Moves

Avant-Barre + Pregnancy

Happy Mother's Day to all our badass ballerinas! There was something in the water last year, when we met a ton of new moms and moms-to-be. One of the most frequently asked questions is "Can I take Avant-Barre while pregnant?" The answer is YES.

"Avant-Barre is one of the few workouts that I've ever been able to stick with thanks to the great teachers, music and challenging workout. I've seen great results even before pregnancy so I wanted to continue with it as best as I could even during the pregnancy," says Jaimie, an Avant-Barre enthusiast since 2013. 

Read on for her experience taking classes during her first pregnancy, plus find exercises to pay special attention to in class to strengthen and prepare for labor. 


AB: What other forms of exercise did you use to supplement? 

J: Lots of walking -- at least 20 minutes a day, two to four days a week. I also found prenatal yoga videos on YouTube that I did once or twice a week to supplement Avant-Barre workouts.

AB: Does anything from class translate to the delivery room? 

J: Breathing! Focusing on my breathing helped me stay focused during delivery and kept my mind off the pain. Overall, from class I've gained a good sense of how my body moves and find different positions that can alleviate pain and pressure. Understanding how to position myself and continue moving during delivery helped me work through the pain and get the baby out quickly. 

AB: You've been attending class twice a week since you had your baby. How is Avant-Barre helping you post-delivery?  

J: I immediately started going back to Avant-Barre as soon as I was cleared by the dr. I've been going 3 times a week as often as possible and I'm starting to see that extra weight melt off. It's a work in progress! It's also helping me keep a positive outlook and gives me something else to focus on aside from the baby. As much as I love spending time with the little one, I do enjoy the break I get from mom duties to focus on building my strength again.

AB: Any health tips or lessons learned in the past 3 months? 

J: Be smart about indulging in cravings. Find healthy alternatives to sweet cravings -- my weakness!


Avant-Barre instructor and fitness veteran Lex shares 3 exercises that help mommies-to-be prepare for labor. 

  • Squats (Upright or Pullaway): to 90 degree bend at hips and knees only. It's good to strengthen your squat position so that it's available to use comfortably during labor. But be sure not to go deeper than 90 degrees until labor is underway! Once labor has started, a full, deep squat can be beneficial. 
     
  • Forearm Plank (on Toes or Knees): is an exercise that can usually be performed comfortably throughout most of pregnancy. It's excellent for core strengthening, especially if combined with Kegels... and good preparation for laboring in a hands and knees position. 
     
  • Puppy Stretch: can provide back relief late in pregnancy and during labor. 


How has Avant-Barre helped you during your pregnancy or after having your child? Share below!

*Avant-Barre reminds you that every body is different. Check in with your healthcare professional before starting a new exercise regimen during pregnancy. Please bring a doctor's note clearing you for exercise to your first class! 

AB Moves: Modified Push-up on Relevé

We could all use a break from sitting at our desk to move. Try this Avant-Barre fave by pushing against a wall or counter.

modified push up on relevé — Great to tone and strengthen the biceps and chest. It’s like a regular push up but with the option to increase or lessen the intensity based on your angle. Keep elbows close to your ribcage to activate the rear deltoid and triceps. Tuck your hips and lift one leg into a low arabesque for a little glute zinger. Repeat 15-20 pushups. 

 

Find more of our favorite moves at lucy let's go.

AB Moves: Diamond Thigh

Don't forget to get up and move during the day! Here's a simple exercise you can do at your desk, using the back of your chair for support. Or for more challenge, try it with both hands on your waist.

diamond thigh — Challenging exercise to tone and shape your thighs. Start in a first position. Rise up onto relevé and walk your feet closer together so your heels touch. Bend your knees so they track the same direction as your toes and your legs form a wide diamond shape. Squeeze your glutes tight to get a bonus booty workout. bend your knees more and less to drop your hips an inch towards the floor and then rise an inch up. Repeat this move for 1-2 minutes without resetting to feel a deep burn in your quads.

 

Find more of our favorite moves at lucy let's go.

AB Moves: Standing Arabesque

More than a few Avant-Barre goers have noticed a more lifted and defined behind. What's the secret? Find out in class. But until then, try this move.

standing arabesque — Great move to isolate the glutes and test for endurance. Stand at an angle to a stable surface and bring your legs parallel and hip width apart. Soften both knees. extend outer leg behind you and see-saw forward until your body forms a capital “T”. Keep your abs pulled in for control and strength. carefully squeeze your lifted side booty to guide your leg one inch higher than where you started, being sure to keep the exercise in your glutes and out of your low back. Pulse 10 times at varying speeds, then reset. Repeat 4-5 times.

 

Find more of our favorite moves at lucy let's go.

AB Moves: Leg Lift in First Position

Watching The Nutcracker leave you with Sugarplum Fairy dreams? Channel your inner badass ballerina with this move that challenges your quads, especially your inner thigh. 

leg lift in first position — Start with your heels together and toes apart in a first position. Lift one leg in front of you, point your knee outward so your inner thigh shines up toward the ceiling. Keep your hips level so your quads do all of the work. pulse your leg up 10 times, then reset. Repeat 4-5 times, on both legs. Don’t be surprised if your standing leg feels the burn too!

 

Find more of our favorite moves at lucy let's go.

AB Moves: Tricep Dips

Holiday travel is less an of an excuse to fall off your workout routine with this no-equipment-required exercise.

tricep dips — Targets the triceps and posture muscles. Sit on the floor with your feet hip width apart. Place your hands under your shoulders with your fingertips pointing forward. straighten your arms and lift your booty off the floor, keeping your shoulders over your wrists and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Bend your elbows to activate your triceps, then straighten slightly to recover. Do 3 sets of 10 reps. Option to lift one bent leg into your chest to increase the intensity.

 

Find more of our favorite moves at lucy let's go.

AB Moves: Bow and Arrow Abs

Not sure about you, but the Avant-Barre team loves channeling ultimate badass Katniss Everdeen. Have you tried this move in class before?

bow and arrow abs (aka “katniss abs”) — Great for transversus abdominis muscles and obliques. Sit on the floor with your feet hip width apart. sit up tall and extend both arms in front of your shoulders with your palms facing inward. lean back keeping your posture straight. Pull one elbow back behind your waist and twist slightly toward your bent elbow looking back behind your shoulder. Feel your abs catch you as you recline. Return to your starting position and repeat on the other side. Do 20-30 reps at varying speeds.

 

Find more of our favorite moves at lucy let's go, and don't miss the final installment of the trilogy The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 is in theaters today. 

Run, Ballerina, Run

PHOTO: Quoc Ngo.

PHOTO: Quoc Ngo.

Over three months prior to the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, Mercy started race training. She’s completed a marathon, two half marathons, and countless “fun runs”—5Ks, obstacle courses, and the like—but her sophomore half marathon for Nike Women’s holds more meaning for her.

Two years ago, for the first time ever, Mercy set a goal for her time. To her chagrin, she finished the Nike Women's race 7 minutes over her personal record in 2013. In just over a week from now, she’s returning to the Nike Women’s Half starting line and going for her gold, aiming to finish her second Nike Women’s race 26 minutes faster than her current record.

To help her reach her 2015 goal, Mercy not only runs and rides her bike several times a week, she mixes in Avant-Barre classes to get her race-ready.

Thinking about signing up for a race? Thinking about starting to run in general? Read on for Mercy’s tips, tricks, and what to focus on in class to up your running game.

 

WHY RUN?

Weight loss may be one of your goals, but running can help you achieve so much more. 

  • Cardiovascular health benefits: This one should be a no-brainer, but in this day and age when there’s a major focus on calming and re-centering to counter balance the busy-ness of our lives, we could use a reminder about the importance of getting our heart rate up… unrelated to caffeine or stress.

  • Mental benefits: It teaches you how to cope under stress and fatigue. You can learn how to build up to a goal and get past pain and physical discomfort.

  • Emotional benefits: It’s meditative. It helps you clear your mind (and the rest will follow). Enjoy your music, and push forward out of your comfort zone.

 

TOP TIPS FOR MARATHON TRAINING

Think running on a treadmill every day is enough? Think again! Here are Mercy's tips for race training.

  • Work on speed AND endurance.

  • Vary your training. Don’t just run when the sun is out. Don’t just run on flat land. Especially if you’re running a San Francisco race, run hills, cliff terrains, fog, drizzle, stairs.

  • Cross-train. Don’t give up classes at Avant-Barre; they will actually help you build the strength you need come race day!

  • Be consistent. Log your miles and push yourself, but…

  • REST when you need to! Rest days are just as important for your body to heal.

 

HOW CAN AVANT-BARRE HELP MY RUNNING?

Every part of class can help you build strength to become a more efficient runner. Heed Mercy's advice and areas of focus to get the most out of your cross-training. 

  • Planks/ab sets: You know how trainers continually focus on a strong core for your workout and your life? Running is no different. A strong core takes the strain out of your joints, hips and knees and absorbs more of the impact.

  • Arabesque: Learning how to keep your spine neutral and long will give you better stability in running so you don’t rock and strain your hips.

  • Thigh Work: The posture and lifted chest we focus on in class is not an instinctive part of our modern lifestyle, but it will makes you a more efficient runner.

  • Lunges/squats: By strengthening your quads, you're helping protect your knees, a runner's most impacted body part.

  • Balance: Increasing your ability to balance strengthens your ankles and helps you make fine adjustments to your foot placement. It can help you pay attention to the way your feet strike the ground as well as, wait for it... protects your knees!

  • Cardio Set: Great conditioning on your days off from running!

 

Are you training for the Nike Women's Marathon or any other San Francisco race? Tell us how Avant-Barre has helped you prep for race day!

Avant-Barre Guide to Stretching at Festivals

You already know that the most satisfying part of class (okay, aside from killing that burpee set or finally nailing a challenging balance pose) is the stretching. This weekend your body will get the best kind of cardio workout from the dancing, walking, and frolicking that will ensue at Outside Lands. Don't forget to treat your muscles to a sweet release between sets. Here, Nini demonstrates the 3 stretches you need outside the studio. 

Standing Thigh Stretch

Dancing and jumping around in a crowd while Tame Impala is performing will be super fun, but in between sets, give your thighs a much-needed break with this standing quad stretch.

  1. Find a sturdy post, tree, or friend to help you balance and bring your right ankle in your right hand. 

  2. Flex your foot; keep your abs pulled in and your spine upright

  3. Angle your lifted knee down to the floor and bend your standing knee, lift your chest

  4. Gently pull back on your ankle to deepen the stretch

  5. Repeat with the left leg

Standing Calf Stretch 

The trek from the Twin Peaks Stage to Lands End can seem less grueling if you remember to stretch out those calves.

  1. Start with both feet hip distance apart

  2. Step your right foot far behind you; keep your right leg straight as you press your right heel into the floor

  3. Bend your front knee to deepen the stretch; keep your front knee over your front ankle; keep your back leg straight and your back heel grounded

  4. Switch sides

Full Back Leg Stretch

And sometimes you need more intense relief.

  1. Find a barrier or gate that is hip height or lower

  2. Stand about 3 feet away and carefully lift your right leg onto the gate

  3. Square your hips to the gate and keep both legs straight keeping your right ankle in front of your right hip

  4. To intensify the stretch, hinge forward from your hips and reach for ankle

  5. Switch sides

 

Looking for a healthy pre-game? Start your day with Avant-Barre! Reserve your spot in any of our weekend classes; we have a full schedule throughout festival days.