Seeded In The South Spills Her Gym Bag!

Natalie Bell - Image from SeededInTheSouth.com

Natalie Bell – Image from SeededInTheSouth.com

Seeded In The South – you might already be following her down-to-earth and super chic fashion blog (if not, you should) – has spilled out her Gym Bag to show us how she stays fab throughout her busy day. Whether attending her Neighborhood Barre class at 12:00 or 5:30, she’s always prepared for work or happy hour with a few essentials that keep her fresh, clean, and STYLISH (duh).

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Natalie Spills her Rebecca Minkoff (dying) gym bag Just for us!

Blue Print Juice & Kind Bars (Whole Foods): I’m always on the road for work and popping into barre at 12, so lunch or snacks are key!
favorite juice– pineapple, apple, mint
favorite bars – peanut butter dark chocolate & blueberry pecan

Sports Bra (Lululemon $48)– black leopard print with crisscross back

Black Crops (Lululemon $96) – current favorite are the ones with mesh inserts because I throw on a tshirt and flats for lunch or happy hour

Hair brush & dry shampoo – MUST – love treseme (Walgreens $4.99) – cheap and effective

Ear phones – always run to music

Sunnies (Ray-Ban $150) – blue Ray-Ban aviators (slight obsession with aviators of all kind).

Tory Burch make up bag (Saks) – sometimes I go from barre or gym to work, dinner, etc – always have the basics: Dior foundation, Nars bronzer and blush, Laura Mercier pressed powder (best for covering up oily spots and t zone), Chanel mascara

Kate Spade GLASS water bottle (Kate Spade $30)

Ponds Cleansing Towelettes (Walgreens $4.99) to remove any sweat or dirt before reapplying or touching up my make up (cheap and soothing!)

Be sure to follow Natalie on Instagram @seededinthesouth

ROLL OUT! Foam Rolling: The Down And Dirty

This week’s post is brought to you by transplanted barre-bie, Bethany Stearns! She relies on her foam roller to get the max benefit from her barre workouts and is laying down what you need to know about this newly rising trend for peak muscle performance!

Do you ever have those days you feel like you could join the American Ballet Company or maybe even the Rockettes and other days you hope no one sees that your leg is barely hovering the ground in leg extension? More times than not, it has nothing to do with how strongyour muscles are, but how healthy and efficient they are working.

What is Foam Rolling? 

Foam rolling is a secret weapon used by elite athletes, physical therapists, and athletic trainers (like me) to help muscle recovery for those overworked muscles. When muscles are overused, microspasms or “trigger points” form in the muscle and leads to dysfunction in the surrounding fascia. Fascia is a thin, elastic connective tissue that covers muscles and when it becomes constrained it results in tension and pain. Foam rolling irons out that fascia and releases the muscles knots, like the sports massage you love except with a foam roller, you have all the control and its FREE.

How does it work? 

Foam rolling utilizes your own body weight to work out muscle tightness, trigger points and tension. Foam rolling relaxes and stretches your muscles as it improves inefficient muscle patterns, muscle imbalances, and decreased blood flow restoring optimal length and tension to the muscle and restoring fascial elasticity. As you work your muscles without properly working out the trigger points your muscles continue to tighten which can cause joint dysfunction, leading to muscle strains or other injury.

 Why should I foam roll?

  • Reduce muscle soreness
  • Increase circulation
  • Increase range of motion
  • Increase speed of muscle recovery

All of this means that using the foam roller can help you #werkit harder and stay in that pesky pretzel longer so you can burn it up at the barre. What are the Ground Rules? Warning: Foam Rolling won’t give you the warm and fuzzies. It can be uncomfortable, but working out your trigger points will make your muscles and fascia more elastic and ready for the next barre sesh.

  • Roll towards your heart when you are rolling out your arms or legs.
  • First time foam rolling? Follow up with plenty of water (I know you already drink half your body weight in ounces, right?), keep an eye out for any bruising or discoloration, and give your muscles a couple days recovery time. Your muscles will become accustomed to the discomfort over time.
  • Stop for 30-90 seconds when you find a place of tension in your muscle and hold it until you feel the tension release.
  • Keep your muscles as relaxed as possible as you roll it out.
  • Breathe through the uncomfortable parts. Trust me, my dog looks at me funny when I’m whimpering through the pain.
  • You shouldn’t have any pain once you take your body weight off of the foam roller. Just like when you get a sports massage it is uncomfortable during the massage but you feel so much better afterwards.
  • You can foam roll before or after your workout. I personally like it as a part of my stretching/cool down routine. It is most effective when it is immediately followed up by stretching.

What should I foam roll?  

IT Band: Its the muscular band that runs from your hip all the way down to the outside of your knee. Start at the outside of your thigh near your knee, prop your upper body on your elbow and roll up towards your hip. You can use your opposite leg to help propel your body along the foam roller. When you reach a trigger point (trust me, you’ll feel the zing) pause there for 20-30 seconds….this part isn’t fun. Breathe through it. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Continue moving, stopping at each trigger point. Move slowly. If you need a little more, bend your working leg’s knee towards your seat.

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Ouch! Repeat 1-2 more times

   Piriformis: It’s that small muscle that does most of the work during outside seat. I think it’s the key to releasing your low back and hip flexors, your whole barre practice (it is a part of your core). You will definitely feel every bit of work you did during seat while your roll it out. Sit on your foam roller with your feet firmly planted on the ground, prop your upper body with hands behind the foam roller and cross your ankle over your thigh to make the number four. Lean towards the leg that is crossed and roll over your outside seat. Same as before, stop at any trigger points you come across and hold for 20-30 seconds. Need a little more? Use a smaller piece of equipment – like a tennis ball!

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Hamstrings: Depending on how tight you’re holding your “heal to seat” you may have a more than a few trigger points to roll out. Sitting on the ground, place the back of both knees on the foam roller and place your hands on the ground at your sides to prop yourself up. Roll towards your seat, stopping at each trigger point for 20-30 seconds. Need a little more? Cross your legs at the ankle to put more pressure on the leg you are rolling out.

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 Mid-Back: Sitting on the ground with foam roller at lower back, lean backwards holding in your core, raise your hips off the ground and place hands behind your head and shoulder blades pinching that penny. Use your feet to push your body along the foam roller towards your shoulders. Make sure the foam roller is centered at your midline, you want it to do equal work on both sides of your spine. This will help with your posture at the barre and away from it, too.IMG_4328

Which one should I buy?

If you are “in it to win it” The Grid is my favorite. I suggest it to my athletes, bought several for the athletic training room, as a gift for my marathon running father-in-law, and have one sitting in my living room as we speak. It is covered in foam, but it is hollow which gives it more rigidity to work out those pesky trigger points. This one runs you about $40 for the 13-inch or $60 for the 26-inch on amazon or your local running store. Worth the investment, I promise. foam roller 2 When you barre so hard to get those long, lean muscles….let the foam roller do some work to help your stems reach their budding potential. Hurts sooooo good.

Confessions of a Barre Mom

Recently, I was able to pick the brains of our resident instructors Angela and Kim (aka supermoms) to see how they manage to balance the roles of being a wife, mom and instructor…

Added bonus: Angela shared some of her favorite tips for staying fit!

Tell us why you LOVE Neighborhood Barre and more importantly, how it has helped you both pre and post baby.  

A: It’s challenging but also fun. I’m not looking at the clock the whole time wishing it to be over which makes me want to keep doing the workouts versus getting burned out. Also, being low impact I get to burn a good amount of calories but still have enough energy to chase and haul 25lbs around for the next 12 hrs of the day!  

K: I love Neighborhood Barre and have been taking class and teaching for over two years. There are multiple things I love about this place: the intense workout, the fun music, the friendly instructors and most importantly the results. While pregnant, I came to class at least 3-4 times per week. It is low impact, so it was easy on my joints while carrying the extra weight. Now, one year post baby, I attend or teach class at least 4-5 times per week. I am, by far, in the best shape of my life! I also really love the community element at Neighborhood Barre. I see old friends and have made many new friends, including other new moms! It is my much needed escape in this new busy life with a toddler!

We know having little ones can keep you busy – how do you find time during the day to workout and teach classes and Neighborhood Barre?  

A: For me, I can sometimes squeeze a childcare or evening class in, but my personality and busy schedule has to have consistency if I’m going to make my workouts a priority. That means 6ams! I have actually come to enjoy it as my own “me” time before anyone else in the house wakes! I actually get ready for the day, make up and all, before the 6am because it’s the only uninterrupted time I have to focus on myself all day- and it’s really nice!  

K: I make my workout a priority. It’s that simple. I can always find an excuse to not workout: too busy, too tired, too much laundry…whatever! The commitment to health and fitness must be a priority! Even if your goals seem too big, start small and commit to two classes per week. I make sure I can get in my weekly workouts by utilizing the free childcare, getting a class in when my husband comes home for lunch or heading out when he gets home for the day.

What advice would you give a new mom looking to start classes at Neighborhood Barre?

A: Don’t be too hard on yourself- your body has just been through a lot. Commit to a plan, be consistent, listen to your body- push when you need it and rest when you need it- but don’t be lazy… You know the difference, just show up and do your best and over time you’ll get back to where you want to be strength and size wise. Don’t compare yourself to other post-partum mommies either- everyone’s body and story is different… Just love yourself and do your best!

What tips would give a mom who is trying to bounce-back after pregnancy?

A: You’ll be a better mommy and wife if you find a “me” thing that is unrelated to those two roles. For me, that thing is barre. It’s doubly awesome that my “me” thing makes me happy, stronger and more energized. I recommend bouncing back in a healthy way (both physically and emotionally) Drink lots of water, eat healthy food and good sized portions, don’t skip meals or binge, make a fitness plan that includes days and times for working out and stick to it by talking to your family about your goals and asking them to help you achieve them by running the house/kids during those times, get a good nights rest (hah- when you can and take a nap during the day when you can), love yourself and show yourself some grace… Perfection every day isn’t realistic but trajectory towards your goals is! Stick it out – you got this!

K: Put on your yoga pants and give NB a try! No matter where you are post baby, now is the time to try something new…And come take my class, I’ll have you back in those skinny jeans in no time:)

And now, advice from Angela…..

  • Try to do one active thing every day, even if it’s just going on a short walk. If you feel tired and lack energy, just commit to 10 minutes. Most times after the initial 10 minutes you won’t want to stop!
  • Don’t skip meals, ever. It messes with your metabolism and just isn’t healthy. It will keep you from reaching your long term goals.
  • If you’ll be eating out, make a plan. Don’t skip meals that day as it will only make you over indulge when you’re out. Try to order a normal sized portion… an appetizer as your meal or ask the waiter to pre-bag half of your meal before bringing it out to overcome the enormous portion sizes offered when out to eat. Don’t be scared to order “a la carte” as you can keep cleaner options that way and won’t be tempted with extra sides you didn’t even want in the first place.
  • Keep your non-stretchy (aka non-workout) pants close by and throw them on often. Yoga pants are comfy and practical, but they sometimes can also allow us to gain in size without realizing it.
  • Try not to use a scale as your measuring tool. Muscle is healthy and improves your metabolism. Muscle also weighs more than fat so weighing yourself too often can be disappointing or wrongly insightful. Instead, measure your focus areas with measuring tape, use your form fitting clothes to measure (they will get looser as you gain muscle and tone up), or get your muscle and fat mass measured doing a bod pod test.
  • Don’t reward yourself with food for your workouts. Eating an unhealthy, high calorie diet will make you bulk and prevent you from reaching the long lean healthy muscle results you’re reaching for. Working out is only part of the recipe- you have to eat right too.
  • Drink lots of water. I drink at least 130 ounces a day.
  • If you eat one bad meal or snack, don’t let it derail the entire day. Get back on track and stay positive.
  • Never go to the grocery store without a list- you will end up with unhealthy things in your kitchen and you’ll be destined to fall off the wagon.
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Angela – 8 mos pregnant, still killing it.

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Kim and barre baby, Colin.

The Bounce Back After The Binge.

Are you a weekend binge-eater? A late-night-pig-outer? Or a fall-off-the-wagon-all-week kind of person? With Spring Break upon us and summer looming in the near future, we decided to round up a few of our favorite tips and tricks from the NB team so you’ll be reaching for your bikini instead of that baggy white tee.

Hallie: “Drink as much water as you can handle! Divide your weight in half and you should be drinking that number in ounces a day. Also, add lemon to your water. Lemon breaks down the lactic acid in your muscles. I’ve found that not adding ice to my water allows for me to drink much more.”

Madison: “Chia seeds are my vice, I add them to my breakfast and lunch. They really keep me feeling satisfied. Also, I love using pasta substitutes like spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles using my Veggetti

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Ann Holland: “Drink lots of water. Limit sugars, grains, and dairy. Eat lots of fruits, veggies, and protein.”

Julia: “I love walking my dog first thing in the morning, well after 6 am barre of course ;), it’s become part of my daily routine and getting fresh air every day makes me feel so happy and healthy. I need a lot of protein in the morning to keep full after a hard morning workout at Nb, so I like to make smoothies – greek yogurt, a banana, peanut butter, and lots of spinach is my favorite. I think having a big protein filled breakfast and smaller meals throughout the day makes me feel my best!”

Katy: “Brags apple cider vinegar – good for skin, lowers blood sugar, and is a natural diuretic. Take a shot or mix with water. Anytime I’ve overindulged on the weekend, my ACV makes me feel so much better and gets me back on track.”

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Erin: “Replace one meal a day with a green smoothie (almond milk, spinach or kale and frozen fruit)!”

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Krista replaces unhealthy snacks with healthful homemade treats! Check out her recipe for Oatmeal Energy Bites (they are delicious).

Meanwhile in Mexico….. Kelly advises us to “steer clear of all-inclusive vacations”….

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Take A Peek Inside Madison’s Closet….

Our resident fashionista, Madison Ford, always looks so put together! From her oversized sweaters to street sneaks, we love her look at Neighborhood Barre. Below she has put together 3 looks – including accessories – to help keep us studio to street chic whether heading to brunch, errands, or happy hour, after class.

If I could choose one word to describe my closet (besides color coordinated) it would be practical. Since I spend the majority of my day in ‘barre attire’ I have really tried to fill my closet with staple pieces that can easily be dressed up or down depending on my plans post-barre. The key in adding versatility to your workout wear is accessorizing.  By grabbing a pair of sunnies, throwing on a cute sneaker, stacking bracelets or wrapping up in a scarf, you gain the ability to tailor your assemble to channel your personal style and, better yet, transition from class to post-class plans. I’ve put together a few outfits (from the studio) as well as my own closet below:

Brunch: This outfit is perfect for a weekend class when you plan on treating yourself to a mimosa after. Navy is such a strong color for Spring and these pieces from Beyond Yoga are far too chic and comfortable to only be seen in the studio. I grabbed a lightweight scarf, my favorite Tkees flops, and Ray Bans to complete the look.blog1  blog4

 Ray Ban aviators, Tkees flip-flops, Beyond Yoga top and leggings – available at Nb (duh).

Shopping: We all know shopping and errands equal walking (and lots of it) so I chose a neutral outfit that I could make pop with some cute sneakers.  NB plug: I am obsessed with the mesh detail of this pocket tank and a bright sports bra would add some edge to the look.

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Nike Air sneakers, Beyond Yoga top and leggings, BKR water bottle

Happy Hour: My mantra when choosing an outfit to take from barre to the bar is to stick to neutrals, and by neutrals I mean black.  I chose these specific items because of the detailing. The quilted texture in these Beyond Yoga leggings and the strappy Alo bra add an element of edge to the pairing. I left off a top because while keeping on your workout tank is totally fine (and recommended), I would bring my favorite cashmere to throw on after class.

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Sublte Luxury cashmere, Alo sports bra, Beyond Yoga leggings, BKR water bottle

What’s your must-have studio to street piece? Comment below!

Follow us on Instagram for more #ootd @neighborhoodbarreknox

All Hail Hallie’s Gym Bag

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As we all know, Hallie Wallen is THE queen of all things fitness so naturally we were dying to see what she keeps stashed in her gym bag. The water, tennies, keys and cough drops came as no surprise, but there were a few items in particular that caught our eye….

1. Lilly Pulitzer planner: this is essential in helping Hallie plan her busy day and keep her classes straight. Besides the fact that the cover is super chic, Lilly planners have the best stickers for tracking important dates and great by-day and week tabs to help keep even the busiest girl organized. Want one? Go visit our one of our Nb staples, Deedee, at Palm Village Knoxville to get yours!

2. Karen Walker sunnies: Not only are these super stylish, but the updated wayfarer gives Hallie the ability to take her shades from barre class to brunch and we are all about the ease in which we transition workout wear to the streets.

3. Alo sports bra: Its no secret we are crazy about Alo at NB.  We love both the support and trendy mesh detail this bra offers..and isn’t everything better in black?! We think so. #allblackeverything (available at Neighborhood barre studios for only $48).

4. Evian Facial Spray and Ibuprofen: Super affordable and super essential when it comes to feeling refreshed after or in-between classes. As a headache sufferer, it’s important for Hallie to always be prepared to feel her best and both of these products help her to stay ahead of her symptoms.

5. Tiger Balm heat rub: Hallie soothes her soreness with this amazing topical pain reliever. Have you ever stood next Hallie and secretly thought to yourself  “what in the world is that SMELL!??” well, folks here it is.

 

What’s in your gym bag? Comment below with your essentials gear suggestions!

How I Lost One Inch In One Week

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My basic formula for a quick change goes a little something like this….

Water + Sleep – Gluten = Change

Now, I am not saying this formula is going to work for everyone, or that you will all of the sudden shed inches from your waist like some miracle concoction; but I am saying that for me, making these dietary and lifestyle changes produces faster and more noticeable results than exercise and ‘eating right’ do on their own.

Miss Parks says it best with her “water, water, water” chant after every class. She’s right. Increasing your water intake does so much for your body from reducing soreness after a workout, to giving you more energy, and even reducing belly bloat – resulting in a flatter stomach. I bet you thought the belly bloat was going to relate to the less gluten portion of the equation didn’t you? Not so for me. Drinking more water aids digestion and actually causes you to retain less (water retention can have a visible effect on your midsection). I’ve upped my water intake to at least a 1/2 gallon (a.k.a. 4 Bkr’s) with my goal being to consume twice that on a daily basis.

New chant for you, “sleep, sleep, sleep.” Think about it. What do you do when you’re sleepy and trying to stay awake? Eat, maybe? I do, and I don’t always make the best choices, because I crave either sugar or ‘comfort food.’ Being well rested helps your body crave the types of food you need, not the types of food that are quick and easy. Like Chick-fil-a. And pizza. And Coke Zero. Anyway….

That being said, I am not an advocate for completely cutting something out of your diet unless there is a necessary purpose, like allergies or intolerance. However, I have found that significantly reducing the amount of gluten I eat directly results in less ‘fluff’ around my midsection. Why is this? It makes me think about everything I eat. For some, the consumption of processed wheat, rye, or barley can cause bloat due to a food allergy or intolerance to gluten. However, for the majority of the public, who do not have a sensitivity or allergy to gluten (me), it simply means you are consuming fewer empty calories, and rather, replacing snacks and side dishes with well thought out choices like fruits and vegetables. Things to remember? Less gluten does not mean less calories. In fact, often times foods that are labeled ‘gluten free’ are higher in calories than those that are not. Be mindful of snacks containing more sugar and fat as a result of less gluten.

Snack of choice these days? Larabar Roasted Nut Roll (which has less sugar than some other gluten free snacks) and one whole Bkr.

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Final tip… Don’t concentrate on the numbers on the scale. They can be deceiving. I weigh the same now as I did a week ago, but I look better in a bikini 🙂

5 Ways To Wear Your Leggings

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If you are barre or yoga obsessed, chances are you find yourself  spending all of your money on crazy expensive leggings only to realize later that you do not actually own any ‘real’ pants. Well, we’re here to help you turn those Wunder Unders and Beyond Yoga Leggings into street chic apparel. Here are 5 ways to wear your leggings in public without being embarrassed (a shirt long enough to cover your rear helps too).

1. Flats.

How about we jazz it up with a print?

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Or more specifically a smoking slipper with print…

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Leopard pairs great with color – especially those jewel tones that we are loving this season. Throw on a chambray shirt over your tank or your favorite slouchy sweater, and voila! You are casually chic and ready to hit the town.

2 & 3. Boots and booties. We might as well combine these into one even though they can give you two totally different looks.

Tall boots, short boots, low boots – they all look great with a legging. Add interest with a leg warmer or tall sock. Think layers for your legs.

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Toms makes a great affordable lace-up bootie. Also check Urban Outfitters.

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You don’t have to have a sock to be cute. Laces and buckles add enough to this look making layers unnecessary.

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Yessssssssss. We love a tall boot with a tall boot sock and leggings. This look can take you many places.

Great boots usually come at a steep price. You can keep it middle of the road with Frye. They make boots of all shapes and heights and with a varying price range. Most are a more casual look, which pair well with leggings.

4. Moccasins.

I’m a sucker for a good moccasin. Just don’t get too crazy. Keep the fringe to a minimum and buy a boot that is suitable for your height. This short boot looks great on most people. It still has the fringe and some detail without taking all of the attention.

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Where to find these and other great moccs? MINNETONKA. The mother of all things moccasin.

5. Platforms.

My personal favorite. Platforms can take your legging look from day to night especially if you keep it simple with black. Pair with a tunic or long sweater and you are ready, set, go.

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Above is a very affordable Steve Madden platform. The black on black keeps it simple and chic.

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.