One of the more frequent questions we get is, “Do your classes include cardio?”
So we thought we’d break it down in today’s post to help explain the “hidden” cardio elements that are included with every nb class, plus easy ways to amp up the volume when you’re looking for a little more fire to your class.
First things first, NEIGHBORHOOD barre workouts are endurance-based, which in layman’s terms means that we hold postures for extended periods of time (also lovingly coined as ‘supersets’). How does this get your heart rate up if you look like you’re not moving out of place you ask? Even in our isometric barre work, you’re asking your muscles to stabilize, which asks the heart to work harder. Even though there is little-to-no movement in holds, your muscles are working like crazy to keep your body in position/from moving. A perfect example is a plank. Think about it – you’re not moving, but your whole body gets hot and you start to get out of breath the longer you stay in position.
Cardiovascular health is SO much more than high-intensity exercise, spin classes, long-distance running and aerobic machines. Check out this excerpt from The Washington Post about why cardio exercise isn’t enough for heart health.
“A study published in 2017 in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (MSSE) analyzed data from more than 35,000 women for more than a decade. Researchers found that those who performed resistance training had a 30 percent lower chance of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes than those who did not.
Meanwhile, women who performed any amount of resistance training reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, stroke, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, an angioplasty or death from cardiovascular disease) by 17 percent.
Similarly, a 2019 study (also published in MSSE) found that weight training was associated with decreased cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, and increased longevity.
According to that study, which included nearly 13,000 people, performing resistance training for less than an hour per week was associated with roughly 40 to 70 percent decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality — independent of any aerobic exercise.”
You are doing so much more for your body than firming up your muscles in class!!
So are you a veteran barre babe who is looking to up the ante? Our tips may surprise you! Sometimes taking the modification actually reaps better results! Why? Because when you can truly improve engagement in your muscles (whether that’s holding a posture longer, or literally going deeper or lower in a posture), you’ll be able to access bigger muscle reserves and increase your muscle fatigue. A tell-tale sign of working harder in any exercise is your breath. If you’re not starting to feel out of breath, or find it slightly harder to breathe (i.e. a harder exhale), then you’re not in that target working zone we’re looking for in class. This usually results in complete exhaustion, aka the shakes, which is the end game for your body at the barre.
Another great way to constantly increase your muscle overload is to increase your resistance. You can achieve this in a multitude of ways – the most obvious is through our props. If you don’t consistently use all props in class, start doing so. (Or at least in the muscle groups that you feel are ready to take on more.) This can also look like increasing your Bala bangles from 1 lb to 2 lbs (or using ankle weights for the first time!). This may also look like popping onto your toes for push ups or planks. Remember, we’re not asking you to be superwoman on your first try. Overdoing it leads to a higher risk of injury, so listen to your body. Maybe this week it’s 3 toe push ups, and next week it’s 4-5, and so on. We tend to perform 3 – 4 sprints in planks, so you could tackle one sprint on your toes and then drop to your knees for the rest of the plank series.
Lastly, up those hand weights for your warm-up! Remember that we also incorporate weights from time-to-time in our thigh, seat and ab sections in class. Maybe you want to grab one 3 or one 5 lb weight to use for those portions of class, and you stick to the 2 lb or 3 lb weights for arms. We have multiple sets of weights, so don’t be shy! Some clients like to use heavier weights for biceps (your strongest arm muscle – like your quads for legs, they can handle it!!) and shoulders, and then go a little lighter for triceps.
Keeping your muscles guessing is key for growth and that’s why we mix up the exercises in every. single. class. You likely will never take the exact same class twice at the barre with us. That being said, another way to mix it up for your muscle memory is to switch up your nb class format. We offer a couple ancillary class styles outside of our primary format, barre50. You may think barre30 is just a condensed version of barre50, but it’s actually not! We built the class intentionally to maximize fatigue in a shorter period of time, by performing the entire class on a single side (think arms, thighs, core, and glutes all on the right side first), then repeating that entire series again, on the other. Pro tip when working out at home: Put your bala bangles on your right wrist and ankle for the first half of class, then quickly switch out right after the first core series over to the left-hand side!
And of course our powerhouse, high-intensity class, barreHIIT delivers on its name. Interval training forces your heart to alternate between working hard and recovering. Doing that multiple times in a single workout can help your heart become more efficient. Think you’re ‘too old’ for HIIT? Think again. One study on older adults, with diabetes, at McMaster Universtity in Canada concluded that “the study subjects showed measurable, beneficial changes in glucose metabolism, cardiovascular fitness, and body composition after just two weeks (six sessions).”
Other researchers reviewed 10 studies on HIIT in older subjects with conditions ranging from coronary artery disease, heart failure, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. The meta-analysis revealed that greater improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness were found in these subjects involved in HIIT regimens compared with traditional moderate-intensity exercise programs. Cardiorespiratory fitness—assessed by measuring maximum lung capacity —is also a predictor of better longevity. Whether young, or young at heart, barreHIIT has something for you. Unlike traditional HIIT programs, we also offer lower impact options. And our intervals are timed at 20 seconds of exercise, 10 seconds of rest – very approachable for beginners, while still challenging for athletes!
Want to know how to be able to track your target heart rate zone in class? Use the chart below, courtesy of heart.org, and customize by listening to your body, not your smart watch. 😉
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