Four Questions with TBM Atlanta Bar Star: Cara Kinzey

Every month at The Bar Method Atlanta, we spotlight a client who has made a extraordinary transformation through barre; either mentally, physically or both. We originally featured client, Cara Kinzey, as our “Bar Star” in October, 2016, but want to share her with our BarreLifeAtl.com friends, in hopes that you’ll be as inspired by her story and outlook as we are.

Four Questions with The Bar Method Atlanta- Bar Star: Cara Kinzey 

 

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The Bar Method Atlanta client, Cara Kinzey

TBM: How long have you been taking classes at The Bar Method Atlanta?

Cara: I started The Bar Method about six months ago in April, 2016.

TBM: What was your biggest motivator for starting The Bar Method?

Cara: When I started The Bar Method, I was the worst case scenario for you guys. I was recovering from a massive stroke I’d had a few years back. Lifting my butt/legs/arms in the air and moving them in some type of coordinated fashion has been awesome physical therapy. My balance and posture are 100% improved and I feel worlds better. Thank you for that!

TBM: What is your favorite love-to-hate exercise?

Cara: My favorite “love to hate” exercise is arabesque with the ball behind the leg (or what I refer to as “ball gate”). I know if I keep it up, I’ll learn more proper technique and will eventually conquer arabesque one day!

TBM: What are your successes inside and outside of the studio as related to The Bar Method?

Cara: When I started at The Bar Method, my primary goal was to overcome balance issues that remained from a previous medical issue. I had been regularly working out on an elliptical, but realized I needed to do something more to help strengthen my core and to build muscle tone throughout my body. I tried a Bar class on a whim just to see what it would be like. I decided to try the classes for 30 days and was hooked!

It was quickly obvious my posture and flexibility were not great, but the instructor was very encouraging and gave me simple corrections, which I now know were baby steps. Each class seems difficult in a different way and you can start to feel/see changes as a result of your efforts after only a few weeks. My flexibility, balance and posture have all improved about a 1000% and I am still improving! My body has changed a lot already, but will always be a work in progress.

Kudos to all the instructors.  They are patient, encouraging and like to have fun in class. Any time at the barre is a good time. I totally enjoy it.

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We’re proud of you, Cara! And we look forward to watching you achieve every goal you set out on- both in class and beyond.

 Want to experience The Bar Method difference? Book a class at The Bar Method Lenox or The Bar Method East Cobb today.

What is The Bar Method’s Method… and What Makes it Different?

Drive through any area of any town that’s moderately busy, active and trendy and you’re likely to see more barre studios than you can count on one hand. While each may have slight variations in their names and color schemes, most seem more the same than different. They’re not.

I’m here to tell you that not all barre studios are created equal and, in many cases, the actual bar may be the only similarity. In this post, I’m going to break down four ways The Bar Method is different from the rest.

It’s in the details. From the moment you walk into The Bar Method, our goal is to help you leave the outside world at the door. If you take only one hour of your day (or 45 minutes for Bar Express), we work hard to make your time here dedicated solely to restoring and strengthening your mind, body and spirit.

Inside The Bar Method Lenox or East Cobb, you’ll notice a calm, spa-like environment with lots of natural light and soft, comfy surfaces. From the bathrooms, which are stocked with nontoxic, naturally derived Sally B’s Skin Yummies products, to the complimentary hot tea and coffee bar and our boutique filled with a consciously curated collection of Lines we Love, we believe it is the personal touch and unmatched quality that separates us from the pack. And when we ask clients why they chose us and keep coming for years, this is usually the first reason they give (after the amazing results they get from taking class regularly of course).

Let’s get Personal. If you’ve taken more than a handful of classes at The Bar Method, there’s probably been a day where you felt like the teacher just Would. Not. Let. Up. You’re probably right.

Our classes are small by design, so that one instructor can give each student the attention they deserve. On our best days, that special attention is appreciated; but when we’re a little off, it can feel like we’re being singled out. Stick with it.

Your instructor will let you know when your form needs a little tweaking and when you’re making progress in your practice. We want every class at The Bar Method to feel like a personal training session- and why do people hire personal trainers? To be motivated, pushed just beyond their limits and even constructively corrected when they begin to slip.

Stick with it, and I promise, those “squeeze your shoulder blades in and down” and “grip your glutes” comments of today will become the “terrific posture” and “now you’re in the muscle, great job!” comments of tomorrow. You’ll thank yourself because you earned it, and your body will thank you, as it reaps the greatest benefits of your time at the barre.

Physical Therapy is at our Core. For more than a decade, The Bar Method has worked alongside some of the best physical therapists in the business to create a workout that is not only safe for clients recovering from injury, but one that utilizes that knowledge to help you tap into the muscle you intend to work (which btw, is usually underworked) and OUT of muscles your body typically, and erroneously, recruits to get the job done. The Bar Method is a completely non-impact workout, but we go further than others to minimize joint impact with padded, plush carpet in the studios. Remember, no bare feet on the carpet! 😉

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You’ll notice that teachers offer various modifications for students at different experience levels and for those nursing injuries. Don’t worry that your workout will be compromised because of modifications; the key is to stay consistent without causing any further injury that will keep you out of your workout game long-term.

Another physical therapy component at The Bar Method is our focus on the entire core. Many workouts and other barre regimens target the abs, obliques and middle back, which are great but what about the upper back, your glutes, and thighs? These areas play a huge role in your overall strength and resistance to injury and are often forgotten as part of the core. At The Bar Method, we give the entire core love… tough love, but love nonetheless.

Advanced Teacher Training. Did you know there are barre certifications out there that take only a day to complete? That’s great news for anyone who wants to become an instructor ASAP. But it’s not great for anyone hoping to experience a safe and effective barre practice (i.e.: all of us).

Every instructor at The Bar Method undergoes training for up to six months, working closely with coaches and evaluators to perfect their form, increase their understanding of anatomy and physiology, and their teaching performance. Only when evaluators feel an instructor-to-be has advanced to a teacher level, do they earn The Bar Method teacher certification.

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But the certification process is only the beginning of education for The Bar Method instructors. Ongoing teacher training in the studio and continuing education classes ensure that The Bar Method instructors are teaching with the latest industry knowledge and body science information as their guide. Because the more we know, the better we do. And you can bet we’ll continue striving to be the best barre studio in town, to help you be the best you!

Want to experience The Bar Method difference? Book a class at The Bar Method Lenox or The Bar Method East Cobb today!

 

 

 

Detox at the Bar. Yes, the bar.

January and detoxing go together like December and sugar cookies. So many of us wake from two-months of relatively unbridled holiday indulgence, and realize it’s time to reel it back in. Externally, the idea of detoxification is front-and-center this month. With a new year comes a new chance to set intentions and goals to be a better version of our authentic selves.

But let’s quite all of the outside noise for a moment- What’s your body telling you? How do you feel on a daily basis? If your body is currently taxed with toxins, here are a few ways it may tell you:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Irritability
  • Bloating and swelling
  • Sinus issues
  • Frequent headaches

From cold-pressed juices, to eliminating chemicals from our diet and skincare regimen, there are a lot of ways we can boost our body’s natural detoxification processes. But one of the most effective ways, and maybe my favorite, is through an awesomely sweaty, shaky barre class. Here are three ways barre class promotes detoxification in the body…

Burn baby, burn. There are actually only two types of toxins that enter our bodies- water-soluble toxins, which are carried out through the blood and kidneys, and fat-soluble toxins– the more destructive type that can dwell inside our fat cells.

Fat-soluble toxins make their way into our systems by way of pesticides, heavy metals preservatives and other pollutants. Ideally, these toxins will be processed by the lymphatic system and expelled from the body, but if the body is compromised, these toxins make their way into fat cells where they cause free radical damage over time.

During exercise, body heat and circulation increase and fat-soluble toxins are expelled from the cells and carried out through sweat. Additionally, the twists and bends we do in barre class work to stimulate the intestinal tract, which move toxins (and everything else) right along before they’re absorbed by the intestinal wall.

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Lymphatic Love. Along with the liver and kidneys, the lymphatic system plays a massive role in the process of detoxification. It runs parallel with major blood vessels and is responsible for removing waste from every cell in the body- that’s no easy feat and when it’s not working properly, everything else can suffer. A lymphatic system that is clogged will often let you know with itchy/ dull skin, bloating, stiffness in the morning, brain “fog”, constipation, swelling in the fingers and weight gain.

The rhythmic stretches and deep breathing we do in in barre happen to be excellent for lymphatic drainage. Our lungs pump lymphatic fluid while increased circulation and body heat improve lymphatic flow.

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Relieve stress, release toxins. Stress and toxins have a cyclical relationship. On one hand, stress and anxiety can be a symptom of a body that is overloaded with toxins. On the other, stress can make it harder for the body to eliminate toxins.

Additionally, stress can lead to insomnia and make us more apt to reach for junk foods, which further disrupt the detoxification process. A good workout is one of the best ways to nip this unhealthy cycle in the bud. It serves as a reset button for an overtaxed mind, releasing tension in the body and sending toxins on their way.

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Just like in every area of wellness, we really reap the long-term rewards of detoxing when it becomes a lifestyle. It’s not about perfection, but the transformation that comes from the daily habit of drinking that extra bottle of water, adding greens added to each meal and, most importantly, making it to barre class 3-5 times a week. Once we’re in that consistent rhythm of making better choices, of showing up- the hard part is over. So, here’s to achieving and maintaining a constant state of cleansing in the New Year!

Find The Bar Method Atlanta on Facebook and Instagram! Book a class now!

Blissed-Out Barre-istas: Before & After Pics

Not long ago, you may have seen a pretty creative picture gallery called “Tipsy Portrait Project” circulating the inter-web in which photographer Marcos Alberti photographed his subjects after 1, 2 and 3 glasses of wine. The result was pretty much what you’d imagine, with partygoers becoming exponentially flushed and jubilant as the series, and the pours, continued.

We at The Bar Method Atlanta decided to do our own less boozy, more barre-y version of the photo series. Keep in mind that we didn’t quite have the budget for a professional photographer, fancy lenses, and so on… but their post-barre glow shines through nonetheless.

Check out these beautiful, blissed-out barre-istas (a.k.a. loyal clients of The Bar Method Atlanta)…

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Our “subjects” walked into class reeling from a rather cold, wet winter morning and walked out an hour later with an energetic buzz of emitting from deep within. And we’ll take that lasting, hangover-free “buzz” over one at the bar any day.

Follow Barre Life Atl on Facebook and Instagram for healthy inspiration and motivation everyday!

 

 

 

Gratitude as a Stress-Fighting Superpower

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Most of us know we should remain thankful for the many positives in our lives every month, week and day of the year, but it seems to come into focus more than ever at this time of year.

But for even the most grateful of us, it can be easy to lose perspective at times. The daily demands of life, and the occasional disappointments that come with it, can manifest as stress. And where stress grows, feelings of inadequacy, jealousy and dissatisfaction can creep into the space that gratitude should occupy. At times, stress is a real and inevitable part of life, and we have to take measures to reduce it where we can, but at other times, we’re perceiving something as a stressful situation, when we really only need to shift our perspective.

These are the times when it’s most important to consciously redirect our focus to noticing and expressing gratitude for all the good in our lives. Perspective plays a huge role in our mental and emotional wellbeing, but also our physical health, as continued stress raise our levels of cortisol, affecting our waistlines, inflammation and even immune systems.

The Science of “Thanks”

Research shows that people who report high levels of gratitude don’t live in a world of denial. They don’t ignore the problems in their life, but they’re able to detach from a stressful period by savoring a positive experience. Basically, it’s hard to think of two opposing things at the same time.

In a study called the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness by Dr. Robert Emmons (a Dr. of Thankfulness, how cool is that!) found that grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and, yes, STRESS. People who regularly expressed gratitude were also more likely to make progress toward their personal goals than those who didn’t. And the grateful group of respondents rated higher in their ability to be empathic, or to put themselves in others’ shoes, among a slew of other benefits.

It’s encouraging to know that this area, which is so important to our mental and emotional health, but can be overlooked by the mainstream medical research industry, is getting the attention and funding it deserves.

Four ways to pave your path away from stress to contentment with gratitude

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Dedicate a notebook to listing very specific things your grateful for and make a goal to write things that you’re grateful for at least four days a week. This is one of the most effective ways to keep our focus on being grateful. Plus, it’s fun to go back and revisit all of the happy memories years later. Here are some great ideas on how to create your gratitude journal.

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  • Write a thank-you note. Try to write and send at least one thank-you note a month. Expressing our gratitude, not just in private, but also through words to another person delivers a guaranteed hit of happiness to both the deliverer and the receiver. This is also a great way to nurture our relationships with the people we value most. Don’t forget to write one to yourself every once in a while!
  • Be patient with yourself if you slip into old thought/ stress patterns. Just like any old habit, it takes time and a conscious effort to make lasting change. It’s not always a linear process, what counts is about catching ourselves and redirecting our focus to thankfulness. Just like we reshape our bodies through repetition at The Bar Method, we can flex the “gratitude muscle” in our brain, changing the way it functions for the long-term.
  • Take time in class to give thanks. At the end of each class at The Bar Method, we take a moment of reverence. Use this time to thank yourself for restoring your mind and body. Maybe express mental gratitude for a particular person in your life or just sit in stillness, as you identify that feeling of gratitude in your heart center. Imagine that joyful feeling expanding with each breath, as it fills the space where resentment and stress once existed. Now, carry that spirit of thanks as you tackle any challenge that comes your way.

The Mind-Body Connection: 5 Ways The Bar Method Cultivates Mental and Emotional Strength

Each of our fitness journeys tell a story that is uniquely our own. Some of our stories might read like a lifelong love affair and some teeter between love and hate (note: you just have to find what you love, but that’s another post). For many of us, our fitness story began when a wedding, a class reunion or… wait for it… bikini season (!!!) was looming.

Superficial as these motivators may be, it’s the starting that counts and looking our best is a massive confidence-booster. However, in the 20 years that I’ve been teaching fitness classes, the most rewarding transformation I ever witness can’t be seen with the eye but rather felt in the hearts and minds of my clients.

Here are the top five ways that I’ve watched The Bar Method transform students’ mental and emotional health:

Meditation through Movement

For a moment, imagine a person meditating. It’s likely that you envisioned someone sitting cross-legged on a pillow with eyes closed, maybe with their palms resting on their knees. But meditation comes in many forms, and exercise, especially the type that requires moving through an intense posture rhythmically and continually, may be the most surefire way to achieve a meditative state, even when we’re most distracted.

That moment at the barre when our quads are screaming, shaking and quaking- that’s when the noise in our mind is most silent. It’s when our focus is solely on the movement at hand and that focus is the essence of meditation. I should note that the more practiced we are with the exercise, the easier it is to achieve this meditative state, as self-doubt and comparison dissipate to make room for mindful movement and mental clarity.

Power Posture

Over time we store resentment and stress deep within our bodies. We tighten and hunch our shoulders when we feel inferior, clench our jaw when we’re angry or irritated and tighten our hips to suppress emotions of fear and sadness. At The Bar Method, we learn to release these tensions while gaining control of the core muscles that tighten with emotional buildup.

We’re also reminded to assume the confident and aligned posture of a dancer. The more we practice this, the more it becomes muscle memory and your natural stance. There is a breadth of research that proves assuming a posture of power is directly correlated to self-confidence, increased energy and contentment.

Controlling our Emotions, not the Other Way Around

You may hear your teacher say, “remember to breathe through the movement” a dozen times in class. This is partly because many of us unknowingly hold our breath when pain sets in… and oxygen is, well, essential for life… but mindful breathing also creates mental clarity to regain physical strength and control. We’re reminded to check our breathing in class so often that it becomes a go-to during stressful or painful times outside of class. Again, that which benefits the body also benefits the mind.

Confidence Building

Someone very wise once told me, “if there’s one piece of advice I can give for building self-confidence, it’s to finish what you start.” This sage advice applies to almost any area of life but naturally barre class was the first scenario to come to my mind.

When your glutes are on fire and you haven’t one more pulse in you and hear a resounding “last 20”, you tap into a source of strength you didn’t know existed. Hopefully we’re competing with our own performance and not with those around us; either way, we discover a well of strength that exists below our mind’s perceived limitations.

We realize this power reserve is not only available for physical challenges but in work, relationships and any area of life that requires us to push through just a little harder, for a little longer.

A Chemical Reaction

Ahhh endorphins. Nature’s perfect drug that triggers happy, even euphoric feelings sans the comedown or addiction of many “happy pills”. The best part about endorphins is that they’re an inside job and we can, to an extent, do things that put our brains into hyper-drive producing the stuff. One of the best ways to ramp up your endorphin production- you got it: exercise.

When we exercise, our brain releases endorphins that reduce our perception of pain, both physical and emotional, and cause a positive feeling, similar to that of morphine. They also reduce stress, boost self-esteem, fight anxiety and depression, and improve sleep. Ever walked into class mad at the world and left on a cloud? That’s just the reward we get for getting our butt to the barre on the days it’s the hardest. For those are the days we need it most.

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