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Health and Wellbeing - September 2016

31 Aug 2016

What’s in a Barre class?

Barre, Barre Sculpt, Barre conditioning and Barre Fitness classes are very hot right now, and there is a good reason for that.

Depending on the type of Barre class you are participating in, the outcomes can be very positive in many ways. You can expect great results in muscle tone and conditioning of the core, hips and thighs and, along with a strong emphasis on posture, the physical benefits cover the entire body.

Barre classes may incorporate principles of other mind/body classes like yoga and pilates where breathing, control and alignment is very important and, because of this, you can also enjoy an enhanced sense of wellbeing.

Barre classes are normally and should be taught by teachers who have extensive experience, training and discipline in classical ballet – don’t settle for anything less. The professionalism of your teacher should be your first question when considering a Barre class.

Barre classes should be achievable for all levels of fitness and skills, and a great teacher should be able to make the class achievable for all participants no matter what your experience level. You definitely don’t have to be a dancer to join in or enjoy these classes, so give it a try. Double check if there are levels of difficulty in the classes you select, and let your teacher know if it’s your first class.

You don’t need to bring any special equipment or wear dance gear and ballet shoes to a Barre class. The studio should have a professional Barre set up, which might be fixed or portable. Bare feet or socks are ok if you are just starting out. Your teacher may recommend where to buy some ballet shoes or more appropriate gear if it is something you wish to make part of your regular exercise routine. I recommend you do!

How to keep running for longer

I am by no means a professional runner but I have run plenty of 10km fun runs, half marathons and have completed two full marathons in my time. The marathons were a bucket list item and life challenge to complete before or when I turned 40 – mission accomplished with no need to repeat right now.

Running, walking and movement generally is something we take for granted. It’s when that ability and freedom to move freely is taken from you by injury, the ageing process or preoccupation that you will really yearn to get out and run for your life into the sunset.

I have been there after I suffered a high impact ACL tear and subsequent total knee reconstruction and it was mentally a tough time. (It’s all good now though after a great physio helped me rehabilitate it.)

The point of this article is to identify a couple of tips and focus areas to help ensure you can keep running.

Build it up. Set some goals and build up towards those. Gentle, controlled progression will help your cardio-vascular systems adapt and your bones, joints and ligaments adjust to the impact that comes with running. Don’t be afraid of impact – just bring it on in a controlled manner.

Listen to your body. When starting out, if you get muscle, joint or bone soreness (like shin splints) rest a while. Ice is you best friend. Keep an ice pack in your freezer and use it often. You would be amazed at how effective ice is for treating the body after the good stresses of exercise.

Get fitted. Your feet are probably the most neglected part of the body when it comes to exercise. When they play up or get injured, it’s painful and debilitating. Make sure you wrap your feet in the best shoes for you. And it’s not about aesthetics and how they look, it’s about function and fit. Definitely consult a podiatrist if you have any feet issues.

Roll it out. Learn to use a foam roller. Rolling out your hamstrings, glutes, lower back and quads is a great and constructive place to start. By the way, you can do other important things like checking emails, Facebook and Instagram while rolling. It’s called multi-tasking!

Spring sessions

I’m writing this article in winter, but in a few days and by the time you read this it will be spring. Spring is probably the best season to exercise. The days get longer, the temperature increases, the air is fresh and crisp in the mornings, the sunsets are amazing and generally the mood is very positive.

With all the positivity you will then enjoy the multiplier effect of spring exercise sessions. Everyone feels the same way. People feel positive, they exercise more often and it becomes infectious. You form groups, join groups or just feel part of a healthy active community and that’s a fantastic feeling.

So if you haven’t started yet or felt that energy that flows naturally in September, it won’t be far away.

Here are a couple of great spring sessions you can consider joining or starting yourself:

Outdoor training. Congratulations to the diehards who kept up their training over winter. Now it’s your turn! Join an outdoor group or start your own. Maybe your friends are experienced and you can co-ordinate you own activities. Otherwise, hire a great and motivating trainer to get you moving.

Sunset yoga. There are plenty of great promenades in Melbourne by the water. Hire a yoga instructor and split the costs between a few friends. What a great way to finish a big week than a sun salutation in the true sense of the word.

Try a Barre class with a friend. Read the article above for tips!

Join a running group. Now is the prime time to go for a run and get your lungs full of fresh air.

Lunchtime express workouts. Look for engaging lunchtime workouts. What’s going on in your local community? You would be surprised at all the fun activities out there. It’s time to get creative with your spaces and choices.

Enjoy a group fitness class with your squad. Have fun, have a laugh and have a great workout. Pilates, bodypump, CX worx, step – variety is the spice of life!

Get functional. Lift, move, jump, push, pull, press – all big movements that, when trained with the right levels of resistance, will help your body dominate whatever life throws physically your way.

Most of all, have fun and enjoy living.

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