Tomorrow marks two very significant events in my life. The first, is my mother’s birthday. I cannot begin to put into words just how much my mom has taught me, supported me, and shaped who I am and am striving to become everyday. If you have met my mom, I am willing to bet that you may have been a bit stunned. She is good at just about everything and she is someone who can and does take on multiple superhuman tasks all at once, executing each one to an unprecedented level of exceptional. Long story short, she is pretty amazing. And I remember clearly calling to wish her a happy birthday, four years ago from a parking lot outside the building where I would take my first ever Pure Barre class. Needless to say the rest is pretty much history.
Over the past four years I have either taken or taught a barre class almost every.single.day. Since 20 January 2014 that amounts to a grand total of 1727 classes, 431 on average per year, or 1.18 classes per day! And although the obsession was nearly instantaneous for me, amazingly I have only continued to grow more in love with this workout over time. I know it may seem hyperbolic, but barre has literally changed my life. It ignited a passion for fitness and health, it changed the shape and tone of my body, it opened up a whole new community of amazing people who have become good friends, and it has made me immeasurably stronger physically and mentally, both in class and in life. So in honor of my fourth anniversary, I am sharing some of the most important things that barre has taught me throughout the years.
Small movements, big change ::
Barre is all about tiny, isometric movements and we say it all the time – “the smaller the movements, the bigger the change.” In order to get the most out of your barre class, you want to keep the movement sharp, precise, and small; staying focused on the specific target muscle and task at hand. It’s much like life. In building success, it is usually more important to make small and consistent progress than a big, sweeping change. By continuously making small incremental shifts in the way we do things and staying focused on the vision or goal, we build habits and routines which over time lead to success. Rarely does anything happen overnight, but as barre has taught me – the smallest changes bit by bit can lead to the biggest results.
Signing the barre after my first 100 classes at Pure Barre Boston
I AM stronger than I think ::
As I wrote about recently, the most consistent predictor of success across a variety of disciplines is the amount of grit and mental strength one has. My teachers used to tell me, and now I remind those in my classes, that your mind will give up before your body does and you are stronger than you think. There have been countless times in barre when I have pushed myself beyond what I could do before or what I thought I was capable of previously. Again the same could be said outside of the studio – I am so much more capable of handling setbacks, obstacles, and challenges than I would give myself credit for. And I am not alone. As I just read in The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt, research shows that in general people have a tendency to misjudge their own capabilities to recover from failure or persevere through adversity of all types and quite often we experience growth as a result. Barre has taught me that I can always dig a little deeper and stick it out. And you can too – you are stronger than you think!
Excited and ready for my first day of teaching at Flex in the City!
Everything is better when it connects you with others ::
When I first moved to Cork, I was very sad to be leaving my studio in Boston behind and wasn’t sure if I would be able to find a new one here. So as a condition of the move, my husband I set up my own mini home studio complete with a barre, mirrors, and all the Pure Barre DVDs I could get my hands on. It’s ok and something I can do if I need to, but the energy, enthusiasm and atmosphere is SO much better in a studio environment with others, especially friends. Throughout the years, I have dragged family and friends with me to barre and made loads of new friends amongst classmates and clients and have come to find out that the only thing better than barre – is barre with friends! Which is no surprise, because almost all research in positive psychology shows that meaningful social connections are the biggest contributor to one’s happiness.
Celebrating weddings and bachelorette parties at the barre!
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you ::
Another “barre-ism” which is not usually met with much excitement as I sink an inch lower or lift my leg another millimeter higher, but it is true. We only grow by taking on new challenges and committing to continuous learning. Your life does begin at the end of your comfort zone and part of living a meaningful, satisfying, and happy life is living in an atmosphere of growth. Barre has taught me that I get stronger each class if I show up and give it my all everyday and there is always a new way to challenge myself. The same is true in all areas of our life. We thrive on challenges and need to find ways to stretch ourselves in order to avoid becoming complacent or stagnant.
With my mom after her first barre class – HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
As I know you know, I am beyond passionate about barre. It is something that I truly love; which excites and energizes me. Which is actually one more of the many things that barre has taught me – I believe it is vitally important for everyone to find something that they are passionate about in whatever domain fits you. I don’t think everything you do has to be something that you love (and of course it can’t be), but I do think everyone should find something to do which fuels, motivates, and inspires them. And if that happens to be barre for you – I guess I’ll be shaking alongside you!