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Yoga, Pilates, and Barre… Oh My!

You may be a seasoned fitness enthusiast who is looking to change up your routine, or perhaps you are new to regular exercise and are wondering where to begin – in either case, WELCOME. I’m glad you are here 😊

My goal for this post is to share with you the key differences between (and benefits of!) some of the fitness classes that we offer here at Fly Circus and Aerial Arts so that you can decide which one is, or how all of them may be a good fit for you.

Yoga, Pilates, and Barre are all low-impact movement disciplines that can help improve your flexibility, balance, and posture while simultaneously strengthening your muscles to help prevent the risk of injury. While they share some similarities (for example, you may find yourself wearing a lot of leggings and doing a lot of planks) they each have their own distinct qualities. I like to think of them as “sister” disciplines; similar, but not the same.

Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that originated in India. The main practice includes flowing through a series of exercises called “poses” or “asanas” while focusing on your breath to still your mind. Although a yoga practice includes movement, the practice is less about moving and achieving the perfect pose and more about connecting your breath to your movement and allowing yourself to relax into moments of discomfort. A traditional yoga practice utilizes only a mat and bodyweight but blocks and straps may also be used as an assist to make a pose more accessible. When done consistently, yoga can help increase strength and flexibility which can help prevent injuries and since it has many different styles from dynamic (Vinyasa) to gentle and restorative (Yin), there is an option for everyone. Yoga = Stability + Flexibility

Pilates is a fitness method that was created by German gymnast, Joseph Pilates, during WWI. His original intention was to help rehabilitate injured soldiers, but he later broadened his method to help people of all walks of life from police officers to dancers. His method focuses on using the mind to control the muscles (i.e.., “mind-muscle connection”) and consists of a series of low-impact, carefully controlled exercises that can be modified to suit all ages and fitness levels. Pilates prioritizes proper form over trying to hit a set number of reps. Fundamental Pilates exercises are based around stabilizing and challenging the core (spine, pelvis, and abdominals) through movement of the extremities and specifically emphasizes strengthening your abdominals, glute, hips, and thighs. In a Pilates class you will use mostly bodyweight, but equipment such as bands, balls, magic circle, yoga blocks, and light dumbbells may be incorporated to add variety and resistance. Consistently practicing Pilates can lead to improved strength, flexibility, range of motion, and balance which can all have a positive impact on your overall health as well as decrease your risk of injury. Pilates = Dynamic Flexibility + Stability + Core Strength

Barre is a popular workout modality that is essentially a fusion of ballet-inspired exercises, yoga, Pilates, and aerobics. It was created in London in1959 by a German dancer, Lotte Berk, who was looking for a low impact way to stay fit while recovering from a back injury. Barre utilizes your own bodyweight for resistance as well as a bar (or sturdy chair) for support with the ballet-inspired exercises. You may also use some small pieces of equipment such as light dumbbells and ankle weights to increase resistance as you perform a muscle-burning number of reps. Unlike Pilates or Yoga, the goal in Barre is to work your muscles to the point of fatigue. Emphasis on proper form, body alignment, posture, and cardiovascular endurance can lead to an overall strengthening of core muscles and the appearance of an aligned, lean physique. The Barre method is accepting of all ability levels, no previous dance experience is required, and offers an intense and effective workout with very little equipment. If you’re curious about it, give it a try! Barre = Muscular Strength + Endurance

Now that you know a little bit more about these three fitness classes, keep in mind that your success with any goal, fitness-related or not, is going to hinge greatly upon your level of CONSISTENCY. And I think we can all agree that it is much easier to be consistent with something that you actually enjoy doing. Right?

So, when it comes to comparing Yoga vs Pilates vs Barre, none are “better” than another. Opinions will differ since it really comes down to what your current goals are and which activity you find the most enjoyable. That being said, our level of enjoyment often depends on our personal experience with each modality, the instructors, and the class itself. One Barre class can be completely different from another, and the same goes for Yoga and Pilates. My advice would be to try each of them and decide for yourself– if you like them all, incorporate all three into your routine! Added variety is a great way to stay motivated and engaged in your fitness journey.

Next time you are signing up for your studio classes, I encourage you to try at least one of these. No matter what your performance apparatus of choice is, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much any of these can complement your aerial practice.

Until next time!

4 women plie at the Barre

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