Barre is Not Just For Ballerinas

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By Kathy Connery, PA-C

For those of us who rocked the leg warmers with Jane Fonda, it is becoming tougher to find a challenging workout routine these days…one that works for well-worn joints and sub-optimal balance!  AUXO Fitness is a wonderful solution; a combination of fun and “physical therapy,” if you will.  The days of Bosu balls and balance boards might be behind you, but Barre is forever!  Almost all women over 55-60 (this means me!) notice an appreciable decline in equilibrium and balance as we age. A former gym rat, now working around a couple herniated discs with residual left sided weakness, I have been through physical therapy in an effort to regain what I lost, namely my stability, and get back “in shape.” As a physician assistant (PA) in medicine, every day I counsel many, many post-menopausal women who bemoan their poor balance, chronic back pain and poor equilibrium.  Much like physical therapy, Barre works opposing muscle groups: the rectus abdominals (two muscles that meet in the middle vertically down our abs), the pelvic girdle, gluteus muscles (yes, our butts!) and internal and external obliques.  These are the same muscle groups that your physical therapists target when you go for balance/equilibrium strengthening, or for Physical Therapy after a back injury. Core strength is critical to maintaining stability and helping to minimize chronic back pain.  At AUXO Fitness, the age range is probably 25-75. We are all working toward the same goal, but for many of us, stability and flexibility is critical to aging well.  If you have been to physical therapy once and know what your goals are, classes at AUXO Fitness are less expensive, and help you to enhance what you learned at physical therapy in a friendly, fun and multi-generational atmosphere.  The barre is always within reach for those of us with sub-par balance, and there is virtually no impact to stress joints and knees. Small repetitive muscle movements to the point of fatigue can be practiced by anyone, regardless of age, and modified to your own endurance and abilities.  The staff at AUXO is never judgmental. Fitness here is not a competition, but a common goal regardless of age.

I must admit that before I herniated 2 discs, I always thought Barre was for “weenies,” …but I was SO wrong.  Barre builds strength and endurance in a different way than high intensity training or running.  This is the form of exercise that women of all shapes and sizes can benefit from.  The more classes you attend, the more you are able to “find your edge,” i.e. learn progressively how to tighten and isolate each muscle group, always maintaining alignment, to maximize your benefit, and in the long run, your stability.  The instructors are always there to offer a substitute exercise or modification for those of us with bad backs or shoulder (read: rotator cuff) injuries. Think about it, this is exercise for life; a long and healthy life. You don’t need to have the plastic surgery that has seen Jane Fonda to almost 80, but you DO need to have the physical fitness to be an active post-menopausal woman with strong bones and a confident step.  Remember: Barre really isn’t just for Ballerinas, but for the divas of the fitness world who want to go down strong!