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 the Webster dictionary on line. 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 mind-set versus getting to an end goal. An advanced mind-set 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 shy 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 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!