A few short weeks ago, I started singing “You Are My Sunshine” to my baby each night before bed. I want my baby to recognize my voice when they arrive in June. A few weeks ago, my biggest concerns were finding and researching “the perfect” baby products, making it to a prenatal yoga class and lathering on belly butter to prevent stretch marks. A few weeks ago, I was lucky to be surrounded by my family members, eagerly telling them to place their hands on my belly to feel the baby move. Eager to share my joy with them, the first grandchild on either side of our family. Sadly, my father, mother-in-law, and father-in-law didn’t get a chance to feel the baby move inside my belly, and now I don’t know if they ever will. Today, I am worried – like most mothers – about how we will get groceries safely next week without being exposed to COVID-19. I have never felt fearful of physical being in our local stores, and it is strange. The dramatic changes of the pandemic have left me feeling like the world is spinning and everything I was looking forward to has been stripped away. Canceled birth classes, hospital tours, baby showers, maternity photos, haircuts (okay, I know this isn’t that important but I desperately wanted to just get a haircut before my baby comes!). My husband gave me a gift certificate for a prenatal massage for my birthday which will not be used.
Today, I cannot purchase diapers or wipes for my baby – something that I assumed would be easily accessible. Unfortunately, even the cloth diapers are gone. I feel unprepared, especially because I may just have to do everything alone. Birth partners are being excluded from hospitals, and I fear that I will have to go through labor without my husband. I have a repetitive nightmare of being separated from my baby after giving birth because I have contracted COVID-19. Even worse – I fear that the hospital will be so full that there is no room for us in case we need medical intervention or help. Yes, I know this may not happen, but the uncertainty in the world right now has left me searching for a sense of normalcy…Today I am Googling “absolute necessities for a newborn” to see if I can still purchase any items for my baby. As a first-time mother, this is a particularly frightening time.
All of the prenatal podcasts I’ve listened to and pregnancy books I’ve read have one piece of advice in common – find community and support. The message is clear and repetitive – “connect with other mamas in your birth class”, “ask for help”, “make a chore list for people to help when they come to visit”, “find support”, “remember, you are not alone!”.
But now, I, like other mothers, am feeling alone.
Who knows when it will be safe for my family to see me again? I may not be pregnant anymore, and they may not meet their grandchild until they are a few months old.
I know that our situation could be much, much worse. I often feel angry at myself for even grieving the pregnancy I’ve dreamed of and lost when others are suffering so deeply. I am acutely aware of the pain happening in the world and feel it to the deepest core of my being. As an empath, the emotions of others affect me tremendously. So much so in fact that at my last prenatal visit my blood pressure was the highest it has ever been. Yikes! It’s exceedingly difficult to feel excited about the new life I’m bringing into the world when the world seems so turbulent and full of pain. I am so, so sad. Sad for all of the first-time moms whose realities have changed similarly to mine. Sad for the partners who cannot be at their prenatal visits and births. Sad for the healthcare workers and nurses working the front lines. Sad for everyone experiencing loss.
I’ve even found myself thinking “Did we choose the wrong time to have this baby?” “Why is this happening now?” But what I’ve come to realize is that actually, now is a perfect time. This baby is teaching me every day to grow stronger than I ever knew was possible. Teaching me to sit in stillness and feel my feelings. To slow down and to breathe. To love each and every thing, no matter how small, especially at a time of so much loss. To never take anything or any moments for granted. I still sing “You are my Sunshine” each night, but with greater emotion and purpose than I have ever felt before. This baby has become my literal beacon of light. My sunshine on these cloudy days. And even though everything has changed, I have faith that the sun will come out… eventually.
In the midst of quarantine in April 2020, I saw a post on Instagram. It was advertising a virtual Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training with CorePower. I absolutely adore yoga sculpt, and I had contemplated the training in the past but due to logistics (there are no studios in my state!) was unable to participate. This seemed like the perfect chance! I usually take a while to make decisions, but only had a few days before the training started. I jumped on board and am so glad that I did!
Yoga Sculpt (YS) is a class that incorporates hand weights and high-intensity cardio bursts for a maximum calorie-burning effect. It is typically about an hour in length and set to an awesome playlist curated by the instructor. YS is low-impact and has similar elements to the barre classes that I teach. Yoga sculpt emphasizes linking breath to each movement and is a total body workout.
In the midst of a global pandemic, I was able to connect with hundreds of others and learn from some of the best yoga instructors at CorePower via Zoom. It was truly remarkable!
Online YS teacher training consisted of two 3-hour Zoom sessions each week, for 5 weeks total. The Zoom training was carefully executed and planned out by the CPY team. Students received an agenda each Sunday with the topics we would cover. Breakout groups were utilized often in training, where students were divided into smaller groups of 5-6 with a CPY instructor to facilitate and ask questions. In the breakout groups, we would take turns practice teaching and giving verbal cues in real-time. The breakout rooms were a great way to build confidence and the skillset we were being taught and allowed you to meet other students in a smaller setting.
In addition to the bi-weekly Zoom sessions, I took 13 virtual on-demand CorePower classes and completed notes and journal entries on each class.
I received a YS Teacher Training manual that I used during the Zoom sessions to take notes with. It is extremely thorough and understandable. I use the manual to refer to while planning out classes or refreshing my skillset.
Going into the teacher training, I was a little worried that an online virtual experience would not be “as good” as in-person training. I was proven wrong!
I cannot recommend CorePower’s YS Teacher Training highly enough. I graduated from the training feeling supported, educated, and inspired. Each and every instructor was welcoming and extremely knowledgable. They took the time to answer each and every question. The teacher training was very detail-oriented and well planned out.
I’m a lifelong learner and have always enjoyed taking classes. I love challenging myself to continue to learn even now in this season of life as a new mom and during a global pandemic.
I hope to use the knowledge I received from YS teacher training to host classes locally and virtually. YS teacher training also left me feeling like a more confident well-rounded fitness teacher, student, and friend. I can’t wait to share this with you!
Below are four standing abdominal exercises that you can do anywhere! No equipment is needed.
Ways to incorporate this routine: as a quick pick-me-up during your lunch break; after a run, in the morning before heading off to work, or on vacation!
Tips + Set-Up: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Shoulders pressed down away from the ears. Keep a soft bend in your knees. Bring your knees into your chest with an abdominal contraction. Focus on using your core, not your thighs, to lift your knees.
Tips + Set-Up: Start with feet hip-width apart, parallel. Extend the right leg behind you. Bring your arms up overhead. Hinge forward slightly from the hip so the chest is over your thigh. Use the core to lift right knee toward chest and allow arms to come in at sides. Replace leg on the ground and, as quickly as possible, drive forward again.
Tips + Set-Up: Stand with your feet wider than your hips. Feet are turned out. Make sure that your knees are tracking over your second and third toes. Bend your knees, squeeze your glutes, and drop your hips down to the knee level. Take your hands behind your head or to 90 degrees, goalpost. Connect your breath with each movement. Option to take one light dumbbell in each hand for an added challenge.
Tips + Set-Up: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Option to take one light dumbbell in each hand. Engage your core and bring your elbow to your knee on the same side by bending at the waist and performing a side crunch. Rather than moving elbow down, try to keep arms and shoulders in the same place throughout so you’re forced to use obliques to perform the move. Place your foot down to the floor between each exercise to help with balance, or keep it hovering for more of a challenge.
I love changing up my fitness routine. It keeps my body guessing, my mind entertained and my soul happy. As a barre instructor (and any fitness instructor for that matter!) I’ve found that it is extremely important to take a class just for myself. I love being a student.
I am also traveling a lot this summer, and have narrowed down a few essentials that are always in my bag so that I can workout anywhere, anytime.
Woah, never thought I’d include this one! But the Apple AirPods are honestly such an amazing investment, I use them daily. Music is a must for me and powers me through any workout. They stay in place, sound great and are easy to keep clean. I wear them on runs, HIIT workouts, for barre and even yoga sometimes!
Your feet carry you everywhere – literally. It’s important to invest in a good pair of supportive sneakers. I am obsessed with my New Balance one’s this summer. I also have a pair for work – I get a lot of steps in as a nurse!
These safe beauty products are so convenient and refreshing. I use the makeup remover wipes before a workout if it’s the end of the day to remove anything before I get my sweat on. The rosewater mist is amazing after a workout or hot shower – refreshing and smells great.
I always have one Hydroflask by my side! I actually have two Hydroflask water bottles, because I forgot my water bottle one day and was so upset that I got an extra to have just in case. It helps me to stay hydrated throughout the day. I don’t know what I’d do without this one!
I am a sweaty person. This towel saves me every time! Especially in hot yoga classes.
Speaking of sweat … I don’t go anywhere or workout without this deodorant. It is non-toxic and smells amazing.
What are your favorite products for the gym?!
To learn about my favorite 3 non-toxic skin care products, click here!
Not all barre instructors are the same. I feel proud to offer one-of-a-kind expertise and knowledge base to my clients:
I have been dancing since the age of three. (Thank you, Mom & Dad, for enrolling me so young!) I was grooving to Elvis Presley’s ‘All Shook Up’ at two years old every night before bed! And yes, there are videos to prove it. My dance training was extensive. I took lessons in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip-hop, jazz, and contemporary. I competed in both local and national dance competitions yearly, took masterclasses from some of the biggest names in the dance community, and continued dancing through college where I was captain of the UVM dance team.
My years as a dancer have allowed me to feel confident with music choices for barre classes. I create exercises and barre choreography specifically to the tempo of each song on my playlist. Luckily, being able to hear the beat of the music comes naturally to me. A key component to my barre classes is musicality. Instead of just playing music in the background during class – which is the typical format of group exercise classes – each song has a dedicated exercise. Teaching barre with musicality not only deepens the mind-body connection for students but also allows them to get out of their minds and into their bodies. Students usually can’t quite put their finger on why my barre class felt *different*, but I guarantee it is because of the music component! You can check out one of my barre playlists here.
I am classically trained in ballet technique and did pointe for many years. Barre fitness classes utilize ballet barres, and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate the ballet barres in the barre class! It is a natural place to me, it feels like home.
In addition to having taught numerous dance classes, I also started creating my own dance choreography in high school. The skill of being able to count music out and design a sequence of moves to fit it is invaluable to me. Because of this knowledge, I can quickly come up with new choreography for every barre class and remember it quickly.
I studied nursing at the University of Vermont, and have my bachelors degree in Nursing. I am currently a full-time RN. I’ve always been fascinated by the human body and its anatomy. This is where my two worlds collide! I bring my nursing knowledge to my barre classes and am able to safely teach students of all fitness levels and offer proper modifications. I challenge myself to continue learning and deepening my expertise in this area.
I completed an in-depth barre teacher training at the Barre Guild Academy.
Erin and I led an amazing group of women for a morning of self-care.
The morning started with a 55 minute barre class.
Erin’s recap of our day is here!
The class was followed by charcoal face masks by Beautycounter, relaxing on bolsters, good company, and fresh-pressed juice from the Vermont Juice Company.
I loved stepping back and taking photographs of the event after teaching. Barre has brought a fantastic group of women into my life, and I feel so grateful to have shared this day with them.
Erin and I are already planning our next event. If you would like to join us, be sure to join my mailing list to be the first to know about the upcoming events! You can do that here.
Whether you are new to fitness or an experienced athlete, barre is a great workout to add to any fitness regimen.
Each of my barre classes combines strength training, low-impact cardio and mind-body connection. You can learn more about the format of classes here.
// 7 Tips for Barre Newbies
Transitions between choreography & exercises are kept short & sweet to keep your heart rate up and to fit a whole body workout into just 55 minutes! The more you get to know the exercises by name and become familiar with class format, the easier the transitions will become.
Arriving early will allow the instructor to say hi, check in about any injuries and get you set up with the correct equipment. Usually this includes a mat, a set of weights, a strap/tube and a ball.
Socks during barre class not only keep your feet warm, but if they are sticky socks will give you extra grip during class. Some of the positions done in barre involve leg lifts and you will want to wear long pants that you feel comfortable in (not shorts!).
Until you are become familiar with barre arm sequences & format, I recommend starting with either no weights or the lightest set of weights. This allows you to focus and learn proper alignment to perform exercises safely!
I wrote a blog post about the language of barre – you can find that here.
Barre focuses on micro-movements that create macro-results. When the instructor says “pulse” or “inch” – they really mean it! Try to make your movements focused, small, and controlled.
Yay! You did it- you completed your first ever barre class! Hopefully you worked your muscles to fatigue & reached your shake point, which means that your muscles will feel sore in the days following. Make time for some self care, stretching and relaxation to recover. My favorite recovery smoothie recipe can be found here.
A German dancer, Lotte Berk fled the Nazi’s in the 1930’s to London where she began her fitness studio. After suffering a back injury, Lotte found herself unable to continue dancing. She then combined her ballet bar exercises with rehabilitation to create a rigorous and unique set of total body routines. Lotte taught classes in her West End basement.
Her original routine combined strength-training, dance, orthopedic back exercises, and Hatha yoga into one hour, mind-body workouts to fab music and inspirational cool downs.
This system is the foundation of all modern, popular and franchised barre workouts today.
Lydia was an American who fell in love with Lotte’s technique. Lydia purchased the rights to Lotte’s name and brought “Lotte Berk Method” studios to New York in 1971.
Fred & Elisabeth were studio managers at Lydia Bach’s studio in NYC. Together they founded Exhale Spa, a yoga and barre studio with locations worldwide.
Andrea was mentored by Fred and Elisabeth at Exhale Spa. She became both a studio manager and teacher trainer. Andrea went on to open her own studio, called Barre & Soul. Barre & Soul now has five locations in both NH and MA. Andrea has also studied under the instruction of Lotte’s only daughter, Ester Fairfax in England.
Andrea Lucas founded the Barre Guild Academy based on the Lotte Berk methodology. This is where I come into the picture! I completed my barre training with Andrea at the Barre Guild Academy in 2019. You can read more about that here.
Other spin offs of the Lotte Berk Method include Pure Barre, Physique 57, Dailey Method, Fluidity, Barre 3 and The Barre Method.
I hope to continue sharing Lotte’s technique in my classes and to teach barre in a safe and effective manner that represents all of the history and rigor it was originally designed to encompass.
Ever wonder what a traditional barre class was like? Curious about what will happen before taking your first class? Below you will find a basic and classic sequence taught in barre classes. This class outline stems from the Lotte Berke method.
Please note that each teacher and studio has variations to their classes, so you will see different classes depending on where you attend!
// Dynamic Warm Up
Barre classes begin with a warm up to get your heart rate elevated and muscles warm. Typically a warm up begins with marches, lunges, and squats. These are followed by a variety of plank work, push-ups, abdominal engagement and core work.
// Weight Work
Following the warm up, you will grab a set of 2-5 pound dumbbells to strengthen and tone the upper body. The weight series should include all of the following muscle groups: biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest and back muscles. The lower body is also sometimes incorporated with knee bends & stretches to keep the heart rate elevated. Followed by upper body stretches.
Three thigh targeted exercises are up next. These can be done both at the barre or in the center of the room. The thighs are large muscles, and a this is a great time in class to start to reach that shake point! Followed by targeted thigh & leg stretches.
// Glute Work
1-2 glute exercises are done, and again can be done both at the barre and away. Followed by targeted stretching.
// Core Strengthening
A signature part of any barre class is abdominal strengthening. Exercises include ab-work underneath the barre and C-Curve. An abdominal series typically lasts about 10 minutes.
// Back Strengthening
To keep the body balanced, the back body is also strengthened during barre. This includes exercises like ‘superwoman’ or ‘flutter kicks’ while lying on your stomach.
// Back Dancing or Bridge
Another well known part of any barre class is back dancing or bridge. Back dancing is similar to bridge, but the seat is kept closer to the mat. These exercises strengthen your back-body and glute muscles on last time before the final stretches of class.
// Final Stretches & Closing
Class will end with a deeper stretches, sometimes assisted with a strap, deep breathing and centering.
Curious about what language you’ll hear me cue in barre class? Check that out here!
See you at the barre!
// Athletic V
A foot stance. The heels are glued together, toes are apart. Turnout happens from the hips. Toes typically are at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on the floor.
Closing the angle of a joint. For example, bending your elbows in bicep curls during weight sections.
A specific instruction to encourage you to move your body down one inch only, and back up one inch – and not any further – while you’re pulsing.
Opening the angle of a joint. For example, straightening your leg or arm from a bent position.
Closing the angle of a joint. For example, flexing your foot is bringing your toes closer to your nose.
Heard often during class, a heavy tailbone refers to protecting your lower back & spine by engaging your abdominal muscles and straightening out your spine. This creates alignment from your head to your tailbone.
Muscle contraction against resistance that doesn’t a change in muscle length or involve movement. Think pulling your abs up and in during plank. Also called a “hold”.
Feet are placed so that the toes are facing directly forward. Typically the feet are either glued together or hips width apart.
A small movement (just and inch) done to the beat of the music. A very small range of motion.
Often done in thighs or glute work, pressing your knees in a backwards motion by engaging your thighs and glute muscles.
Also called “tippy toes” – when you lift your heels up off of the ground or mat, balancing on the balls of your feet.
The top of your upper thigh and bottom of glute muscles, where you sit!
Referring to the tailbone & pelvis, a tuck is also known as a posterior pelvic tilt. To tuck, the tailbone is dropped down and abdominal muscles are pulled up and in towards your spine.
A foot stance. Feet are taken wider than hips width, turned out into a V shape. The heels of your feet can either stay flat or lift to tippy toes. Knees are stacked over the ankles.