barre n9ne –what’s working (for me)

<warning – uber long post, sorry!>

Well, a lotapparently. 😉

But seriously – I figure a lot of this barre n9ne challenge feels a bit like a mystery to all of you so I thought I’d break it down a little bit more for you. Especially the “what’s working” piece.

I’ve already talked a little bit about what makes a barre-style workout so awesome, but I thought I’d dig a layer deeper and talk about why this particular style of workout works so well – not just the barre classes, but the non-barre work, too. And as usual, this is coming from me, the non-fitness professional – just a diehard wannabe fitness professional. 😉

The barre n9ne challenge – what’s working for me:

The food log – this is at the top of the list for a reason. Admittedly, the food log scared the pants off of me at first. And it scared me for a reason, clearly. I needed it. In a big way. In a MUCH bigger way than I realized going into this challenge. I was so afraid I’d feel utterly chained down and restricted and that I’d hate every second of the log. Instead, it’s turned into an amazing tool, and a giant eye-opener. Not that I was eating bad – I wasn’t. I was just eating a lot more calories than I needed – albeit healthy foods made up most of that list, but like I said, it was too many calories for what my body needed. The whole “calories in/calories out” rule totally applies. Now, I eat the same amount of calories regardless of it being a Tuesday or a Saturday. I might be having wine on Saturday vs. on Tuesday but I’ve learned to plan for those indulgences. Instead of eating all that I want AND having a couple of glasses of wine, I’m eating a little bit less (or going for foods that are less calorically dense) so that I can afford to have a glass of wine (or chocolate brownie or whatever) on a Saturday night. Before this, I used to routinely have a cheat weekend day where nothing was off limits. Calories didn’t matter. Oy. Not anymore. And surprisingly, I’ve adjusted to the “planning” aspect of the weekends ridiculously well. I’m personally shocked that it’s not been nearly as painful as I thought. Um, wow. I’ve been jabbering on about this food log here, I guess I should’ve written a whole post just on that, who knew!?

Moving on…

Lotsa reps and teensy tiny movements – I sort of covered this in my last post on what makes these workouts so awesomely effective, but I wanted to make the distinction between the barre work and the none-barre workouts that make up the barre n9ne challenge. As I’ve said, those barre workouts are incredible with their tiny up/down movements that leave lasting “damage” effects on those legs and that butt. It’s the isolation of each body part combined with a ridiculously long set of those tiny moves per body part this is killer. The light weights used for each exercise (either bodyweight – at the barre, during planks and pushups – or very light 1-3 lb dumbells) is also pretty critical here. Light weights/high reps is an endurance style of weight training – it’s meant for increasing your overall endurance and typically produces leaner muscles than heavier weight training routines do (that focus on power vs. endurance). And this is why I love it. For the first time, I’m seeing more defined muscles. They look “pretty” versus “jacked” – if that distinction makes any sense! And NOT that “jacked” isn’t a hot look – because it totally can be – but for me, I’m digging the “pretty” defined/lean look my body is starting to take on. I credit the balance between the barre work and the non-barre work for that. I’d call the non-barre work a more focused concentration on core and upper body strength with barre work focused more on lower body conditioning (though, there is PLENTY of lower body conditioning happening during the leg work in Tanya’s long & lean legs class, lemme tell ya!).

Cardio – Although barre n9ne classes are a major focus of this challenge, cardio is an important component as you’ve no doubt seen by now. Especially since I so-very-smartly decided to sign up for another half marathon in the midst of the barre n9ne challenge! So, mixed in with barre n9ne classes, as most of you have seen, I’ve been running 4 (sometimes 5) days a week. I definitely put this in the “what’s working” for me category of the challenge. Personally, my body responds best when I’m doing a good amount of cardio so I knew I couldn’t nix it from my routine during the challenge. I made sure Tanya knew this going into things – my one caveat was “I can’t stop running” to which she happily obliged. Thank god! 😉

I guess what I’m trying to say here is this – at it’s very basic, the barre n9ne challenge has been about three things:

Healthy eating;
total body conditioning;
and cardio.

Essentially – a very well balanced and focused wellness program – but one that absolutely requires 100% 24/7 dedication. But it’s a wellness program that works. Like 6 inches gone, “works.” It’s stunningly effective and I *almost* want to hit fast-forward to see where we land in 30 more days. But then, the challenge would be over and well, I’m just not ready for that yet. 😉

I hope this rambly, wicked long post explains some of the “why it works” for all of you. If not, I promise you’ll see a post from Tanya soon that goes into more detail (since she *is* a fitness professional, hehe). <–and oddly enough? As I was drafting this post up tonight? I noticed that Tanya posted a little bit more on why this program is working on her blog, check it out (so weird, we have ESP or something?!)

Observations (on barre, running, and randoms)

My facebook status last night after back-to-back barre n9ne classes on top of an early-morning “run date” with my sis?

For real – totally and utterly embracing today’s rest day. This was an awesome week for workouts, but a girl’s gotta rest after all that, right?? And for once, I’m not whining about it. 😉

So anyway, a couple of observations sprang to mind on my commute in this morning:

  • Since starting the barre n9ne challenge just about three weeks ago, we’ve already taken 15 classes! 15! Insanely awesome!! Officially addicted (thank you, Tanya!!), loving every minute.
  • This week, fittingly enough given national runner’s day and all, marks the first week of half marathon training and I’m loving it, especially since my old friend “running mojo” seems to have returned. So far, there have been four runs in the 4.5-5.5 range. Saturday will be my first “long” run of 6.5 miles. I’m psyched!
  • Another observation? No lie – my jeans fit better today. As in, I don’t feel crammed into them. Progress, yay! Major “high” going on over here – runner’s high? Barre n9ne high? All of the above?
  • Another reason to be riding high today? This weekend is my 7 year wedding anniversary – can you believe it?? A post will be coming along on Sunday to celebrate, so keep an eye out for it. Otherwise, I’ll be disconnecting pretty completely this weekend. I’m sure you understand. 😉

So I guess you can put this blog post in the “when long commutes work in my favor” column. Lots of thoughts and observations and things running around in my brain this morning – hence the random nature of today’s post.

I guess if I could sum up this week? I’d call it a “riding high” kind of week, complete with a celebration of me (and you!) thrown in for good measure. Not too shabby. 😉 Happy, happy weekend, friends!

Now what?

Ok, so I’m committed to my 2nd half marathon.

And I’m all over the Barre N9ne challenge (which is going amazingly well, if my ridiculous enthusiasm over the whole thing isn’t clear by now!).

So…now what?

How will I balance both?

I was thinking about this last night as I dozed into dreamland. I’m all about focus these days – less is more, quality over quantity, all that jazz.

So here’s my plan: Barre N9ne is on until July 13. I’m in it to win it. So is my sis.

But the half will be just about one month later on August 14. I’ve got to finish what I’ve started.

So – is there a training plan in mind, you ask?

Kind of.

Booshy shared a pretty fanfrickintastic training plan with me and my sis today. She goes so far as to laminate it to post on the fridge (talk about motivating!). I love it. Yet – I find myself shying away from a “written” training plan, per se. So instead, I’m going to loosely follow what I did last summer when training for the Wicked Half. The whole less is more thing worked well here – less is more being  less structure is better for me than more. It prevents stress, something I dig, big time these days.

So the plan, sorry – was digressing there for a sec. (Such a spaz today.):

Run 4x/week – one long run (likely on Sundays) of varying mileage, two shorter runs (3-5ish miles) and one mid-range run (6, 7ish). Of course, I’ll be building up to the longer mileage to avoid any training injuries. The last thing I want to do is run into another knee issue!

In between running, I’ll continue to focus, focus, focus on Barre N9ne.

And that’s it. All she wrote, folks.

Kinda sounds like what I’m already doing now, huh? Well, it is – I’m just finally ready to give this “thing” a name – it’s my barre-n9ne-challenge-ala-half-marathon-training-lovefest.

Whatcha think? Has a nice ring to it, no?

Oh – and in typical spaz fashion, a couple of MUST-HAVES to get me through the next 2.5-ish months, I’ve decided?

I need:

Lululemon RUN shorts

I need:

Lululemon groove pants

Where’s my Lululemon fairy godmother? I’m waaaaitng.



So what exactly *is* a barre-style workout, anyway?

With all this talk about Barre N9NE, I thought it probably made a lot of sense to describe what these classes are really like.

But before I do that, I just have to say – I LOVED reading about Core Fusion and other barre-style workouts in the New York Times this week. If you haven’t read it yet, please do – it gives a great history of where this whole “barre” craze originated from and what the high-level benefits are of such a workout.  This might be my favorite quote out of the whole story:

Which doesn’t mean barre classes aren’t as hard. Most of the moves, like squats in a grand plié position with raised heels, are so intense that they will make your muscles shake and burn within minutes. “Some of these exercises are lethal,” said Fred DeVito, a founder of Core Fusion.

“Lethal” is a great way to describe all those rounds and rounds of reps. Legs shaking. Body rocking. Love.

But I digress. So what are these classes all about?

I’ll use Barre N9NE signature class – which was, most certainly, “lethal” last night. Juliana kicked our a$$es. Royally.

Warm-up: 5 minutes of dynamic stretching to get the heart rate going and to loosen those muscles before they’re worked.

Upper body work with light (very light, 2-3 lbs, max) handweights: Not gonna lie, the first time I saw the size of these weights, I was like “pshhht. This will be a piece of CAKE!” Um yeah, maybe if we were lifting those weights for 10-12 reps. But nope, you’re lifting and lowering for at least three rounds of roughly (and I’ve never counted) 25 reps per round.  Add that up and we’re talking 75 reps per exercise. And this class takes you through shoulders, back, triceps and biceps – oh and chest (hello, push-ups!). Oy.

Lower body work, ballet barre-style:  Now this is where the word “lethal” really comes into play. If your legs aren’t shaking during/after this section of the workout, you have not worked hard enough. Legit. Most of this work involves very, very tiny up/down movements with legs in various positions:

…Facing the mirror/barre, toes lifted (as if in high heeled shoes), knees bent – up/down/up/down for a bajillion reps.

…Repeat that with feet pointed out, toes lifted (to work inner thighs).

…Repeat that with legs in a wide plie to work thighs, glutes, everything.

…And so on and so forth.

All while keeping your hips tucked under, core tight, tight, tight. This takes a lot of thinking…at least it does for me…to keep proper form. So if you saw me in class, you’d see a pretty serious expression (that would be my “thinking” face) mixed with eyes squeezed shut, trying not to stop the up/down movement until the series ends.


Core work/stretch: Who would have ever thought that five minutes of core work would hurt so much, would WORK so much?  I guess it feels far more impactful after having kept that core so very tight for the entire upper body and lower body series – you’re working your core the entire class. So having a dedicated section for core work is icing on the cake (at least for me!). No wonder it hurts so good. 😉 Depending on the type of barre class you take, this section of the workout will vary pretty dramatically. Last night’s class included a variety of core work that worked all aspects of the core. I don’t know what it is, but this just works. I think I sweat the most in this part of the series, I swear!

So yeah – for me, these workouts are body rocking, through and through. If you’ve never ever considered a class like this, I would reconsider…I’d seriously  bend over backwards to get to one if I were you. I promise, it will absolutely be worth it. <— Wow, I kinda feel like I’m talking about a cult, geez, could I be even more in love with these workouts??

With that – I’m off to Barre N9NE tonight for a lean  & tone class.  I took this one last week and loved it – it’s not “barre” so much as a really, really good toning (lots of lengthening with strengthening) class. A great companion to the barre work we’ll do the rest of this week (and throughout this challenge).

Happy Tuesday, ya’ll!

Me – “refined”

Thanks to a certain blog friend, Melissa – who inspired this very post today. Her “new inspiration” post is what did it. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do.

As you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about my body, the changes I’d like to make, the honesty I’m dealing with in facing some habits and such that I’d like to see change – all thanks to the Barre N9NE challenge my sis and I just kicked off this week.

Well? I’ve come to a conclusion – about what my goal is coming out of this challenge, in just 58 days from now.

I’d like to be me – “refined.”

So what does that mean, exactly?

Similar to what Melissa mentioned in her post today, this is about me looking to simply refine who I am. Sure, this has to do with how I look, but it also has to do with how I feel, perhaps even more so…

I’d like to feel as healthy and strong as I deserve to feel.

I’d like to feel confident in my body, trusting that it’ll never fail me (especially when running when those mind games always kick into high gear for me).

I’d like to look just a little bit more fit – feeling as good as the work that I put into my workouts (and into my eats).

I’d like to feel more like the “me” I’ve always wanted to be, but sort of feel like I’ve always come up just shy of. As if I’ve been holding back a little bit. Not allowing myself to reach as far or as high for the stars…as if I don’t trust myself enough to own whatever it is that I put my mind to. (reminds me of something I heard on Biggest Loser this week about Austin…who always gave up right at the end of whatever challenge he faced – a soccer game, a class assignment, whatever)

You’ll notice that none of this is quantifiable. No numbers. No scales. Nada.
Sure – I was measured earlier this week to see where I’ve made changes in the shape of my body. And that’s fine. But it won’t define “success” for me at the end of this challenge.

Success for me at the end of this challenge is simple…

I want to be “me – refined.”

And I can’t wait to meet her.

And so it begins…


Last night marked the first day in the 60 day Barre N9NE transformation.

It was exactly what I’d hoped it would be.


The long & lean legs class? Um, hello – EVERYTHING was on fire at one point or another, my ass, my thighs (if you’ve never heard the term “thigh dancing” – trust me, you don’t want to, holy fire in the thighs!), my calves, my ass, oh wait – I said that already. You get the idea. 😉 For those of you wondering what this class is all about, it’s all body weight based – and almost entirely floor work. Yes, floor work. My nemesis. I  have a love-to-hate affair with floor work. But this? This was unreal. And I LOVED it. The groans when Tanya said “hold up – you thought you were done? One more set!” were hysterical – not one of us kept quiet at that point.

And then we met with Tanya. Talked about the food log (which, I gotta be honest, I’m not hating nearly as much as I thought I would…), talked about the next couple of weeks worth of workouts (LOTS of workouts, woohoo!), and yes – we took measurements. I’m excited to see those numbers change – but haven’t decided how much of that I’ll share here. I’ll get back to you on that…

After our meeting, we went into round II – Barre N9ne method express. This is a slightly shorter version of their method class but is so close to the full hour that I didn’t feel like I missed much at all. This was taught by Juliana – who I love, she is so bubbly and energetic, and motivating. Between her and Tanya, we’re gonna have a blast, I’ve decided. I’d call this class the most similar to Core Fusion, for those of you who have taken that class or done that DVD at home. Upper body toning, lower body barre work, stretching and ab work.  Great music, btw.

And then? We were done. With day #1.
Pooped. Starving (the second class ended at 8:15pm).
But done. 

Here’s to day #2, #3, #4…and #60.

Weee! 😉

Can we do lunch?

Before I dive into today’s post, I just have to say how totally blown away I was by all of your wonderful comments on my “honesty” post. I continue to be amazed by the blogging community – especially that ya’ll are so much more like me than I realized. Not gonna lie – I’m relieved. That I can continue to be “me” without feeling like a fraud or something crazy like that.  So thank you. So much. Ya’ll rock!


Now that I’ve buttered you all up (heh), I need a favor. A request really. 

Can we do lunch? 

By that I mean – can you please share some of your favorite (portable) lunch ideas with me?? I know I’m only into day four of food loggin’ it but I already know that I need to add more variety so I don’t get bored. Honestly – I knew this well before starting the food log, but now that I’m more aware of my eats, I’m not seeing enough variety. And no variety = boredom. And boredom = mindless eating.

Here are some examples of the kinds of lunches I tend to eat (especially during the week- weekends are easier to add variety since I’m home):

  • Turkey wrap with fresh veggies and a side of baby carrots and hummus
  • Veggie burger on a bagel thin with either a side salad or baby carrots and hummus (see? sensing a variety-less theme here!)
  • Salad with “stuff” thrown in (leftover quinoa or cousous or brown rice from the night before plus lots of veggies – hey at least that counts as “variety” right?)
  • Egg salad on a bagel thin – again with baby carrots and hummus
  • Turkey bologna (yes, I love this – from Trader Joe’s!) on Ezekiel bread with – yup, more carrots/hummus
  • Turkey burger (plain – no bun) with a sweet potato (I did this a lot in the winter, was a good comforting lunch, doesn’t necessarily appeal to me so much now that it’s spring)
  • Leftovers from the night before – this is rare, I’m not a huge ‘leftovers’ fan in general

So, as you can see, I’m bored. Bored, bored, bored! Even just typing this up made me realize how ridiculously variety-less my lunchtime eats are these days.  Geesh.

So please, pretty please – send me your best lunchtime eats!  I promise to return the favor in some shape or form. 🙂 


In other news, tonight is the official START of the 60-day Barre N9NE challenge – woohoo!!

The plan for day one? As follows:

5:30pm long & lean legs
6:30pm meeting with Tanya (owner of the studio) to take measurements, get weighed (using the “Tina” method, mind you!) and taking our “before” pics <—more on this aspect of the challenge in a future post
7:30pm Barre N9nE Method express class (45 mins vs. 1 hr)

I’ll report back tomorrow, I promise!

In the meantime:

Bring. It. On!! 

On Barre (n9ne)-raising expectations

Now that the initial fitgeek freak-out is mostly behind me, I’ve had time to think about what this Barre N9NE 60 day challenge means to me, what my expectations are, and other rambling thoughts in between. <thanks sis, for the blog topic idea!>

In no particular order…

I’m excited. For change – in body, but even more so in mind. I want this to reset my thinking on what I believe my body is capable of.  Far too often I think I sell myself short in this area. I have doubts. I don’t always trust my body to carry me through whatever challenge it faces. I want to see that end.

I’m ridiculously ready for something new. Even if that means rethinking my current workout regime…something that I know is bound to happen with the amount of barre-work I’ll be doing in the next 60 days. I am willing to give up my “usual” weight training routine, for sure. I’m not so ready to give up running…spinning, maybe, running, notsomuch. So that will be a challenge for me – fitting in my love of running – without overtraining.

I expect…

…this to be hard.


…Sometimes even a little bit intimidating.

…but so much fun. 

The ladies over at Barre N9NE have years and years of dancing, ballet, and fitness experience between them – and they are stunningly strong, long, and lean. <they are also the cutest, nicest and most-welcoming women I’ve ever met, I swear>  I love that – but it also kind of intimidates me somehow. It’s kind of a control thing – I’m used to controlling my own “destiny” if you will, when it comes to my workouts, so letting someone else take control seems crazy to me.

But I’m ready.
To embrace. 
To let go. 
To learn. 
To transform.  

I’m SURE I’ll have an entirely different set of feelings/expectations after we meet with Barre N9NE on Saturday to walk through the 60 day plan…so maybe I’ll update this post then. For now – I’m super-duper excited and STILL fit-geeking it out, big time. Don’t mind me. 😉

And, thank you all for being so excited right back for me and my sis, I love that. So much. You guys are the best!

*Warning* Fitgeek moment

I’m having a mini – ok major – fitgeek moment. 

Seriously, bursting at the seams.

So much so that this post just couldn’t wait until tomorrow.

...what? TWO posts from me in one day??

That could only mean one thing – only that I have some really, really, REALLY cool news to share. 

Something my sis and I have been cooking up but have kept under wraps until now. (Call it the jinx factor…or sheer doubt that we’d actually win!).

So here goes…

We were just informed that she and I were chosen for a 60-day transformation at Barre N9NE!!!
(Barre N9NE is the super-cool studio  we’ve been testing out the past two weeks that’s very similar to Core Fusion/Exhale Spa, just local to us instead of a national brand)

Not only that but we get to be Barre N9NE SPOKESMODELS to boot!! 

I mean, that’s got to be the COOLEST thing ever, especially if you’re a self-professed fitgeek like me!
AND it means we’re bound to see some amazing “transformative” results, right??

Of course, I have zero details to share until we meet with Barre N9NE owner Tanya on Saturday.  All I know is this – it’s gonna be awesome. And we’re totally gonna ROCK it out!!

But seriously – I am bursting with excitement (if you couldn’t tell by the five million exclamation points in this post!!)! This is especially awesome since we’ll get to experience this entirely together…something we don’t get to do quite as often now that we don’t work together, commute together, spend nearly every waking moment together! <sob>

And bonus? They have a “baby barre” class I think our sis and beautiful niece Isabel may test out at some point during this 60 day transformation. I love it!!

Ahhhhhhh!!!! <—-this is me *still* freaking out, hours after getting the news, even. I can’t even sit still. This is just craziness!!!