Technique Tuesday: 7 Barre Class Mistakes You May Be Making (And How to Fix Them)
These mistakes aren’t hard to fix but the benefits of fixing them go far beyond preventing injuries. If your form is off, your workout can be less efficient and effective, so you may not get the results you want!
Tanya Becker, who was trained at the original Lotte Berk barre studio, explains the 7 mistakes and how to fix them below:
1. Gripping, or “white knuckling,” the barre during thigh work
Holding on tight is not going to save you. “In general, if you’re gripping the barre, you’re [using] your forearms and shoulders, creating tension that doesn’t serve the movement,” says Becker. So while it may work your biceps, “you’re taking some of the work out of your core or glutes or tops of thighs that you actually want to delegate to,” and that’s what you came for, right?
2. Pushing your abs out during core work
During Pilates-based ab work, especially when you’re curling forward, Becker says people have a tendency to push the abdominal wall out instead of engaging it properly. “There’s can sometimes be a moment when clients are getting tired and instead of feeling like the abs are pressing down, it feels like they’re pushing up a bit. You want to lengthen down into the abs,” she explains. Check yourself by simply looking down at your belly and observing.
3. Wearing the wrong socks
It turns out studios are not selling those grippy socks just so you’ll promote the brand via the soles of your feet. They help provide stability and correct form. Physique uses carpet but some studios have wood floors. Either way, if your feet are sliding, says Becker, you’ll likely end up in the wrong position, with your hips placed improperly or your knees too far forward.
4. Holding your breath
“We tend to hold our breath when things get challenging,” Becker says. Instead, focus on deep breathing especially in the most intense moments, and it will boost your energy and help you push further.
5. Using weights that are too light
Barre studios have different takes on weights. But Becker says no matter the class, you should choose weights that push you outside of your comfort zone, so the workout continues to challenge you, which will lead to better results. “If you want to make the jump, play around with it,” she advises, saying you can always grab a couple of different sets, start with the heavy, and drop down if it becomes too intense.
6. Skipping stretch time
Depending on the class you take, stretching may be incorporated throughout, but if there’s a segment to really go deep at the end, you should really make the time to stick around for it. Lotte Berk, in fact, Becker remembers, would lock the doors of her famous studio and not allow clients to leave without finishing their hamstring stretches. Of course, she’s not suggesting that now and understands that you’ve got to get to work, but it’s crucial for your muscles and also your state of mind. “It’s like dessert. Why would you want to miss dessert?” she says. “You’re going to be way more relaxed and ready to take on the rest of your day.”
7. Worrying about people watching (and judging!) you
“It’s a mistake to think everyone is looking at you,” Becker promises, even though most can probably relate to the feeling. “It feels that way, but my experience is if you’re in a tough workout, everyone is just trying to survive.” The class is supposed to be difficult and is designed to overload your muscles, she says, so if you’re constantly trying to look good or complete every rep to keep up with the person next to you, it’s going to mess with your form and ability to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Remember, she says, “the instructor and most of the others are rooting for you.”
Try to keep these 7 mistakes in mind next class! See you at the barre!