What happens when a woman who’s obsessed with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and high-impact sports ditches it all for a month and fully commits to barre3? Maggie Feix of Sarasota, Florida, took on the challenge. Read on for a week-by-week tell-all of her experience.
As a former Division I college softball player, my approach to exercise has always been in the go-big-or-go-home school. My teammates and I lifted weights like football players (I was squatting 250 lbs. my sophomore year!), and we ate like them, too. Even after my career ended, I held strong to the no-pain-no-gain attitude when it came to workouts, favoring anything that pushed me to (and sometimes beyond) my limits.
My typical workout regimen over the past few years has looked something like this:
1. 4x a week: high-intensity heavy-weight training sessions: squats, deadlifts, lunges, functional exercises for core strength, shoulder press, lat pull-downs, etc..
2. 1x a week: spin classes
3. 2x a month: yoga
4. Occasional extra workouts: P90X, Insanity, Zumba, Kickboxing, Kettlebell workouts—just to name a few.
But as much as I loved my turbo routine, it was beginning to take a toll on my joints. And so when barre3 Lakewood Ranch studio owners Beth Woods and Paulina Manning encouraged me to try simplifying my workout schedule and do ONLY barre3 for one month, I happily—if a bit nervously—accepted, keeping a journal to document my progress. Here’s how it all went down:
Week One… Or should I say weak one?
After my very first class I noticed the craziest thing: While I am physically strong, I am mentally weak! Even as a former Division I athlete, I am finding that the barre3 workout is demanding, not because it’s taxing on the body (I’m used to that), but because it requires you to discover a deeper, stronger part of yourself that takes you to another place…a more mindful place.
In that first class, I was resting a lot (read: quitting), standing up out of my Horse Pose or getting out of other positions when I felt physically exhausted. After class I told Paulina that I recognized I needed to work on my mental toughness, and she assured me that these classes would help with that. She was so right! By the second class, I was already feeling more focused, and I was able to minimize my “time outs,” and even more so by the third and fourth classes. I’m not saying the workout has become a walk in the park. When I do leg work, it feels like I’m being dipped in a cauldron of hot lava—it burns so good!
Nutrition update: I learned a few years ago that I feel better when I reduce the amount of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. I’m so glad to see that the barre3 recipes don’t have these things. The one thing I’m having a hard time crowding out in this humidity is ice cream! And cutting coffee has been TOUGH.
As much as I liked my barre3 workouts last week, I definitely found myself wanting to go to the gym, missing the familiarity of throwing the weight around. But this week? All I can think about is getting to the studio. I actually crave it: the studio, the instructors, and the crazy shakes that happen every time I’m in Power Leg. And then there’s the way my body feels after class: healthy, strong, and so full of energy.
As a no-pain-no-gain kind of exerciser, there was definitely a part of me that wondered if barre3 could challenge me. Consider me humbled! I’m feeling stronger than ever. I’m starting to feel everything “zip up” in my body.
But honestly, the biggest (and most amazing) surprise in this whole experience so far has been the barre3 community. I am so inspired by the wonderful women supporting me and sweating alongside me in the studio.
Nutrition update: OK, I have confession to make: I had a glass of red wine at dinner over the weekend. I shared this with Paulina the next day. She was so positive, saying it’s not a big deal. This response just speaks to the incredible barre3 culture. It’s all about support, not shame, and I love that.
So…this week has been extremely tough. My fiancé’s and my beloved pug, Bella, passed away in her sleep early Wednesday morning. Despite the tragedy, I stuck with barre3 and went to Jenna’s class. I had puffy, bloodshot eyes, and I just felt like crying when I walked in the studio doors. I told Jenna about Bella and she embraced me and didn’t let go, knowing I needed some comfort. Ever since I took my first barre3 class I’ve felt at home in the studio, but this time I felt it on an even deeper level.
I went to the studio four times this week. I had a harder time in Friday and Saturday’s workouts. It seemed my muscles were extra fatigued. I was fatigued. But I always left feeling proud of the work I had done, at peace, and so genuinely supported.
Nutrition update: I made the Thai Chicken Wraps this week. YUM! I’m loving the barre3 app because I can build my own shopping list. It keeps me organized and on track—and it reminds me to stick to the whole-foods section of the grocery store.
I’ve been doing the barre3 Online workouts all month long, but this week showed me how incredibly valuable they are! My fiancé and I felt like we needed a getaway after losing Bella, so we spent a few days in Key West—a beautiful spot, but (sadly!) it doesn’t have a barre3 studio. I made up for it by firing up online workouts the whole time. My fiancé joined me for Andrew’s latest workout, and he was SO SORE the next day!
Nutrition update: I finally feel fully immersed in the nutrition plan (no more ice-cream cravings!), and I feel amazing. Eating whole, nutrient-dense foods makes me feel more connected to what I’m putting in my body. I’m becoming a more mindful eater. It used to be so easy to stop at Panera on my way to work and get a breakfast sandwich and and iced coffee (the latter of which I’m realizing caused me some indigestion). Now that I know what I really should be feeding my body, and what it needs, I’ve been making conscious, smart choices instead—an egg-and-veggie scramble, for example, or a healthy breakfast smoothie. I’ll admit that in the beginning, this felt like a chore, but now it just feels natural—easy, even.
Looking back, the most amazing thing barre3 has given me—the thing that has left me changed—is that I feel balanced and incredibly confident. I’ve been fit before, and I’ve always felt strong, but this sense of balance and feeling good in my skin is brand new to me. It comes from the combination of everything—the workout, the nutrition, the community—and it’s a true revelation. This is a very exciting place for me to be, and I intend to keep it going!