Journey to Barre3: Or, (part of) the reason I'm such a fan.

     *disclaimer* this is a looong post about why I'm so crazy about barre3...it's worth the read. And there's a link to a freebie at the end! but it IS long!!

    A beautiful, early-spring day in the Tuileries Garden of Paris doesn't seem like a place one would run into barre3- at least, not at first glance. But that's where it started, none the less. That day, I laced up my running shoes and headed out across Rue di Rivoli with my husband and three littles to the park, which was our afternoon ritual. Everyone else in Paris-local or otherwise- had the same idea. It was one of the first really warm, sunshiny afternoons in Paris that spring; so the park was filled with people walking, sitting, watching, sipping, talking. A crew was setting up for some sort of fancy dinner/fashion show thing on one side of the park; on the other, the playground was filled with children enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. There was a line for the in-ground trampolines (my kids' favorite attraction) and humming conversations filled in the air, along with some accordion music from the little cafe. We strolled to the playground and I told my husband I'd be back in a bit; then I walked to the perimeter of the park and began to jog. I'd decided it was time to shed the last 15 pounds of baby weight I still carried after the birth of our third child, newly one and weaned while we were in Paris. The Gardens would provide the perfect motivation to start running again. At least, so I thought.
     It sounded so incredibly romantic to me-running through the Tuileries. And it was, for the first 200 yards. Then it very quickly turned into one of the most embarrassing moments of my life as my three-pregnancies-in-4-years bladder gave way...and not just a little leak, either. I was prepared for that. But oh, no... by the time I was halfway across the park, I had fully peed my pants. I could practically hear the Parisians around me sipping their espressos and sneering at the obviously-American girl who was peeing her pants in the Tuileries Garden. This? This was not romantic AT ALL.  I quickly stopped running, my face burning. Walked a bit. Then squeezed things a bit and attempted to jog-hobble back to the playground as quickly as possible...which wasn't very quickly. I grabbed an errant sweater and wrapped it around my waist, feeling all the time a mix of embarrassment and a sense of betrayal from my own body. That was it, I decided. No more running for me. Ever, Ever again. I'd have to find something else. Or just resign myself to being un-fit forever.
       Of course I had known things wouldn't be quite the same after having three babies in relatively quick succession. I'd make it to 18 months postpartum and-poof!-pregnant again! But I'd never thought my body would feel so old after having babies. By the time my third was born, my joints felt so out-of-wack and fragile that even the thought of jumping or running to chase my littles made me wince. I felt as if I'd fall apart at the slightest jolt, which was not the kind of mother I wanted to be. I've always enjoyed being active, and I love playing with my kids. I wasn't unhealthy in other ways, necessarily; we ate fairly well, mostly whole foods, homemade bread, very little processed food  and if I was a little too addicted to my morning coffee-well, that was only because of the lack of sleep (I thought). I just felt like I couldn't keep up. And at 29 years old, I didn't like it. I wanted to be able to do what I wanted to physically without pain, or a migraine. But now-Well, that afternoon I felt more than a little hopeless, since it was quite clear there was no possibility of falling back on my old standby of running, or even cross-fit. Dance classes aren't exactly convenient with three littles in tow; and even swimming ended up giving me a migraine because everything was misaligned. My back and core were not strong enough to hold my spine in the right position. Nursing, carrying babies and toddlers and giant diapers bags-and everything else that comes along with littles-it all exacerbated the problem.

Enter barre.

    It was a day or two later that I got a Groupon offer in my inbox for a 5-pack to a barre studio near me. I talked to Adam about it, instinctively knowing I'd love the combo of barre work and pilates because of my dancing days. And he wholly supported me trying it out-he knew my love of dance, my frustration with my current physical health, and the importance of being able to move and be healthy. I bought a 5-pack. And had my mom and husband each gift me one, too. After our trip was cut short and we ended up back in the Valley, I was more ready than ever to try out the workout. I needed the physical stress-relief the exercise would bring, as well as the mental clarity. Adam was starting P.A. school on top of everything else, and I looked forward to my first Saturday class with anticipation-and a touch of anxiousness.
      It turned out that  I needn't have worried. After the first class, I was hooked--and my only concern was that I had just enough classes to get though the summer, one a week, since there was no way I could afford the studio's regular prices on a grad-student-with-a-family budget. What would I do when they ran out? I committed to just enjoying the time I had and not worrying about it. Maybe my body would be ready to try running again at that point, I thought. I looked forward to Saturdays and each week's class refreshed me and left me feeling stronger and more flexible; every week I could feel my body begin-just a teeny bit-to recover its old fitness. But I did dread-just a bit- the end of summer and the end, so I thought, of my barre-days.
and then.
In August, just as I was coming to the end of my 15 classes, I began to see posts on Facebook from a friend of mine about something called Barre3. She, it seemed, had a friend who was opening a studio in California and she'd gone for the opening. The photos intrigued me as I'd fallen in love with barre at this point, and this studio looked so different from the one I was going to. It looked warm and light and they all looked like they were having so much (sweaty) fun! One day, she posted about Barre3 online, mentioning online workouts-and I knew I'd found my answer. Here was a way to keep practicing barre, a way to maybe-just maybe-continue to regain some fitness. So I signed up. $15 a month was something we could afford. And I LOVED the variety of workouts and time lengths because it seemed so doable for a busy mom. At this point, I just wanted to be able to play with and chase my kids without pain; maybe lose some weight. I didn't have a lot more goals than that.

     I've never looked back. Each month, each week I began to feel small, significant changes in my body. I didn't step on the scale too often, because I was more concerned with how my body felt, but I could feel my clothes getting looser. I loved Barre3 even more than the studio I'd been going to because the blend of Yoga, ballet, and pilates resonated with my body. The low-impact cardio was a nice addition for someone who has grown up involved with athletics; getting my heartrate up and pushing myself deeper was a challenge I loved taking. I didn't even have a core ball at this point; I used a pillow when needed and was still impressed with the differences in my core strength. My hip pain left, too. I'd squeeze in 30 or 40 or 10 minutes early in the morning or at rest time, after homeschooling my oldest. Often, my two youngest would come in in the mornings and the little one would crawl all over me as I finished my core work (not and easy task...). My 4 year old daughter would imitate the more ballet-esq moves, being crazy-enamored with dance herself.  So when that same friend told me she was going to open up the first Barre3 studio in the Phoenix area, I could not have been more excited! I'm sure I was slightly obnoxious to poor Karie; each week when I saw her I'd ask her about how everything was progressing, eager for news of the opening.  And when she opened up her home for "Barre3 underground" as she worked toward her certification, she was kind enough to include me on the friends and family list. This-this was wonderful!! So very exciting, my first "real" studio class! It was fun. And HARD. And--holy moly--what that core ball did for my core work was nuts. I couldn't WAIT to come back again.
      I went as often as I could to Karie's house for classes beginning in March; usually once or maybe twice a week, if I could get a spot in her very popular underground. I took my kiddos with me every time, and every time we all were warmly welcomed. Soon, my now-two-year-old would ask if we were going to "Kawie's house" for "ba-fwee" every time we got in the car. The kids enjoyed playing as much as I enjoyed exercising, and the hour-long studio classes skyrocketed my results. Getting to workout with friends just fed this extrovert's motivation; and my energy was higher than it had been in a long time. I'd lost pounds and even more inches. I could now jump on the trampoline (for a short time) with my kids, or race my son across the driveway and back. One beautiful Saturday afternoon at the park, we had a rollicking game of family tag all over the play equipment, up and down and around. I ran and chased and jumped and laughed along with my husband and the bigs; and I'll never forget how my husband laughed with joy to see me able and wanting to play like that again. I was starting to feel "normal" again.
      In May, I jumped at the chance to join the Barre3 Spring Challenge, and it was enormously beneficial to me. I'd already slowly been re-vamping the way our whole family ate, due to stomach issues I'd been having since my youngest was born as well as for the betterment of all my family. Now I committed to a month of whole foods only-no coffee, no sugar, no refined grains. The company's core value of balance in life has been a catchword for my husband and I in this whole P.A. school journey; and I loved the care encouraged to all aspects to my life, not just to my fitness or nutrition. I also got my very own bright-orange core ball, which came along with the challenge and allowed me to increase my at-home practice. And streaming the online seminars each week with founder Sadie Lincoln and functional nutritionist Andrea Nakayama was educational and encouraging.
    By the end of that month, I was completely off my morning cup of coffee (except occasionally, because I do love my coffee!!) and enjoying a cup of tea instead. My energy was higher than it'd been in several years; and I felt like my old self.  As a bonus, I'd lost even more inches, and a few more pounds- now down about 10 lbs. from the last spring. Because of the muscle I'd gained and the inches I'd lost, most people thought it was much more than that. But my favorite part? I felt for the first time that my body was really, truly, totally rehabbed from my three babies. I could-and did-do whatever I wanted to do physically. I hadn't had a migraine in months, because my core was now strong enough to hold my spine in proper alignment. Even my ages-old chronic runner's knee leftover from high school cross-country days was beginning to feel better more days than it hurt me, which was a BIG deal. That's when I knew that I wanted more than just to practice barre3-I wanted to be a part of this organization in any way I could be. I met with Karie and asked if I could do childcare part-time (because every barre3 studio offers childcare) in exchange for classes. Even though I've dreamed some about the possibility of becoming an instructor one day and being able to offer the same support and encouragement to others I've found at Barre3, I knew that this was the involvement level we could handle right now with Adam still in the middle of his program. Karie willingly agreed, knowing how I love the company and the workouts; and just like that I've gotten to be a small part of the awesome new North Scottsdale studio. A few weeks ago I even began to float the idea of running again once in awhile to my husband, maybe training for a thanksgiving 5k, not entirely sure how it would go but knowing my body finally felt willing to try again.
So, this morning, I  finally suggested we go for a family jog.
I laced up my running shoes and headed out with my husband and three littles on the first cool-ish morning we've had here in Scottsdale since early last spring. Adam pushed the double jogger with the two littles-now 2 and 4-in it, while our almost-7-year-old rode ahead on his mostly outgrown  two-wheeler. The light was beautiful. My husband made some smart remark about the fact that we both had on the exact same shade of bright-blue pants on as our double stroller; I laughed--and began to run.
    I mentally help my breath at first, taking stock of each muscle and body part; but everything felt good. In fact, except for some tightness in that old runner's knee, everything felt really great. It was true-Barre3 had actually, totally helped me to rehab my body AND helped me maintain (or maybe even increase!) my cardiovascular strength. Now, I didn't run for 5 miles. And I didn't plan to, as this was just a trial run (quite literally). But I ran the whole way, felt strong and healthy--
and I didn't pee myself once.
   Thanks for helping me finally get here, Barre3. Sadie Lincoln--if you ever read this--I'm so thankful that the workout you created to rehab your own body has spread like wildfire and has now helped me rehab mine.  And I'm so thankful that I get to be a part-even a small part-of the barre3 community. Thank you for sharing this gift with all of us.

    And now: I'm not so into selfies. Honestly, I feel weird even posting these...because it's about SO much more than just weight. So much more has changed than just what you can see on the outside. But, I also know before and after pics can be nice...just to actually see what HAS changed on the outside. So, here's a few of mine:
Before: Jan. 2013 (9 months post-baby)
4 months into Barre3, 7months into barre: Dec. 2013
Before: Christmas 2012 (8 months post-baby)

 July 2014
my friends, now it's your turn....Robyn over at Real Food Whole Life (click that for the link!) is starting a 28 to Great challenge tomorrow and inviting everyone along for the ride! As an incentive, she also has a code for 30 days FREE online access to Barre3. That gives you access to the workouts, the recipes, and all the other good-ness barre3 online has to offer. If you've been seeing me post (and post and post) about this for the past year and ever thought about trying it out-here's a risk-free way to get started! You won't regret it. Trust me.


Summah time.

So, here we are: four weeks into Adam's first round of clinicals. Honestly, I've no idea how this happened...our lives keep speeding up without asking my permission and, most days, I'm amazed that it's already  4pm when I look at the clock! So, I'm playing catch-up. I had excellent intentions of catching up on blogging and 84,000 other things while we were on our 3-week vacation in Colorado; instead, I took naps almost every day and spent time with the people I love most. It was much needed, and very very fun....but not actually restful at all, in hindsight.
     We started out with a great little camping trip, just the five of us, up at Woods Canyon Lake. Our day and night were full of capture the flag in the woods, playing in the lake (and mama almost falling asleep by the lake..due to Dramamine), and reading around the campfire at night (after s'mores, of course). The next day we headed down the mountains mid-morning, on our way to Durango...and our car blew up about 40 miles outside of Gallup, NM. Seriously, what is it about our cars and driving to Durango?? The cool part? We ended up right in front of a home belonging to a neat little old couple-who happened to be Christians. The little old man brought us water, and they ended up taking the littles and I into town when the tow-truck driver (whom dispatch assured us would have space for all of us)-well-didn't. Instead, Pax got to ride up front with Adam in the front of the tow-truck and had an absolutely marvelous time!
           To make a long story short, 3 tow-trucks, a McDonald's, a rental car, over 300 miles and many many hours later; we made it to Durango.

 A few days after that, we made it to Ft. Collins in my mother-in-law's car, actually on schedule (we skipped the 2nd mini-camping trip we'd planned) while the van stayed in Durango to have a new engine put in. The kids were fine with missing the 2nd camping trip because it just so happened that they got to go to an awesome water day event at our old church with all their friends and cousins. B was double thrilled because she just made the age-limit!   
       Our days in Colorado were almost all on the cool side; rainy in the afternoons or evenings, and sometimes all day- we loved it! Although, my usually-crazy-brave littlest did discover that he's not at all a fan of thunder.
Blaise, my mom (Grammy), and niece Evie (1 1/2) playing in the little-kid sprinklers while the Bigs were at a park with Adam one morning...they had a marvelous time!

We spent as much time in the beautiful Colorado outdoors as we could. One day, we took my nephew Ayden (11) and our 3 on a hike up to Horsetooth Falls. We left early, to avoid the thunderstorms, and the kids all had a great time-our kiddos have missed hiking these past few months! Another evening, we took him along with our kids to City Park Pool, where  he and Pax took on the giant slides without even blinking. Most evenings were spent playing "kickball" in the backyard until it was dusk, and one rainy afternoon while the littles napped we even got to go see Planes 2 with almost the whole crew-a bit hit!
Intermission: A word about our youngest son.
This little guy...he's seriously brave. And seriously fierce. And seriously smart, as in he watches EVERYTHING and is pretty sure he can do it all just as well as anyone else-if not better. Which is great- but also gives this mama wrinkles because-let's face it-at 2, that's a combination for disaster!! And so this kid has had more than his fair share of crazy almost-catastrophes since he learned to walk a year and a half ago, let me tell you. Thankfully this wasn't one of them. This rock was much higher than it looks in the picture; he kept telling his daddy, "Don't worry, Daddy-I can do it!" yeah...but we'll hold on anyway, at least for another year or two, littlest buddy!

After 5 days, we headed back down to Durango and spent the rest of our time there. Durango is glorious in July, especially if you're coming from Phoenix...we soaked up every second, once again spending our time outside as much as we could. One wonderful evening was spent eating a picnic dinner at a park with our friends the Danquahs, who recently moved back to Durango. We watched a storm roll in...and then watched the kids-all 6 of them- glory in the rain. We had dinner in the back room (read:the wine room) at my in-laws' bakery with my in-laws several times, as well as my brother-and sister-in law and our nieces; another harrowing experience for the mama of a 2-year old. All those bottles! and the ladder! But-worth it for the delicious treats everyone devoured at the end. (Perks of being the grandchild of a French baker: getting to go behind the counter and pick your own as-big-as-your-face pastry.)
       Add to that the wonderful time we got to spend with the Palmers, the Danquahs, and many more old friends at more parks than I can count; tons of cousin time, Blythe's first sleepover (at Aunt Tiff and Uncle YayYay's house-Pax got to go, too. They had some serious fun! And we felt strangely childless with only one...) friends and family, and, well....it was hard to come back to the hot August desert. Blythe was upset for days; so I taught her the fine art of letter-writing. She then proceeded to write letters to all her Colorado friends and family....and was overjoyed to get an answer from her Grammy and Grandaddy and Evie, just the other day.

(See? Giant!! These are 2 of our nieces-Madi (8) and Violet (6).)

This photo just screams summer in Durango to me!
This was a fun Saturday morning spent at Tiff and Jerome's with cousins and the Palmer kids-Kale (10), Pax (6), Jack (5), and Madi (8). I had the chance to do a few photoshoots again while in town, so I had dropped Adam and the kids off at 7 am on my way to a shoot.

    This is how Blaise spent 75% of the time we were at the bakery. He woke up to the sound of beeping trucks backing up, and ran out the door to watch them dig and grade and lift until it was time to leave for that day's adventure.  They're adding a parking lot across the street for the new pediatric center built in the last year; and therefore there's lots and lots of construction vehicles and workers, too. We spent more than one evening exploring the empty work site, mush to his delight...

...These are the Danquah girls. One of the perks of having my MIL's Seqoia is that it fits 8; so one morning, while Megan did some last-minute packing and cleaning for the move into their new home, I took all the girls with us to meet the other mamas at their Tuesday park day. Loud, crazy, giggling fun! Pax says they were telling ghost stories in the back...I don't really know where any of them have ever heard a ghost story, but, there you go.
Pax (6), Lily (7), Sadie (5), Blythe (4), Ollie (3), and Blaise (2). The stair-step kids. Sadie is convinced that they're all "real cousins", despite Lily's attempts to convince her otherwise; and considering that half the people we know and love in Durango ARE "real cousins" and their mama is my birthday "twin"....I can understand her confusion! It's just allllll part of the family.
       And then there's these two. Pax and Ayden. This summer they had SO much fun together! Here you see evidence of their sand/ water days in my parents' backyard, something I have vivid childhood memories of doing. It's so much fun seeing your kiddos enjoy the same summer thrills you did!
     The end of this story: our van is still in Durango, not quite fixed yet. Thankfully, we had the generostiy of my mother-in-law's Sequoia to get us back home and around until it's done. We had a deadline-Adam started Clinicals on the 6th of August, so we didn't have a lot of wiggle room. But that's another story.....
       let's just say- Summer in Colorado was great!