Is Fear Holding You Back?


“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”  — Charles R. Swindoll

As you may have read in my previous post I’ve Got your Back, I struggle with low back pain. I recently went to a spine specialist, Dr. John P. Kafrouni  who helped me in a very unexpected way. He suggested that fear was holding me back way more than the pain associated with my flare-ups. I started to cry from frustration as I argued, “But when my back goes out I am frozen. It is like I am in jail.” I was angry because I went to this guy hoping for a magic pill to make this all go away. This coming from someone who won’t even take Advil shows how beaten down I was! I asked him to refer me to the best physical therapist he knows. I was shocked when he told me no.  He told me that I have done enough research on what is “wrong” with my back and that I clearly understand how to rehabilitate it at barre3. He had a point.

Instead, he handed me a list of his favorite (and scary) mountain biking trails. I shook my head and told him I don’t do high-risk activities because I am too afraid I will get injured. He responded, “Exactly why you should do this!” When you are flying down a hill you don’t have time to worry about your back and being “frozen” or “in jail”. You have to trust that your body will be there for you and will do just the right thing. Well, anyone who tells me to exercise to solve a problem is my kind of healer!  He also had me order P90X to do the Plyometrics DVD. For those of you taking my classes recently, you definitely have heard me channel a bit of Tony Horton. Now you know why!

Long story short, I took his advice and honestly it worked like a charm. In the past when I would start to feel low back pain, I would literally freeze and start a negative cycle of fret and worry. Now when I feel my back start to tighten I shrug it off and do something that empowers me. This mindset shift is working better than anything I have tried.

Now, I am not suggesting that biking and jumping is the cure for injuries or getting through pain. It is important to note that Dr. Kafrouni DOES refer people to physical therapists and more invasive treatments. He studied my MRI, had me do a bunch of exercises and took the time to understand me. He explained to me that out of his 25,000+ patients the ones who do poorly are the ones who wallow in fear and based on his assessment this was my biggest problem.

What I am suggesting is that we all consider how fear drives our decisions and how those decisions undermine our potential. Does it ever really help to make decisions based on fear or does it hold us back? Did you ever not study for a test because if you did poorly you would have an excuse?  This decision was driven by a fear of failure versus a love of learning. Fear is connected to an imagined outcome and takes us away from being present.

On the other side of fear we can learn so much about ourselves. I learned earlier this year that my back issues are real.  I have a couple of bulging discs. But more importantly, I learned that those pesky discs do not define me.  I just got back from a 9-hour flight with my kids in tow. Is my back sore after all that sitting and stress? You bet. Same back problems. The difference is how I am dealing with them. Time to hit the trails!

10 Workout Secrets From Experts (including Sadie Lincoln) Who Learned the Hard Way!

“Nobody is perfect. And neither are our workouts. From the fitness hangover solution to what not to wear at the gym and how to avoid being “that” girl at the gym, 10 fitness pros (and me) give us their “I wish I’d known sooner” secrets for having a better, more effective and enjoyable workout. So you don’t have to learn the hard way!”

Read more

Fitness Magazine: Meet the Trainer!

You can have Sadie Lincoln as your at-home trainer with her Barre 3 DVD. (Photo courtesy of Sadie Lincoln)

You can have Sadie Lincoln as your at-home trainer with her barre3 DVD.

We caught up with the busy entrepreneur and mom of two to learn about how she entered the fitness world and how she finds balance even outside of the studio.

I’m writing a movie about your life, tell me the plot.

A small town hippie kid gets a good education, marries the man of her dreams, works her tail off for a large company in a big city, has kids and realizes she wants more meaning in her life. She quits the big job, says goodbye to the big house, big career and “keeping up with the Joneses.” She packs the family up, returns to her roots and puts her life savings to work to build her dream company: a family of exercise studios powered by women who share her values to balance both the body and life. After 20 years teaching classes, she puts all her favorite disciplines and yogic philosophy into one workout and is surprised to find it is celebrated by super-moms and super-celebrities alike!

Who would you want to portray you in a movie?

Reese Witherspoon.

How did you get involved with fitness?

I loved movement and dance at a very young age. My earliest memory of yoga is watching my Mom do yoga in her room out of a paperback book. While attending UCLA, I discovered the power of group exercise classes and ended up leading the instructor training program. This passion led to a graduate assistantship at the College of William and Mary to develop the campus group fitness program while I earned my Masters in Higher Education. Right out of grad school I landed a job with a fast-growth fitness company working direct for the founder and CEO, Mark Mastrov. Little did I know, he would end up being my mentor and one of the most successful fitness entrepreneurs in the world! I am blessed to have a career in fitness and I love helping other women like me find their way in this industry.

For more about Sadie’s top fitness gear pick and a typical day in her life, click below.

barre3 featured in Marie Claire magazine

barre3 is featured in the March 2011 issue of Marie Claire magazine. Here’s the video version you can do right now! Once you get the hang of it, pick up the pace and duration. You will be surprised at how challenging and effective it is!

Sadie Lincoln of barre3 is coming to New York to workout with Well+Good readers | Well+Good NYC

Sadie Lincoln of barre3 is coming to visit Well+Good readers

barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln

Workout With Us — and barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln

Breaking news!

Well+Good readers are invited to a closed Lululemon store for an exclusive workout with celebrated (and celebrity) fitness innovator, Sadie Lincoln, the creator of barre3.

Lincoln, whose flagship studio is based in Portland, Oregon, will be in New York City for a quick East Coast jaunt, and she’s set aside time in her packed schedule to train 35 lucky Well+Good readers.

Be sure to circle Sunday, March 13 in your fitness datebook: The class will take place at the Lululemon store in Lincoln Square (1928 Broadway, at 64th Street), at 9:00 a.m. And it’s free for Well+Good subscribers.

Check back on Monday morning when we open the reservation line to attend this very special Workout With Us event!

For more information about Sadie Lincoln and barre3, visit

Want to get the head’s up on events like this? Subscribe to Well+Good.

Sadie Lincoln will also be presenting at the ECA/OBOW NYC Fitness show in NYC on March 10 -13th at the Marriott Marquis hotel. you can go to for information

Fitness Magazine

“Why we love it: the combo of ballet barre work, yoga and Pilates uses ‘slow and controlled movements’ to make your muscles feel it during and after, our sore testers say. Switch between lower-body focused exercises, like lunges on toes, and upper-body exercises, like mini pulses that make your triceps burn. Then finish on the floor with more butt and thigh toners. The instruction, by Sadie Lincoln – her client Madonna is a fan – helps this DVD feel like a private lesson.  Just when you’re thinking ‘Am I doing this right?’ she’ll give you spot-on pointers.”

Rock Your World

One of my goals is to open mind and bodies to a new way of looking at class levels and to empower clients to create their own levels of success no matter what class they enter. At barre3 we offer three levels (we call them formats):








barre3 is the open level format designed for new and mature barre3 clients.

Foundations is similar to barre3 but slower in pace with a focus on the set up, alignment, holding postures, and breath.

Advanced is for clients who have mastered barre3 postures. It is faster in pace, includes more postures, and variety.

For many of you reading this, you may already be drawn to one format and I am guessing it is the Advanced one. It sounds exciting. I bet it also sounds like you will get a better workout and better results. I know as a student (and teacher) of a variety of exercise methods for 20 years and counting, I am drawn to the advanced class. I think it is partially because I like identifying myself as advanced because it means I am achieving more or I am better in some way.

I looked up “advanced” in Webster’s Dictionary online. Here are the definitions:

a : being beyond others in progress or ideas

b : being beyond the elementary or introductory

c : greatly developed beyond an initial stage

Definition “a” defines advanced in comparison. Many of us can relate to this. Think about the times you have wanted to enter an advanced class because you compared yourself to the others in the class. Perhaps you consider that you are as good as they are and want to be identified as part of this elite community.  They are, after all, advanced and will be more challenged and get better results, right?

Definition “b” defines advanced as being beyond elementary or introductory levels. It is human nature to judge introductory or basic classes as being less than, boring, or a generic steppingstone to something better. Think of the times you have peered into an introductory class and think that it looks too easy and your fellow students are not as accomplished in the exercise or as fit as you are. Or maybe you identify with them but you think you won’t get the results you want fast enough. You don’t want to waste your time with something that won’t challenge you. You only have an hour so it better count!  Sound familiar?

I am writing this blog to encourage you to join me in re-defining what it is to be advanced. I like definition “c” best because it is suggests moving beyond stages with personal accountability. Rather than comparing myself to others, I am working towards advancing in physical and mental stages for myself.

In barre3 classes we talk about advanced as a mindset versus getting to an end goal. An advanced mindset means that you are able to listen to your truth and make a decision to NOT go lower in lunges, longer in plank or faster in push-pulls – even if the rest of the class does. Being advanced means you know how to modify postures and you are not afraid to ask if you don’t.  Being advanced does not necessarily mean you are stronger, more flexible or more fit.

Today I took yoga.  My instructor, Shaney Aalbers concluded by talking about the accountability of us as students to have a fulfilling practice rather than attaching ourselves to an instructor to “rock your world.” We do not have control over the heat of the room, the instructor’s choices in postures, the music, or other students in the class. What we do have control over is what we do with the experience that each instructor facilitates. Rather than looking outward for someone to rock your world, as Shaney said, “rock your own world!” A good (ok amazing) teacher like Shaney is one who inspires you to go inward so you deepen your own practice by either advancing a posture or choosing to take a more supported and restful option.

All of the instructors at barre3 share a common commitment to teach you, our clients, to fish. So, whatever class you enter (including all those amazing classes outside of barre3!) you will be challenged, truthful and satisfied. It takes practice to know how to modify the intensity of postures. It also takes practice to breathe steady, be centered, and let your ego take the back seat. It isn’t about going as low as your neighbor in seated chair. It is about connecting your mind to your body and feeling the integrity of your posture – even if that means sitting up higher or standing! For many of us it is much more challenging to make a decision to go backwards than to go forwards.

My personal favorite barre3 format is Foundations. I am often asked if this is a beginning class. It is indeed an amazing format for beginners because there is detail in set up and more time to explore the newness of barre3. And, while it is appropriate for beginners it is challenging for all. I thoroughly enjoy the detailed cueing and the luxury of time to breathe and discover new ways to deepen in each posture. It also grounds me. Foundations helps me to remember that success is about slowing down, being present and enjoying the moment. This is a welcomed reminder as a mother of two young kids and a rapidly growing business. I love that more and more of my “advanced” and regular clients are joining me in these Foundations classes. These clients are the ones who leave this “beginners” class dripping with sweat. They know how to dive in deeper and find the magical connection that is harder to find in faster paced classes. All of us share in the discovery that slowing down can be a lot more challenging and infinitely rewarding. I have watched bodies (including my own) become lighter, longer and leaner in these classes.

I conclude this entry by encouraging you to open your mind and body to all class levels. Seek out the unknown. If you are drawn to turbo, power, or advanced classes give yourself the ultimate challenge – try gentle, yin, and foundations classes.  And above all, find instructors who inspire you to develop a personal practice based on your truth. Rock your own world!