Natural Bug Sprays That Really Work

Natural Bug Sprays That Really Work

How do we guard against mosquito bites, safely and effectively, without relying on chemicals?

While DEET is widely used (and the Environmental Protection Agency reports that it’s safe for topical use when applied correctly), the formula is slightly toxic to fish and birds, and the chemical’s been found in wastewater across the United States. Then there’s the fact that our skin, the body’s largest organ, can absorb harsh chemicals, such as DEET, that come into contact with its surface. Another thing? DEET is a solvent, which means it can melt plastic. No, thank you.

Luckily, perhaps thanks to the rising awareness about the chemical’s interaction with our bodies and the environment, a slew of natural bug repellents—that are safe and totally effective—have hit the market over the past few years. These formulas typically reply on essential oils, such as citronella, rosemary, cedar or peppermint, mixed with another oil, such as soybean or castor, and water. Different essential oils repel different types of bugs, so the best formulas contain a least a few, if not a handful of these ingredients.*

Here are a few of our favorite all-natural bug repellents that get the job done—with zero reservations when it comes to spraying your exposed skin. Bonus: They smell pretty great, too.

Honest Bug Spray, $12.95 for 4 fl. oz.

Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent, $8 for 4 fl. oz.

Zoe Organics Insect Repellent, $20 for 4 fl. oz.

Badger Anti-Bug Shake & Spray, $11.99 for 4 fl. oz.

Ovvio Oils Insect Repellent, $19.95 for 4 fl. oz.

Do you have a natural insect repellent you use and love? Or is one of your favorites listed above? Tell us how you ward off mosquitos this time of year!

*NOTE: If you’re traveling to a region with insect-borne diseases, like malaria, or Zika virus, experts recommend using a product with 20 to 30 percent DEET, or other chemicals. The Environmental Working Group found that botanical-based bug repellents aren’t the best choice in these cases.

Leggings We’re Loving

Leggings We’re Loving

As women who practically live in workout wear, we have pretty high standards for our leggings: the perfect pair should flatter your shape, support your muscles, wick away sweat, move with your body AND be stylish enough to take you from studio to street.  

It’s a lot to ask for, but we’ve found a few brands that deliver all of the above. Here’s a roundup of our favorites:

Leggings We’re Loving
Beyond Yoga High Waisted Legging

Every wardrobe needs a pair of go-to black leggings. Not only do these provide extra coverage during your barre3 practice, they’re also chic enough to wear out and about.

Leggings We’re Loving
Alo Moto Legging

This edgy legging is one of Sadie’s favorites. (She rocks them in Sunbaked.) We’re obsessed with the moto-inspired stitching and matte shine detail!

Leggings We’re Loving
Glyder Mantra Crop Legging

These cute capris are a versatile option in warmer months. They’re available in tons of colors and prints so you can keep it neutral or go bold.

Leggings We’re Loving
Vimmia Reversible Splice Legging

This fully reversible legging delivers two cool looks in one fabulous pair.

Leggings We’re Loving
Koral Lustrous Legging

These lustrous leggings can be summed up in a single word: FIERCE. The liquid finish adds serious spice to a great basic.

Leggings We’re Loving
DYI Multi Mod Crop

This fun mod-print capri is just right for summer workouts. Hesitant about the light colors? Don’t be—the durable fabric lets you bend, stretch and move with no see-through worries.

Leggings We’re Loving
Outdoor Voices ¾ Tri-Tone Leggings

Beachy blues and sporty color blocking mix it up on these cropped leggings. Added bonus: they have a hidden waistband pocket for stashing small essentials.

We carry many of these leggings in our studios, plus tons of great tops and accessories so you can put together a head-to-toe look. Do you have a favorite pair that you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments below!

7 New Rules for Being Healthy

7 New Rules for Being Healthy

Never eat white flour. Exercise for at least 30 minutes 4-5 times a week. Eat X amount of protein. Stay away from sugar! You’ve probably heard these and other rules about how to be healthy. But here’s the thing: When it comes to whole-body health, it’s not one size fits all. There is no single formula that works for everyone.

By letting go of expectations and other people’s rules, you can cultivate a healthy lifestyle that works for you and that’s sustainable—and fun! Here are seven tips for creating your own rules for being healthy.  

Stay flexible about exercise.

Some prescriptive formulas for exercise will have you believe that if you don’t workout at a certain time of day for a specific amount of time, you failed. We don’t buy it. Schedule workouts when they make sense for you. Some days exercise might be an early-morning barre3 class, while on others it’s an after-dinner walk around the block—and next week it could look completely different! By staying flexible, you create opportunities for success based on whatever each day brings.

Satisfy your cravings.

We don’t count calories, and now new research is backing us up that dieting isn’t healthy over the long term. Restrictive diets cause stress and anxiety, and they can create rigid dichotomies that are hard to sustain. Cheat days have become a popular release valve for chronic dieters, but we prefer to satisfy cravings when they strike.

A great strategy for eating healthy without depriving yourself is crowding out. The idea is that you “crowd out” foods that don’t serve you with more nutritious whole-food—but still very tasty!—options. For example, you might stock up on kale chips so that you can get your salty-snack fix without having to resort to potato chips.   

And if there’s something you really want—you know, those times when you’ll feel sad or like you missed out if you don’t have it—go for  it.

“If I’m really craving a cupcake, I let myself have it,” says Lead barre3 Online Instructor Candace Ofcacek. “And I feel really good about it!”

Embrace rest days.

Whether you’re feeling sore after a tough workout or mentally exhausted after a long day, it’s important to listen to your body and let it rest when that’s what it’s asking for. Sometimes taking a rest day is a healthier choice than going after a deep muscle burn.

“After a full week, sometimes I need a whole day dedicated to recharging,” says barre3 Communications Manager Kait Hurley. “If I feel like reading a book, taking a nap, or just hanging out in my PJs all Saturday afternoon, I let myself do it.”  

Know what’s in your food.

While we don’t count calories, we still recommend paying attention to food labels so that you know what ingredients you’re putting in your body. Many of the foods that are marketed as “healthy”—for example, salad dressings and breakfast cereals—are actually full of high-fructose corn syrup and other artificial ingredients. Fortunately, it just got easier to see which foods are loaded with sugar, since the FDA decided to require a separate line on food labels for added sugars.  

Keep it fresh.

Establishing routines can be a great way to make exercise a regular part of your life. But if your routine is starting to feel like a chore and something you “have” to do, try mixing it up. Organize a group of friends for an exercise class after work, or set your alarm early and go out for a walk before your day gets busy. Instead of using your weekend run to clear your head, how about asking your partner to join you? Changing things up is a great way to spice up your exercise habits and keep routines fresh.

Stay in tune with your body.

Every day is different. On Monday you might have gone turbo in class and felt energetic all day. By Thursday maybe you feel sore and a little lethargic. Sustainable healthy living is all about listening to your own body wisdom and making choices that feel right for you.  

“When we trust our instincts and learn to listen to what we really need in every moment, our bodies transform in an empowering way,” says barre3 Founder Sadie Lincoln.

Get fresh air.

There’s nothing like getting outside when you need to clear your head or perk yourself up. If you’re a treadmill runner, try hitting a trail or the road on your next run. If you’re someone who sits in a lot of meetings all day, look for opportunities to schedule walking meetings. If that’s impossible, try grabbing some time in between appointments to head outside—just five minutes can make a big difference!

“Even when I’m crazy busy, I make time for a quick walk,” says barre3’s VP of Franchising Sales, Amy Leclerc. “I find that when I get back to my desk, I’m able to tackle my to-do list much more efficiently.”

Do you have some rigid health habits or ideas that you can start letting go of? Or maybe you have found routines that are really working for you. We’d love to hear about all of it in the comments below!

Collagen: More Than Skin Deep

 

Collagen: More Than Skin Deep

If you’ve ever tried bone broth, you’ve already experienced some of the health benefits of collagen. Now this healing superfood is going even more mainstream, with edible supplements making it easier to incorporate collagen into your daily regimen. So does collagen live up to the hype? And what’s the best way to consume it? We reached out to Functional Nutritionist Caroline Stahlschmidt at ReplenishPDX for the answers.  

Collagen 101

Collagen is an abundant protein found in your muscles, bones, skin and tendons. It gives your skin strength and elasticity, and supports everything from healthy hair to stronger joints. Think of it as the “glue” that holds your body together.

Our bodies produce collagen naturally. The problem is, production begins to slow over the years, leading to deterioration within the skin and other organs. Other factors, like diets high in sugar and sun exposure, also contribute to depleting collagen levels.

So, Why Is It Good For You?

Healthy skin, hair and nails are the obvious beauty benefits, but they go way beyond that. Collagen helps build stronger bones and joints, boosts the immune system, promotes deeper sleep and improves brain function. It’s also a gut-healing superfood, says Caroline.

“Just like we have skin on the outside of our bodies, we have skin on the inside, lining our digestive tract,” she explained. “Collagen does an amazing job of repairing that lining. It’s a great choice for people with food sensitivities or digestive issues.”

How to Use It

Collagen is available in powdered form; unlike gelatin, it doesn’t gel up and dissolves easily in hot or cold liquids. “Collagen and gelatin are basically the same thing, just in different forms,” Caroline explained. “If you add gelatin to your recipes, you’re going to end up with Jello.”

Caroline recommends Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate because it’s so versatile and easy to digest. “It’s also virtually tasteless, so you can pretty much add it to any recipe and it won’t change the flavor or texture,” she added.

We’ve been throwing a tablespoon in our morning smoothie instead of protein powder and adding it to barre3 recipes like our Chai-Spiced Chia Parfait. Some people stir it into their morning oatmeal or mix it into fruit juice. You can even make a soothing, collagen-rich tea to help you wind down in the evening—here’s one of Caroline’s favorite recipes:

Sleepytime Elixir

2 TBS. dried chamomile (or 1 tea bag)

1 1/2 cups hot water

¼ cup full-fat coconut milk

5-7 drops of vanilla liquid stevia

1 TBS. collagen powder

Preparation

Brew your chamomile tea base and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain and set aside. Place the remaining ingredients plus the tea in a blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth and frothy. Sip slowly and prepare your body and mind for sweet dreams!

Have you ever tried collagen? What’s your favorite way to use it? Let us know in the comments below!

Why Leadership Isn’t About Telling People What To Do

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My 10-year-old son, Drew, has a newfound passion for baking. He’ll pour over cooking websites, pick out a recipe, and get to work in the kitchen. He’s had some amazingly delicious results, but that’s not what makes me the most proud. What I love is that he’s following his passion. No one told him to bake, and he’s not doing it to please anyone or to win anything. He’s doing it because he loves it, and that—not his buttery cookies or beautiful cakes—is what warms my heart.

Why? Because I’ve built my life around trying to show my children by example that you can pursue your passion. That’s a huge part of why I started barre3 eight years ago. I wanted to show Drew and his sister, Audrey, that I could be successful professionally by doing what I loved—and that I could do it by treating people kindly. Could I have just told them this with a few parent-child talks over the years in hopes that the lesson would stick? Maybe—but I know how I am inspired, and it’s not by being told how to act or what to believe; it’s by witnessing people doing good in this world. I’m not a big rule person when it comes to parenting. I don’t subscribe to one specific “method” of child-rearing nor do I have a library full of how-to books. But I do have one principle that guides my parenting style: Lead by example.

In fact, leading by example has become my guiding principle when it comes to business, too. Just as I don’t tell my kids how to live, I work hard to share my experiences with my barre3 team versus giving them direct advice about what to do. I am often asked how I’ve built such a passionate team. My answer is that I haven’t tried to create passion in others. I do, however, give them space to experience barre3 on their own terms and participate in a way that is authentic to them as individuals. I value how they see our company from their own perspectives, and I give them freedom to evolve what we do, drawing from their unique points of view and their personal connections with barre3.

When I am in a heated conversation or helping to resolve conflict, I often imagine my children in the room with me. Would I like them to see how I’m dealing with this conflict? Picturing them in the room with me reminds me to listen and to be kind, confident, and strong—to set the kind of example I can feel proud of.

You’ll even see the lead-by-example in barre3 workouts. For each posture and move, we show you how to modify it to suit your body’s needs, whether that means dialing it back a bit or taking it turbo. We don’t dictate that you move a certain way. Instead we empower you with choices. We believe that you know your body best and you are your own best teacher. Our job is to give you the tools you need to create the best workout for you.

What I love about the leading-by-example approach is that it builds a culture of mutual respect, and that’s key to healthy relationships, whether it’s with your children, your colleagues, or your clients. In my experience, dictating a rigid formula sends the message that you don’t trust people to make decisions for themselves. But sharing your experience and encouraging them to think and act for themselves shows that you value them. You empower them to make their own decisions, and that builds strength and confidence.

Am I a flawless leader? Not even close! Leading like this is a practice. Each day I work on building awareness when I slip out of my leading-by-example mode. I try to catch myself when I interfere with my kids creativity, or when I start micro-managing a team member, and I apologize—which, I hope, is also leading by example, showing that it’s ok to be vulnerable, and that it’s possible to move on after a slip. And then I work to come back to center, using my lead-by-example principle as my North Star.

Jennifer Aniston Nailed It

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Well said, Jen! I am so proud of Jennifer Aniston for standing up and writing this article about the objectification and scrutiny of women. She’s a real human being and a reflection of all of us. Her experience magnifies what every woman goes through. We are so much more than our bodies.

This is such an important conversation. Read it. Share it. Be a part of the change.

Love this? Check out Sadie Lincoln’s pieces on the dangers of photoshopping and why aging is a privilege.

HIIT to barre3: One Woman’s Story

B3-HIIT-MAG

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.

Week Two
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.

Week 3
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.

Week 4
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.

My Takeaway
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!

Posture Deep Dive: Plank

B3-Posture-Spotlight-MAGCan you hold plank for a full minute? It’s definitely a challenge, but the reason we feature Plank in every single barre3 class is because it WORKS. Today we’re breaking it down so you can make the most out of every single second you spend in this posture.

The Benefits of Plank Pose
Plank is a true powerhouse, training your abs, arms, back and thighs to work together so you can stand taller. You’ll feel your heart rate increase for a serious cardio blast, warming your muscles and preparing them for the rest of class. Plank also allows you to practice staying calm and centered while your body is in chaos.

How To Set It Up
Put your hands directly under your shoulders like you’re about to do a pushup. Ground your toes into the floor and raise your knees off the ground, keeping your hips level and square.

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Common Dos and Don’ts
Before we show you a properly aligned plank, let’s look at a few common don’ts and how to fix them:

DON’T: Let your hips drop towards the floor. This puts pressure on your low back and can cause pain.

DO: Lift your hips up and engage your abs to hold them there.

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DON’T: Let your head and chest fall towards the floor. This can strain your spine and shoulders.

DO: Reach the top of your head to the opposite side of the room to lengthen and support your neck. Next, lift your chest and upper back towards the sky by engaging your abs.

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DON’T: Round your shoulders and lift your hips too high. This creates tension in the upper shoulders and lower neck.

DO: Lower your hips and reach your collarbone and heart forward. You want a straight diagonal line from the crown of your head to your heels.

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And now, here’s what Plank Pose looks like when done correctly:160513-9875

Notice the ears, shoulders, hips, and heels are all in one line. The core is engaged and tight. The neck and spine are long, and the heels are reached back.

If a traditional plank doesn’t feel good in your body, there are lots of ways you can modify it to suit your individual needs. Here are some great modifications to try:

1. If your wrists or hands are bothering you, come down to your forearms and either have palms flat or interlace your fingers.

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2. If there is pain or pressure in your low back, lift your hips higher, taking the body out of a diagonal and instead make your torso parallel to the floor.

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3. If the alignment feels good but the posture is too intense overall, try taking the pose at the barre, a kitchen counter, or the seat of a chair.

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If you ever have questions—about Plank Pose or any other posture—just ask your instructor or in the comments below. You can also subscribe to barre3 Online. Each week, our lead instructors will break down key postures step-by-step in educational videos and energizing workouts. We’re here to help you get the most out of every pose and build strength!

Weekly Tips From YOU!

Weekly Tips From YOU!

So many of you are having amazing success with our new barre3 Online weekly plan! We’re so inspired by your feedback that we wanted to share your most helpful, real-life best practices with the rest of the community. Here’s what you had to say about how you’ve committed to exercising and eating well with barre3 Online:

“A wise woman once said, “barre3 works when you work it.” I have been making the weekly plans work for me! I never realized just how much it took out of me to decide which workout to do. With the workouts mapped out for me, I don’t have to make one. more. decision. I just press “play.” And I’ve been pressing “play” far more often! I also embrace my husband’s aversion to leftovers. I know he’s not expecting me to save them for him, so I portion them out into Pyrex containers and have lunch for work for a few days! (Unless it’s the Sweet Potato and Black-Bean Turkey Chili—he is all about the chili!)”
Michelle Nutter, Summerville, SC

“I’ve created a designated space that I set up as my at home barre3 ‘studio.’ My mat and props are always ready to go, which makes it so easy to #justpressplay and start, even if it’s squeezing in a 10-minute workout.
Sandra Shortridge, Zionsville, IN

“Scheduling out my classes for the week and putting them into my calendar has kept me on track.”
Lily Supardan, Seattle, WA

“I never miss a Monday EVER because working out on Monday sets me up for a great week. I also like to whip up a batch of the Chocolate Donut Holes and Coconut-Lime Amazeballs on Sunday night so I have healthy and delicious snacks ready to go. Lastly, remembering my fav barre3 mantras (honor my truth and make it my own) during class keeps me focused and happy.”
Joann Sorg, San Diego, CA

“I’ve found getting up earlier in the morning during the week and doing my barre3 first thing sets off the rest of the day to have a better flow, and guarantees I hold myself accountable. I’m slowly becoming a morning person.”
Ashley Fendt, Stafford, VA

“Finding a friend to do this with me has been everything. My BFF keeps me honest, and we do a great job motivating each other.”
Lydia Lutt, West Hartford, CT

“I meal plan and cook a few healthy b3 meals on Sunday to keep me going through the week. This way I always have something healthy to grab when I’m rushing, and it keeps me away from eating processed foods.”
Ryan Bratcher, Edmond, OK

“When I don’t feel like doing a workout, I tell my friends and they encourage me to get my booty to class or to even just do a 10-minute workout at home. They’ve reminded me that I deserve the time to take care of myself and that I am a better mom, wife, and nurse when I do so.”
Megan Ludena, Vancouver, WA

What are your favorite tips for making the most of barre3 Online #b3weekly? Share them with us in the comments below!

Why All barre3 Workouts Start With Dynamic Stretching

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When most of us hear “stretching,” we think about reaching for our toes until we feel it in our hamstrings and then holding. Or maybe you picture yourself holding an ankle behind your back  to stretch your quadricep. These types of reach-and-hold moves are known as static stretches, and they’re great for after a workout. But did you know that there’s a different style of stretching that’s better for before exercise?

It’s called dynamic stretching, and it looks very different from static stretching. In fact, you might not even recognize it as stretching, since dynamic stretching involves controlled movements without holding in the end position. In barre3 classes, the first 15 minutes incorporate a lot of dynamic stretching because we believe so strongly in its benefits. Here’s why.

What Is Dynamic Stretching?
“Dynamic stretching can also be thought of as active stretching,” says barre3’s Director of Training Lisa Schale-Drake. “When you do a dynamic-stretching move, some muscles shorten while others lengthen in order to counter the move. Then you switch sides—the ones that lengthened now get short, and the ones that shortened now lengthen. Dynamic stretching is all about thinking of your body as a team.”

Some examples of dynamic stretches from barre3 include Crescent Lunge into Warrior 3. This movement dynamically stretches the hips while waking up the core and gluteal muscles. Another beneficial combo is Sumo Squats with a side body stretch or twist. This activates your side body and core while heating up the leg and gluteal muscles.

Dynamic stretches warm up the muscles and joints so that they’re ready to work optimally. This is in contrast to static stretching, which actually temporarily weakens muscles for about 30 minutes after stretching.

“If you’re about to do a lot of movement, it’s counter-intuitive to weaken the muscles and then ask them to work,” says Lisa. “Making the muscles active, in the lengthening-and-shortening relationship of dynamic stretching, is the best way to set yourself up for success.”

Why Dynamic Stretching Is So Good for You
Dynamic stretching increases blood and oxygen flow to the soft tissues, which means better range of motion and improved flexibility. This is especially important for people who engage in high-intensity or high-impact exercise, because of the way those activities tax the muscles.

However, everyone, regardless of how intense their exercise regimen, can benefit from stretches that improve range of motion. Mobility tends to decline as we age (and sit at desks), which makes us more prone to injury. The more we can keep our muscles warm and flexible, the greater our chances of maintaining strength and avoiding injury.    

“A lot of people say they want more mobility and flexibility, and many get into a good stretching routine—but often they don’t see much progress,” says Lisa. “I’ve noticed that when they start incorporating more dynamic stretching, they experience more mobility in their body and feel freer in their joints. They’re also able to go deeper on static stretches.”

Static Stretching Is Still Important
Although dynamic stretching is a better way to prepare your body for exercise, there is still an important place for static stretching. We dedicate the last few minutes of barre3 classes to static stretching because it’s so restorative—for your body and mind.

Static stretching gives the muscles a chance to fully release. This is great for muscles that have a tendency to be chronically tight. Giving these muscles a good 30 seconds in a lengthening position can help balance out the tightness. It can also help release stress throughout the body and help you feel more emotionally grounded.

“Our physical performance is 100% related to our mental capacity,” says Lisa. “Restorative static stretching is an opportunity to calm yourself and focus on your breath, which totally affects how well your body performs.”

How to Get Started With Dynamic Stretching
Feeling inspired to bust out some dynamic stretches right now? This 10-minute online workout is a great place to start. And remember to go at your own pace. If you’re unable to do the full range of motion for a particular stretch, identify your own full range of motion and go to there.

“Dynamic stretching is what you make of it,” says Lisa. “You need to work within a range that feels good for you, and that is going to be different for everyone.”

Let us know in the comments if you notice dynamic stretching making a difference in how you move and feel!