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Top 10 Mistakes We All Make in Barre Class
“I’ve been taking barre classes at The Bar Method for ten years and I still get corrected on my form.” Sound familiar? Regardless of how long you have been a Bar Method student, there is always a technique to master, a challenge option to say “yes” to, or an improvement to work toward. It’s the beauty of The Bar Method and yet, we understand that it can be frustrating to require an adjustment from your instructor especially when you’ve been taking barre for a while. But know this: Even our instructors need to modify from time to time and sometimes require adjustments when they take class!
Even those who are well-versed in the mechanics of barre exercises (The Bar Method instructors are Olympic-level!) may not be aware of how fatigue is causing their form to falter in the moment. For example, in your third set of seatwork when you’re breathing through standing pretzel, you may not even notice that your shoulders are creeping toward your ears or that your abs aren’t pulled in. Having an instructor observe you carefully and adjust as needed helps your mind stay in sync with your body and the cues will remind you to pay attention to small details.
We all get adjusted and corrected in class. What we want you to remember is that it doesn’t always mean that you’re doing it wrong, it often means that you could be doing it better. Here are the 10 most common-made mistakes that we’ve all found ourselves making:
1. Maximizing the range of motion.
The magic of the method is that small, sometimes imperceptible, movements add up to significant changes in your body. If you make the movements too big, your body is using momentum to move. By keeping the movements small, your body relies on muscular contractions to control movement rather than momentum. This helps isolate targeted muscles and prevents injury.
2. Gripping the barre during thigh work.
Have you ever noticed that you’re gritting your teeth and gripping the barre tightly during a challenging set of thigh? Us, too! It’s normal to project the work onto other areas of your body but taking the tension out of your thighs will take the results away, too! When you hold on to the barre too tightly, it engages your postural muscles instead of relying on your thighs to support the movement and that’s not what thigh work is for!
3. Hunching your shoulders.
It’s likely that you will often hear your instructor remind the class to pull the shoulders away from the ears. When you hunch your shoulders, it not only puts tension in your neck muscles, but it also takes away your postural muscle engagement.
4. Neglecting to embrace your core.
One of the best parts about Bar Method exercises is that even though a singular muscle is being targeted, your core is always working. When your core is engaged, your lower back is protected, and your entire body is stabilized.
Over-tucking or tilting your pelvis too far into an unsafe position is a common mistake that happens to even the most experienced barre student. The intent is good—tucking is an important part of barre technique, but when you tilt your pelvis too far forward, you put unnecessary stress in your hip flexors and lower back, weaken lower ab muscles and compromise your posture.
6. Forgetting to square your hips during seatwork.
Squaring your hips can be difficult when one leg is raised in a seatwork position, but it ensures that the standing leg isn’t absorbing all the work. Keeping your hips aligned ensures that your working leg is positioned correctly and being challenged thoroughly.
7. Not using adequate weight or the right support.
Choosing the right equipment is imperative to your progress. If your weights are too heavy, you will not be able to complete the number of repetitions in the set, not to mention overexerting your muscles will compromise your form. If they are too light, then obviously your muscles aren’t being challenged. The same goes for using mats or supports during floor work. Using too much support can limit the challenge in your abs (and strain your hip flexors!), but not using enough will make it difficult for you to maintain your form. Always work with your instructor on weight and support selections!
8. Holding your breath.
It may seem like breathing during exercise is a no-brainer, but we tend to hold our breath when we’re challenged. Mindful breathing helps to control the movement and fuel your muscles with oxygen, all leading to improved muscular endurance and better diaphragmatic breathing.
9. Getting stuck in comparison.
Do you know that one person in your barre class who has Instagram-worthy form and takes every challenge option available to them? Even they compare themselves to someone else at The Bar Method. Comparing yourself to other people steals the joy from your progress. When you don’t feel inspired by your progress, it can negatively affect your performance and motivation.
10. Not communicating with your instructor.
Your instructor is not only your teacher, but they are also your partner throughout your Bar Method journey. If you don’t share your goals, injuries, sticking points, or your whys, you will miss a huge opportunity to propel your progress forward.
Our intention with pointing out these common mistakes is not to make you self-conscious, but to make you self-aware and also remind you that we are all still working toward mastering the method. Under the guidance of an instructor and with some fierce determination, you will see results from your Bar Method journey!