Finding Joy At The Barre & The End of The Flybarre Challenge

Last Sunday, I took my final class of the 6-week Flybarre challenge with the ridiculously charming Kolina Nouhan. One of the best things about the challenge has been the fact that it forced me to try out more Flybarre teachers.  As a group, they are an amazing, vibrant crew and I have loved trying the different instructors.

One of the huge treats though, has been getting to take a class every week with Kolina. She is an absolute treasure of a teacher and before the challenge, I had somehow missed that fact. For some reason, her classes were always the ones I went to when I was just trying to squeeze in my 3rd or 4th of the week and was slightly grumpy about it, when it is the last place I want to be. That said, I’ve never walked out of Kolina’s class without a smile on my face and glad I got to spend an hour with her. She is so positive, sparkly and charismatic that it is fully impossible to remain grumpy. Her classes are so surprisingly hard, and yet her overwhelming sweetness always seems to wipe the ass-kicking from my mind as soon as I walk out. She also is so sweetly, genuinely concerned about any injury that not only does she check up on you before the class starts but continues to check in with you in any position that seems like it might stress your injury. It is so thoughtful, that half the time when she did it, I just wanted to hug her for remembering my random gimpyness.

At the after challenge meeting, Kolina was the leader and asked us what was our favorite thing about the challenge, I didn’t answer because really, my favorite thing about the challenge was finding the amazing Flybarre teachers like her. Without the challenge I would have never spent so much time in her classes and found out what a treasure Kolina is.

People keep asking me if I am going to keep up with going to Flybarre now that the challenge is done, and the simple answer is absolutely. I haven’t been a huge barre class fan for the last few years, the challenge helped me get over that and finally try this awesome method. Flybarre is an athletic, always-changing version of a barre class and was constantly challenging. I had always sort of lumped Flybarre with the more standard barre classes, this challenge allowed me to figure out how different it really is…

In 5 weeks, I lost 8 inches – and have seen some amazing changes in my body. In my waist alone I lost 3 inches. Due to everything being closed last week, I didn’t get a chance to do my final 6-week measurements with my team-leader, the inspiring Kara but the 5 week total to me is just crazy. Tighter arms, waist and a lifted butt is such an amazing result from any exercise and to see that kind of change in such a short period is just flat out awesome. So will I continue, hell yes.  Will I do it 4 times a week? No – but 2 times a week or so, absolutely – I don’t want my hard earned results to go away!

Photos from the challenge final meeting by Eric Stafford. Bottom quote just a little bit of internet goodness.

Finding Magic In Week 1 Of The Flybarre Challenge: The Ridiculously Talented Todd Allen

All of my favorite Flybarre people have been telling me for ages how amazing Todd Allen is but I just could never bring myself to take one of his classes. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe what people were saying but after a bad experience in another Barre studio years ago with their beloved male instructor, I have just avoided taking any male taught barre class. Which I knew was lame and unfair but it meant that Todd languished on my “to-take” list for a ridiculously long time. Last week, I took my very first Todd Allen class and immediately loved him. His hype is deserved and I feel like a fool for not making it to his class sooner. Todd is that amazing treat of an instructor – sweet, encouraging, funny, exceptionally good at verbal corrections and even better at physical ones.

This week was my second class with Todd and being one week into the challenge and my fourth day of class in a row, I was wiped out. After last week’s amazing class with Todd that seemed to fly by, I was just hoping to make it through his class this week. As I made my way into class, Todd stopped me to find out how my measuring had gone the day before.  When I told him that I had lost 1/2 inch on each arm, both legs, and 3/4 off my waist (which is insane to me in only a week but awesome) – he was almost as excited by the news as I was! That sort of enthusiasm is infectious and was just what I needed to refocus on getting the most out of the class in front of me. Plus, there is a part of Todd’s class where you feel you somehow have gotten to be in the practice room at a Broadway show – as he dances his way through the class, it makes me feel like I stumbled into a musical. Todd’s banter through the class is funny, with lots of great visuals for some of the crazier moves you do in a Flybarre class.  Not even Todd can make me actually rhythmic enough to not be embarrassingly bad at the dynamic arms, but he makes it so fun that I don’t care that I suck! Which every time seems like a huge gift. Tuesday’s class FLEW by – one of my favorite things about Flybarre is that there is so much latitude given to the instructors to mix and match in each section of the class, which means you never really know what is coming next. I love being kept on my toes (well not literally, I am not so good when we are supposed to do that) and having each class feel so unique. On Tuesday there were at least 6 moves I had never done in another Flybarre class but were fun & HARD! Todd has a masterful talent at sneaking hard in, while masking it with a great grin and funny imagery – it’s sneaky and I love him for it.

Todd is an ultimate showman who reminds me of Gene Kelly, because he can make a mundane movement – something you have done a million times – suddenly seem like part of a dance. It makes me so happy to watch, I forget how badly he is kicking my ass and spend the entire class just being glad to get to be around someone so magical …

Image of Todd Allen from the Flywheel website  and the bottom image just a little bit of internet goodness.

Fall Flybarre Challenge: The Kickoff to Exactly What I Needed

Last week, I got the news that running, jumping and anything “impactful” had to be tabled for “at LEAST a few weeks” – which means that some of the things I HAD planned for the Fall just weren’t an option anymore. Then, almost the very next day, I got an email about the Flybarre Fall Challenge starting and immediately emailed saying I wanted in! It’s the PERFECT thing for following the Doctor’s orders while still getting to really challenge myself – because without a challenge, the foot prognosis was going to make me nuts!  It doesn’t hurt that I think Flybarre does some crazy good things to women’s bodies and I really wanted to know what actually dedicating myself to it would do. It was the challenge I didn’t even know I was waiting for!  So for the next 6 weeks, I will be taking 4 Flybarre classes a week. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about that, since it seems like every time I take one, I am sore for days.  I’m hoping that the sore part doesn’t last all six weeks!

On Sunday afternoon, we had our kickoff meeting at the Flatiron Studio. We learned the ins and outs of what the Flybarre Challenge entails. The cool thing is that for the challenge, you are given a “Team Leader” – one of the awesome Flybarre instructors who will be the point person for 6 weeks. As we got into our groups, I was giddy that I got Kara Liotta – who I adore, and who always pushes me to work a little bit harder, which really is exactly what I need.  I can already picture her giving me “that” look if I don’t give it my all and knowing myself, that alone will make me focus harder on getting the best results!  As we split into groups to meet and talk a little bit, Kara pulled each person off to the side to measure us. The thing I didn’t realize, was that we are going to be measured EVERY week.  Oh, buddy.  For some reason, this snapped me to attention, since I sort of assumed that it would be a before and after thing, just like the pictures. The reality is that in one week, I will be accountable for some sort of change and it made me realize there will be no easing into this Challenge. It’s go time. NOW.

Monday morning bright and early, I was on a mat in Kara’s class. It was the “Power 45” version and unlike the 1 hour version, this one zipps through the moves. I really like the speed of it but am always surprised by how much harder it seems – somehow, that stretching bit in the middle really makes a difference! I was still embarrassingly bad at the dynamic arms but luckily, the class was the “wild card” arms (the week where instructors choose a random arm routine, instead of the one that everyone has been practicing).  So, no one was really perfect at it and it was slightly less noticeable exactly how off I was! Maybe 6 weeks of doing the dynamic arm thing will make me less spastic looking? A girl can only hope….

After class, I hustled into Holly Rillinger’s always awesome Flywheel class. The class was packed with some of my favorite folks rocking the front row with me, including my awesome team leader, Kara. That kind of morning, filled with such amazing, inspiring people is hard to top… and for the next six weeks, I know where I will be every Monday morning!

Top picture from Flybarre’s Facebook page, middle picture by Eric C Stafford and bottom picture from FlywheelSports.com