Meditation for Beginners

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Ever feel like your brain just needs a breather? Meditation is a great way to calm the mind and manage stress, but you may have felt hesitant to try it. Perhaps you associate the practice with endless rounds of Om. Or maybe you can’t imagine taking the time to think about nothing when there’s so much on your to-do list.

At barre3, we’ve come to realize that meditation is really just about stepping away from the chatter in your brain for a few precious moments. Amazing things can happen in that quiet place—studies show that meditation lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, helps you concentrate, and even amps up your immune system.

If you’ve been thinking about adding meditation to your daily routine, here are five simple tips to help you get started:

1. Make Time.

If you try to squeeze meditation in when you have free time, chances are it won’t happen. Instead, pick a time that you can devote consistently to meditation, even if it’s just five minutes when you first wake up.

2. Get Comfortable.

Meditating should happen in a place of rest, stillness and comfort. So get comfy! If you’re not used to sitting cross-legged for long periods of time, this probably isn’t the best posture for meditating. Instead, pick a spot where you can get comfortable (without falling asleep!). That might mean your favorite armchair, sitting under a tree, or even in the tub.

3. Focus on Your Breath.

One of the best ways to quiet your mind is to give it something simple to concentrate on—in this case, breathing. Try taking 100 breaths, counting slowly with each inhalation. You’ll be amazed at how quickly this exercise cuts through the static in your brain.

4. Find What Works.

There are so many ways to meditate—explore a few and find what works for you. Do sounds or scents move you? Are you a visual person? You might gaze at a candle for a few minutes to clear your mind. For others, inhaling some lavender oil for a few deep breaths can reduce stress and focus your thoughts. You could also listen to music or guided meditation on your iPod.

5. Start Small.

Our minds are notorious at wandering and jumping from thought to thought; sometimes it’s hard to string just a few seconds of focused attention together. Aim for just three breaths of focused concentration, and work up from there.

Just as we train our bodies to be healthy, meditation is a powerful way to train the mind. Remember to be patient with yourself as you get started; it’s called a meditation practice, and practice takes time.

A Healthy Halloween Treat: Banana Ghost Pops

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When Sadie found these Banana Ghost Pops online, she knew she’d found the perfect Halloween treat. Instead of dipping the bananas in orange juice like the original recipe, we’re giving it a healthy barre3 twist with the addition of protein-rich peanut butter.

To make Banana Ghost Pops, skewer banana halves and spread peanut butter and a little bit of honey all over the halves. Then, roll the banana halves in dry, unsweetened coconut flakes and add chocolate chip eyes and a raisin mouth. To finish, freeze your Banana Ghost pops and enjoy. These treats are simple enough for the kids to help make and a fun snack for the whole family. Happy (and healthy) Halloween!

Studio Client Spotlight

There’s nothing our studio owners and instructors love more than supporting clients as they break plateaus. Many of these women have truly inspiring success stories to share, whether it’s recovering from an injury, losing the baby weight, or discovering newfound strength. Today we’re showcasing a few remarkable clients who have transformed their bodies and their lives. Read on and get motivated.

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“Barre3 has helped strengthen my knee so much that I am able to do activities that I never thought I would be able to do again. I have lost 30 pounds over the course of the year. I also feel so much more confident and empowered. The barre3 Knoxville community has been an absolute blessing in my life. They’re like family to me.” Ashlee Burt, barre3 Knoxville

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Walking into Barre3, I remember feeling skeptical. Being a college athlete I was used to only seeing results through extremes… extreme pain, extreme workouts, extreme adrenaline. My first class was the complete opposite of that. Instead of working at an extreme I was in a balanced, calm place. The mind-body connection was a totally new concept to me, and I was amazed at the results I soon started seeing. Since my first class, I’ve lost 20 pounds, developed muscle tone and flexibility I’ve never had before, and I am now more comfortable with my body at 33 than I ever have been in my life.” Shannon Churchill, barre3 Austin (Photo courtesy of Laura Morsman Photography)

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“Barre3 has allowed me to (healthily) lose 40 pounds in 6 months and get into the best shape of my life! Barre3 makes me a better mother, wife and all around a better person. When people ask me how I lost the baby weight I simply tell them that I found barre3!” – Katie Presti, barre3 Denver

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I’ve lost 18 pounds and 14 3⁄4 inches since I started barre3. For the first time ever, I enjoy exercise. While it’s amazing to meet my weight loss goals, feeling healthy each day is the biggest win. After every class, I walk out of the studio refreshingly energized and standing a bit taller. – Julie Tosh, barre3 Laguna Niguel

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Do you have a success story to tell? We want to hear from you! Share in the comments below, and let your barre3 experience inspire countless other women all over the world.

Avoiding the Shame Spiral

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A simple slip-up, like missing a workout, can lead to feelings of self-loathing that blow the mistake out of proportion and cause even more interruptions. In Sadie’s book Love Your Lower Body, she calls this the shame spiral. Are you familiar with it? Health coach Meg Worden is, and today she’s talking about what it is, why it’s a distraction, and what you should do instead in order to have a more balanced approach to living a happy, healthy life.

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We’ve all done it. You make a plan to eat differently/start exercising/insert-your-thing-here with enthusiasm of athletic proportions. I get it. You’re ambitious.

What’s the alternative? Accept that this may be as good as it gets? I don’t think so.

You can’t always predict or manage the stressors of life, but to some extent you can be aware of how they can spiral out of control, and you can be less reactive in those moments.

Here’s an example of the shame spiral.

1. You decide to make a positive change in your life.

2. You do the opposite of what you decided and feel ashamed.

3. Your confidence takes a nosedive, guilt sets in, and you continue to make choices that are even worse than the initial bad choice.

4. Every other cringe-worthy moment since the fourth grade comes up for you, and you become a seething mass of despair.

Or something like that. You feel me?

Accomplishing awesome things requires your goals to be laser-like and lofty. Your high standards raise the bar for all of us, and that can be a good thing. But keeping them rigid hurts. Life is just too full of contradictions for that. Staying a little loose, being forgiving, and being prepared—even planning— for allowances is an imperative. An exercise plan that doesn’t allow for missed sessions or a diet that doesn’t allow for some forbidden foods is a recipe for failure, and worse, for stress. And stress, more than any other lapse, is what will make you sick, gain or hold weight, and keep you from your sparkling endgame.

So, it stands to reason that editing out the stress is your best option. And that’s easier said than done. Start small. When your best-laid plans go awry, step back and breathe, drink a glass of water, do a short workout, have a healthy laugh with friends, find or hire support. You are still okay. You are still on track. You are doing enough. It takes a ton of lightheartedness, dignity, and emotional maturity to keep up your good work, and you have all of that. Getting derailed is just a distraction.

Remember, being strong and flexible physically is fantastic, but being strong and flexible mentally is non-negotiable. Now get to it. We’re cheering you from here.

Get your copy of Love Your Lower Body today to learn more about the shame spiral and a balanced lifestyle.

Studio Owner Spotlight: Tori Fox

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In this month’s Studio Owner Spotlight, Tori discusses her journey from online subscriber to studio owner, her sources of inspiration, and her strategy for helping her kids not overdo it on Halloween candy. Read on to meet Tori!

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As a kid, I was obsessed with gymnastics. That transitioned into cheerleading through high school. Eventually, a friend introduced to me yoga and pilates, which I loved. I even went through Pilates teacher training to get better as student, never thinking I’d actually teach fitness. Then I discovered barre3, which combines all of my favorite things into one efficient class.

I found barre3 Online first. It was nice to do it in my living room, but I wanted to get the studio experience. I mentioned that to my husband and he said, “Well, open one!” So we headed to DC for the weekend to see a real studio. I felt so much energy when the class was over; I was hooked.

After that experience, I drove to Knoxville, TN to see two more studios. I noticed each studio had amazing customer service, and I couldn’t believe how sincerely nice everyone was. I knew right away I had to bring it to Raleigh.

When I opened my own studio, I was petrified of getting up in front of a large group of people and teaching. Now, I feel giddy when I’m teaching. It’s so much fun to see people shaking and changing.

My body has COMPLETELY changed since finding barre3—it’s crazy. The thing I love the most is how mindful I am about my posture now. My number-one goal for each class is to bring postural awareness to everyone. I’ve also learned how to move better throughout the day and feel so much happier—lots of endorphins running through my blood these days!

As far as nutrition goes, I’m usually teaching in the evenings, so I love barre3’s smoothies and DIY salads. With Halloween around the corner, I have a few strategies when it comes to candy—I only buy candy that I won’t eat. We are fairly strict about food in our house and my kids know they can’t binge on candy or they’ll get sick. (My oldest, Anda, learned that the hard way.) We give them enough to enjoy the holiday and indulge a little, but that’s it.

After having children, I was so focused on taking care of my daughters that I lost touch with the Raleigh community. The best part about opening barre3 is that it’s reconnected me to the community. Our clients are so strong, intelligent, and talented. They motivate and inspire me each day. I love learning about their lives beyond the walls of the studio.

Sadie is another big source of inspiration. I love her mantra, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” from Stephen R. Covey. I’ve found when I use it, things always turn out better!

Interested in having a dream job? Learn more about becoming a studio owner here.

Spicy Apple Cinnamon Smoothie

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Apple season is here! We’re celebrating with this nourishing smoothie created by Meg Roosevelt, a registered dietician at Healthy Grocery Girl. There’s so much to love about this recipe—not only does it taste like apple pie, it’s loaded with good-for-you ingredients. The apples are full of immune-boosting antioxidants and heart-healthy fiber. Cinnamon is great for managing blood sugar levels, while dates are rich in iron and offer a quick energy boost. The coconut water naturally contains vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes, making this smoothie a great way to hydrate and replenish after class. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Makes One 16-Ounce Smoothie

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

½ cup coconut water

1 medium apple, cored

1 tablespoon chia seeds

2 medjool dates

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of sea salt

2-3 ice cubes

Directions:

Add all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend on high for 20-30 seconds. Enjoy immediately!

barre3 Book Club: Rework

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I feel like Rework authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are literally in my head. This is the first business book I’ve ever read that validates how we do business at barre3. Even though my copy of Rework is pretty new (I just bought it over the summer), it already looks worn because it’s so well-loved. I’ve bookmarked at least 20 of my favorite pages so that I can readily refer to my favorite passages and share them with my team of studio owners.

Rework is so easy to read. The chapters are super short and to the point. There’s no fancy business jargon. I appreciate the authors’ no-fuss, straightforward, we’re-not-going-to-waste-a-minute-of-your-time approach, and I think you will too. While I could go on forever about my favorite messages from the book, I’m only going to share a few of my top points and how they relate to life as a barre3 leader. Here I go:

On workaholism: Although our culture celebrates the idea of the workaholic, Rework argues that “not only is this workaholism unnecessary, it’s stupid. Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.” The authors say it so bluntly, it’s funny. But it’s so true, and I couldn’t agree more. The barre3 mantra “Work Smarter, Not Harder” fits right in with this point of view. Both in the studio and at our Home Office, the mantra reminds us not to work more, but to work more efficiently. I don’t believe in face time (who cares when you show up or when you work as long as you get your job done?). Everyone who works for me runs his or her own schedule. I empower my team to be healthy, balanced leaders.

On focusing on you instead of they: Rework asks “Who cares what they’re doing?” Fried and Hansson recommend ignoring the competition. As I read their advice, I was reminded of the barre3 saying to “love thy neighbor, but ignore thy neighbor.” That’s what we tell clients in our studio classes; if the person next to them at the ballet barre is going lower, deeper, and taking more turbo options, it doesn’t matter. Don’t compare yourself. Focus inwards instead. The same is true for business. I love but ignore my competitors in the boutique exercise-studio space. I love them because they’re helping people just like I am, but I ignore them because I’m focusing on what we’re doing at barre3.

On scratching your own itch: Rework says, “The easiest, most straightforward way to make a great product or service is to make something you want to use.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m not a big fan of focus groups or surveys. Everything that we offer at barre3 stems from a genuine need and want I have in my own life. I started barre3 in 2008 when my kids were babies. That’s why we have childcare. As I started to travel more, I needed barre3 on the go, so now we have online workouts. My body transformed when I started to eat whole foods and meals that balanced healthy fats, fiber, and protein. That’s why we have our recipes. I like hanging out with inspiring women who make me better. That’s how I choose my team. I scratch my own itch.

On picking a fight: Rework states that “Being the anti-_______ is a great way to differentiate yourself and attract followers.” I’m kind of anti-fitness industry because I don’t think it’s working. We’ve all been brainwashed to believe that there’s a certain formula we must stick to in order to be fit. I’m against the idea that the only way to get incredible results and get the body you want is by embracing the “no pain, no gain” mentality. Fitness doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. It can feel good, easy, and doable. It can be FUN, and it doesn’t have to hurt. Modifying postures gives you even better results. A 10-minute workout is just a good as a 60-minute sweat session. It’s important to find the ease within the effort. That’s how you’re going to get the best possible results (long, lean muscles and a balanced, happier mindset).

Do any of the above statements resonate with you? Have any of you read this book? If you haven’t, I suggest you do so now. Whether you’re a business owner or not, whether you have a career you love or one you dread, get this book. It will shift your perspective and offer you a ton of valuable insight into how you can work and live better.