Confession time: Despite being a group fitness instructor, I rarely have time to make it to other studios or classes beyond my own. Sigh. It’s not that I don’t want to try all the hottest, latest and greatest new fitness trends and studios! In fact, one of my most favorite step-out-of-my-comfort-zone activities is doing just that! (You can read about that experiment here). Getting the full fitness experience of hands on form adjustments, cultivating strength with others in your community, and connecting to your breath in a sweaty, reverberating room is MY JAM. And those are all reasons I am crazy about my job in the fitness biz!
The trade-off to this sweet gig?
It’s rare I make it beyond the studios I teach because of rather bizarre hours. 6:15 A.M. Barre, anyone? Additionally, by the time I have a chance to get back to my house after chasing between classes…welp, I kinda don’t wanna leave again!
But that doesn’t mean you can’t get in a great yoga sesh, sweaty workout, or even just a few series of fundamental strength conditioning exercises! Over the last few years since I traded in my corporate suit life, I’ve really developed a great appreciation for at home fitness and yoga.
And I want to share my favorite go-to’s with you! Why? Because at some point over the years I realized how much my mind and body benefitted from MOVING. Not for any number on the scale, size of my jeans, or definition of my abs. Exercise, in its finest form, is moving meditation to me. The specific activity rarely matters, as long as it essentially forces me to find presence in the moment. Sometimes that moment feels like a challenging physical discomfort, a feeling only quieted by observing the sensation, releasing my judgement, and recognizing that I’m actually okay. That I’m stronger than I realized. Other times it feels like a deep stretch, beyond the physical boundaries I mentally defined for myself. And sometimes, I just need to MOVE. Finding fluidity in rigidness. Silliness in seriousness. Calm in the storm. Regardless, my mind– even if just for a collection of brief seconds or minutes– exists in the NOW during these moments. Just me and my breath.
I hope this makes sense and resonates with you. Ask anyone that LOVES to exercise, and I imagine they would agree. With practice and commitment, it becomes less about results and more about the feeling.
I must feel a bit guilty telling y’all this because again, I want to preface the next segment. Please still come to my barre, spin, and Pilates classes! Or if not mine, please don’t totally ditch your favorite fitness instructor’s class in lieu of my suggestions. You really can not replicate the energy, experiences and physical hands-on adjustments of being in a class!
These are just some tips and resources to utilize on those days when you can’t make it out, are traveling, money is tight, etc. Because we’ve all been there, right?
Creating at home yoga practice is actually something I think everyone (seriously, everyone) should do. The physical portion of yoga, a.k.a “ON THE MAT”, is generally referred to an “asana” practice. Asanas are the postures, or poses. To save time in today’s post, I’m only going to delve into this aspect of yoga. I definitely plan to write more about what it means to practice yoga “OFF THE MAT” in the near future, as this is equally as important as your asana commitment, if not more!
Today we’re talking about yoga, on the mat.
It’s somewhat ironic, but I don’t teach yoga (yet… stay tuned). Ironic, because it’s something I would be undeniably lost without. I practice as much as I possibly can. To me, it’s basically the recipe for living my life in harmony.
Stressed? Do yoga.
Sad? Do yoga.
Looking for clarity? Do yoga.
Physical pain? Do yoga (although please consult with the appropriate provider/physician first!)
Need to be humbled? Do yoga.
The physical practice of yoga takes many forms, and the titles of classes studios offer can certainly vary. Generally though, “Yin” is considered a more gentle practice. And with class names like “Power Vinyasa”, you can expect just that– a more intense, powerful sequence. I advocate for trying as many forms as possible, as each one has something to teach us about ourselves. And one of the millions of wonderful benefits of having a multitude of different styles is that there is truly something for everyone– even those seated in a chair!
I’ve tried a number of online yoga classes, and thus far I have 2 favorite sites to utilize.
You don’t need much “equipment” for a home yoga practice. In fact, you don’t NEED anything but yourself! If you are new to yoga, grab an old towel instead of a mat! If you decide it’s something you enjoy, here are few props you may want to invest in for your own comfort and support.
I fell in love with barre about 4 or 5 years ago. Clearly, it is near and dear to my heart because I took the plunge a few years into my practice and got certified to teach. I’ve now completed 5 separate barre instructor certifications, and teach many classes a week : ) That being said– I’m now really, really picky about which studios I attend classes, both on and offline! Here’s where I get a little preach-y about barre technique (sorry, was bound to happen). By origin, Barre was created in theory to really reach deep into your muscles by creating small, isometric movement. Guess what cardio is? NOT that! Cardio is great too. It’s just not Barre, and here’s why. Cardio typically involves some sort of momentum, and if you’re using momentum at the same time you’re trying to create those tiny little Barre moves, the momentum is really doing most of the work– not your muscles. So I am anti- any “Cardio Barre” class. Unfortunately, many studios both online, and brick and mortar, often offer these, including my online recs. My theory, and it’s really just my humble opinion, is that these Cardio Barre classes are the response to FitBits. Sound crazy? Yeah, well, try teaching any sort of fitness class and watch for the number of people checking their wrists after each song haha.
Newsflash: you aren’t going to burn a massive amount of calories in Barre because your heart rate isn’t really elevated. But guess what? That doesn’t mean you didn’t just get our ass kicked, right? If you doubt me, you’ve never taken a Barre class.
Obviously, if you live in the Baltimore area I’m going to suggest you come to either one of mine or another instructor’s class at Barrevolution. But if you aren’t able to experience the full awesomeness in person, I’ve got a suggestion for you take wherever ya go!
Some things I suggest investing in to really get the full benefit of an at-home Barre workout (All available on yep, Amazon! Can you guess where we shop the most???) :
Sometimes ya just want some old school fitness fun, right? I’m a big fan of interval training for this type of exercise– something that gets your heart rate up, brings it down, and then back up again quickly. I think you get a big bang for your buck, so to speak, in that you don’t actually need to spend a full 60 minutes to get an awesome workout. My only caution is that often these types of classes or workouts involve a lot of jumping. As someone who struggles with knee issues, I advise skipping any sort of jumping if you’ve had a prior knee injury or begin to feel any sort of pain during the workout. LISTEN to your body!
A few places I go to for at home classes like this are:
One last cautionary piece of advice because I am forever the fitness instructor trying to keep my clients safe– there are two types of “pain” and you know your body better than anyone. The pain that comes from challenging yourself, and the pain that comes from hurting yourself. Please learn the difference and back off immediately if something that doesn’t feel right. You aren’t a quitter; you’re a smart athlete! Take care of yourself! Rest days are also important! I’m sure I’m forgetting something major and will need to update this, but for now– I hope give yourself the chance to fall in love with moving your body as much as I have : ) I was never the total jock growing up and would have probably laughed hysterically if you told me 20 years ago that I would someday dedicate my life to teaching fitness! But there is something out there for everyone, and I would’ve lost my marbles a long time ago if I never gave myself the chance to FIND MY BREATH.
What’s your favorite way to move? Leave a comment– I love trying new things, especially the ones that scare me! Also, want more tips and resources? Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter in the box on the right!
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