Amy Sinclair is a full time yoga and barre instructor living in the Boston area. She teaches a method of barre infused with yoga, to challenge the body and center the mind. If the thought of taking a barre class intimidates you, than you have come to the right place today! Amy is going to give you 5 tips to rock your first barre class.
Barre classes are gaining popularity, and for good reason! Barre classes are an effective, fun, safe, and unique way to exercise. As with any new group fitness class you try, you might not know what to expect during your first class. As a full time barre instructor teaching 15 classes a week, I’m here to give you some tips to get you ready for your first barre class. I frequently have new people join my classes, and I love to help them navigate their way through their first class, so this is one of my favorite topics. By following these 5 key principles, you will have a successful and enjoyable first experience, and you will be coming back for more of that addictive barre burn!
This one is obvious: find out what you need for class, and come prepared. Every studio is different; some require you to wear grippy socks (and might make you purchase $15 socks if you come without them!), while other places practice barefoot. Some places supply the mats, while others ask you to bring your own. Take a look on the website of the studio for this information, and if you don’t see it, send a quick email to the studio to find out. As a general rule, and what I have seen, carpeted studios have you wear the grippy socks, and studios with hardwood or other types of flooring go barefoot.
Arrive 10-15 minutes before class to get acquainted, check in, and sign any waivers at the studio. You will definitely want to wear comfortable athletic clothes you can move in and aren’t tripping over (no expensive gear required), and bring a water bottle.
Prepare your body for class by eating 1-2 hours before class starts, and staying hydrated.
Let the instructor know you are new, and ask them for help setting up. Some places will lay out all the props you need, while others have you set up your own. Generally you will need some hand weights, and possibly other fun things like balls, pilates rings, blankets, yoga blocks and straps, etc. These may vary each class based on what the instructor has planned, so it’s good to ask what you will need!
Tell the instructor anything they will need to know about your body such as injuries, physical limitations, and pregnancy. Some barre moves are contraindicative for pregnancy, ankle, knee, elbow, or lower back injuries. There are plenty of ways to modify these exercises to work with your limitations and make them safe for you, but you need to communicate with the teacher to find out what those are. Do this before class starts, and the teacher will be able to have a conversation with you about different modifications.
Barre classes are intense, so you will need to be physically present in your body and mind to make it through the class. There are a couple easy ways to do this: pace yourself, focus on your breath, and listen for alignment cues. No one gets all of this right on the first try, so be patient with yourself. Pacing yourself will help you make it through difficult sets. Breathing deeply and consistently will help you stay connected to your body, and give your muscles the oxygen they need! Listening to alignment and movement cues is super important in a barre class. The alignment is crucial, and it is more important to get the form right then to complete all the reps. Sometimes the alignment cues are subtle, and it takes time to learn how to articulate your body in those ways, so again, be patient with yourself, and keep your ears and eyes open to receiving this new information.
After class, let the instructor know what you thought, what questions you had, and how it felt in your body. I love barre so much and have a curious nature, so as a teacher, I want to hear how your first experience went. If you had questions about why your thighs were shaking (because we worked them to the point of fatigue!) , or want to know if you got the form right, just take a moment to talk to the teacher after class. Also, try bringing a friend to class because everything is more fun with a friend! You can discuss your experiences with each other, and maybe you can even grab a smoothie after class and make it a date!
- Have Fun!
Jerry of Ben & Jerry’s once said, “If it’s not fun, why do it?” I agree completely. Barre classes are tough, but they can definitely be fun if you keep an open mind, and have a light-hearted approach. Being a beginner can be difficult, but embrace the learning curve, stay open and aware, and have fun with it. Give yourself a couple classes before making a final judgement on barre. Your first class may feel like a whirlwind, but sign up for a second or third class so you can give it another try now that you know what to expect.
Have you taken a barre class before? What are some tips you would give others?
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