Barre Body: Our Favourite New Workout
Photo: Chloe Paul
Youre tired, theres a mass of washing to do, you dont feel like getting into exercise gear, the kids need to be fed, youve got emails to answer. When it comes to priorities, exercise often ends up at the bottom of the to-do list for mothers. But what if there was a workout which fused yoga, Pilates and ballet barre and left you with long lean arms, slim legs and the perfect posture of a ballerina? Barre is the ballet-inspired workout adored by celebrities such as Natalie Portman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna and can be done either at home if youre a new mother and dont want to venture out, or in a studio.
The best part about the online studio (and what worked really well for me), is that the classes are broken down into segments so you can do one or two at a time at home when you have the time, rather than trying to find a whole hour at one, says Barre Body founder Emma Seibold, who has boutique barre fitness studios in Sydney and Melbourne and has just opened a spectacular new studio in a grand heritage building in Sydneys CBD. After my son Xavier was born almost four years ago, I started incorporating barre exercises into my yoga practice and the results were incredible. I was doing less exercise than Id ever done and seeing better results. I had bought some DVDs and was doing 10-minute segments at home whenever I had some free time. Any exercise where you get good results in less time is good for mamas in my opinion! And because of the focus on alignment and core strength, it really helps mamas to improve their posture after pregnancy and breastfeeding, to say nothing of toning the belly.
Barre was originally devised by a German dancer called Lotte Berk who injured her back and came up with the idea of transforming her ballet bar routine into rehabilitative therapy. The workout incorporates the ballet barre along with light exercise balls and hand weights. With a bit of discipline, 2-3 barre classes a week will totally transform your body. We caught up with the dynamic Seibold to find out more
You left a career in marketing, became a certified yoga teacher, STOTT Pilates certified instructor and holistic health and wellness coach. Can you tell us what inspired this career change?
Passion. While, I enjoyed marketing, I wasnt passionate about the products I was being paid to promote. Yet in my spare time I was constantly reading and studying the wellness field. Then in 2009, I had a big crisis (job redundancy and major break-up) so I went to India and decided it was time to follow my passions and come what may.
Can you tell us about the new Barre Body studio in Sydneys CBD?
We have been looking for a CBD studio for such a long time. Even before we moved back to Sydney to open the Bondi Junction studio, we had been looking for a city studio. My husband trawled the commercial real estate sites and went to countless inspections before we finally found this space. There were no photos online and it was just before Christmas when we were about to give up and wait until the new year. Matt went to see it and called me from the lobby stop whatever you are doing and come into the city right now. Ive found our next studio. The beauty of the heritage building, the high ceilings, the arches, the windows, all make it just the most unique and gorgeous space. We want it to be an oasis in the city and we really feel that it is.
How often should you exercise while youre pregnant?
As often as you feel well enough to do it and with less intensity than you would before you were pregnant. For me, this meant not much at all while I was feeling sick or tired and about 30-60 minutes a day when I was feeling energised.
Why types of exercise are most suited during pregnancy?
Walking (my favourite throughout pregnancy and post birth), yoga (more gentle, restorative postures) and of course, barre. Barre Body really is the perfect form of exercise for pregnant women as we have created modifications that mean you can come to pretty much any Barre Body class. Ive had clients coming to my classes up until 39 weeks and I did a full barre class the day before Isla was born. The great thing is that you are doing most of the class standing at the barre for support. It also helps with body and posture awareness during pregnancy when women tend to round forward and stick their bottoms out due to the weight of the baby in the front. To see some prenatal barre videos, visit the Barre Body online studio and filter for prenatal.
What are some of the benefits of keeping fit during pregnancy?
Staying strong and active means you have more stamina and strength for labour and it also means that you can recover more quickly and regain your shape more readily.
Is it still possible to work on your core muscles while pregnant?
Yes, its important to stop working the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles), but you should still work your transverse abdominis and oblique muscles. We have a great video that demonstrates this. Click here to view it.
What was a typical workout for you like during your pregnancy?
At home I would do a 10 minute yoga flow warm up (modified to cater to my ever-expanding belly), 20 minutes of barre exercises with a chair for support, five minutes of core stabilisation work and a 10 minute cool down and stretch incorporating some gentle prenatal yoga postures, finishing with savasana (the best part of any workout!).
Whats a typical days diet look like for you?
I dont eat meat (a little fish, but mostly vegan) and I eat lots of good, healthy, fresh produce. BUT, I also eat chocolate and I am very partial to healthy baked treats. I try to avoid refined sugars, but I am pretty balanced and believe that if you eat with good intention (I am going to be grateful for, and enjoy, this food), then you can pretty much eat anything occasionally.
What was the most challenging part of your pregnancies?
I had very scary experiences of hemorrhage with both of my beautiful babies. I was very lucky and am extremely grateful to RHW for the incredible care I received.
What was the most rewarding?
Breastfeeding. Even though I had some challenges early on, I was still lucky enough to be able to breastfeed. Having had some tough pregnancy and labour experiences, Im very grateful for all the blessings.
Youve got a newborn and a toddler - how do you juggle running your own business with motherhood?
Im not sure yet! Isla is three months old so Ive been trying to do a lot less (to say nothing of opening a new studio). We have an amazing team now so its a lot easier than when we opened the first studio and I was doing everything and Xavier was only six months old. What I am trying to do is be present with whatever I am doing. If I am with Isla or Xavier, Im trying to be present for them and if Im at Barre Body, Im trying to be in that moment (as present as a new mum possibly can be) with the team or clients. Its not easy, but as Im trying.
How do you switch off?
Hmm, ask me again in three months.
What are your time management tips?
If you can do it straight away, do it straight away. This is my golden rule and serves me very well.
Do you ever procrastinate?
Rarely. I dont have time!
What is your most productive time of the day work wise?
Early, early morning. Between 5-6am usually. Not right now as I am a sleep-deprived mum to a newborn and toddler who is prone to wake at midnight saying its morning, time for breakfast!.
What time of the day do you love most as a mother?
Hands down, its the morning. I love morning cuddles. Best part of the day full stop.
Coffee, tea or green smoothie?
How do you focus?
I am almost always focused as there is so much to do. I just get on with it.
How long do you have to wait after the birth before you can exercise again?
It really depends on the birth (natural or c-section), recovery after birth (stitches, other complications), the baby (if mum is sleep deprived, finding motivation to exercise is nigh on impossible) and mums emotional state (being a new mama can be really tough). Depending on all of that, somewhere between 4 and 12 weeks.
What are you most proud of in life?
Well, my beautiful babies and divine husband of course.