With the holidays around the corner, one thing is certain- time is about to become more valuable than ever. Between the kids’ activities, holiday parties and traveling, our fitness can often take the back burner during this time of year. However, it’s often when we’re the busiest that our minds and bodies will benefit most from exercise.
Here are three very effective barre exercises that can be done from a hotel room, your den, even your office. Pay close attention to your form in each of these to avoid injury and to get optimal results from your workout.
1. A classic push-up is one of the most effective exercises to target almost every muscle in the body at once. Here, I give you a variation that can be done on a chair, while you build the strength to do them on your knees or on the balls of your feet.
Place your hands directly under your shoulders (both side to side and forward and back), grip your glutes (seat muscles), press your shoulder blades down and apart on your back. Press down and up.
Be sure to follow your push-ups with an elongating stretch called a “puppy stretch”. Come onto all fours, walk your hands out in front of you. Press your chest to the floor while you leave your tailbone up in the air. This will stretch your chest muscles. Hold this for a few breathes, then slide your seat back onto your heals and come into a child’s pose with your palms turned up to the ceiling and your arms straight. This position will stretch your lat muscles along your back.
2. Don’t let the small motion of this thigh exercise deceive you- it’s the control and repetition that are making major changes in the shape and strength of your thighs. Embrace the shakes and quakes as they mean you’re work is paying off!
Follow this with a quad stretch. Stand tall, reach back for your right ankle with your hand, soften your standing knee, grip your glutes, bend forward from your waist and squeeze your shoulder blades in and down to upright your spine. Don’t forget to change sides!
3. Pretzel is a fabulous “triple-threat” exercise- targeting your seat, obliques and strengthening your posture at once.
Follow this work with a sequence of stretches: Cross your legs in front of you and place the foot of the leg you worked on your opposite thigh, slowly work your top knee down toward the carpet and place your hands on the floor behind your hips. Lift your chest. Gently sweep your bottom leg out to the side and straighten it. Hinge toward your straight leg while you sweep your opposite arm up by your ear, keeping it nice and straight. Turn your gaze up to the ceiling. Inhale slowly and deeply, exhale and turn to face your thigh while you reach for the instep of your foot.
At the end of every workout, I like to sit in a moment of reverence. To do this, you may want to sit comfortably on the floor or a on a pillow with your legs crossed at the ankles, hands at heart-center and eyes gently closed.
During this time, focus on keeping your breath slow and even. Let thoughts come into your mind and leave without expanding on any one in particular. For a few moments, just be. Let your heart swell with gratitude for the time you’ve dedicated to be the best version of yourself.