5 ways to take your barre form to the next level via lifeofblyss.com

It’s so easy to simply go through the motions of any fitness class. Many clients don’t realize that they can up their results by over 60% by simply adjusting form and intensity.

How much you put into a workout might be a case of personal preference, understanding of technique, or a case of just “not really feelin’ it.” That’s totally fine; we’ve all been there. Every client should always listen to his/her body and work at his/her own level and pace.

As a Pure Barre teacher, I believe some clients don’t even realize they could be upping their form, calorie burn, and muscle tone with a just a few tweaks. This could lead to better results at the barre. Here, I’m breaking down a few.

AND. I’ve enlisted the help of my studio owner, Gracie, and my fellow teacher friend, Elizabeth, to pose for some pictures for you so you don’t have to suffer though staring at me over and over again. 😉

1. Flex your muscles all through warmup. From the moment your teacher has you pull your arms down in wide, sweeping motions, you should be flexing your biceps and your abs. Just try it — you’ll see how much harder your muscles work and how much faster your heart rate rises.

barre warmup form via lifeofblyss.com

2. Challenge yourself: Two inches higher/lower.

In warmup, the second you hit the ground, keep your shoulder blades as high as you possibly can while pulling your navel to your spine. This will keep your abs working to their greatest potential.

barre warmup form via lifeofblyss.com2
In thigh work, try sinking an inch lower with every single change in choreography. It will make a HUGE difference in how tough thigh work is for you, and it’ll make your legs that much stronger for next class.

barre thigh form via lifeofblyss.com 2

In ab work, round down an inch lower with every change (but if your hip flexors kick in, you’re too low and no longer working your abs — stay aware of this).

3. Literally aim for the “shake.” These days, I never make it through thighs without getting to that uncomfortable, quivering shake. Although it feels weird and uncontrolled, it’s the very best goal to set for yourself. If you’re shaking, you’re bringing your muscles to fatigue and truly challenging your body. That means you’re getting stronger.

4. All your focus is in the working muscle — squeeze harder, lift higher. Your teacher should always tell you what muscle you are targeting through each exercise. Literally put all your focus right there, and find the form that works that muscle the hardest.

targeted muscles in barre via lifeofblyss.com

In thigh work on your knees, flex from the top of the thigh and think about leaning back rather than forward (your shoulders should always be above your hips). You should put all your focus on lifting from the top of your thigh.

barre thigh form via lifeofblyss.com
Is everything on your body turned off so you can focus on squeezing from your side seat? Ask yourself these questions as you move throughout class.

5. Make it difficult. If you aim to make a certain exercise really hard, it will prevent you from using momentum. Always think to yourself, “How can I make this harder? How can I really feel this?”

Ultimately, the responsibility is yours to make each class a challenge. Use these tips to make your work at the barre effective and to achieve the results you’re craving. And remember, always ask your teacher questions if you’re confused or wondering how you can make certain exercises more effective.


When I was training for my Marine Corps Marathon, an expert recommended heart rate training to me.

At the time, I was a stranger to using a heart rate monitor. I was all about keeping running enjoyable, and on top of a regimented schedule of how I’d tackle the high mileage, I ended up ditching the idea and sticking to time/pace training.


However, ever since becoming more involved in group exercise like spin and Pure Barre, I can really appreciate the importance and benefits of heart rate training. In my opinion, wearing a heart rate monitor pushes me harder and encourages me to work to my best potential. And therefore, because I know how hard I worked, I know how to properly refuel after my workout.

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One of my favorite things about knowing how many calories I’ve burned? Making great recipes by friends who give you calorie counts with the recipe.

Thanks to my Polar Loop 2 and the H7 Heart Rate Monitor, I’ve been tracking my heart rate in barre classes. I can see how hard I work when I take class, and I can see how many calories I burn teaching. Total win!

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Training to your heart rate is an accurate way of reading just how hard your body is working. Your pace and times don’t necessarily translate to level of difficulty, but a sky rocketing heart rate absolutely does.

My favorite reasons to wear my heart rate monitor in group fitness classes:

  1. It’s measurable. After class, when I sync my loop to the Polar App on my iPhone, I can see how hard I’ve actually worked and how my body handled different exercises and separate parts of class. I really like the breakdown the Polar app offers, because I can see exactly where I’m working my hardest (and I can tell myself to work harder in other places)!
    Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 6.44.36 PM
  2. Live reporting pushes me harder. During class, I can tap the touch button and see my heart rate. If I see a high number, I get this little “aw yeah!” feeling. If I see a low number, I push myself a little further, and I notice a big difference in how challenging class feels.IMG_1226
    This exercise may look easy, but trust me, it’ll make your heart rate sky rocket.
  3. You can use it to tailor your workout according to what you want out of your body. Like the thought process behind Orange Theory Fitness (which I’ve been getting into here and there now that it’s so cold/dark outside for running), you can use your heart rate reading to train in certain heart rate zones (easy, fat burning, aerobic, anaerobic, and red zone). Aim to stick to a certain zone for the type of workout you’re seeking.
    If your body is working on overdrive, you can watch your heart rate reading to stay in a fat burning zone. If you want to get stronger and faster and increase endurance, push yourself to hit the higher zones.IMG_1206
  4. It’s easy. The heart rate monitor is the most comfortable one I’ve worn. I choose to wear it right underneath the line of my sports bra so it stays flush with my sternum. I wet the sensor, put it on, hold down the button on my Polar Loop 2, and make sure it checks my heart rate. Ta-da! We’re rockin’ and rollin’.FullSizeRender 18
    (Pictured here is actually my older model Polar HRM. Make sure you get the H7 for use with the Polar 2!)

I also really like using my heart rate monitor during fitness classes because it helps me reach my daily goal on the Polar Loop 2 quickly. Honestly, there’s nothing more satisfying than the little firework display on my wrist when I’ve hit 100%.


And then I eat all the things. Like one of my all-time favorites, this avocado and chicken caprese salad.

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Try it after a good sweat session. I dare ya.

Bottom line: I’m working harder, and I’m refueling smarter. And I’m seeing results in how strong I am and how good I feel.

If you’re interested in partaking in some heart rate training with me, you can snag a Polar Heart Rate Monitor or activity tracker for 20% off with the coupon code “POLARFITBLOG“. There is no quantity limit. The code is good only online at Polar.com and in the US. It expires on 12/31/2015.

Have you tried heart rate training? How have your results been? Have any questions about how it works? Hit me!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Polar.


Last month, I was running very frequently in addition to my Pure Barre schedule. My body was craving cardio, and I was going after it about 5 times each week.

Then, all of a sudden, my knees rebelled. I’ve never really had knee issues (shin splits and IT band tightness, sure). I was feeling slight knee pain whenever I ran, so I hauled my butt over to Fleet Feet Sports Richmond. I knew Jeff, their owner, from a partnered pub run, so I was happy to see him there ready to come to my rescue.

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Clearly, I cleaned up.

Turns out, my old Brooks Pure Flows just weren’t cutting it. In addition to seeing better days (I’ve been running on them for about a year, but switching them out every few runs for my Pure Connects), they were lacking a little bit of spring I was craving after sampling a pair of Saucony’s during one of our fun runs. Psst, if you ever have the opportunity, take a pair of running shoes for a few mile trail run. It’s so eye opening to what you may want in a shoe and not even realize it.


If you had told me that I’d walk out of Fleet Feet with a pair of Under Armor running shoes, I’d laugh at you. I’ve never even tried to run in a pair, and I’d honestly never think I was a fan. But after telling Jeff what I like, how I run, and how I was feeling, he suggested I try these Under Armour Speedform Gemini Running Shoes.

When I tried these on in-store, I loved how comfortable the toes were. I tend to scrunch up my toes when I run to prevent them from slamming into the front of my shoe, and this is the first shoe I’ve met that actually prevents that with their soft edge.

Once I started running in the shoes, I was shocked by much easier my run felt. I felt bouncier, lighter (while the actual shoe is not lighter than my old one), and I felt faster.

Lots faster. I run an average of 30 seconds per minute faster in these shoes. Whaaaat?

I’m not kidding. These shoes made me faster.


In addition to my shoes, I snagged some Balega Hidden Comfort socks (life-changing, I promise). These are so freaking comfy to run in, and I am always so disappointed when I find all of mine are in the wash and I have to wear different socks for my run.

I’ve also been visiting a massage therapist (holla, Tammy from Hand and Stone Short Pump!) for my knee troubles. Turns out, my seat is extremely tight from all the Pure Barre/running, and I need to give it some pressure massages so it stops pulling on my leg muscles, and in turn, making my knees hurt.

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This little Q Point ball has been my absolute life saver. It’s a little smaller and tougher than a tennis ball and can be frozen or heated up. I essentially sit on it as if I’m doing tricep tips and roll around on it so it’s pressing into my glute from different angles. Like foam rolling, this “hurts so good.” Using this on my glutes has alleviated my knee pain, and I’ve been using it on the bottom of my feet to further prevent the beginnings of plantar fasciitis.

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I got this guy, too. The Addaday Roller looks a little scary in comparison to my foam roller, but I was having issues working my hamstring. If you’ve tried using a foam roller on it, you know the struggle. I’m a huge fan of the Addaday for my sore legs. And if you can get someone else to do it for you, according to my peeps at Fleet Feet, it’s 30% more effective. :)

Finally, I grabbed a new Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Flask. I find holding a water bottle really challenging between juggling my phone with earbuds and Chloe, but I know if I have just a little bit of water, I’ll last longer on really hot days. This mini water bottle really gets me.

And for the record, Fleet Feet didn’t ask me to post this or review anything I purchased at full-price from the store. I thought these were great tools worth sharing since they’ve helped me so much!

Now, all this talk about running is making me really miss hitting the pavement. I’ve been down for the count with the stomach bug last week and a sinus infection this week… ’tis the season! Stay healthy, friends.

Any new running tools you’ve come across lately? Fallen in love with a new pair of shoes? I want to hear all about it!


Learning to be “Passively Active” with The Polar Loop 2

October 12, 2015

I’m an all or nothing person. I always have been. All in. All out. I have a hard time taking it easy in my workouts, because I want to train harder and get better. On the other end of the “fit” spectrum, I have a hard time getting up off the couch once I’m there. […]

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Work Travels for the Win

October 7, 2015

It’s been a hot minute, I know. I feel like it’s been weeks since I have had the time to do anything but travel, work, run, or barre. Since we last chatted, I’ve been to four Pure Barre studios across the country, traveled to five different cities, and ate a whole lot of food on […]

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Ten things for Tuesday

September 15, 2015

I’m throwing a lot of information at you at once. Buuuut I kinda love these random listy posts. Happy Tuesday, y’all. Punch today in the gut. PRESENTING: Ten Things for Tuesday. I pre-ordered the iPhone 6s, and I am SO EXCITED to finally have a phone I don’t need to charge 4 times a day! […]

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The Glamorous Life of A Dog Mom

September 3, 2015

If you’ve been wondering what Chloe’s been up to lately amidst my work travel… She was livin’ the good life at Camp Grandparents. I’m lucky my mom really, really wants a dog. Every time I need to travel, she quickly comes to Richmond to scoop her up and take her back to North Carolina. I […]

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Pure Barre Technique Spotlight: Abs Under The Barre

August 31, 2015

Abs under the barre is one of the tougher exercises for new and old Pure Barre clients to understand and conquer. It’s the part of class that is so easy so sail through without fatiguing the muscles you’re intending to work. Here, I’ve highlighted a few tips to get to your best work in abs […]

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The Search For A New Running Watch/Fitness Tracker: I Need Your Help!

August 27, 2015

All electronics are rebelling against me. All of them! Remember my beloved Garmin vívofit? I lost him. (I did a writeup about it compared to other fitness trackers here). I think it’s a goner. I have no idea where I lost it, but the band started getting loose and falling off my wrist. I think […]

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My First Infrared Sauna Experience

August 24, 2015

When I heard an infrared sauna was coming to Richmond, I was pretty intrigued. I’ve sat in a few saunas before, but I’d never heard of an infrared sauna. After my initial research, I learned the benefits included muscle and injury recovery. My muscles are always so sore between my daily barre and running regimen, […]

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