Pure Barre: The Inside Scoop for Beginners

Kicking off 2016 with a new guest post, my friend Nicole Cleary gives us the scoop on getting started at Pure Barre!

Hello fit friends! My name is Nicole and Iʼm a Pure Barre instructor at Pure Barre in Bronxville, New York. I am also the Studio Coordinator. Iʼm here today to share the inside scoop on Pure Barre for beginners!

Moving to a new area?  Looking to try a new gym? Iʼm sure a lot of us can relate to these situations. I found Pure Barre when I moved to Eastchester, New York in August of 2014, right before my wedding. I wanted something different and searched for low impact activity because I had hurt my knee in the spring. Pure Barre was just opening in Bronxville (which was a few minutes away) so I bought the New Client Special. After that first class I was left with a million different thoughts and feelings– Beginning with, “Wow, why was that so hard?!” I was a dancer all my life and fitness enthusiast after all! Well, let me tell you none of that matters at your first Pure Barre class. Whether you have prior experience or none at all, you will still start as a beginner, and thatʼs okay! I can guarantee you, youʼve never tried a workout like Pure Barre before. Listen to that little voice and step out of your comfort zone. Give Pure Barre a try with these helpful hints!

1. The beginning: Set a goal–The class is challenging. You begin on the floor doing Pilates inspired moves, there is a 90 second plank and weight work. The weights may be light (2, 3 and 5 lb.) but the moves will exhaust your muscles. Maybe your goal will be to get your form perfect in tricep extension before choosing to pick up weights. The next time you come your goal may be to hold your plank 5 seconds longer than you did last time. Eventually, making it the whole 90 seconds on your toes! Think about smaller goals overall so the whole class doesnʼt seem like a long, tiring 55 minutes. It can be fun with small goals!

ImproperTricep

Improper Tricep Extension

ProperTricep

Proper Tricep Extension

ImproperPlank

Improper Plank Form

Proper Plank Form

Proper Plank Form

2. The middle: Find your working zone–Three thigh sprints come after warm-up. These will engage the top of your thigh, as well as the inner and outer thigh. You want to find the point where your muscle shakes. Thatʼs when the change happens! Beautifully sculpted, lean thighs are in reach my friends. It may be difficult to feel the thighs engaged if you are not in correct form. As an instructor, we come over to adjust and help you find your deepest working zone but you should be able to feel it on your own after coming to a few classes! Here is the thigh position called “Chair.”

ImproperChair

Improper Chair

ProperChair

Proper Chair

3. The climax: Contract your seat muscles–During seat work in Pure Barre, you are in two positions. One of them is a “turned out” position, which works your side seat and outer hip. The other is “parallel” where your hips are squared off and you are working the base of your seat. We like to call that your “Pure Barre Ledge.” Sounds prettier than butt, right? 🙂 It is hard to sometimes find the working zone and contract these muscles around the seat. Always look in the mirror to see your form and make sure your hips are tucked under. When you work against your tucked hips, you can get deeper into the muscle contractions. The more you come, the more you will continue to push yourself and find your best form.

Improper Ledge

Improper Position for Ledge

ProperLedge

Proper Position for Ledge

 

 

 

4. The end: Rounding through your abs–You made it! Almost at the end! Arenʼt you sad? Well, we still have some work to go ladies! Underneath the barre, you work your abs in two different sections. Again, this is not your typical ab work so it can sometimes feel like the work is coming from your legs or arms. First, you create a “C” curve with the spine and there are slow movements in the abs here with a relaxing song playing. You want to continuously keep your abs in tight and pressing down toward the mat. Second, there is an upbeat song playing and your black is completely flat against the wall. You may not be rounding your abs here, but you still want to contract the abs against the wall so you feel this work. There is an abs series at the end as well in the center of the room, where once again we will remind you to round your waistband down toward the mat. Beginnerʼs tip: Using a ball behind your back can help relieve tension as you work!

Remember, Pure Barre is fun! Even though it is challenging, your teacher is there to support and encourage you. We want you to modify exercises if you donʼt feel ready to try them, that is why we are always walking around and checking out everyoneʼs form (and ledges! :)) Now that you have a nice understanding of how the class is laid out, you should come and try it! Scaling back workouts is all apart of the learning process so donʼt feel frustrated at first if you didnʼt stay in every move for all the counts. Our community of women (and a few men!) is so strong and inspiring, you can just feel the energy in the room. That is one of the main reasons I would encourage you to try Pure Barre. It is a place to come where you can challenge yourself for 55 minutes and forget everything going on in the outside world. Sometimes, itʼs just what you need to do for yourself.

To try a Pure Barre class at a location near you, please visit www.purebarre.com.

To try a class at Pure Barre Bronxville with Nicole or any of the other outstanding teachers please visit http://purebarre.com/ny-bronxville/.

Pure Barre Bronxville is offers a “New Client” special where you can take unlimited classes for an entire month for just $99 as well as a “Extended New Client” for 9 weeks of classes for $199 (valid through January). 

Value Your Health

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how lucky I am to have my health. It seems that we’re constantly being told upsetting news about people we know and care about in regards to their health. Of course our primary reaction is to do whatever we can to help that person, and we should. Yet, we should also consider the message that is being sent. We shouldn’t take our health for granted and so we must ask ourselves, “What I can do better?” I’m posting this raw and open video of myself discussing this very topic. I would love to hear back from you. Perhaps you have a story or something to share with me and the other Mind Body Bespoke followers.

Just a heads up, this video is roughly 5 minutes long ;0)

 

 

Gardening with the Tower Garden

The Preggers Pantry Fit Mama, Carly Zuffinetti, discusses the benefits of the Tower Garden

CarlyandRioI was so honored when Frances asked me to do a guest piece for her amazing blog! She and I have such similar ideas and desires when it comes to living the healthiest and happiest life possible. I have an Instagram blog that is all about having a healthy pregnancy and raising a healthy baby. It is ever evolving and I have met some amazing people through social media. I love that you can find like minded individuals at your fingertips! We can all learn so much from one another, which is one of the reasons I decided to start my blog.

I taught special education for 12 years and I knew when I had my baby that I wanted to take some time off of my career to focus on my son. I’ve always been interested in health, wellness and nutrition and thought this would be a great time in my life to learn more about how to do the best things possible for the growing baby inside of me. There is so much information out there about what to eat, vitamins to take, how to exercise, what type of birth you want, etc. Research can be very overwhelming for a pregnant mama! I decided to find the things I love the most and share them with my followers. Thus, The Preggers Pantry was born!

CarlyTowerGardenOne of the things I really wanted to do when I found out I was pregnant was start an organic garden. I had no idea how I would have time for this though, as my husband and I travel quite often. So I continued to talk about this garden I dreamed about week after week, every time I bought vegetables or went to a farmers market. Then on my birthday in April my husband surprised me with a Tower Garden! This has been the best investment my family has made since having our baby. The Tower Garden is a vertical garden that uses a process called aeroponics to grow plants in an air/mist environment without the use of soil. I watched the video and checked out the website and immediately started putting my garden together. I ordered seedlings right away from Montecito Farms and went to a Tower Garden training at Socal Urban Farms in San Diego to learn everything I needed to know. It’s been about 2 months since I planted my seedlings and my garden is growing like crazy! I have been harvesting herbs, lettuces, and greens everyday for cooking and my daily green smoothies. I also chop spinach and put it in my baby’s avocado every morning. I decided to do mostly herbs, greens and lettuces in my garden because that’s what I use the most. I planted basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, romaine, butter lettuce, red lettuce, arugula, 2 types of kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, cherry and heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, and squash. A few of my tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini just popped up and I’m so excited!

Check out @thepreggerspantry on Instagram for my green smoothie and salad recipes and for other healthy pregger, mama, and baby ideas! I would also love to hear about any recipes or products you used and loved during pregnancy, too! If you would like more information on how to get your own Tower Garden, email me at thepreggerspantry@gmail.com

CarlyPreg1

My Healthy “High” Trifecta

Feeling a bit lethargic or in a rut? Perhaps you need to hit the reset button.  If you’ve been following my instagram account, you’re sure to see some “summery” posts but let’s chat a bit further about how to utilize this time of year to your benefit.

With summer now in full force, and (hopefully) the unseasonably cold days behind us, it’s the perfect time to reboot your mind and body for healthy living. There’s something about this time of year that makes it so much easier to do this. Perhaps it’s our childhood memories of “summer break” that help set this mindset into motion for us. While most Americans are not getting three months off of school for summer break, the weather, the celebrations, and the opportunities to be outdoors, still make everything feel a little “lighter” around this time of year. Less clothing means moving with more ease (Hello Commando! …just kidding). Driving with your windows down brings fresh air right into your system. Take advantage of this sweet summertime! For me, exercising, enjoying healthy nutritious meals, and spending time outdoors with friends and family is the perfect equation for a fabulous day. The positivity, the endorphins, the sunshine, creates this “high” for me. On a day where I can get all three, I sleep like a baby. In fact, I see this happen right before my eyes with my 18 month old son. On days where he gets to be outside and have a lot of activity, eats well, and is social, he sleeps so much better at night.

So if you are in a bit of a lull and need some pep in your step, ask yourself how you can find ways to make the most out of summer. Perhaps you’ll start to feel the “high” I’ve referenced. Below I’ll elaborate on this healthy “high” trifecta and share a few ideas with you!

Exercise: It’s pretty simple folks. The more you move, the better you’ll feel. Commit to a routine and when you simply can’t get to your workout class or the gym, go for a walk or workout in your living room (EVEN IF YOU ONLY HAVE TEN MINUTES). The truth is, it doesn’t matter where you do it, as long as you do something. It may be hard to get going, but once you’ve gotten through it (whether you enjoyed it or not) you WILL FEEL BETTER afterwards. You will not regret the workout you did once you feel the “high” from the endorphins released into your system.

workoutregrets

In a nutshell, when we exercise our brain releases neurotransmitters called endorphins.  This release creates a positive feeling in the body and mind. Many describe this feeling as euphoric and chances are you’ve heard this from your friends who run regularly. They experience that “runner’s high”. Note, you don’t have to actually RUN to experience this. You can achieve this feeling through a variety of workouts and the truth is, it’s probably different for each individual.   In addition, endorphins can help us to have decreased feelings of pain, better appetite control, and even release sex hormones (YOWZA!). If you would like to read a bit further about endorphins check out these links: medicine net and web md.

Healthy Food: This may seems obvious as well but I simply can’t not talk about it. Eating well makes you feel alive. Stop for a second and think about how you feel AFTER a big greasy meal. Sluggish, heavy, and after a sugar crash, you may even feel slightly depressed. Again, I’m talking about AFTER. I would never say that sitting down to a meal of a juicy cheeseburger and fries is not delicious (that would be a crazy thing to say) but that is DURING the meal when your tastebuds for salt, fat, and sugar are being turned on. On the flip side, when you sit down to a fresh summer salad with avocado and some grilled chicken or wild salmon (and a green juice if you’re like me!), I guarantee that afterwards you’ll feel lighter and generally more energetic. I’ve had many conversations with clients and friends about how one meal can wreck their day due to feeing heavy and tired. The digestive process uses a lot of energy so this makes perfect sense. Eating heavy foods tend to be a total energy zap.

KaleSalasMarinated Kale Salad from Green and Tonic

Keeping things light in regards to eating means:

  • Eating lot of fresh fruits and veggies
  • Staying hydrated throughout the day
  • Having healthy snacks on hand
  • Grocery shopping regularly as to always have healthy options
  • Including fresh cold-pressed juices and/or green smoothies daily

Sunshine & Fresh Air:  To complete this trifecta, which is often overlooked, is getting your booty outdoors at some point during the day. Getting outside in the sunshine can boost your mood instantly. Grab your shades and walk to work if you have that luxury.  Take your lunch outdoors or take your office break on a near by park bench (leave the ciggies behind- YUCK). Take it all in, the birds, the way the light feels on your face, the summer sun on your skin, and the fresh air going in and out with each breath. If you are alone, sit for a 5 minute mediation and totally disconnect from your phone.

poolside

Beyond the health benefits of vitamin D, sitting outside can simply boost your mood. You may have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD),  where people can become depressed due to a change in seasons. Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, you may notice that you do get blue when the weather changes and the days are less bright. When a nice day presents itself, take advantage. As a child, you longed for sunny beach days and perfect playground whether. This doesn’t need to change for you in adulthood. Don’t miss out on a chance to get outside, especially if you are having a tough day at work. Chances are you will re-enter the workplace feeling more calm and generally happier, making you better equipped to tackle the tasks ahead.

I’d love to hear from you this summer. What workouts are giving you the healthy “high” that I’ve discussed with you? What are you eating that gives you energy? What outdoor activities totally turn your mood around?

Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies

Lactation Cookies by Laura Lea Bryant, Chef.

Cookies4Hi friends! Holistic Chef Laura Lea Bryant comin’ atcha, but you can also think of me as MindBodyBespoke’s biggest fan! Frances is one of my dearest friends in the world, and she radiates beauty, positive energy and wisdom in everything she does. You are lucky to have made your way to her website! Today, I’m honored to share a recipe that I created with one of the MindBodyBespoke focuses in mind, helping pregnant and new mothers navigate their changing bodies and to nourish their babies, naturally.

By no means am I an expert in this field, but I know that breastfeeding and producing milk is an epic challenge for many new mamas. A healthy and steady milk supply has countless benefits for mother and child. For a baby, quality breastmilk is an irreplaceable source of nutrients, immune system building/disease prevention and it helps with digestion. For mamas, breastfeeding has been showing to diminish postpartum depression, aid in weight loss, reduce risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis and of course, allow for invaluable bonding time.

Nutrition plays a critical role in lactation and proper breastfeeding. One ingredient in particular, Brewer’s Yeast, has been showing to increase milk supply and help with post-baby blues. Brewer’s Yeast is a nutrient-rich fungus that is generally tolerated well by babies. In this recipe, Brewer’s Yeast combines with flax meal and oats, two others ingredients shown to help with lactation. The result? These amazingly delicious cookies! Don’t be fooled by the word “cookie”—these little nuggets of nutrition are healthy enough to eat for breakfast or a snack. For busy moms, grab-and-go food items are clutch, and a little chocolate never hurt! You might notice a slightly malty taste from the yeast, and I personally love it. When buying ingredients for these cookies (and always), look for the freshest and best quality you can find. It makes a difference!

Cookies2

Make these cookies for yourself or someone you love who is a new mama, and hopefully they will help physically and emotionally with all of the change that takes place when beautiful new life enters the picture.

Cookies3

Lactation Cookies       Yield: Approximately 16 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted grassfed butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsalted unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 3/4 cups oats
  • 2 tbsp Brewers yeast
  • 1/4 tsp ground sea salt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Procedure:
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter, sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Add chia, egg and vanilla and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine spelt flour, oats, yeast and sea salt. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to incorporate. Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop dough into 1 1/2 inch balls into baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between.

Bake cookies for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, let cool for 5 minutes before eating.

LLBLaura Lea is a Certified Holistic Chef in Nashville, TN with a recipe development and teaching business called Laura Lea Balanced. She focuses on simple, budget and family-friendly recipes that are healthier versions of classic favorites. You can visit her website at llbalanced.com !