The Ultimate Summer Playlist

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There’s nothing like incredible music to lift your mood and boost your energy levels. Right now we’re loving tunes by Robin Thicke, Beyonce (always!), Sam Smith, and Sevyn Streeter, to name a few. There’s a good chance you’ll hear some of these tracks at your local studio. Others, like “Connected,” by the Stereo MC’s, are some of Sadie’s favorites that she and her kids dance to at home.

To take your online or Mobile App workout to the next level, try downloading this playlist on iTunes. Exercise is so much more enjoyable when you’re rocking out to your favorite power song. If you have the Mobile App, lucky you! You can sync music from iTunes with workouts from your iPhone.

What’s your favorite summer power song? Tell us in the comments below!

Beyond the Barre: Going to your Edge

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You’ve probably heard your instructor tell you to go to your edge during class. But what does that mean beyond the barre? We asked barre3 Fayetteville owner Megan Hurley, and we love her answer. Here’s Megan in her own words!Blog_HeartBreaker

One of my favorite moments with a new client is the moment she starts to shake for the first time. Her heels lift. Her knees bend. Her hips sink, and her spine grows straight and tall. And then? And then her legs start to shudder, and her eyes get big. She looks concerned. She drops her heels. Did anyone see? She hopes not.

If you’ve ever taken a barre3 class, you know that we celebrate these shakes, but I know what that first-time client is thinking: “I’m so out of shape!” She’s a little embarrassed. It feels like her body has betrayed her.

Before barre3, these shaking moments were something I avoided too, both in my body and my life. I was happy to work hard, but I wanted my life to seem effortless. I did not want to work at my edge. When we avoid that edge, we flex the same old muscles in the same old ways. There is no chaos, no possibility of failure. But when we work at the edge of our capability, we take a risk. We tax small stabilizing muscles we aren’t used to using, or take the time to extend and contract big muscles fully, without momentum, squeezing right against the bone. When we work at our edge, everyone can see us trying.

Our time at the barre gives our bodies a chance to practice the courage we need in the rest of our lives. I have clients who undertake the extraordinary–they adopt children with severe special needs, take small businesses international, reverse the unhealthy habits of a lifetime. When they begin these tasks, they can’t wait until it’s easy. They have to try every day, and they have to do it where everyone can see them.

Some of life’s biggest endeavors require us to live at our edge. When I hugged my little sister just before her wedding ceremony last month, her whole body was trembling. “Those shakes?” I said. “That’s your life changing.”

When we shake, at the barre and away from it, it is easy to see our trembling as a sign of weakness, to belittle ourselves, to feel like we should be able to get it all under control. Learn instead to see your shakes as signs of tremendous strength. Someone who is shaking is brave enough to ask a lot of herself, and to sit with herself as she tries.

Kicking Your Sugar Cravings

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Are you a sugar addict? Are you constantly fighting cravings in the afternoons and evenings? Is it hard to stop eating sugar once you start? Maybe you’re hanging on to a few extra pounds, feeling low on energy, anxious, or depressed. Guess what? Eliminating refined sugar from your diet can help. Functional nutritionist Andrea Nakayama has created an entire online program called Sweet Tooth, Bitter Truth designed to give you the tools and inspiration necessary to ditch sugar for good. (Through August 30th, you can get unlimited access to this program plus tons of delicious dessert recipes for a deeply discounted rate! Details below.)

My Communications Manager Kait Hurley signed up for this online course years ago to help control her sugar cravings. Read on to learn how Andrea’s program changed her perspective forever and why refined sugar is no longer something she even misses.

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Andrea had my full attention within the first 30 seconds of the lecture when she revealed that refined sugar acts like a drug that triggers the same brain chemicals as heroin and morphine. Understanding this helped me to be more kind and patient with myself. It was such a relief to know that I couldn’t blame my sugar cravings to my own lack of willpower.

Basically, sugar attacks the immune system and causes inflammation in the body. By eliminating refined sugars, not only will you feel lighter and more energized, you’ll be able to prevent disease, think more clearly, and be less prone to illness. You can even turn off genes you’ve been given that make you susceptible to certain health conditions. Sounds unbelievable, right? It was also incredibly empowering. Suddenly, sugar wasn’t so crave-worthy.

The good news is, giving up refined sugar doesn’t mean you have to give up sweets altogether. Andrea offers tons of to-die-for dessert options that utilize low-glycemic sweeteners like coconut palm sugar, dates, and Stevia. Her delicious dessert suggestions left me feeling satisfied, full, and anything but deprived. I started making them for my family and friends, and they begged me for recipes. (To give one a try, check out the Nakayummies.)

Now if I eat a sugary dessert after dinner (yep, it still happens once in a while), I quickly remember why sugar is something I avoid. The next day, I wake up feeling foggy, achy, and low on energy. My quality of sleep isn’t so good either. But when I fall off the sugar wagon, I try not to beat myself up. I just observe that I’m not feeling my best, and vow to make better choices that day.

If you’re serious about kicking your sugar cravings, I highly recommend Sweet Tooth, Bitter Truth. You’ll learn some great ways to tame that sweet tooth without feeling deprived. And once you ditch refined sugar, you’ll experience some incredible health benefits that are far sweeter.

To get access to the program for 50% off, visit Andrea Nakayama’s site here and enter the code SWEET4BARRE3. The code expires 8/30/14.

Instructor Spotlight

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Alicia Sokol is a busy Mom, creator of the blog Weekly Greens, and an incredible instructor at barre3 Georgetown. (She’s also one of the chefs who contributes to our recipes!) Read on to get to know her a little bit better, in her own words.Blog_HeartBreaker

I was the uncoordinated kid in high school who didn’t play sports at all. During college, I started running to relieve stress and quickly fell in love with it. By the time I was 30, I had completed a number of marathons and triathlons, but my joints didn’t feel healthy and strong. My body was telling me to slow down and do more strength training and restorative exercises. I dabbled in yoga and weight lifting, but nothing stuck.

I was one of the first clients when barre3 Georgetown opened in January of 2012. As soon as I walked in the door, I was blown away. The class exceeded my expectations, and I couldn’t believe how beautiful the studio was! I was surprised that all of the barre3 exercises felt good on my achy knees; I had finally found the perfect complement to my running.

A year and a half ago, I could only run pain-free for three or four miles at a time. Thanks to barre3, I can now run a lot longer than that without any discomfort. I recently turned 40, and my girlfriends and I decided to do a half marathon. I know I couldn’t have stayed healthy without barre3’s functional strength training. I feel better now running than I did 10 years ago.

My blog, Weekly Greens, came about organically. I was working as a communications executive full time, and I had two young children. I was stressed out, and I realized that if I wanted to feed my family healthy food, I needed to sit down and make a plan. So I started developing meal plans and shopping lists. Then, I shared them with my friends who were also busy and stressed. It dawned on me that I could start a blog, quit my job, and spend more time with my children. It was a risky decision, but one of the best ones I’ve ever made.

I love to let my kids help prepare food. At the farmers market, I ask them what veggies they’d like to touch, smell, and cut open. We also cook together—even though cooking with them is generally a real mess! I’ve realized that kids are more likely to try something they’ve had a hand in making.

As for my own nutritional needs, I try to listen to my body and eat what feels good. (Sometimes what feels good is an ice cream cone!) There’s room for a little bit of everything in moderation. 80% of the time, I eat nutrient-dense whole foods. 20% of the time, I don’t. I don’t think any food should be considered off limits.

I’ve also learned to listen to my inner voice and connect what I’m eating to how I’m feeling. I can look at a second glass of wine and say, “I’m going to like it right now, but I’m not going to like it tomorrow morning when I’m up.” As an instructor, my goal is to empower clients to listen to their inner voices too. Barre3 has helped me to be more confident and trusting of myself, and it’s a privilege to pass it on to others.

barre3 Book Club: Beautiful Ruins

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This month’s book club pick Beautiful Ruins has it all: romance, treachery, and humor. The book opens in 1962 when a gorgeous, dying actress named Dee Moray arrives to a fictional town in Italy called Porto Vergogna by boat (the only way one can enter the town). When Dee arrives, Pasquale Tursi, a young proprietor of an empty pensione, is attempting to build a beach on the shoreline to attract tourists. As soon as he sees Dee, Pasquale falls in love, “not so much with the woman, whom he didn’t even know, but with the moment.”

Chapter two fast forwards 50 years and brings us to Hollywood, California. No plot spoilers here — we’ll just tell you that the mysterious events that transpired in Italy back in 1962 come to the surface in present times and everyone’s worlds collide.

While the story is laced with drama and broken dreams, it’s also loaded with hilarity. One of our favorite laugh-out-loud moments was Pasquale’s girlfriend’s fiesty response to his declaration of love. She tells him, “If you feel the urge to say it, go see the girl first thing in the morning, with her night breath and no makeup..listen to her with her friends…go meet her shrill sisters…and if you still feel the need to say such a stupid thing, then God help you.”

From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, author Jess Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters. The title refers to the “beautiful ruin” of self-destructive actor Richard Burton, but the entire novel is an enchanting collection of “beautiful ruins,” whose stories intertwine in the most unexpected way.

We won’t give the ending away, but we love how it perfectly captures how life never turns out the way we thought it would. (Which is one of the best things about it.) If you’re looking for one last perfect beach read before summer ends, look no further than Beautiful Ruins.

Lemon and Herb Cauliflower Couscous with Roasted Chickpeas

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This grain-free recipe is refreshing, light, and the perfect lunch or side dish to enjoy on a hot summer day. Not only is it delicious and easy to whip up, it’s full of antioxidants energy-boosting nutrients, and anti-inflammatory properties.

For example, cauliflower is rich in vitamins and minerals. It helps your body to detoxify and digest food more efficiently. Cucumbers also promote healthy digestion and contain a mineral called silica that strengthens the connective tissues in our joints, which can ease arthritis and gout pain. Plus the iron, fiber, and protein in the chickpeas will keep you going strong all day long.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked chickpeas (if canned, rinsed, drained, and patted dry)

2 Tbs. olive oil, divided

1 large head of cauliflower, cored and broken into florets (about 4 cups)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 medium cucumber, cut into 1⁄4-inch pieces

1 large avocado, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup raisins

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 Tb. tahini

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbs. lemon juice

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1⁄2 tsp. honey

1/4 cup parsley, minced

Pinch of fine sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Toss chickpeas with 1 Tbs. olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned on all sides, about 18 minutes. Toss chickpeas halfway through cooking time.

2. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it’s “riced” (i.e., the size of couscous) Be careful not to overprocess—you don’t want to purée the cauliflower.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 Tbs. of olive oil and toss in the cauliflower “couscous.” Let it toast slightly, stirring often, and remove from heat after about 2 minutes.

4.To make the dressing, combine the last seven ingredients (tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, honey, parsley, salt, and pepper) and whisk until smooth. This works best with an immersion blender or food processor. An immersion blender or a food processor will deliver the smoothest consistency, but a hand whisk will work, too. If the dressing is too thick, add a little more olive oil.

5. In a large bowl combine the cauliflower “couscous” with roasted chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, raisins, pine nuts, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of salt. Drizzle with dressing and toss until well combined. Divide among four plates and enjoy!

We hope you love this dish as much as we do! Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Benefits of Combo Work

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Once we’ve gotten your legs shaking and quaking in the studio, it’s time for Combo Work! This high-energy portion of the barre3 workout utilizes full-body, functional movements that will get your heart pumping and help to shape your body from head to toe.

In Combo Work, we combine upper- and lower-body motion in full-range, multi-joint movements. These movements are similar to actions you might make during your day: squatting to lift your kiddos and groceries or bending and twisting to reach something off your desk. These full-body movements activate your muscles in the same way that you use them in your daily life. That’s why it’s called functional movement.

In our studios and in most of our online workouts, we use light hand-held weights, but they’re optional. Whether you use weights or not, you’ll get incredible results by focusing on intentional and controlled movement. Our instructors cue you to create a mind-body connection and engage each muscle group to its maximum potential. While it may sound complex, the moves are easy to follow, yet challenging. The benefits of combo work are not just that you’re moving your body through a functional range of motion to challenge your muscular system, but also that you’re pumping your heart rate to challenge your cardiovascular system, the heart and lungs. Add these together and you have the perfect combination to improve your overall fitness.

Even if you’re working through an injury or expecting a baby, your instructor will help you modify the moves to fit your needs. Hips bothering you? Work in a higher stance. Are the weights too intense on your shoulders? Ditch ‘em! By listening to your body and making adjustments, you can still reap the benefits of these high-energy, big-movement exercises, but without any pain or compromise to your body.

Check out one of our favorite combo moves that you can do anywhere. Better yet, get up and do it with us, and then let us know what you think in the comments below!

barre3 with a View Contest Winners

During the month of July, we asked you to share where you’re taking your barre3 practice on Instagram to enter a chance to win a year of free classes at your local studio (details here in case you missed it). Your response blew us away! Thank you to the thousands of you who posted incredible photos from all over the world. Our team had a tough time narrowing it down, but after pouring over the entries and voting, we’re  ready to announce our grand prize and runner up winners. Here they are!

Grand Prize Winner Sarah Morris from barre3 Laguna Niguel

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Grand Prize Winner Reyna Downey from barre3 Willow Glen

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Grand Prize Winner Kati Falger from barre3 Portland

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Runner Up Winners:

Best On the Job Winner Erica Oliver from barre3 Nashville

Best Multitasker Winner Ashley Gartland from barre3 Portland

Best barre3 Pride Winner Zelda Sanchez Kamath from barre3 Austin

Most Extreme Winner Lindsay Gross from barre3 Bellingham

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Grand Prize Winners get a year of free classes at their local studio. Runner Up Winners receive barre3 swag in the mail. To check out more of our favorite entries, follow @barre3 on Instagram. Thank you to all who participated!

 

Man Up to the Barre

Our Man Up to the Barre class is one of our most popular events at our studios, and it’s coming up! (Be sure to check your local studio for details.) To help guys everywhere get ready, we polled a few of our most devoted male clients and asked them to share their advice to those who are prepping for their first barre3 class. Read on to learn their tips for success!Blog_HeartBreaker

“Don’t be intimidated by the beautiful women! They are welcoming and inclusive. Challenge yourself and you’ll get the ripped muscles you are looking for. – Shomari Wilson, barre3 Oklahoma City

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“After racing competitively for over 20 years, I’ve dealt with a number of injuries, including broken bones, torn ligaments, and soft tissue damage. Since barre3 became the cornerstone of my strength training, I now take on cyclocross, ultra trail running, surfing, and chasing after my two young boys without fear.  So men, put aside the awkwardness that comes with the barre3 warm-up and join me! The results of a regular barre3 practice will make you bulletproof.” – Jeff Matson, barre3 Portland

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“Guys: Wear some kind of performance boxer brief under your gym shorts. That way, you’ll spend more time focusing on the moves and less time worrying about how you look. Don’t think this is going to be an easy workout. It’s tough in all the right ways!” – Rob Lovell, barre3 Columbus

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“Don’t be afraid to use the 2 lb weights. You will definitely still feel it!” – Miller Calloway, barre3 Knoxville

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“Make sure you get to the studio with enough time to meet your instructor before class, and be open with questions or concerns—they are there to help you understand each posture and guide you to get the most out of your workout. If you want to know more before trying your first in-studio class, check out the barre3 app or any of the online workouts.” – Aaron Treptow, barre3 Austin

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“Man Up Gents! Barre3 is all about inner body strength. The deeper you go into your barre3 holds, the more you will get out of this fantastic workout. I recommend taking deep and controlled breaths throughout the class. Beginners, take a spot by the mirror so that you can see what’s going on.” – Peter Rouch, barre3 Seattle

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Are you a male client or online subscriber who has experienced incredible success practicing barre3? We want to hear from you! Tell us your story by emailing shareyourstory@barre3.com.