Barre workouts have grown enormously popular in the last few years, and it's one of those workouts you just can't seem to get enough of! Not to mention the colourful grip socks that come along with the addiction. So why is it so popular? What makes this form of exercise so much fun that it leaves you coming back for more? It's the good vibes, the energy in the room and the amazing results that you gain from a good Barre class that has the whole town talking about pliés, tendus and relevés. At Fleur Wellbeing, Barre HIIT & Barre SCULPT as well as our Mums + Bubs Barre class are by far our most popular classes on the timetable (be sure to book in!) and here's why.
F L E X I B I L I T Y
You don't need to be able to touch your toes or turn into a pretzel to practice Barre, but the movements and stretches involved will definitely help improve your overall range of motion and mobility. This will in turn leave you feeling more free, relieved of stiffness and tension within your joints and allow you to move with more ease and comfort.
P O S T U R E
During a Barre class, your entire body works in every movement. Your deep core muscles work closely with your stabilisers such as the gluteals and lower leg muscles to create stability and balance within a whole range of different exercises. You will feel muscles that you didn't even know existed (they will be on fire), and you will be constantly reminded about your alignment by your instructor to ensure that you are on centre. One of the most common issues clients present with is weak gluts and core, leading to lower back pain. From strengthening and targeting the muscles of the hips, back and core you will soon notice a big difference in not only your posture and the way you sit, stand and walk, but you will experience less back pain, and less tension.
M U S C L E D E F I N I T I O N
Whether you're working the thighs, butt, abs or arms in a Barre class, you will never just be working one muscle. You will be working that muscle group from all angles and everywhere in between. This is exactly why you may even experience that "shake" (after the fifty thousandth plié pulse). By strengthening each muscle group incorporating small hand held weights, elastics and Pilates Balls, you will notice big changes in muscle definition, especially in those often "missed" muscles such as in your upper back and arms. Not to mention give you an awesome butt!
M U S C U L A R E N D U R A N C E
Think of holding a squat, with a ball between your thighs, perfect posture, shoulders relaxed and core engaged, then let's do 16 x tiny controlled little pulses up and down in that position, followed by 16 x inside thigh squeezes, followed by a "hold" for 16 counts while your legs are shaking like a leaf. Do I have you sweating yet? haha These types of small controlled isometric muscle contractions are what increase your stamina and endurance. Embrace the shake guys!
S T R E S S R E L I E F + M E N T A L F O C U S
After a busy day, and lots of built up tension there's nothing better than being able to switch off and have some time out for yourself. Focus on how your body is moving, and have some fun! Your Instructor is there to take the reins and guide you through a good vibes only workout to upbeat music that will leave you feeling mentally fresh, uplifted and calmer when you walk out.
If you love Pilates, a little bit of cardio, a little bit of Ballet, and a lot of good times, then Barre is the workout for YOU! No Tutu's required, just put on your favourite pair of tights, pack your grip socks and let's go!
To book in and try a barre class, you can do so through the MINDBODY booking system on our website. (Click the link below). You can also use the MINDBODY app on your phone and manage your classes straight from your device. For all of our class times, visit the Schedule tab, classes are also up to date in Mindbody.
New to our studio? Why not try out the 10 Day Group class Intro for only $25. See you in class!
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
After over 13 years of teaching Pilates to women and men of all ages, I have made it my passion to empower and encourage my clients to live healthier, more confident, pain free and physically & mentally fit lives. Whether they be elite athletes, new mums or mums to be, clients recovering from surgery or injury, my job is to allow them to exercise in a way that is beneficial, safe and long lasting.
One of the areas that I find myself growing particularly interested in, is Pre and Post Natal exercise and recovery and this includes Pelvic Floor health and function. I have often been one of the first points of contact for clients who are affected by compromised bladder control and also pelvic floor prolapse, and so I would really love to boost awareness about about pelvic floor fitness - a topic that is too often not talked about or overlooked. Even if you have never had a baby, you should be aware of the importance of a strong pelvic floor.
For this post I would like to focus primarily on women's pelvic floor health and fitness issues, simply because these issues are much more common in women and the risk factors are also greater.
SO WHO IS AT RISK?
HOW DO I ACTIVATE MY PELVIC FLOOR?
Here's how I best like to cue pelvic floor activation as it's simple and easy to understand.
"Imagine you are trying to stop weeing and farting at the same time! Tighten your pelvic floor muscles gently, drawing up and in." Hold this activation for as long as you can (ideally up to 10 seconds). It is then important to let go and relax afterwards. Be sure not to hold your breath, tense the buttocks, thighs or upper abdominals during activation - all of these should remain relaxed. Incorrect pelvic floor activation or "bearing down" can actually be counterproductive and worsen symptoms as it increases strain on the pelvic floor muscles and intra abdominal pressure.
It is important to practise your pelvic floor exercises regularly and establish a routine. You may wish to practice whilst in the shower, brushing your teeth or even cooking! And even stick a little reminder note or use your phone calendar to set reminders to do it regularly.
HOW DOES MY PELVIC FLOOR AFFECT THE WAY I EXERCISE?
The pelvic floor makes up part of your "core" and works together with the Transversus Abdominus and deep back muscles to support and stabilise the spine and maintain intra-abdominal pressure. When you exercise, this intra-abdominal pressure changes and ideally when load is placed upon your spine, the pelvic floor muscles should lift, deep abdominals draw in and breathing should remain relaxed.
Activation of the TA's or transversus abdominus (abdominal bracing) is especially important in post natal recovery, and it is also important to be first lifting the pelvic floor, then activating TA's.
Always ensure that the Pelvic floor is activating correctly as research has shown that when the pelvic floor is being pushed down or placed under too much strain during exercise, it is not able to withstand the force being placed upon it and may lead to worsening symptoms of prolapse or incontinence.
If you are experiencing pelvic floor issues, it is important that appropriate care and recovery exercises are implemented into your exercise program and that you seek help from a continence professional or women's & men's pelvic health physiotherapist.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY PELVIc FLOOR DURING EXERCISE?
Some helpful tips...
AFTER HAVING A BABY - RETURNING TO EXERCISE
Returning to exercise too soon after pregnancy can lead to reduced pelvic floor strength, long term bladder and bowel problems and pelvic organ prolapse, so it is extremely important to exercise caution and not resume until you are recovered.
Remember that no matter how fit you are, or were before it takes a minimum of 8 weeks before your abdominal muscles are strong enough to support your back and pelvis. You may feel fine on the outside but there is simply no way that your abdominal muscles can go from being overstretched during pregnancy to shortened and strong enough to provide support for your body without time and appropriate postnatal abdominal exercises.
Please be sure to check with your doctor, midwife or physiotherapist before returning to exercise to ensure that you are cleared to return to low impact exercise under the guidance of a fitness professional that has experience in post natal exercise.
Post Natal Exercise guidelines:
0-3 weeks post natal
Walking, post natal TA activation, pelvic floor exercises
3-12 weeks post natal
(after your 6 week postnatal check with your doctor)
Low impact post natal class such as Pilates or Yoga, walking, pelvic floor exercises, light weights.
12-16 weeks post natal
Check in with your physiotherapist for a checkup and pelvic floor testing before returning to higher impact activities such as running.
16+ weeks post natal
Return to previous activity levels provided your pelvic floor muscles have returned to normal and you are not experiencing any pain, heaviness or urine loss during or after exercise. Consult your pelvic floor specialist if symptoms persist.
For more information on pelvic floor safe exercise and where to get help if needed, we recommend visiting the Pelvic floor first website. Please visit http://www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au/
BENEFITS OF A STRONG AND HEALTHY PELVIC FLOOR
I hope that you have found this information helpful and that you can implement some of this into your daily life and exercise routine to live with more confidence and awareness. My wish for you is that your coffee, your intuition and your pelvic floor be strong!
HELPFUL INFO & LINKS:
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is intended as an information guide to Pelvic Floor safety in relation to exercise and is not intended as a treatment guide for any individual pelvic floor issues. I highly recommend those with pelvic floor dysfunction or uncertainty please seek help from a GP, continence professional, Women's & Men's Pelvic Health Physiotherapist or continence nurse.
HOW TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease an 18cm round cake tin with butter or olive spray and baking paper.
Place the orange zest & juice, raisins, white mulberries, cranberries and dried ginger into a medium sized saucepan and heat until the juice starts to boil. Simmer for 5-10mins on a low heat, stirring occasionally.
Place the almond/hazelnut meal, bananas, dates, spices, vanilla and salt into the food processor or Thermomix and blend until well combined. Combine the raisin mixture and banana mixture in a large mixing bowl and add the cacao nibs, walnuts and coconut. Stir together gently until mixed well.
Pour the mix into prepared cake tin and smooth the top of the cake.. Bake for approximately 30 mins, then cover with foil and cook for a further 15 mins. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the cake tin for 30 mins before removing from the pan. Store in the fridge in a sealed container. Serve warm or cold with Ice cream of your choice!
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
Our Blog posts are a written by our Instructors at Fleur Wellbeing Studio, to share in knowledge and inspire our community.