barre

4 Classic Barre Moves To Tone Your Lower Body

Sometimes you don’t need to recreate the wheel. These 4 classics from Barre are regulars for a reason. They work to strengthen your thighs, glutes and calves and through a series of large range of motion movements progressing all the way to small pulses and isometric holds you will also generate heat in the body to turn this into a total-body exercise.

Calf Raises

This is a simple exercise to start firming up the quads and calves and warm up the body. For balance, you can use a barre if you have it, chair or sturdy countertop.

Begin just lifting your heels up, engaging your calves and then lowering the heels down again. Start with a tall, neutral spine and tune into your breath.

I’ve included a pilates ball high between the inner thighs for extra work, but it is not required. Feet can be placed together or hip-distance apart.

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Chair Pose

Begin chair pose by lifting your heels and lowering your seat down as if sitting in a chair. Try to maintain your posture by keeping a tall spine and open chest and shoulders. Move your seat back and try to track knees over ankles to protect the knees.

Begin with 10-20 reps lowering all the way down to where your legs are in a 90 degree angle and raise up to the calf raise we did earlier.

Next, lower down completely into chair and begin small pulses, still balancing on the balls of your feet. If you have any feet issues, it’s perfectly fine to begin with heels down. As you pulse, remember to breathe and maintain neutral posture. Shakes are good.

Lastly, finish with an isometric hold and see if you can challenge yourself by lowering your seat a bit more to fully engage your quads.

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Plie

I do these in every class I teach, even yoga. They’re incredible to stretch your inner thighs, open your hips and strengthen your lower body.

Begin with heels down and start lowering down and raising up to straight legs. As you lower down, try to reach the point where your thighs are parallel with the floor.

After your first set of large range of motion plies, option to raise your heels for more of a challenge, lower your seat and pulse. Keep your heels down if it feels better for your feet.

Lastly raise your hands off the barre or chair if you can balance safely and hold the pose briefly. Feel your entire body join in to balance you and strengthen you.

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Leg Lift

These were a gamechanger for my lower body. I was blessed with curvy, strong thighs, and these really helped me tone and tighten my lower body while keeping me strong and flexible.

Start with hips in line and lift your leg back squeezing your glutes. If you lower your chest forward, you’ll be able to provide space in your lower back to protect against any tension.

Lower your extended leg down to tap your toe on the floor and back up for 10-25 reps in a controlled, intentional way.

Keeping your leg long behind you, engage your glutes, and pulse.

Option to keep a slight micro-bend in the standing leg.

For more of a challenge, release your hands from the barre or chair and use your entire body to balance you.

5 Reasons to Cross-Train for the Best Results

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We are all guilty of finding a type of exercise we love and sticking with it day in and day out. There’s nothing wrong with practicing yoga every day, or running every day or strength training everyday. However, if you want to optimize your health or performance, prevent injuries, stay motivated and meet new goals, we suggest trying something different every now and then.

Cross-training simply means supplementing your normal routine with a variety of exercises that focus on flexibility, endurance, and/or strength training to balance out the effect of your workouts on your body.

Here are 5 reasons why you should cross-train:

  1. Recovery or Rehabilitation. If you’ve developed lower back pain, or tight hip flexors, or pain in your shoulders, or whatever it may be, it’s likely you need to slow down, and allow those areas recovery and healing. However, when you experience an injury, it’s well-known you never want to stop moving. Supplementing your strength-training program with lower impact programs can keep you moving, allow you to modify to protect and heal the injury and get you back on your favorite program sooner.

  2. Bust Through a Plateau. Your body adjusts to something you do repetitiously. When I hit a plateau in my health or weight loss goals, changing it up always works. When I do change it up, I feel soreness in areas of my body I don’t normally feel sore. This means those other areas of your body need work and could benefit from a balance of different types of exercise. I do this often as a yoga and barre teacher by adding high-intensity interval training, running, or kettlebell exercises.

  3. Injury Prevention. When you do the same exercises over and over again, it’s possible to have a muscular imbalance which could lead to injury. It’s important to think about the extensive amount of small and large muscles and connective tissue in the body and how we can utilize different areas of the body to build strength and stabilize our joints. Also, giving your body a break from repetitive movements that may be overused in your exercise of choice can allow necessary recovery for greater injury prevention.

  4. Motivation. Practicing one type of exercise every day or 5 days a week will inevitably cause boredom. That doesn’t mean you’re cheating on your favorite instructor or gym, it just means your body and mind may appreciate it more with a little curiosity and change occasionally. It’s a way to stay committed to your goals while also continuing to move.

  5. Mind-Body Connection. Trying new movements with intention and focus teaches your body to work in a different way. This inevitably changes the way your mind and body are connecting and strengthens that connection. Routine is great and is a foundation for true health, but variety is the way to optimize your able body and mind to come even more into your body and grow.

Flow Space will be opening soon offering a variety of group fitness classes from yoga to barre, and bootcamp to kettlebell.