When I find my comfort zone, and I feel like I've reached a plateau - I no longer seek to work HARDER. In the pursuit of optimal body & skill, I like to train DIFFERENT. Being a "jack of all trades" when it comes to fitness and movement - is a good thing for your body. Specialising in one central area or form of fitness can create repetitive movement patterns, overuse. Yes, you can excel at one particular skill - but cross-training is much more beneficial for our overall physical optimisation. You're gradually turning your body into a broad spectrum of a colourful multi-faceted rainbow: this is why multi-disciplinary cross-training is a key aspect of the BODY BEFORE SKILL Training Method. After exploring yoga, pilates, HITT, martial arts, gymnastics and cheerleading - I felt ready to go back to a haunting place of my childhood: the Barre.
Back to the Future
Ballet had been a love-hate relationship for me as a child. A natural aptitude had pushed me to attend one of Milan's most prestigious ballet schools at age 7, but this was cut short after a year of tears. No matter how much I'd squeeze and try: my knees and my hips just didn't want to close together, and every class involved me being shouted at for my inept anatomy. That sadly put an end to my days of ballet, with a brief and recreational two years in boarding school. Spending some time in Richmond (UK) in 2019 - I thought BARRE would broaden the spectrum of the BBS training philosophy. I was a keen yogi and pilates enthusiast already, former cheerleader and fitness coach for Pete's sake. How hard could it be? Turns out, THE HARDEST DAMN THING I have ever done in my life. Of course, I was hooked. There's nothing more challenging than being humbled and finding another mountain to climb.
What Barre was teaching me was advanced proprioception, eccentric strength and joint stability - in entirely different movement patterns than in Yoga and Pilates. Your body becomes so efficient to what it knows (a.k.a. in sports science, this is known as the "SAID principle - Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand"). The only way to challenge it is by adding a new stimulus and type of load or movement. The challenge was so much for me, it indeed was the hardest thing I had ever done - and this includes in cheerleading throwing and holding people in the air. Barre is not just physically, but mentally too. The main things I love about Barre, and why I think it's an essential component of a training "menu" (for everyone, men and athletes included) is:
Increased proprioception/ physical awareness
Increased joint stability
Effort with minimal sweat factor
Lean muscle gains
Development of ACTIVE flexibility
Grit. Oh yes, you need serious GRIT to get through a full class!
Barreworks with origins in New York City ballet workout and Lotte Berk original barre technique, is a thorough, traditional barre training program. Once qualified, teachers can then adapt the classes to their preferred teaching style and format. Barre classes by BODY BEFORE SKILL have been adapted to keep the original techniques and training method, with adaptations made to our training techniques and teaching style.
The Instructor Training
Disclaimer: I went in with no intention of teaching Barre. At this point, I was just so fascinated with the technique, but I felt I didn't understand it properly yet. After speaking with Zhivka, the lovely studio manager - she suggested I take the course next weekend. In the name of research, I eagerly registered. After all, it's only a weekend.
OR SO I THOUGHT. Barre then became my life for the next 3 months. I came to Barre training wanting to explore and find out more about this elegant technique that I learned while attending classes at the Richmond Studio. Little did I know I was about to embark upon a 3-month teaching bootcamp! Upon registering, my expectations were relatively basic: learn more about a technique I knew very little about, and wanted to expand my knowledge in another field of movement exercise. Pretty standard in the world of fitness training.
The workshop weekend was fascinating, full of exciting new techniques and exercises, and I loved every second. The real work, however, begins after the workshop. Rather than preparing for a standard teaching assessment, Barreworks really puts you through more of a mentoring phase to develop your teaching skills to be to the highest standard. The amount of time, dedication, support and detailed feedback you get from Vicky Anstey and Zhivka Slavova is second to none.
This intense learning commitment was not something I had expected - and perhaps future trainees should be fully aware that you need to plan this phase into your life because it will take some space. From start to finish, from barre newbie to getting certified took about a full year - with ongoing dedication to improve my skill. Everyone will have a different approach, also based on your teaching and training experience, but this is how it went for me (with a few breaks in between due to health)
4 months of personal practise training as a barre student
1 month for workshop + learning the teaching principles/format/exercises
1 month design and practising my class format
1 month of weekly video submissions during my mentoring phase.* Total of 3 videos submitted before taking the final exam.**
BBS Training Method & BARRE
I came to learn about Barre. I left with a barre addiction, enhanced teaching confidence, ability to pace my classes seamlessly, develop my presentation skills and strengthen my capabilities to blend technique and creativity. Now, BARRE has become an essential component of the BBS Training Method, part of my regular teaching schedule and on the BBS Online Studio.
Thank you Barreworks: to the barre and beyond!
*Barreworks does suggest that you submit videos weekly from the start - but I felt utterly inept at practising my teaching until my personal practice felt on point. This was a personal choice. ** During the mentoring phase, Barreworks will require videos to be submitted until the trainee has fully accomplished the highest of standard. Don't expect a simple fail/pass rate or marking scheme - rather a hands-on mentoring approach until you're ready.