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How to Get Better in Barre Class

8 Mistakes Preventing You From Raising the Barre

Feel like that exorbitant barre price tag should come with a lifetime latte subscription or at least better results? Scope out this checklist to ensure you're maximizing your class experience. Working smarter (not harder) in one of these ways could effectively improve your relevés — and revelations.

1. Your barre class and fitness goal don't match: Investing in a class that doesn't align with your goals is just, well, frustrating for both students to feel and teachers to watch. Should you desire more strength and self-confidence in your body as is, seek barre companies with less messaging around "body goals" and "butt burning" and look for positive, body-diverse images and techniques. Should you desire a toned, slender look, here are two options: one, do not take barre every day because your body will never have enough recovery time for sustainable fat loss, and two, participate in barre classes that incorporate more cardio.

2. You gave it away too soon: Girl, not in the first barre class! But really, how frequently do you create ambitious, barre-blitz schedules replete with Advanced Tantric Glute Explosion Barre, Barre For Ladies Who Can Walk on Water, and Physique Impossible? Take on too much at once without properly building up to your athleticism — with barre and any other fitness modality — and you're not getting called back (plus it's worse because you're the one not calling yourself back). Make a weekly barre schedule with realistic intensity and consistency.

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3. You're not paying attention: When your mental attention is anywhere but on the barre experience you're having, you're wasting your time. Or, more scientifically, you're wasting your energy. Attention is related to cognition in that concentrating encourages optimal information processing. Staring at yourself in the studio mirror, being temporarily deafened by blaring music, thinking about how to negotiate a higher salary (do that later — get it, Mama!) and/or allowing a past breakup to consume your workout-time thoughts means that precious energy needed to optimize muscle engagement goes somewhere else. Practice mindful awareness by staying focused on the present moment throughout class.

4. You're paying attention, but to the wrong stuff: Keeping in mind this whole attention thing, do you often find yourself having a negative inner dialogue during barre? Comparing yourself to the woman next to you? Judging the instructor for her bold scrunchie choice? Similarly to not paying attention, giving attention to self-defeating language can manifest in behavior. This happens a lot during abs. Instead of embracing the abdominals sequence as yet another opportunity to #werk it, women ingloriously head-flail at a rapid, cooing pigeon's pace. So, basically, their necks hurt, and even a small injury reiterates the "I'm unworthy and suck at life" statement. Cultivate a conversation of compassion while doing barre.

5. You're barre-binging: An 80/20 ratio is pretty standard as far as post-barre nutrition goes, meaning about 80 percent of your barre results rely on healthy eating. Instead, many women do twice as much barre as necessary and eat only half as well. Since it takes more energy to burn calories through exercise, the smartest use of your "afterburn" is a balanced meal . . . not more barre.

6. Your form is tucking ridiculous: This point could have easily gone first, as safety is key — yet it's going here because you know this already. (Why do we only listen when it's Bey telling us to get in formation?) Aside from the extreme "neckage" mentioned previously, doing push-ups, planks, and any moves while holding the barre and leaning back is prime time for developing shoulder instability. Tuck-wise, rolling your hips so far forward that your lumbar spine reverse-curves is an invitation for low-back and hip problems. Ask for hands-on modifications during class to keep your core, back, and seat properly engaged.

7. You haven't tried hybrid barre classes: Financially, physically, and probably even spiritually speaking, what are you doing if not barre plus something as awesome as you are? Don't pay $30 to unblinkingly stare directly at your own sticky sock. Don't let your private dancer side stay hidden when there is disco barre. Or go right now to this class where yoga-barre and female empowerment coincide!

8. You're barre-ly breathing: Not only is your barre experience more effective when you're alive . . . just kidding! But truly, breathe. Barre is all about the isometric movements, and proper breathwork is literally the means by which your muscles contract. You see, oxygen is essential to muscle contraction. Isn't it a scary thought that incorrect breathing possibly limited the full potential of every pulse you've ever done? Isn't it liberating to now know that with deeper breaths — and accurate timing of inhales and exhales — you'll elevate your barre experience to infinity and beyond.

Image Source: Diego Bazán
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