Instructor Spotlight: Dr. Jen Curtiss

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Jen Curtiss is a knowledgeable and passionate educator. She’s also a naturopathic doctor, a barre3 instructor in Portland, mom to two boys, and was one of the leading experts Sadie worked with to write her book Love Your Lower Body. We recently sat down with Jen to catch up. Read on to see what she has to say about barre3, managing stress, and more.Blog_HeartBreaker

My good friend took me to my first barre3 class. At the time, I was 6 months postpartum. Right away, I was sold; barre3 was the fitness experience that I had been craving. Shortly thereafter, I befriended another client who is now a Master Trainer, Harper Kalin. When Harper told me she was going through instructor training, I knew I wanted to become an instructor too.

I try to move every day and throughout the day. I walk, hike, bike, run, and paddle. In the winter, my family and I ski. My favorite time to practice and teach barre3 is at 6:00 am when my family’s not missing me.

Few exercises truly rejuvenate the body. One of the major benefits of barre3 is that it eases our bodies into a parasympathetic state—the state we are in when we are best able to digest, rest, sleep, and heal. Barre3 is a great way to quiet the mind, slow down, and strengthen our connection to our bodies. As a result, not only do we rev the metabolism and build strength, we also burn more calories, support healthy joints, and become more grounded.

One of my favorite vegetables this time of year is zucchini. It’s so versatile and abundant. You can eat it raw, grill it, sauté it, shred it in a casserole, or bake it. Every year, my family and I grow zucchini, greens (like kale, sugar snap peas), herbs, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. My sons like to help me make dinner by picking basil or thyme. It’s a great way to involve them in making dinner. They’re always more excited about the meal when they’ve had a hand in its preparation.

I love to learn, and I love sharing what I learn with others. My approach to health is holistic. My patients and I talk a lot about how they can live better and reduce stress. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol (stress hormones) from the adrenal glands. Cortisol also triggers a spike in glucose so that your muscles have fuel to run from the “danger.”  But if you’re not actually running or moving your body, the glucose gets converted to abdominal fat for storage.  The same thing occurs with insomnia, which is why people who have poor sleep tend to gain weight. Caffeine also triggers the cortisol and secondary blood sugar spike, which is why I recommend avoiding it if you’re trying to lose weight.

Watching people make positive changes is the best part of my job. That was also my favorite part about helping Sadie with the Love Your Lower Body project. I helped her guide 27 women through the 8-week program outlined in her book. Everyone lost weight, gained energy, slept better, and noticed brighter skin. It’s a huge reward to give to others through my medical practice and through barre3.

Dice an Onion With Ease

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There’s nothing that bugs us more than crying over chopped onions. The good news is, Chef Abby Fammartino has a great dicing strategy that will keep the tears away and reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen. Watch the video, and you too can start to work smarter instead of harder.

Get access to tons of delicious, seasonal recipes by joining barre3 Online. Get started.

barre3 Book Club: Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time

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Today barre3 West Village lead instructor Meegan Gregg is sharing her takeaways from this month’s book club pick, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. Read on!

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Work-life balance. That phrase is thrown around so often, it has lost its meaning. After all, crazy-busy is the new black, right? Not only is a hectic schedule considered “normal,” it’s also a badge of honor in the pursuit of virtuous “busy-ness”. Add an inbox full of unanswered emails and a never-ending to-do list, and you’ve got a recipe for stress. But just because it’s normal to feel stressed doesn’t make that stress any less detrimental to your health. If your to-do list is so long that you feel as though you can barely keep your head above water, then Brigid Schulte’s new book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, is for you—and definitely for me.

As part of the barre3 community, I know that living a balanced life is key to well-being. That means practicing whole-body health—not only eating well and moving every day, but connecting with friends and family, and self. I’ve got part of that formula covered: I try to eat whole foods, exercise regularly, walk whenever possible, see my friends when I can, and treat myself in moderation (fresh bread, real butter, and a glass of wine are definitely in my repertoire). I’m also on the ground running barre3’s flagship studio in NYC. Being in the capital of work hard/play hard certainly contributes to a go, go, go mentality. As a result I’ve found myself totally absorbed in work, sometimes so attached to my email, I can’t even sit through dinner with a friend without checking my phone under the table. Reading Schulte’s book couldn’t have been more timely for me and truly gave me a lesson in circling back to what’s important. Quite simply, this liberating piece of non-fiction reminded me that the inbox can wait. “You can’t manage time,” she says, quoting one of several experts she consulted for her research. “There will always and ever be 168 hours in a week. What busy and overwhelmed people need to realize is that you will never be able to do everything you need, want, or should do.”

With an ever-growing list of tasks, it’s all too easy to forget that whole-body health includes whole-mind health, too. Ever scrimp on sleep? (Um, check.) Ever deny yourself leisure or relaxation time to attack one more thing on that aforementioned to-do list? (Okay, check.) Ever find yourself only partially present with your friends or family because, like me, you’re attached to your email? (A resounding CHECK.)

According to Schulte, a mother of two who writes for the Washington Post, I’m not alone in this. Contaminated time, as it’s called in the world of time management research is time that we spend “interrupted, contaminated by mental noise.” After finishing this book, I came up with the following analogy to explain its concepts: Would you drink contaminated water? Would you eat chemically-laced food? Would you live in a state of contaminated time and stress at the cost of your mental and physical well-being? They’re equivalent questions. And equally toxic.

As I read Overwhelmed, I was struck by a quote from writer Annie Dillard: “The way you live your days is the way you live your life.” If the mind is constantly attempting to multi-task, if your thoughts are fragmented, then you’re “never fully experiencing your external or your internal worlds. And if you are never really here or there, then what kind of life are you living?” Let’s remember to live in the moment—mindfully reading this book is a great place to start!

De-Stem Greens With Ease

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We teamed up with Chef Abby Fammartino to show you how you can quickly de-stem greens. Watch the video and you’ll be able to start whipping up your favorite green dishes with ease.

Embracing Modifications

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No pain, no gain. Go hard, or go home. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Pain is weakness leaving the body.

Maybe you’ve heard these sayings before or even told yourself something like this to get motivated to exercise. Truthfully, these sayings don’t fire us up at barre3. They make us feel exhausted and a little bit intimidated. And we’re not alone. Studies show that for many of us, this extreme approach to fitness is likely to lead to burnout over the long term.

What if we told you that you don’t have to suffer and dread exercise to get the body you want and reach your fitness goals? By modifying postures and customizing the moves to your own needs, it’s possible to tone your entire body, shed weight, and gain energy while finding joy in each posture. Whether you’re taking class at one of our studios, online, on the mobile app, or you’re following along with a workout in Sadie’s book Love Your Lower Body, you’ll always have the option to tweak an exercise so that you’re getting a challenging, safe workout that’s appropriate for your body. Have knee pain? Work higher. Are you expecting or do you have abdominal separation? Avoid deep twists. Are you feeling so energized that you’re bouncing off the walls? Go lower. Maybe grab 3 lb. weights or add mountain climbers to your plank. Whether you need to dial it back or crank up the intensity, we’re all for it.

Fitness is not one-size-fits all. You are your own best advocate and teacher. Your studio owner’s and instructors’ job is to give you the tools to develop a deeper awareness of your body so that you can continue to break plateaus and build strength in the years to come. Being an advanced practitioner at barre3 isn’t about doing an exercise perfectly or holding a challenging pose longer than the person next to you at the barre, it’s about understanding your limitations and knowing how to push yourself to your personal edge.

If a posture or variation of movement doesn’t feel right or you’re looking for a bigger challenge, be sure to let your instructor know. If you don’t have a studio nearby, feel free to email us at onlinesupport@barre3.com and we’ll answer your questions. Either way, we’re here to offer modifications that are perfect for you whether you’re a turbo athlete, dealing with an injury, expecting, or haven’t exercised in years.

What are your favorite modifications to take? Let us know in the comments below!

What’s In My Tote

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Every woman has a few favorite essentials stashed in her tote. Today, I’m giving you a virtual peek at mine! Read on to see which items I love enough to carry with me every day.

Lip Balm by Dr. Hauschka: It’s my all-time favorite! It doesn’t have any harmful chemicals, and it leaves lips feeling soft, hydrated, and protected.

Lulu Organics Hair Powder: Most days I pop into the studio and take class between meetings. This dry shampoo is a quick and easy no-fuss post workout hair solution. I love the lavender scent. Bonus: It’s paraben and talc-free.

Say Yes to Cucumbers Face Towelettes: When we started filming online workouts back in 2011, I realized that I needed to start carrying face wipes. These were perfect to use between takes when I needed to wipe the sweat off my face. They’re gentle and have ingredients like cucumber, aloe, and green tea.

Pendleton Wallet: I love Pendleton’s native american inspired designs that have been a part of our Oregon history for over 150 years. I’m always on the run, tossing gear into different bags. I like having this wallet which also doubles as a clutch in a pinch.

Pogi’s Poop Bags: Clearly less glamorous, but necessary! I take my dog Diego on a few short walks throughout the day, and these doggie bags always come in handy. I appreciate that they’re biodegradable.

Inesscents Organic Creamy Cocoa Butter: My kids always ask to smell this because it smells like chocolate. I use it on my hands and lips, but it’s also great to use on dry hair, your scalp, and stretch marks. I’m especially excited to support this company because they’re from Ashland, Oregon. All of their products are safe, natural, and minimally processed.

S’well Grapefruit Linen Water Bottle: Barre3 owner Andrea Mason and Seattle instructor Amy Masterson introduced me to these stylish water bottles. They don’t leak, and they keep my water and smoothies cold all day long. I’ve never tried sipping hot tea from the bottle, but S’well says tea stays hot for 12 hours.

Mao Feng Shui Smith Tea: This is my favorite tea right now. Made in Portland, flavorful, and delicious. I don’t leave home without it.

Favorite Granola: My kids and I made over 100 little bags of this granola recently for our Portland park class. Beyond being my favorite breakfast, it’s the perfect on-the-go snack to keep my blood sugar stable and my sweet tooth happy!

Back to barre3 Progress Report: I’m in the midst of my one-week mini challenge right now. (Contact your local studio to join me!). My strategy for taking five studio classes in a week is to squeeze in my workout at 6:00 am before my family is awake.

Pine & Boon Suede Dot Tote: I’m in love with this tote because it’s bright, functional, durable, and perfect for fall.

What are your go-everywhere items? Tell me what you pack in your purse in the comments below!

Back to barre3

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Calling all studio clients! The barbecues are winding down and the kids are heading back to school. Now that summer’s over, it’s time to recommit to your regular barre3 practice. This month, we’ve developed a special one-week challenge to reestablish your healthy habits—and maybe even create some new ones. All you have to do is commit to taking 5 studio classes in one week. To boost your results, supplement the week with our whole-foods recipes and online workouts. (It’s like extra credit for your body)!

To get in on the challenge, contact your local studio for details. When you sign up, you’ll receive a “Back to barre3” kit that includes one week of unlimited access to our online workouts and nourishing seasonal recipes. You’ll also get a take-home progress report and lots of other back-to-class goodies.

No matter what your age, we believe every day is another chance to learn, grow, and nourish your body inside and out. Join us this month as we get Fall off to a fresh start!

Don’t have a studio nearby? No worries! Join the 7 Day Body Blast available as part of your subscription to barre3 Online.

Labor Day Sale

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Calling all studio clients! Here’s one more reason to get excited for the long weekend: our Labor Day flash sale! Here’s the deal: between now and midnight on Monday, September 1st, get 25% off a 5-class package (limit of 1 class pack per client). To buy, find your local studio online, click “more details,” then select “pricing/purchase.” You’ll see our special 5-class pack as one of the package options available for purchase.

After a summer of traveling and indulging, this 5-class pack is a great way to hit the reset button. And while we don’t want to spoil the surprise, let’s just say that you’ll be extra glad to have it when we announce a special event next month.

When Labor Day ends, this offer does too. So don’t wait—grab this deal before it’s gone! Find your local studio now to get your 5-class pack.

barre3 in the Park Summer Recap

This summer, we busted outside our studio walls and hosted mega park classes all over the country. Our owners and instructors were thrilled to connect with hundreds of you beyond the barre. Whether or not you were lucky enough to attend a live outdoor class, read on to see a few of our favorite photos and get the scoop from our studio owners.Blog_HeartBreaker

“Our park class last weekend in Portland marked barre3’s sixth birthday. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched 600+ arms raise in the air as we kicked off our class together.  When my husband, Chris, and I opened in 2008, it was just the two of us and a dream. Now we’re blessed with an amazing community of clients both in our studios and online, instructors, and studio owners who are all supportive of one another. I’m so grateful.” – Sadie Lincoln, Founder barre3

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“It was a moving experience to look out at 200 people doing barre3 at such a historic place in our state. I could not be prouder to bring barre3 to Columbia, South Carolina!” – Lauren Truslow, barre3 Columbia owner

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Over the past 4 years, our small community has cultivated and grown. Seeing long-time clients who’ve practically become family and new faces was both comforting and exciting. I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to bring barre3 to Vancouver, Washington. – Carrie Caldroney, barre3 Vancouver owner

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“The threat of rainy skies didn’t prevent our group of over 300 from taking our barre3 practice outside. It was a blast to celebrate our four-year anniversary with our clients, instructors, and families. I’m so proud to be a part of this community, and I can’t wait for what’s to come.” – Heather Kass, barre3 Seattle owner

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“As a studio owner, I’m blessed to teach my four-year-old twins by example. I do what I love every day, and they bear witness to that. At our outdoor classes this summer, my kids loved handing out refreshing lavender lemonade to clients. My daughter even started doing classes with me! I’m grateful that I found barre3, and it’s a gift to share it with my family and community.” – Ashley Dishman, barre3 Winter Park owner

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“Having Sadie teach an outdoor class in a setting like the Myriad Gardens was absolutely breathtaking. As I stood on the stage looking out at hundreds of clients extending their arms into the air, I teared up. It was a  beautiful night.” – Andrea Mason, barre3 OKC Owner

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“The whole experience was magical. You could feel the positive energy radiating through the entire crowd. It was contagious. I’m already looking forward to our next outdoor class!” – Kim Miller, barre3 Austin owner

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“My most memorable moment was when Sadie asked the group how many of them were trying barre3 for the first time, and half the group raised their hands. It gave me chills. As much as our community loved the outdoor experience, they were even more excited to meet Sadie. Her warmth and welcoming spirit made everyone feel at home, connected and inspired. “ – Tammy Hischke, barre3 Frisco (Photo courtesy of Curly & Molly Photography)

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Did you attend any of these park classes? Tell us what you thought of the experience in the comments below!