Something Grippie, Something Food, Something Neon, & Some Tunes… What’s In My Gym Bag?

Katy Branstetter
Owner, Neighborhood Barre

We are frequently asked about gym bag essentials here at Neighborhood Barre, so we’ve decided to open our bags and share with you our ‘must haves’ for a barre girl on the go.  Here is a break down of my favorite things, including my top 5 MUST HAVE products. What do we all need? HYDRATION! You hear Hope say it after every class, “water, water, water!” and boy is she right! Water is an essential for every workout and I keep plenty of it on hand in my bag, in my car, and in my purse. I also make sure to pack little snacks to keep up my energy level. I usually pack fruit – bananas, strawberries, or grapes – but I always keep a reserve of cliff bars in my bag! Right now I’m really into the Kids Z Bars and the Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel (yum!). My grippie socks are also always readily available… I keep at least a pair or two in my bag at all times. Even if I don’t wear them every day, I like to have the option in case I feel a little slippery. If you read my last post you know I like to fix hair – braids, buns, twists, what have you – and I’m usually prepared. I keep a stash of pony tail holders (satin around the wrist, tiny neon in my bag), headbands, and bobbie pins. Also, I live and die by MY WATCH.  Not only was it a gift from a good friend when I first opened the studio, it’s fabulously neon, and I use in EVERY CLASS. For demo classes and privates, I keep a portable speaker in my bag. I love the little Philips fold up speaker! It’s small enough not to crowd my bag, but loud enough to use almost anywhere! Lastly, I’m trying to convince myself to do more cardio in my free time (what’s that??). I find that keeping my shorts and shoes with me alleviates any excuses that might arise when the opportunity does come. And drum roll please for my TOP 5!!!

1.  Rainwater Farm CLEAN MIST Spray – It is so refreshing after a hot and sweaty workout! Just give a little shake and a little spritz and you are set to go from the studio to the street, smelling great and feeling refreshed! Our barre-ers must agree, because we have a hard time keeping it on the shelves!

2.  Aveda Hairspray –  Love this stuff. It goes with me everywhere. Keep your fly-aways at bay and give a little scrunch and lift to post-workout hair. Not much needs to be said, except that it is THE BEST thing I’ve ever put on my hair.

3.  Christian Dior Blackout Mascara – I’m a mascara junkie… I love it almost as much as hairspray. The Blackout is by far my favorite, and it has been for years.

4.  MAC Paint Pot – I don’t wear a lot of makeup unless I’m going out, but the paint pot is great for eyelids and cheek bones on days when your complexion looks a little flat. I have it in Rubenesque, which is a bronze shimmer.

5.  Bare Minerals Brush On Sunscreen – This is a great product if you spend any time exercising outdoors. It’s a brush-on SPF 30 powder with light makeup coverage. I like the powder because it doesn’t tend to run down your face when you sweat like some cream sunscreens. A good on-the-go product!

For Those Who Love The Chase Of The Shake & Change…

This blog is for you.

I was first introduced to barre-based fitness in 2009 where I had the “this is it” moment and have since pursued my love for the technique by studying and training in a variety of methods, and eventually opening my own studio. Neighborhood Barre is a ‘classical’ barre studio based on the Lotte Berk Method, but of course, with our own twist. Workouts are high energy and high intensity, but we encourage everyone to take it at their own pace, starting slow, and working up to the intensity level over time. With all of the barre studios, franchises, videos, etc. it can be hard to know which workout is right for you. Techniques can differ as there are both classic and contemporary approaches to barre. While we believe there is no right or wrong way to approach a barre-based workout there can be BIG differences among studios.

Here’s the skinny on the differing techniques:

What we refer to as ‘classic’ barre is simple. It’s the original, based on the Lotte Berk, tuck, pulse, and hold. The Lotte Berk Method is the root of barre fitness. Several major franchises practice this technique, and though the workouts are very different, the body positioning is the same – belly in, hips tucked. Why do we tuck? It’s simple. Although technically a neutral spine is a better position for the body to hold (think everyday life, sitting, standing, you want your back to be straight) most people are not strong enough to hold a neutral spine, resulting in a sway of the lower back, thereby putting pressure on the sensitive lumbar area. Let’s get it straight, the tuck is not a thrust. It’s a small movement that engages all 3 core groups – glutes, back, abs – and provides a more stable position for the body during our barre sessions. Think classical Pilates c-curve, not hips pressed forward.

Contemporary studios are quite different from classical in the removal of the hip tuck. Contemporary preaches a neutral spine and as a result, much of the intensity is often removed from the workout. Trying to do fast-paced classical barre class with a neutral spine can cause untrained bodies to easily lose the proper form, shifting the focus of the position to the lower back, and out of the core. While most studios and franchises are based off of the hip tuck, Lotte Berk style of barre, there is a major franchise that is on the opposite end of the spectrum and focuses on more of a fusion style class – incorporating barre, yoga, and Pilates with much longer stretching series resulting in a slower paced ‘barre-based’ workout. There is another neutral spine barre program that can be licensed and taught in a variety of health clubs and fitness studios. Although the founder was trained in the Lotte Berk Method, she has found that a neutral spine works best for her technique, as she also practices contemporary Pilates. While this particular technique does follow a more traditional barre regime, no fusion of yoga here, it seems to be a bit watered down due to the fact that most classes are taught in health clubs vs. boutique studios.

While there is no right or wrong technique, at Neighborhood Barre, we feel the classical approach is the safest and most effective approach to barre. Providing stability in the core, engaging the core throughout the entire class, and allowing us to move quickly through our workout gets us to the bottom line much faster. What is that bottom line? RESULTS. After all, isn’t that what barre is all about?

The left shows a proper hip tuck, while the right shows a neutral spine approach. Notice how engaged the body appears on the left vs. the right.