Trimdown Thursday: How To Exercise at the Barre Safely ~ I Heart Heels

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Trimdown Thursday: How To Exercise at the Barre Safely

Tips from pure barre experts on how to exercise safely as a new or expecting mom
You guys, I wore shorts this week! (And look above! Sleeveless!) HUGE progress here, and I've especially noticed it in my lower body (aka butt and legs) since Pure Barre. I honestly can't believe I can wear shorts, and I'm very excited since we're headed to the scorching beach next week. Add a lil' spray tan and I'll be good to go. Sure, I'm no Blake Lively (um and never will be), but I'm feeling so good about fitting into different pieces of clothing each week. Total confidence booster! Buuuuuuut, I do have 20 pounds to go, so I'm still working extremely hard! I've only got two weeks left of my baby bounceback package and this Sunday I'll get my body fat remeasured to see my progress this month. Can't wait to report back! Now, to the fun stuff! I've been speaking with co-founder Michele McCutcheon of Pure Barre Little Rock as well as a local physical therapist here, Mary Anne Wildman (who has taken more than 80 classes in just five months!), and they've got the lowdown on everything PB when it comes to safety. I thought I'd share with you this week!

Is it for everyone...what about expecting mamas?
Michele had a son in May last year and practiced Pure Barre until her 38th week - no modifications! So, the answer is YES. While you can definitely modify things, you certainly can do the entire class as is. Some woman opt to skip out from abdominal and back work (typically those that are in their third trimester).  

Michele says, "Pure Barre helped tremendously throughout my pregnancy, during labor, and helped me bounce back quickly after a c-section. In fact, my nurses continuously commented on how strong I was when I started getting out of bed and walking after surgery and said they rarely see women bounce back so quickly after c-sections. The first two weeks of recovery were fairly challenging, but by week three I was completely upright and about a month after I started teaching and at week 6, I was cleared to take.  Every birth is different so doctor clearance dictates when new mothers will be able to return to working out."

"A new mom needs to be especially aware of the fatigue factor when starting back to an exercise program and perform exercise as if she is a true beginner, " Mary Anne says. "She should have been released by her obstetrician to full activity and follow any guidelines that may have been provided to her. Secondly, due to hormonal changes she will still have joint laxity so the focus of her workouts should be more on stability and strengthening over flexibility. Her abdominal and pelvic floor muscles will have decreased tone and she will need to know that it is OK to rest through the workout and allow her body time to develop strength again. The good news is our bodies are remarkably resilient and she can regain her tone with time."

So how safe is Pure Barre?
According to Mary Anne, it all depends on how you listen to your body. She says, "The safety and effectiveness of a workout is dependent on correct biomechanical alignment and instructing the participant to stay within their pain tolerance. I think Pure Barre does a good job of instructing in correct alignment with verbal and tactile cues."

Michele says, "Pure Barre is completely safe and effective, including for those who are pregnant. The workout is low impact, extremely safe for the joints, and promotes muscle strength and endurance. We have many physical therapists who not only take our technique, but also refer their clients to take our classes. We focus on proper body alignment and working small muscle groups to the point of exhaustion at which point we stretch them right back out. The technique is safe, smart and effective."

But what if you've been injured?
So important to let someone know! Mary Anne says, "Someone with injuries should always let pain be their guide and ask for modifications when they are unable to perform a specific exercise. It is essential that they let their instructor know what injuries they have and any guidelines or contraindications for exercise that may have been provided by a health care professional if applicable."

So how do we work our bodies safely?
"My primary focus when I exercise is to challenge myself but to also remember that I need to listen to the cues my body gives me and learn that some days I can do more than others, says Mary Anne. "As a yoga instructor, I always tell my students that each day is different and to allow themselves to do less if their body is telling them it is time to rest. One of the hardest things in our society is to let go of competition, be easy on ourselves and know that we are ok as we are."

So what's all this talk about the "tuck?"
The tuck is simply engaging your abs by lifting them up and in and a slight drop of the tailbone towards the floor. It allows you to keep your core engaged throughout other exercises and also provides some resistance to work against and finally helps protect the lower back by taking the pressure off that area when arching. Mary Anne says, "My understanding of the tuck is to activate the transverse abdominus muscle, which is a deep abdominal spinal stabilizer by slightly drawing the navel towards the spine, a very small movement."

What we all wanna know...will Pure Barre help us lose weight?
Well gals, it has me! I'm on week 10 and 15 pounds lighter. Michele also adds that Pure Barre is effective for weight loss. "Some women find that Pure Barre alone 3-4 times a week works well for them and others may find that adding walking 2-3 times a week may help in creating more weight loss. As with any exercise regime, what you are eating is even more important and a major factor in whether you will achieve weight loss."

And other benefits?
Mary Anne says, "The benefits I see are increased endurance, improved core (which includes the abdominals, spinal stabilizers and pelvic girdle stabilizers) strength, improved upper body strength and cardiovascular fitness depending on the prior conditioning of the student."

And what about trying to find time for Pure Barre? Is it easy?
Well, I can certainly say nothing is easy as a new mom, but Pure Barre certainly makes it easier by offering so many classes! Michele says,"We offer classes 7 days a week and schedule classes keeping women's busy schedules in mind. Chances are there is a class every day that will fit perfectly with your schedule."

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, so please consult yours before starting any new diet or exercise plan. I was not compensated for this post, but was provided the PB Baby Bounceback Package for the purpose of my reviews. All opinions, as always, are my own.

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