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?!)

30 days in…

Wow. Today marks the 30-days in mark towards the 60-day barre n9ne challenge my sister and I are neck deep in at the moment.

<Editor’s note: I realize my post today will sound eerily similar to my sister’s guest post from earlier in the week, but bear with me – sometimes I gotta blog it out, even if my words sound alike to that of my sister’s -what can I say, we *are* related afterall!>

Honestly? Tanya was so right to call this a 60-days a “transformation” because that is indeed what it’s become for my sister and I.

…I’ve re-learned how to listen to my body.

…To eat when hungry versus eating because it’s “time” to eat, or because I’m bored and feeling munchy vs. true hunger. <—very hard for this self-professed foodie, I love, love, LOVE to eat. 

…To work hard, harder than I admittedly ever have in any other challenge I’ve committed to before.

…To let my mind go, watching my body change before my very eyes.

…Running harder and more consistently than ever and enjoying every moment of those runs (which bodes well given we’re also three weeks into half marathon training, too!)

…And feeling damn proud. Of me and my sister (who looked damn fine at the wedding she went to this weekend lemme tell ya – she looked HOT. Maybe she’ll let me post the pic here if you all beg and plead…hehe).

…For the first time, all of the effort I’ve put into my workouts and healthy eating is finally showing.

Probably most notably? I stand taller – something my husband noted just this weekend, in fact. I stand taller because I am more confident. Overflowing with pride.

…Because I’ve done this. Something that truthfully scared me when we first started out – the changes I needed to make seemed a little daunting and unnatural to me. But 30 days in and it doesn’t feel scary anymore. It’s become my new normal. 

And we’ve still got 30 more days of this challenge to go. I honestly cannot fathom what that will feel like/look like, but I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be transformative.

30 days in…

Schedule for the week (inquiring minds wanna know, right?? Plus this keeps me honest, kinda like Jess from Fit Chick in the City’s “say it do it” – works wonders!):

Sunday – rest day (legs were feeling all 7 of those rainy miles from Saturday!)
Monday – 5 miler in the AM; barre  n9ne signature method
Tuesday – speedy 5k in the AM; barre n9ne lean & tone
Wednesday – 5.5 miler in the AM (seeking bunnies along the way!)
Thursday – “run-date” with the sister in the AM – 6ish miles; barre n9ne long & lean legs (dimly lit??) and barre n9ne fusion
Friday – possible second rest day (likely!)
Saturday – long run, 7.5 or so planned plus barre n9ne TFFR at the park (toned firm fit and ready at the park)


Ready for “battle”?

This is what 7 miles in the rain looks like (in case you were wondering):

But that’s not the point of my post today.

My point?

My husband thinks I’m armed and ready for battle with all the gear I had on for today’s long run ala YuKanRun half marathon training.


Well, I *did*  have an awful lot of gear on today:
Hat – to keep the rain out of my eyes
Watch – to watch our pace
Not one, but two patella straps – gotta protect those knees
iFitness hydration belt – test-run baby!

He looked at me as I was gearing up and smirked — “What are you, going in for battle? Look at all that gear.”

At first I got all offended and annoyed that he clearly did NOT get why I needed all this stuff. But then, I had to giggle – he kept imitating me during the run, and as it started to go from a light sprinkle to outright downpour – he said, “don’t worry, you got this — you do have your survival pack on you, afterall.”

Such a jokester, he is.

But seriously, all that gear made a huge difference today. Especially the hat (hello, rain!) AND that iFitness hydration belt. Just like Naomi promised (thank you, dear!), it didn’t slip at ALL during our run. It stayed at my hips and I seriously didn’t even notice it was there – y’know until I needed a sip of water. And those tiny sips made such a difference – no dry mouth, no “OMG I’m dying of thirst” distracting thoughts.

Just me (and my gear) and Scott running along, conquering that 7-miler like a coupla running fiends!

So yeah – I guess Scott was right – I *was* geared up and ready for battle today. <—see babe? I admitted it, you were right. Happy now? 😉

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!! 

Barre N9NE 60-day challenge – let’s get ‘er done!

I am ready…

…to embrace change.

…to reinvent myself.

…to surrender.

Barre N9NE 60-day challenge: I will kill it.

Just got back from meeting with Tanya at Barre N9NE and wow, the thoughts are swirling through my head like crazy. I’m not really even sure where to begin, I just know I am so ready to get started.

But, as promised, I wanted to give ya’ll the details on what this 60-day challenge will look like. In a nutshell – this is how the next 60 days will pan out (with variation week-to-week depending on schedules and such):

Monday: 7:00pm Barre N9ne method and possible AM run
Tuesday: 7:00pm lean & tone and possible AM run
Wednesday: 6:30pm B9 Barre Fusion
Thursday: 5:30pm long & lean legs; 6:30pm barre fusion OR 7:30pm barre n9ne method express <—we will likely always do two workouts on Thursday, either with a break in between to have a check-in with Tanya or back to back, skipping the 7:30 session
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Run and either 11am B9 at the park (this is an outdoor version of their signature class); or 1:1 session with Tanya
Sunday: Run

So, if you’re counting along with me – that’s an average of 5-6 Barre N9NE workouts each week. Bring. It. On.

You’ll also notice something- which I fully anticipated – but there are no other weight workouts in here, nor does Kick or Ride appear on the schedule. This is by design (partially my own). My two goals are to KNOCK this 60-day challenge out of the park and to focus on my running. Which means buh-bye to anything that will interfere with that focus. And I dig that, so much.

Something else new to the regime (and this is a biggie): I will be keeping a food log.
For the first time in at least four or five years.

And that scares me a lot less than I anticipated. I now know how to avoid letting numbers mess with my head. I am stronger, mentally, so I feel prepared to re-introduce a food log into my daily routine. And honestly? I think I could use a little more accountability. I am pretty sure I have been giving in a little bit too easily on the weekends than I should lately. At least if I want to see better/bigger results, anyway.

And right now? That’s right for me. The food log, that is. I don’t think I’ll use it/need it forever. In fact, I know I won’t. But it fits with my goals for this challenge. And I’m ready to surrender to it. Even if that means finding a way to work in my beloved glass or two of wine here and there, because let’s be honest – I could never give that up for good. 😉

Ahhh! So much to think about!! And so much more to share. In due time.
For now — May 12th is our official start date (Thurs) and we end on July 12th…but somehow I doubt that will be the “end” but truly the beginning of an awesome new phase in my life. And I cannot wait.

On workout “cycles…”

So last night I hit up Group Kick – a class I not only love, love, love, but am also certified to teach, as you know. My sis and I reacted the exact same way to the class last night. Which totally inspired this very blog post.

Our reaction? 

In a word: “Meh.”

It was just ok. And at first I wasn’t sure why.
I thought well – maybe I was tired (truth). Or, I don’t love the new release as much as previous releases (truth). Or, maybe it was simply just an “off” workout for me (maybe?). They aren’t all going to be rockstar, right?

As soon as I mentioned it to my sis, she agreed, 100%. <—shocking, right? 

SO, in talking about all the reasons why we felt so “meh” afterwards, we came to an interesting conclusion. My sis mentioned the whole concept of workout “cycles.”

YES! That’s it exactly: whether we know it or not, we all go through workout “cycles.” Cycles where we love a particular workout, cannot get enough of it. And months later – we’ve moved onto something else.

For me, this has happened much more often for me than I realized (until I started writing this post, even)

…it’s happened with weight training. (and came flooding back, as you’ve seen here)

…it’s happened a million times with core work. (thank you Core Fusion, and now, Barre N9NE!)

…it’s happened with cardio, even. (until a particularly killer Ride class lures me back in).

…it’s happened with running.(thank you running mojo for slowly coming back!)

But one workout that never seemed to be impacted was Kick.
Until now.

I mean, sure – after the high of getting certified kind of “wore off,” I was maybe slightly less kick-crazy, but I still loved it. I still love it even though I don’t teach anymore. And until last night, I still loved getting to class at least once per week for a nice ass-kicking workout.

But apparently, it’s time for me to push Kick aside for a bit. A little time away may do me some good – and let’s be honest, timing couldn’t be more perfect. With the Barre N9NE challenge starting next week, I surely will not have time for a workout I’m not even digging all that much lately. So, I’m ready to say “goodbye” (for now) to Kick, in favor of new challenges. I’m pretty sure Kick will be back in my life in some shape or form soon, but for now, I’m at peace with it.

Does this whole concept of workout “cycles” make sense and/or resonate with you? Or am I one of few that tends to cycle through workout loves now and then? I sure hope I’m not in the minority on this one – especially since I firmly believe that switching it up is the best way to continually see results, and to stick to workouts consistently. But I’m anxious to hear what you think? Discuss, please. 🙂

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!