfamiliar to beginners. However, no prior dance experience or knowledge is required to participate in barre—you’ll get the hang of it in no time. To get you started, here are some common barre movements and terms to know:

Common Barre Positions:

  •  First Position: Standing on the floor with your heels touching and your toes apart, forming a narrow V shape.
  •  Second Position: Standing on the floor with your feet slightly wider than shoulder distance and your toes slightly pointing on an outward diagonal (also sometimes called “wide second”).
  •  Parallel: Standing on the floor with your feet straight and facing forward (like the number 11), either together or hip-width apart.
  • Neutral Spine: A relaxed position where your back is perfectly in line from the tailbone to the spine to the neck and head, not straining in either direction.

    Common Barre Movements:

  • Pulse: A small, controlled muscle movement typically done to the beat of music. Pulses involve a small range of motion, often indicated by the phrase “up an inch, down an inch.”
  • Relevé: Taken from ballet, this instruction simply means to lift your heel(s) off the ground.
  • Point/Flex: A point means to extend your toes pointing away from your body, lengthening your leg muscles outward. The opposite of a point, a flex means to pull your toes upward toward your body, stretching your calves and hamstrings.
  • Plié: Also from ballet, a plié indicates bending the knees then straightening them again, typically with hips and feet turned outward and the heels pressed together.

Gear and Equipment Used in Barre Classes

There are two pieces of equipment unique to barre classes: a ballet-style barre often used for support during exercises and a stall barre, which is a tall piece of exercise equipment with rungs of various heights often used for stretching and corrective exercises.

While many barre movements require only your body weight, barre instructors may incorporate light hand or ankle weights, resistance bands, exercise ballers, or sliders to further challenge and tone your muscles.

The Benefits of Barre

Barre is often praised for its ability to help isolate and tone lean muscle throughout all parts of the body, including your core, glutes, arms, and thighs/legs. The use of repeated slow, small movements allows you to work these muscles in a more focused way than traditional strength training exercises and target deeper muscles that high-intensity workouts might miss.

In addition to gaining strength and toning muscles, barre exercises help to increase flexibility, build a stronger core, and improve posture and balance. This increased mobility and range of motion are not only helpful for your workouts, but for the quality of your everyday life. The low-impact movements of barre are also easier on your joints than high-impact strength training, which means quicker recovery times and a lessened chance of injury.

Like all forms of exercise, barre is beneficial for overall physical health and longevity. And because of the emphasis on the mind-body connection, barre is also known for increasing mental clarity and reducing stress through the release of endorphins.

What to Expect from Your First Barre Class

What to Wear: Women should wear a supportive sports bra with an exercise tank top or fitted shirt. We like the bra built into our tanks for barre class. We listed our favorite barre tank that we have in every color below! For bottoms, fitted capris, leggings, or exercise pants are all appropriate, but wearing shorts is discouraged.

Most barre classes require grip/sticky socks, as no shoes are worn during the class. Barre sox ensures unparalleled stability during your barre workout, offering a secure grip that outperforms other options.

What to Bring: All of the equipment needed for your class will be provided, except barre socks and hydration.

What to Expect: While classes vary in style and length, all barre classes will focus on a variety of mobility, range of motion, and strength/toning exercises. In most classes, these exercises will be timed to the beat of music.

Barre classes often rotate through sections focusing on arms, core/abs, and lower body, repeating small isometric movements until all muscle groups are fatigued and end with a cooldown/stretching period.

Modern barre studios in Grand Rapids may offer fusion classes that combine barre with another form of exercise such as cardio barre, HIIT barre, or pilates and barre. If it’s your first time taking a barre class in Grand Rapids, consider arriving a few minutes early to get familiar with the equipment and to ask any questions about the class format to the instructor. Your barre instructor is an expert there to help you succeed and get the most out of your class.

Ready to hit the barre in GR? Schedule a barre class at Fever | Yoga Cycle Strength today.

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how to form habits

How to Form Habits that You’ll Keep for Life

As the new year approaches, many of us begin thinking about the resolutions, goals, or intentions we want to set for the year ahead. And I don’t know about you, but I used to be hesitant about setting resolutions, because, midway through the year, my motivation would drop and I’d start slipping away from the behaviors I had so eagerly envisioned in January.

Commitment is hard, especially when it comes to life-changing habits and behaviors, like eating a vegan diet or consistently exercising. Whatever you repeatedly do forms the person you become, the things you believe, and the personality you portray. So if you want to improve, or form new habits, how should you go about it?

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for creating habits that endure past the last snowfall.

The 3 R’s to Forming New Habits:

Reminder– this is the trigger that initiates the behavior you’re trying to enact. Several weeks into your commitment, it can be easy to start slipping back into your old ways. Set a reminder to execute your habit every day. It doesn’t matter whether this is a phone alert, a physical cue, or something else – what matters is that you see or hear a reminder that prompts you to take action.
Routine– this is the behavior itself, or the action you take. Commit to 30 days of whatever habit you’re trying to form, whether it’s eating vegan, flossing your teeth, moving your body daily or practicing yoga. Three to four weeks is all the time you need to make a habit automatic, and a month is a good amount of time to commit to, since it easily fits in your calendar!
Reward– this is the benefit you gain from doing the behavior. If you’re committing yourself to creating a new habit, it most likely is because you want to improve on some aspect of your life. Therefore, there are usually innate benefits to forming the habit, such as a healthier immune system, stronger teeth, or a more toned body. But it doesn’t hurt to personally reward yourself, as well! It’s important to celebrate because we like continuing actions that make us feel good. Whether you quietly tell yourself “Good job. You made progress today!” or physically reward yourself with some form of treat, what matters is acknowledging your progress.

A Few Other Helpful Tips:

Find a Buddy: Find a friend who will join you in the pursuit of this new habit. There’s nothing like an accountability partner to keep you motivated if you feel like quitting.

Be Imperfect: You can’t expect your attempt to change huge lifestyle behaviors to be successful immediately. You might fall astray during your 30 day commitment, or it might even take longer to fully form. No worries, friends! Just expect a few bumps along the way.

Be Consistent in Your Timing: For habits like exercising and yoga, being consistent in the time you choose to practice is key. During your 30 day challenge, commit yourself to practicing your new habit at the same time each day, whether that’s morning, evening, or right after work.

Staying Fit After 40

Staying Fit After 40

It’s never too early or too late to begin focusing on your health. Whether you’re a life-long fitness lover or recently decided to make a change, seeing health and fitness as a way of life rather than an obligation will help you stay motivated and consistent on your health journey for the years to come. It’s important that we stop seeing wellness as separate from the rest of our life and ignoring all of the ways it helps us to thrive beyond just the physical. Pursuing health and fitness in a holistic, balanced way will help you flourish in your 40s and beyond.

Benefits of Regular Exercise

The physical and mental benefits of regular exercise are numerous, regardless of your age. Regular physical activity after 40 reduces risk of heart attack, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and decreases likelihood of type 2 diabetes and other health conditions. Exercise also helps build stronger bones, joints, and muscles, increasing your flexibility and balance.

The mental benefits of exercise are vital in maintaining your mental health and increasing longevity. Exercise releases serotonin and endorphins into your brain and has proven to be extremely effective in reducing stress. The older we get, the more important these things are for our overall quality of life.

No matter when you begin your exercise journey, these mental and physical benefits are available to you and increase as you stay consistent in your routine.

Incorporating Fitness Into Your Everyday Routine

If you’re just beginning to prioritize your health later in life, it can seem intimidating to sign up for a fitness class or walk into a gym. You might want to start by making small changes, like taking a walk during your lunch break or biking to work instead of driving. These small changes made over time will help you stay motivated and avoid becoming defeated or overwhelmed in your journey. As you gain confidence and stamina, begin incorporating strength and balance/flexibility exercises alongside your regular aerobic activity.

If you’re in your 40s and already have a regular exercise routine, there’s no reason to slow down or pull back because of your age. Continue to push yourself and try new forms of exercise while making sure to prioritize rest and recovery.

Focusing on your physical and mental health through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and plenty of sleep will help you flourish at any age. It’s never too late to begin your life-long journey of self-care and self-love.

the power of yogic breath to reduce anxiety

The Power of Yogic Breath to Reduce Anxiety

Think back to the first time you stepped into a hot yoga studio. Likely, there were a lot of new experiences and sensations, but perhaps what you noticed the most was the military-like regimented breathing style of your neighbors. You probably heard loud, even breaths throughout the practice and your teacher likely aligned each movement with an inhale or an exhale.

And, maybe, you wondered “Do I have to do this too?” “Is it truly important that I listen to my teacher?” “I’m sure I can practice just as well if I breathe normally.”

If this was you, you’re certainly not alone!

But, yes, it is absolutely crucial that you practice a strong yogic breath throughout your practice. Not only does it help cool your body throughout a heated class, but it also instills a valuable habit that you can rely upon both on and off your mat.

In fact, many studies now confirm what we yoga practitioners have always found: regardless of the type of stress we’re dealing with, yoga is a powerful tool to calm our nervous systems and relieve anxiety. And the most basic component of yoga – breath control – can be practiced anywhere, by anyone.

The quickest way to a panic attack is taking short, sharp, shallow breaths with no focus on your exhale. Our breath is the gateway to our practice and the factor that most powerfully shapes our experiences – on or off the mat. It is intimately connected to our nervous system, so rapid breaths can increase our symptoms of anxiety. However, yoga increases our awareness of the need to slow and deepen our breathing.

Here are four simple ways in which you can ease your anxiety and enhance your mood by managing your breath.

1. Take inventory of how you feel. We often begin with this concept in yoga class. Teachers will ask students to rest either on their backs, seated, or in child’s pose as they take note of how their bodies, minds, and emotions feel that day. However, you can check in with yourself this way anywhere and anytime. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. Inhale deep into your belly for five seconds before exhaling slowly for another five. Gradually increase the count to seven or even ten, taking special note of how feel afterward.

2. Practice sun salutations. Whether you prefer seated or standing, practice a few mini sun salutations. While you’re resting between rounds, be sure to soften your shoulders down your back and slow your breathing down. In these active poses, it’s easy to lose track of our breath – but quite simple to regain when you focus on calming and restoring it.

3. Rest in legs up the wall pose. When your anxiety manifests itself as jitters or restlessness, try taking legs up the wall pose. Since it can be done anywhere, it can be especially helpful after long stints of sitting at a desk or traveling.

4. Be mindful of what you consume. Too much caffeine, sugar, screen time, loud music, or work can contribute to an extra-anxious mind. The concept of self-care is real and valid. It’s not simply a luxury; it’s essential. Incorporate calm activities and healthy habits into your life, like a relaxing bath, a silent meditation, an outdoor walk, and a nutritious diet.

tips for creating your ideal meditation space

Tips for Creating Your Ideal Meditation Space

Interestingly, one of the main reasons we practice an active form of yoga is to help our bodies become capable of doing the opposite: sitting in stillness and meditation. This time of year, as we enter the busyness of holidays, parties, shopping, and cooking, I always find myself craving a quiet and meditative outlet.

As a small business owner, I know as well as anyone the challenges of finding a time and space to rest. To breathe, to think, to relax, and to unwind. I know that adding time into your daily life for stillness sounds daunting, if not downright impossible.

Yet, spending time in stillness each day provides the opportunity to pay attention to our own, individual experience. This, in turn, lets us bring intentional awareness into our daily activities. Think of your formal meditation sessions, whether in studio or at home, as the training that allow us to be more present in our own lives.

So, today I want to share some of my tips for creating a meditation space that you can call home in both the good days and the bad ones, whether you’re seeking joyful meditation or a place of solace.

Find a place that feels secure.

What I’ve found absolutely critical to successful meditation is finding a place where you feel secure enough to open your mind to this practice. Whether that’s a designated room in your house, the floor of your bathroom, a corner with a folding screen, or your yoga studio, find a place that feels sacred to you.

Add beauty into your space.

Meditation at its core is about removing the barriers and obstacles that keep our minds in a state of frenzy. So, I highly recommend that you keep your area simple and uncluttered, like our peaceful and clean space at Yoga Fever. Choose a few items that bring peace and serenity. Some great options include: a pillow, statue, artwork, mat, throw rug, curtains, or natural light.

Create a lovely aroma.

Incense, essential oils, or candles not only help you stay focused but also provide beautiful and soothing energy. In the studio, we often will waft an essential oil throughout the room during savasana. Additionally, candles offer the extra perk of providing a meditative flicker of the flame. Try our Wednesday night candlelit yoga class if you don’t yet understand the beauty and peace of this particular idea!

Soothe your soul with music.

While this piece isn’t necessary, and won’t fit everyone’s preference, I love playing soothing music during my time of meditation. Really, any style of music that brings you tranquility and peace will do. Alternatively, you could consider adding a small fountain if you’re practicing at home.

If you think about it, the spaces in our homes are often classified by the activities that we do in each of them. We have spaces for eating, cooking, sleeping, and playing. Some of us have other areas for entertaining, exercising, reading, or painting. But sometimes it’s important to have spaces in our homes that we create simply to be in them.

Perhaps we can think of our meditation space, whether in studio or at home, as simply our being room. It’s a safe, sacred retreat on bad days and a place to center ourselves each morning. I challenge you to identify some space, anywhere, that you can dedicate to meditation. The more time you spend there, the more you’ll want to return.

3 reasons to become a yoga teacher

3 Reasons to Become a Yoga Teacher

 

If you’re interested in the yogic path, yoga teacher training is the best thing you can do for yourself. I know there’s usually not an ideal time to launch into this experience. But is there ever a perfect time to do anything? Nope. Sometimes you just have to lead with your heart and trust in the process.

YogaFever has offered multiple Yoga Teacher Training Programs and will continue to meet the demand of the community we serve. Upon completion of our Yoga Alliance 200 hour program, you’ll deepen your practice and understanding of yoga, learn accurate body alignment and master the art of teaching yoga with confidence and authenticity.

Besides these lessons, you’ll also learn the incredible power of self-love, confidence and body awareness. Below we have highlighted just a few of the many reasons to take the plunge.

Reason 1. You’ll Learn Self-Love: Accepting ourselves exactly as we are can be pretty darn impossible. Many of us struggle with jealousy in our friendships, families, and work settings – partly because we live in a comparative world where we can find pictures of other people’s lives at the touch of a button. Our inner judge can be a critical and demanding taskmaster, causing us to speak to ourselves with harsher words than we would ever direct toward others.

Through our teacher training program, you’ll learn to accept yourself for who you are – all flaws, insecurities, and doubts included. You’ll discover the power of a positive mentality, which will help you narrow in on the aspects that make you uniquely you! But we won’t leave it up to you to figure this out; we’ll arm you with the tools and mental strength to fight societal pressures.

Reason 2. You’ll Build Self-Confidence: Building and maintaining self-confidence is one of the toughest tasks we’re asked to do. Without self-confidence, we stay home and avoid certain events; we fail to chase our biggest dreams; we let fear conquer us.

Our teacher training program will play an influential role in boosting or restoring your self confidence by giving you a reality check: there are some tasks and activities we’re capable of performing and others that aren’t meant to be. For example, some of my students have incredible balance, while others have immense flexibility. In the same way, we each have a variety of talents in our lives. The meditation and breathing exercises you’ll master as a yoga teacher will help you grasp the concept that our limitations are not downfalls; there are simply some things were better at than others. As you continue to grow your teaching skills, your confidence and self-awareness will intensify.

Reason 3. You’ll Gain Awareness (and Appreciation) of Your Body: It’s incredibly difficult to love our bodies as they are. In a world of highly-edited advertisements and instant social media access, it’s understandable to have a hate-filled relationship with your bodies. So, how does becoming a yoga teacher help us move past these fixations and have an appreciation of our body? The answer: give up the notion that yoga is a get-thin-quick routine and, instead, embrace the practice of yoga on a much deeper level.

Through my experience as a yoga teacher, I’ve realized that yoga helps me appreciate my body as a whole, not in segments. It focuses on strength, flexibility, balance, and breath, rather than on appearance. For example, when I do a balance pose I rely on my entire body to support me, even the parts that I dislike. All of the repetitive practice in body mindfulness you experience in teacher training will carry over into your regular, off-the-mat life, helping you proactively care for your body.

Those of you who enroll in our Yoga Teacher Training Program will spend a lot of time with myself, Shannon Austin, Owner and Operator of YogaFever. I am looking forward to fully supporting each trainee on their journey toward all things yoga. After the program, TeamFever works hard to keep your teaching skills going by connecting you with possible teaching positions at the studio and within the community (if you’re ready).

If you’re even slightly considering signing up for Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Fever, let’s connect. I’d love to hear from you. Please call us at 616-805-3603, email us at info@feverycs.com, or stop by the studio. The time is now yoga-teacher-wanna-be. You can do it, and I are here to guide you every step of the way.