Calling all Runners: Why Yoga Is Just What You Need!

This week, as I reflect on the inspiration the Boston Marathon brings to our community – I’m writing to send a high-five to every runner out there – for your stamina, grit, determination and strength. These are qualities we deeply value and work hard to cultivate at Barre & Soul. Huge congratulations those who ran the Boston Marathon. It takes super-human levels of stamina and endurance to take on a race of this level, and we know you’re feeling it big-time post-race.

We want to reach out to you personally, from another dimension of the fitness universe, and invite you over to learn more. Bring your bib number and your driver’s license to any of our studios for a complementary class in April.

We’ve just been recognized in Boston Magazine as one of the best places to explore a yoga practice in greater Boston, and we want to extend an invitation for you to join us here.

Yoga is often misunderstood as an exclusively meditative, passive approach to self-care and fitness. Yes, there is a mindfulness element, and yes there is the benefit of self-acceptance, meeting your body each day wherever it is on your mat. But there is so much more to learn and benefit from - for runners in particular.

Many runners cite greater flexibility as the primary reason for beginning a yoga practice. This makes sense, because yoga stretches the muscles that are tight, which in turn increases the range of motion in related joints.

Studies have also shown that yoga combats stress, accelerates weight loss, reduces pain, helps people stay consistent with their fitness routine, and even improves running times. The strength and flexibility runners develop on the mat--particularly in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors--can help them run more efficiently and avoid injury.

What’s more - holding challenging yoga poses builds tenacity and mind-body connection that translates in your runs. And it teaches you to deepen the connection with your breath –a skill that you can leverage to enhance your running as well.

A real breakthrough in embracing Yoga for many runners happens when they learn that fast-twitch muscle fibers can contract ten times faster than slow-twitch fibers. This is the kind of muscle that runners really want to develop to train for speed.

The difference in which muscle fibers you build comes not from your training speed, but your training intensity. If you do an isometric exercise that involves holding a half-full cup of water out at arm's length for four hours a day, you’ll develop lots of slow-twitch muscle because the intensity over time is low.

If, instead, you tried to do a shoulder raise on that same arm at maximal intensity for a fraction of the time, like seven to twelve seconds, you fatigue fast-twitch muscle fibers (all muscle fibers, in fact) much faster. Intensity is key to your speed training, not the speed of the movement itself. This is where a great Yoga practice can transform your running game, and your fitness overall – thanks to the isometric element.

It may seem counterintuitive, but isometric exercises involving very challenging but static holds involving body weight (a foundational element of both Yoga and Barre) can be better than plyometric (like exploding into a movement, like big jumps or clapping push ups) for speed.

Isometric exercises for speed also use a minimum of impact force, and keep the body safe from injury. Great news for runners, and everyone else!

History Has Its Eyes on Us

Oceans of Pink

Pink hats, handmade signs, the sun straining through an overcast sky, and the collective buzz, excitement and hope of women united. These are some of the images and feelings from my experience at the Women’s March on Washington that I will never forget. This historic event changed my life and, for many citizens of the world, redefined the relationship between our beliefs and the actions we are willing to take to support them.

As we made our way through D.C.’s brownstone-lined neighborhoods, I felt an underlying nervousness considering some of the worst case scenarios that could potentially occur. We passed the steps of the capitol building en route to the march rendezvous point and people poured in on all sides. My friends and I stood and soaked in the sight of the gathering crowds, and anxiety began to melt into gratitude. Grandmothers in wheelchairs, moms and children and a surprising number of men marched along with us - with no sense of patriarchy or self-sacrifice, but as true equals and allies.

Fear evaporated when I looked around and let my heart be filled with love for the diverse ocean of fellow Americans coming together, to support each other with compassion, to bear witness and to unapologetically raise their voices for freedom, equality, and respect for all. There are no words for the power of the experience - shoulder-to-shoulder in a crowd larger than I had ever seen or even imagined, standing united for their values and love of humanity. 

History has its eyes on you

"History has its eyes on you" read one sign, carried by a man passing by. I stopped him for a photo and he beamed with joy and pride in this message. This is why we marched. 

"Misogyny is not normal" read another sign. How interesting the relief it was to have this basic value expressed so clearly, publicly and affirmatively. We trekked our way through the thick crowd to a spot where we were able to stand on a low wall and view the jumbotron showing the stage from which the presenters were speaking. The messages weren’t new, but they were powerful in their simplicity. Cheers of support erupted through the enormous crowd – “Women’s rights are human rights.” “Black lives matter.” “We will never give up.” It is amazing, the power in hearing your deepest truths declared aloud, no matter how many times you’ve thought them before.

My eyes filled with tears over and over again as I looked in all directions at the size of the crowd we were part of. I welled up with emotion (and still do) – not because I was inconsolable that my candidate wasn’t victorious in a presidential race, but because, by being part of this event, I know I am contributing to a permanent legacy. I am part of history. My human family was gathered around me in solidarity for the equality issues I’ve been blogging and speaking about for so many years, often wondering how many others out there cared as deeply as me.

We didn’t find out until returning from the march for the evening that similar events were happening all around the world. Over 5 Million people marched world wide – over 1 Million in Washington DC! There are no words to express how it felt to see and know we're not alone. It was clear on this day that feminism isn't an extreme agenda driven by fanatics. The feminist values I’ve been fighting for all these years are about equality, social justice and progressing into a brighter future for all humanity.

We will not “get over it”

For those that might not understand where we’re coming from – for me, the march wasn’t a complaint or part of an angry political agenda. It wasn’t about an inability to cope with change, a lack of adaptability or acceptance of reality. It was a fulfillment of my duty as an American and a human who believes certain inalienable rights and core values that I hold dear to my heart do matter.

Just as suffragists fighting for women’s right to vote didn’t get over it, and civil rights leaders struggling relentlessly for desegregation didn’t get over it – we will not “get over” the issues that were central to that event.

I see it as our duty as members of the human race to work for equality. If you haven't been assaulted, or discriminated against for the color of your skin, your religion, your sexuality or your gender – then you’re fortunate, and I am glad you haven’t suffered in this way. I believe that whether or not you’ve been personally affected by these injustices, it’s all of our responsibility to make sure nobody else has to go through them.

If you were part of the Women’s March - even if only in spirit - don't let anyone minimize it. This is the dawning of a new era of alert minds, compassionate perspectives and global action.

On Inauguration Day

Prior to the march, driving from Boston to Washington D.C. with a car full of friends (including Barre & Soul's Chief Amazement Officer, Crissy and our Yoga Teacher Training Director, Carrie), we felt a somber occasion was unfolding. At the same time, we talked about how grateful we remained - for America and all the freedoms and opportunities we have here. Carrie had just returned from a volunteer medical trip to a country decimated by disaster and lacking infrastructure and the supports we enjoy and too often take for granted in the US.

She reflected on the reality there - lack of roads, safety, clean water, and essential medical care for many citizens. Following the Women’s March, I’m more aware than ever of how great America IS today. And how crucial it is that we stay vigilant about the elements of greatness that matter most to us – equality, safety, freedom, diversity, and opportunity for all.

Within American culture, and in spite of a highly evolved system of government and justice, many women still can't achieve their highest potential. We have come a long, long way, but we can’t allow ourselves to forget what propelled our progress.

Don’t stop striving. Appreciate the things others before us have fought hard for. Keep raising your voice for equality and for the freedoms that for so many have not yet been realized.

Thank you to everyone who has joined this movement. We may not see the the end of this fight in our lifetimes. Keep fighting anyway.  

Last Call for St. Croix!

Imagine your feet in warm beach sand while you overlook shimmering blue waters and the sun is kissing your shoulders. You’re sitting in peace and feeling immensely content as the salty ocean air passes over your face. You close your eyes, take a deep breath and as you exhale you are able to release all the things weighing on you. You are in reflection mode, reset mode, and able to focus because you’ve given yourself the opportunity to break away from the monotony of daily life.

This is the experience you can expect if you choose to join us in St. Croix for our Barre & Soul Retreat. It’s five days to relax, reboot and get re-centered. If this sounds like something you need in your life, you can sign up here - we would love to have you!

Imagine a Private Jungle Bungalow built for two!

Private Jungle Bungalow
$2200 for 2 people ($1100 per person)
Space is very limited. These are almost gone!
*Prices include all accommodations, meals, airport transfer, barre & yoga classes, and optional excursions. Airfare not included.

Don't find yourself wondering why you hesitated on this one! Sign up now.

 

Hear Barre & Soul Founder on the NicoleAntoinette.com Podcast

Nicole-antoinette-interview-andrea-isabelle-lucas.jpg

Nicole sits down with interesting, inspirational, and refreshingly imperfect people to have unfiltered conversations about what’s really going on in our lives. You know, all that juicy behind-the-scenes stuff, like fears, secret dreams, guilty pleasures, and more.

Listen to the awesome podcast here.

Review: Barre & Soul Harvard Square

Blogger Alexandra Elizabeth, a Single Mom's Journey, reviews our Harvard Square studio.

In the midst of the constant bustle of Harvard Square lies an oasis for those that need an outlet where they can relax, rejuvenate and train hard. I was excited to have Barre & Soul join Harvard Square as there aren’t many barre studios on this side of town and travelling into Boston for a fitness class just doesn’t work with my schedule.

Read more here.

What’s for Breakfast? Three Health Pros Share Their Morning Meal

What’s for Breakfast? Three Health Pros Share Their Morning Meal

Andrea Lucas

Claim to fame: Lucas owns Barre & Soul, a barre and yoga studio with five locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

What she ate: Sesame sprouted grain toast with avocado, sea salt, spinach, and a fried egg.

Why she chose it: “This breakfast has a great balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates to provide plenty of energy for morning workouts and keep me full until lunch.”

Blogger Alex at Literally Everything gave our Harvard Square Yoga and Barre studio a try.

Blogger Alex at Literally Everything gave our Harvard Square Yoga and Barre studio a try.

A few weeks ago, i had the pleasure of heading to barre & soul's latest studio in harvard square to check out the digs and see what their barre class is like, i'm no stranger to barre classes, so i was curious to see how it differed from the other studios in the city.

barre & soul has the distinct honor of being harvard square's first barre studio and offers 48 barre and yoga classes throughout the week. i chose a friday morning barre class, and while it wasn't packed, i can imagine it'll be a hot spot once the students are back.

If You're Struggling Today, I'm With You

If You're Struggling Today, I'm With You

This post is brought to you by a pair of Hogwarts pajama pants that I've been wearing since noon. Today, even leaving the house feels challenging. Although I’m sure we are not unanimous in our political views, I think it is safe to say that the majority of us are in shock after last night's results. 

I share in your disbelief. My heart was heavy as I woke my kids up for school this morning. Our conversations were hard. I want them to feel safe, and to believe that everything is going to be OK, even when I myself need to be convinced that this is true.