Running + barre: revisited

Last May, less than two weeks into the 60-day barre n9ne challenge, I wrote about running + barre and how great of a combination it was turning into for me. At the time, I was still very, very new to barre and had barely scratched the surface in that post about just how amazing of a pairing barre workouts can be with running.

I have been meaning to revisit the topic for awhile now but after seeing this fab friend posting on Facebook that she was adding barre and yoga work to her (first-ever!) half marathon training plan, I knew it was time to get crackin’ on this post.

So, in no particular order, here is what makes running + barre an awesome marriage (at least IMHO…)

Strong hammies and glutes = happy knees. It’s no secret that I’ve had my fair share of knee issues over the years. There was an ITBS flare-up after my first half marathon (that required PT) and then there was a fairly minor case of patellar tendonitis after my second half marathon (sensing a trend here, are we?).  In both cases, the real issue wasn’t my knees but the muscles surrounding my knees. They were weak. Underdeveloped. In need of some serious muscle conditioning. Since taking barre classes this past year, would you guess that my knees have never been happier? My third half marathon in October did not follow the same pattern as my previous two: I didn’t come away from the experience injured. Quite the opposite. I walked away healthy and fit and strong. I owe it to the barre (n9ne).

Endurance, like whoa. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll refresh your memory again. The barre n9ne method (as well as similar barre styles) relies heavily on endurance-style muscle conditioning. In other words — a shitton lots and lots of reps, done with very light handweights or just the weight of your own body (at the barre and on the mat). That endurance requires focus and mental strength to push through all those reps, to allow your body to do the work your mind is trying to tell you isn’t possible. It’s the same endurance (mentally and physically) that’s needed when it comes to running miles (long, short, speedy, or otherwise). My interval workouts are speedier and more powerful and my overall run-durance is way better than it’s ever been (particularly this winter when I really, really wanted to keep my mileage up during the colder months of the year, always a struggle for me int he past). Again, I owe a lot of that to the endurance and mental strength I’ve gained from the barre (n9ne).

Smabs. <—for those of you unfamilar with my lingo, that’s code for “some abs” or “smabs.” Prior to barre n9ne, I had a really hard time connecting with my core, and because of that, I often underworked that part of my body when it came to strength training. At one point, I hated core work. Hated. Did anything in my power to woopsie, skip that part of my workouts whenever possible. Now? I’m working my core daily for hours at a time. Hours?? Yes, hours. Every single barre class I take or teach requires constant vigilance in maintaining a strong, engaged core. During the upper body work, while at the barre working the lower body and glutes, and most definitely during the core-specific segment of the class. In reality, you should be working your core the entire hour of the class. So you can imagine the difference I’ve seen in my core strength after a year of classes. Not gonna lie, while changing for my interval workout the other night, I actually did a double-take in the mirror — I’m rockin’ some serious ab definition. ((ME? Smabs? Who knew?! )) But I digress — back to running + barre and why this all relates. The core is a huge factor in how you run strong. It keeps you centered and sturdy and able to push up and down hills and into those wind gusts It’s partially why I don’t fear hills and don’t totally hate running in the wind (sure, it’s not *fun* per se, but at least I know I can push through it with strength). Once again, I owe it to the barre (n9ne).

Botton line: It’s all connected. And barre n9ne, combined with running, has more than proven that to me. It’s all connected. It all matters. It all works together in perfect harmony.

Running + barre = happy knees; a centered, focused mind; and the strongest body this girl has ever had. ❤
(…how’s that for enough reasons to give this pairing a try some time?) 😉

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38 thoughts on “Running + barre: revisited

  1. I agree about the strong thighs = happy knees concept. I get scared going into some yoga poses because I hyperextend, but recently noticed just how safer I am when I’m fully engaging my thigh muscles.

    I cannot wait to try barre classes after hearing all about it from you and your sis. The studio here in Cleveland is opening at the end of next month!

    • YES! Engaging the thigh muscles while in some of the trickier moves will totally keep your joints so cushioned and safe. It’s really incredible the difference I’ve seen in how my knees feel today vs. a year or two ago. I love it.

      I am SO psyched you’re getting a barre studio in CLE! I cannot wait to hear all about it!! (and now you’ll be primed and ready to take class here when you visit this summer with the hubs!!)

  2. I love that….strong thighs=happy knees. So true!
    Also….I used to hate core work, then I started doing workouts that just work abs (like yoga, HIIT, etc.) and stopped doing dang crunches… and funny enough, that’s when I got a 6-pack. Works for me!

    • Isn’t it amazing what a difference you can see in your core when you 1) find a core workout you actually don’t hate and 2) you actually WORK your core (and the right way)??

  3. I cannot wait to take more barre classes with you! I really enjoyed that one a couple of weeks ago, and I think it would definitely be a great addition to the rest of my routine. I’m so happy you’ve found that happy place that keeps you fit, keeps your running strong and your body looking hot 😉

  4. So true about the strong glutes and hammies = happy knees. Amazes me what a difference it makes. While I have yet to try a barre class, what I imagine is that it’s similar to yoga and pilates in that it creates body awareness. Having that awareness about your body and how things connect and more and your core – whoa. Makes such a huge difference for me.

    • YES. Awareness – you are so spot-on with that perception! It’s very similar to the mind-body connection you’d get from a yoga or pilates class, and the difference once you get to “know” your body in that way is remarkable.

  5. Well, girlfriend, you already knew before this post you that you guys convinced me to try it. I’m so bored with the >gym< that I needed something different to help me through training. It'll also require me to be more disciplined in that I have to take advantage of quiet times…early AM. When the kids aren't up. My bar got here yesterday (in a day! wow!), the P57 stuff is on its way and should be here Monday (perfect timing!), and I'm pumped!!

    My knees have issues, too. I can hear the crunchies going on in there…and they've gotten better with strength training…so this is what I look forward to "testing out". And smabs?? Oh I need me smabs. LOL My core is really weak from kids…and because I never worked them afterward. Here's to smabs!!

    (And thanks for the shout out. 😉 I love you!)

    • Ohhhhh friend, I simply cannot wait for you to get going with your barre work at home!! You will LOVE it. And THEN – when you come up to visit (which I hope is SOON), you’ll be all set to rock it out at the barre in a studio setting. What could be better than that, really? 😉 That and rockin’ the smabs work and you’re gonna be SO PUMPED for your half marathon!!!

  6. SMABS! Yes! I think a strong core is really something I never thought of when it came to running, but that totally helps me not wilt or droop forward when I run. And my legs are incredibly strong now and this combination is truly our kryptonite…in a good way 🙂

    • SMABS make such a difference as a runner, so much more control and stability and assurance that your body will carry you through as many miles as you want it to. I love it, totally kryptonite in a good way 🙂

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  8. I can only imagine the benefit from taking the Barre classes many times a week. I really plan on fitting this into my fall plans after my kids are in school. 🙂

    • Oh I LOVE that you’re working this into your training plans this fall!! I’ll have to sneak on over to the Andover studio to take some classes with you once you settle in! 🙂

  9. i enjoy barre classes too – and have bad knees (2 surgeries last year!) so the non-impact is great for me! how cool that only 2 weeks in and you’re feeling such great results!

    • Ha, I wish it had only been two weeks and I’d seen such incredible results. It’s been a year of barre work for me to see such results and changes and realizations. Ha!

      But YES — so so so great for anyone that has had knee issues before, and for anyone that wants to avoid having knee issues, particularly as a runner of longer distances.

  10. Maybe when I get clearance for weight-bearing cross training, I should give this a try. I think we have some studios here that offer sessions, just wish my Y where I already have a membership did.

  11. Who is a rock star?? You lady, that’s for sure. How amazing.

    I want smabs, like now.

    Strong hammies and glutes = happy knees. Once you figure out how to build up your body strength your trouble areas are so much happier!

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