Oh, summer! How restorative to take a space of time in the morning light to fill my lungs with fresh air, strengthen and stretch my body, and push my muscles to become stonger, leaner. Curious kitties and an attentive dog are often trying to share my mat, or pacing around it, wondering what this is all about. For me, it's about pausing before my day begins, taking time to care for the body I've been given, breathing deeply of fresh open air. I'm not a pro, my form isn't perfect, my body is really not that nimble. I've got trouble spots that I'd like to see improvement in, but the thing is, you don't have to be perfect to begin. Over time, I've improved. Over time I'll improve more, and then more again. The experience of caring for my body is beautiful.
The world of fitness is crowded and often overwhelming, and finding the best program for you can be such a challenge that just beginning can seem difficult. But, I would guess that most of us are motivated by a desire to care for our health and our bodies, so we search, hoping to find the one for us. I recently received and email from a reader named Kate, asking me specifics about barre3, the fitness website I use to help guide my efforts toward a healthy, vibrant body and lifestyle. She asked such great, relevant, and specific questions that I thought it would be helpful to share my answers here, in case others of you are also looking for a fitness program and wondering about barre3 in tandem with Kate.
Kate: I'm wondering how you use barre3. I'm resistant to anything that doesn't move our family toward simplicity, as it seems you are as well.
Carmella: I'm glad you asked! First off, a quick description of barre3. It's an online fitness program that may best be described as a fusion of ballet, yoga, and Pilates. There are different subscription levels, from those that include active accountability, text reminders, fitness challenges, and nutrition guidance, down to a basic level that only gives access to the fitness video library. 8/2 UPDATE: I've just been informed that barre3 has simplified their structure and offers one membership level with the option of paying monthly or annually. The beautiful thing about barre3 is that you can use it anywhere you are, so long as you have a computer or mobile device and internet service. I've done it in our bedroom, in the kitchen, in the living room, in hotel rooms, and outside. You can use it with or without the hand-held weights, resistance band, and core ball. You may choose any session length from ten minutes to sixty minutes.
I use barre3 as part of my fitness program. I'm a runner as well, and have found that splitting my week, alternating running days with barre3 days, gives me aerobic activity and strength training both. Of course, you don't have to be a runner to fully benefit from barre3. You could do spinning, bicycling, swimming, or any other aerobic activity in place of running. Or you could do barre3 alone.
Kate: I'm a bit overwhelmed when I visit the site at the amount of options for workouts there are. I don't want to think about this too much! ...I'm wondering if you can share how you use the program, choose workouts, etc.
Carmella: I operate much better when I have simple options, too. Because I didn't feel like I personally need accountability, or nutrition guidance, or a lot of motivational support, I chose the basic subscription level, which only gives access to the workout library. The videos in the library are separated into time-length categories: 10 minute, 30 minute, 40 minute, and 60 minute workouts. I've used selections from all of them, though I typically like to do 40-60 minutes on my barre3 days. Out of all of the choices in the library that I've tried, I've found that I have a handful of favorites. These I've added to my favorites list, which distills the pool of options even more, making the choice the next time I log in even quicker - I can just go to my favorites list and choose a workout. Catie Fahrner is my favorite instructor, but I also enjoy Shannon McClintock, Ronnie McOmie, and Sadie Lincoln. I appreciate that, once I've followed a particular video two or three times, I no longer have to watch the screen, but am by then familiar enough that I can just concentrate on my form and follow the instructor's verbal queues.
Kate: What do you feel are the benefits? What do you appreciate most about the program?
Carmella: I appreciate so many things about barre3! I've found that having control over when I do my workout and for how long has been key to maintaining simplicity in my life. I no longer have to work my schedule around a fitness class that I have to drive to and from. The tendency to skip a workout because of time restraints is lessened, too. I can just choose a shorter workout.
To me, barre3 is genuine, not a flash-in-the-pan fad fitness regimen. It's something that I've found to be such a good fit that I can see myself doing it for years. The workouts are well studied, well planned, and effective. The intensity level ranges from less difficult to more difficult, and I can attest that the turbo level is hard! But, just as important is the lighter level, which is there whenever you need it (I've needed it). In every video, behind the instructor, there is one person demonstrating the turbo level, and one demonstrating the lighter level. You can follow whomever you choose at any point in the session.
I've so appreciated that there is no ego associated with any of the instructors or the content in barre3. We are all at different places of fitness in our lives and I've felt that the barre3 message is about encouragement and you doing you. It doesn't preach with words or otherwise that we are to ultimately be fitness gods, but simply that we're alongside one another, taking this beautiful journey toward health and vibrancy.
And I have to say, I've enjoyed following barre3 on Instagram. I've found that this gentle inspiration via beautiful pictures that pop up in my feed is perfect to keep me motivated and encouraged to not only do a workout regularly, but to think outside the box and try different locations for my workouts. Like on the new stone terrace. Grin.
Happy Monday, loves!