March #BarreStar MJ

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🌟💪🏻Meet our March Barre Star💪🏻🌟: Merry Jennifer!

Merry Jennifer (MJ) has taken over 160 classes at Barre Forte since starting with just over a year ago. MJ consistently attends the 4:30pm class after work each day. She is committed to her fitness.
Read on to learn more about her journey!

Check out her amazing blog HERE.

1) Where are you from, and how long have you been in Gainesville?

I wasn't born in Florida, but I'm a local. I was raised in Fort White, went to undergrad at University of Florida, lived in Miami for medical school, and have been back in Gainesville since 2001.

2) What's your favorite Barre-themed shirt?

I think there are too many I love to choose from. Will Plank For Pizza and Will Tuck For Tacos rank right up there. I love my Will Barre for Wine tank, too. But my absolute favorite? The one with "100" on it. I worked hard for that shirt and earned every stitch of it.

3) Tell us something fun about yourself/what you do when you're not at Barre?

When I'm not at Barre, I'm usually at work - I'm an oncologist at UF - or hanging out with my family. Being an oncologist and caring for patients with cancer have taught me the importance of making memories now, when I'm in good health and have time, and not putting off enjoyment of life until later. I make a point to travel regularly (Mexico and Alaska are on tap over the next 6 months). I love reading, creative writing, and cooking and baking.

4) Was your first Barre class what you expected? Why or why not?

I had no idea what to expect from my first Barre class. I'm an introvert, and the idea of group fitness always made me anxious. At the first class, though, everyone was so warm and welcoming that I felt right at home. Sure, I felt a bit awkward, but it felt like it was okay to be awkward in the beginning. I never sensed that I was being judged for my ability - or lack thereof.

5) Why did you decide to continue with Barre Forte after your free week by investing in a 12-month membership?

I was so sore after my first class, and I loved that feeling of awareness of muscle groups I'd forgotten about. My second class, my third class - and every class after that - made me so much more aware of my capabilities, or what I wanted to be capable of, that I couldn't imagine not continuing. Investing in the 12-month membership seemed like a no-brainer.

6) What makes this workout different from other exercises you have experienced?

One reason I've avoided group fitness all my life is because of the competition aspect and because of the risk of being viewed as not being as good/slim/quick/agile/flexible as everyone else in the room. I've tried running, but I'm not a fan, and with a bum knee, it's a tough exercise to stick with. Going to a gym to use the exercise machines - the bike and the elliptical were always my go-to - got boring after a while. Barre was unique in that it never felt competitive, except with myself. Even with my knee issues, I can do all the moves or I can modify them to meet my needs. The Barre Forte culture is uplifting and encouraging. With Barre, the only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself to meet my best.

7) What is your favorite Barre move so far? Why?

My favorite move is probably the plank. For the first few months, I couldn't hold a plank if you paid me, and I hated the move for that reason. The plank was my nemesis, and I was determined to overcome it. Planking became my first major goal that I set for myself in Barre. The first time I held a plank for the full time, I was so proud of myself. I'm certain I didn't do a happy dance in class, but I was definitely doing it in my head. Now, I feel a little sad if we don't incorporate a plank in the class.

8) What results have you noticed so far?

Since I've been taking classes at Barre, I've become stronger. The muscles in my arms and calves are more defined, and I don't mind wearing sleeveless shirts now. 

9) Have you experienced any benefits from Barre that have affected you not just physically, but mentally, too?

Barre class has become like meditation to me. Regardless of the stress in my life or in my day, spending a solid hour focusing on myself and only paying attention to my muscles and my breathing calms and centers me. I walk out of class each time feeling renewed and refreshed.

10) What keeps you motivated to continue coming to Barre so consistently?

I make a point to add Barre class to my calendar each week, and I schedule it as I would any other important appointment or meeting. The hours I attend Barre are sacred, and I try not to let anything come between me and my scheduled Barre classes. Not only do the physical and mental effects of Barre keep me coming back each week, but the Barre Forte instructors and staff and so many of the other people in the class have become friends. Barre Forte feels like family to me.

11) Is there anything you would like to share with potential new clients about your experience at Barre Forte? Any helpful tips for those who are considering trying Barre, but are nervous??

Barre really is for anyone of any shape or size or ability. I don't have a dance background, I'm not particularly flexible, I'm definitely not athletic, and Barre has been a fantastic fit for me. Modifications are provided for all of the moves, and regardless of ability or injury, it's easy to participate. The free first week is a great motivation to give Barre Forte a try, and that's what I'd recommend: just try it. If I can do it, absolutely anyone can — at Barre Forte - Gainesville.

See all of our #BarreStars