Pilates pose at the barre

Working out, head to toe

It’s April. How’re those New Year’s resolutions going? If they’re not going so well, then maybe it’s time to revitalize your  fitness program. Here’s a workout that’s sure to raise the bar of any exercise regime—it’s a great option for cross training or as a stand-alone exercise routine. It’s called Pilates Barre, and it works every part of body, bar none.

Pilates Barre is a fusion of Pilates and dance. The curriculum was designed by master Pilates teacher Zayna Gold. Pilates Barre combines the foundations of Pilates—including breathing, concentration, control, precision, whole body movement, balance, and relaxation—with traditional ballet barre training. Gold sold her curriculum to Balanced Body and, a little over a year ago, began traveling around the country, training instructors in Pilates Barre. Several teachers at Moksha Yoga in Georgetown have completed the training, including Shawn Maurice, co-owner of Moksha Yoga with her husband, Jeff.

“In Pilates, it’s very much about your body being long and your posture being good,” Shawn says. “What people often don’t understand about Pilates is that your core is not just your six-pack area. It’s the foundation of your body, all the way from the crown of your head down to the tips of your toes. All of the Pilates exercises we do are about lengthening and stretching that whole core, which wraps throughout your muscular system.”

Pilates floor exercises

Then there’s the ballet component of Pilates Barre. “A lot of the core dance moves that ballet dancers have been doing forever—they’re hard!” says Shawn. And adding the element of Pilates to these, focusing on lengthening and engaging [muscles] at the same time, makes the workout even more challenging.”

The workout begins “with a warm-up to lengthen the spine and get some mobility in the different parts of your body,” says Shawn, “and then the class can be taught in any format you want to take it in.” In Shawn’s class, cardio comes next, with a variety of dance moves and some dance routines, all set to a playlist of classic seventies tunes. Shawn says, “Depending on the season, I may add more cardio than is typically called for.” After cardio comes a mixture of leg and arm exercises. As well as working at the ballet barre, Shawn incorporates other equipment into these exercises. Students use Pilates Sticks for various stretching exercises and abdominal work, and they use Pilates Circles for balancing, toning, and strengthening exercises. TheraBands, weights, and balance balls are often utilized as well. “Eventually,” continues Shawn, “we hit the mat, where we do a lot of core abdominal work, then a cool-down with some stretches, and we’re good to go.”

Pilates with resistance bands

“The thing I like so much about Pilates, and even yoga,” says Shawn, “is that you get that same level of strengthening and cardio without getting super, super sore. Also, you can dial it up or dial it down. All of the Pilates exercises have modifications, so you can tailor it to you. The element of Pilates is already very safe, so we instruct people, and then they [modify].” So the class is a great option for beginners and seasoned athletes alike.

Shawn works to balance the addition of new exercises—to keep the class challenging—with enough repetition that new students who join don’t struggle to follow the routine.

But whether it’s Pilates Barre or another form of exercise, Shawn says, “People just need to get out and start doing something. Find something you love and do it. Do something regularly to de-stress your life and find some moment of peace.”

For more information about Pilates Barre at Moksha Yoga, visit www.mokshayogaandpilates.com.

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