Holiday Survival Guide

By this point, it’s a full-blown holiday extravaganza. From the holiday-themed coffee drinks (released waay too early, we’re side-eyeing you Starbucks), to the Christmas music playing everywhere (from your car, to the grocery store, to your barre class, whoops), it’s inescapable. And it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, and yet every year around November, we start to feel an underlying sense of anxiety buzzing in the background of all our Christmas cheer.

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Before you begin bah-humbugging your family and co-workers, here are some common holiday stressors and accompanying ways to bring back your sanity and start enjoying a little more of that holiday magic this year!

  1. BE A Party Pooper. Of course, part of the beauty of the holidays is getting to spend extra time with those you love. Throw in the company parties, GNO ornament swaps, and the local parades, and you’re completely booked until January 1st! But there actually can be too much of any good thing. Ask yourself what feels best for you, and your immediate family, and commit to only what you can handle. It’s hard to say the dreaded n-o, and potentially hurt people’s feelings, or get haggled for being the party pooper. But you truly need to put your needs and your family’s needs first right now. Avoid spreading yourself thin by setting expectations with family and friends up front and let them know your plans. Then hold strong to those boundaries you’ve set for yourself.
  2. Self-Care Gets Serious This Season. It’s no wonder people tend to get sick more often this time of year. Between the weather, the heavy foods, the extra sugar, the stress, and the lack of sleep, you’re not exactly setting your body up for success. Take self-care seriously this time of year and schedule some extra workout classes (consider non-traditional times, like early morning or weekend classes), and do it as a favor to your well-being rather than as a punishment for those three holiday sugar cookies you’ve already had this week (hey, it happens). Prioritize sleep and swap out your morning coffee from time to time with hot tea or lemon water to reset your system a little bit.kombucha mocktail
  3. Detox Not Retox Why does it feel like there’s a drink with your name on it everywhere you turn this month? Probably because there likely is…we tend to indulge in one cocktail too many, especially when it’s a complimentary one, with all the extra socializing right now. Remind yourself that you actually don’t have to drink alcohol just because it’s available to you (Is the holiday party boxed wine really even worth it?). It’s actually easier than you think if you plan ahead. Allow yourself one or two nights a week to partake in the holiday spirits, and otherwise swap out your cocktails or wine with a fun mocktail, like pomegranate juice and soda water, or our favorite, kombucha (Bring it in your purse and no one will probably know the difference of this sparkly substitute for champagne). The less alcohol/sugar you consume, the better your sleep, skin, and overall mental well-being will be. And at a minimum, drink at least 8 oz of additional water for every alcoholic drink you do consume.
  4. Put The Credit Card Down. One of the biggest culprits of holiday stress is money. (Dun dun dun!) All the holiday shopping and gift buying can add up quickly and start to feel like a black cloud over your head. At no point does the tradition of gift buying have to turn into the reason you go into debt. And to make matters worse, we tend to cut down, or completely out, the things that actually our improve our wellness, like our gym memberships. If gift buying is stressing you out and straining your finances, find ways to cut back where you can. Ask your family if you can draw names for gifts, rather than buying everyone something. Try making hand-made gifts if that’s something you enjoy (batch make healthy-ish cookies, or make an ornament or wreath) . Or our personal favorite is making a vow with your girlfriends, or significant other, to do “experience” gifts rather than material things. Think outside the box, and give a little differently this season.

The best advice we can give you is to slow down , listen to your body, and get more comfortable with saying “no.” Both things can be hard and unnatural at first, but the more you practice them, the easier it gets. Cheers to a healthy, happy, and surprisingly sane holiday season this year!

 

At Home Work Out For The Holidays

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we tend to put ourselves on an extended ‘vacation’, and let our workouts go by the way-side. Whether it’s sick kids, travel, or snowy weather, we’re here to rescue you holiday slump with an at-home Neighborhood Barre workout that will have you shaking in no time 🙂

This workout is less than 15 minutes, so you can easily squeeze it in, from virtually anywhere. Consider switching it up, by simply repeating the thigh exercises 2 – 3 times, instead of completing the entire workout for example. And just as if you were in class and the instructor is adding in little challenges, or giving you options to adjust within the exercise, we’ll give you those choices here ,so you can feel just as good after your workout from home as you do once we dim the lights for cool down after a studio class!

 

First, start waking your body up with some knee lifts, or light jumping jacks, for 1 – 2 minutes. Consider also throwing in a few push ups, or a couple rounds of walking lunges, as dynamic movement is best to prep your body for your workout. Remember, the hardest part of any barre exercise is endurance, which is done by holding a position until your muscles exhaust, versus the specific move you’re performing. Keep this in mind for your workout, and challenge yourself to hold each exercise as long as you can.

 

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Using the back of a chair for stability, step your feet outside of your shoulders and turn your toes at 10 and 2. Tilt your pelvis towards the floor as you bend your knees and sink down to your lowest point, keeping tall posture. Begin to lift and lower yourself in inch increments, concentrating on gripping the floor from your toes on the way up, and pressing your knees back as your lower. Hold it down and work isometrically by concentrating on driving your hips forward, with every press back of your knees for more resistance. Try to move within a fuller range of motion up and down, but stay in your working zone by maintaining a bend in your knees, even at the top of your lift. Consider holding at your lowest point, and add a challenge for yourself at the end (See below). Goal yourself for a total exercise time of 2 – 3 minutes.

Options: Pop one, or both, heels; flex one, or both, feet; balance one or both arms out front, or overhead; incorporate equipment.

 

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Using a yoga mat or on a carpeted surface, come down onto your knees. Stack your knees just outside of your hips and sit on your heels, with your hands on your hips. Hover your seat away from your heels and keep the torso upright, with core engaged. Begin to lift and lower in inch increments, keeping your shoulders over your hips and pressing into the tops of your feet when you lift. Hold your lowest point, and think about tucking the pelvis forward, one inch deeper, again pressing down into the tops of your feet or your toes. Lower yourself down just before your reach your heels, then lift all the way up, just before your hips meet your knees, and repeat. Hold down at your lowest point, re-tuck your hips, and add a challenge for yourself at the end (See below). Goal yourself for a total exercise time of 2 – 3 minutes.

Options: Flex your feet for less; flatten your toes for more intensity; work side-to-side when tucking; balance your arms out front, or overhead; incorporate equipment.

 

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Come down onto your side, with your head resting in your hand. Pull your knees in line with your hips and extend your top leg forward, bringing your foot in line with your hip. Plant your front palm down to the floor, while inverting your top hip down, pressing your body weight forward.  Begin lifting your leg in inch increments, focusing on lengthening your leg so there’s no bend. Hold your lift and perform tiny squeezes inwards, closer to your chest. Try to build upon your squeezes so your leg never relaxes back out, maintaining the “L” shape in your body. Slowly lower your foot to hover off the floor, then lift back up to your starting position, and repeat. Make sure you’re not shifting your body weight back when you lift your leg, by pressing firmly into your front palm. Hold your foot in line with your hip or slightly above, and add a challenge for yourself at the end (See below). *Make sure to repeat this exercise on the other side.* Goal yourself for a total exercise time of 1.5 minutes – 2.5 minutes.

Options: extend both legs forward for more of a challenge; bend both legs bent at 90 degrees for more hamstring work; balance your boxed arm by extending out front, or overhead; incorporate equipment.

 

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Using a yoga mat or on a carpeted surface, come down onto your back. Stack your knees just outside of your hips and your heels under your knees. Hover your seat off the ground and tilt your pelvis up towards your knees. Begin to lift and lower in inch increments, pressing your weight into your feet on the way up, and stopping yourself on the way down with your core engaged. Hold it up at the top of your lift and begin to tuck  an inch, engaging from your glutes. Focus on pressing your weight into your right feet while keeping your hips level. Begin to pop and drop both heels. Isolate your hips so the only movement is coming from your heels, clinching your glutes together. Option to hold the pop in your heels as you lower down to your lowest point, and lift back up to your highest point. Be mindful you’re not pressing into your shoulder blades or arching your back on the way up, and slowly resist against your body weight on the way down. Hold at the top of your lift and pulse up an inch. Hold your lift, and while keeping your hips bridged, step your feet outside of your hips, keeping your knees aligned with your feet, Re-engage your core, and repeat the same moves in a wide stance. If you feel the work start to shift into the small of your back, press your weight into your feet, consider lowering down an inch, and stretch your tailbone toward your calves. Goal yourself for a total exercise time of 3 minutes – 4 minutes.

Options: pop one, or both, feet; flex one, or both, feet; flat feet for less; balance your arms overhead; incorporate equipment.

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Come onto the floor with your elbows stacked under your shoulders and legs extended long behind you, hips-width. Tilt your pelvis forward and contract your abs from there by tucking one inch deeper in your core. Engage your breathing, exhaling with each tuck. Next alternate soft taps from your knees to the floor. Keeping your hips stable and in-line the entire time. Consider straightening your legs and holding, and add a challenge for yourself at the end (See below). Goal yourself for a total exercise time of 1 minute – 2 minutes.

Options: straight arm or forearm planks; knees down for less; leg lifts; feet wide; balance one arm forward (repeat on other side).

Prefer the guidance of a professional? We got ya covered with our streamable workouts! Pick a 12 minute toner, or a full 55 minute class, available for rent or purchase online here.

Own Your Work(out)…Like A Boss

Cancelled. AGAIN. Ugh it’s so annoying when your friend bails on you. You know the one, that makes a habit of it. The one you can’t fully trust or depend on to follow through with what she says. Well consider this an intervention, friend. That person is YOU – when you talk to yourself. Are you constantly giving up on yourself? Are you always bailing on the goals you set for yourself? We’re here to help!! We’re bringing you the best ways to keep yourself accountable, inspired, and following through like. a. BOSS. Because the more you stay inspired, the more your goals will flourish. Here are our top tips to get you motivated, when you work(out) for yourself:

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1. Remind Yourself That You’re In Charge: There are loads of reasons we get off track with goals, especially long-term ones. Self-doubt, fear we won’t succeed, and concern that we are not setting realistic goals are just a few of them. So this is really important to remember: You can change your goal if you want. When we are experiencing doubts, it’s easy to feel like we don’t have a choice, or to make excuses. However, you are in the driver’s seat and you are in control. Take action to recognize what’s not working, and react by finding an alternate solution. If you set a goal of working out Monday through Friday and you’re consistently not making it to class daily, try alternating days, or backing 1 or 2 classes off your goal. If you’re frustrated your not seeing ‘immediate gratification’ from our workouts, consider upping your game by adding in a HIIT class; asking your instructor how to add more intensity to an exercise; or consider tracking your diet on My Fitness Pal. These may seem like obvious answers, but how often are you actually adjusting your goals, versus completely giving up on yourself? Put your big girl pants on and remind yourself that Y-O-U are the only boss of you!

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2. Share Goals And Plans With Others: Without someone breathing down your neck to make sure you get the job done, or even literally just to show up, it can be easy to slack off. It’s important to have friends or family members that can keep you in check. You are much more likely to stay on track if you have someone holding you accountable. Just think about it. How often do you currently tell your husband or significant other about your plans to work out? It’s usually an internal conversation, or maybe a quick text shared between you and a friend. This week, try committing to one exercise goal and tell your significant other about it. Like, “Hey, I’m going to try to make it to three barre classes this week; or I’m going to set my alarm early for a 6 am class on Monday; or I’m gonna get up and take class before we catch the game this weekend.” The seed of responsibility is planted, and when you engage the power of social expectations, you’re 65% more likely to stick to your commitment.

They’re not there to grade your success, or judge your downfalls, but just having someone who is aware of your goals is really helpful. When they ask about your progress, you can brag about your success, or maybe even admit to some bumps in the road (being vulnerable keeps it real, ya’ll!), but either way you’ll be motivated to continue pushing yourself. And nothing is more rewarding than recognition, so find your cheerleaders! Remember, they don’t need to take classes with you, just help you stay on track. (Mama’s are shoe-ins for cheerleaders, whereas your significant other is a better accountability partner).

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2. Sign a commitment contract: There’s a reason lots of gyms and fitness studios have accountability techniques built into their memberships and class cancellation policies. The psychological power of loss aversion and accountability has been proven to drive behavior change. If literal contracts make you nervous, checkout the app stickK. StickK asks users to define their goal (whatever it is!), pick a timeline to accomplish it, and put something at stake (whether it’s money or their reputation). If you don’t fulfill your commitment with stickK, it automatically tells your friends and opens you up to public failure. The likelihood of getting new habits to stick, or reaching your goals, is remarkably higher when you set a time to report back to someone on your progress. Sundays are usually a great day to not only set expectations for the new week ahead, but take the time to reflect on how you measured up the week prior to track your progress. Remember progress isn’t always a number on a scale. Maybe you’re finding you’re in a consistently better mood when you exercise, or have more energy. Maybe you’re sleeping better, or made a new friend in class. Maybe your husband asked you to open a jar of pickles this week since you’ve been flashing those guns around the house. Whatever it is, recognize it and track it!

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3. Think Big Picture:  We are busier than ever, and we are unfortunately a society that often considers our own health our lowest priority. Most people don’t worry about their health until something is wrong. And when something is seriously wrong, it can be too late. So why does your health honestly matter? Remember your health is both mind and body. Is it really a number on the scale for you? Maybe your workout is your ‘me time’ to mindlessly chatter about Netflix with your neighbor before or after class. (Seriously, there’s a least one other person in the room that’s currently binge watching Stranger Things or The Handmaid’s Tale, promise). In a world where we open our phone 80 times a day on average, (yikes!!), it’s important to connect with people face-to-face, too.

Maybe you have a parent or relative that deals with a chronic health condition and you’re secretly scared you’re genetically pre-dispositioned for it. Take action now by MOVING. A new study, reported on CNN, found that the current Western Civilization sedentary lifestyle is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease.

Focusing on the end game is much more motivating than seeing each task as an individual chore. Try the “5 Why’s method” to get to the heart of your answer. Ask yourself why you work out 5 times, like the obnoxious toddler style of repetitive “Why????” asking. And really dig deep to the root reason for this to be effective. Then find a way to visualize your motivation for pursuing your workouts. This way we’re not constantly disappointed by not meeting our individual goals 110% of the time. Whatever your big picture is, write it down and place it front and center on your desk, or keep a picture that reminds you of your goal in your car dashboard to remind yourself what you’re really working toward.

4. Use the 20 second rule: In the book The Happiness Advantage, author Shawn Achor describes a simple strategy for developing better habits and doing things even when we don’t feel motivated. Achor says, “Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt, and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.” So the next time you decide to commit to an early class? Try laying out your workout gear the night before. Have a babe at home? Restock the diaper bag and place it in the car the night before, so you’re not flustered the next morning to make it on time. This philosophy also works in reverse. If you are likely to sleep through your alarm, place your phone on the other side of the room so you’re forced to get out of bed. If you’re likely to talk yourself out of packing up all the kids to get to class the morning of, put something you need in the mornings in your car, or the diaper bag, so your forced to get in your car to use it. It can be your morning vitamin, your baby’s favorite toy, dry shampoo or a hairbrush, or maybe even your favorite coffee cup or water bottle!

Remember to reward yourself for all the small victories too! Maybe you grab your favorite latte after class, or maybe you give yourself a face mask that night, just remember you don’t get the reward unless you complete the goal 🙂 We rarely take the time to celebrate, or brag, on ourselves. Never be embarrassed to share a personal highlight with your instructor. It seriously give US so much pride, and actually serves as a great motivator for us as well, when we hear your successes! So remember not to simply mark it off and move on, plan for your small celebrations in advance, and take time for yourself!! Hey, when you’re the boss, you’re the assistant, manager, and party committee all in one 🙂