You're standing at the barre, and you definitely look the part: long, black leggings, a bright fitted tank, grippy socks and your hair pulled into a sleek, chic topknot. But the second the instructor asks you to hold onto the barre, bend your knees, pop your heels and lean back into "waterski," you're feeling like anything but a prima ballerina.
As your quads quiver, it's tempting to want to shoot dagger eyes at that cute, perky instructor over your shoulder (ugh, if only she weren't so nice). We know what you're thinking, why are we still pulsing? But what is she thinking? We got Pure Barre director of training Katelyn DiGiorgio to dish. Whether you're a barre regular or spend your time in another studio, these lessons are universal:
1. You're stronger than you think.
"I'm always so proud when I see clients hit that fatigue and shake zone and find their inner strength and determination to stay in it," DiGiorgio says. "It's amazing to see someone push through, because that's when the magic happens and your muscles start changing." Translation: That shimmy-shake happening in your muscles isn't a bad thing and doesn't automatically single you out as a rookie. Promise.
2. An inch is really just an inch.
"Sometimes it's hard for new barre-goers to grasp the technique and the fact that our small, focused movements can challenge them enough to bring on the strengthening and toning results they desire. It's fun when they have that a-ha moment and realize how to isolate the specific muscle we're targeting through each tiny movement," DiGiorgio says.
3. Stop looking around!
"Focus on yourself and no one else," DiGiorgio stresses. "The beauty of Pure Barre is that people of all fitness levels can take the same class and get exactly what they need out of it. Don't worry about whether your leg is lifted as high as your neighbor's. Just focus on your own movements and give it your all. These are your 55 minutes!"
Since DiGiorgio was open to spilling instructor secrets, we had to ask her about her favorite thigh-toning move. If she swears by it, it's got to be good.
The Ultimate Thigh Exercise (no barre needed!):
Standing, walk your feet out wider than your hips. Turn your toes out slightly, bend your knees and imagine you're sliding your back against a wall (no hinging back like a regular squat). Aim to have your thighs parallel to the floor. Reach both arms in front of the body and begin to pulse your legs up and down an inch for 30 seconds. Now, reach arms overhead and continue pulsing for another 30 seconds. Finally, hold at the deepest point of your plie squat and begin to lift and lower both heels at the same time for 30 seconds. Repeat this series three timesâ€¢embrace the burn (and shakes)!