Barre Skinny ™

So you’ve started barre and now your body is changing… for the better? Often times the changes you will see in your body after starting a highly regimented barre program aren’t what you would expect. It isn’t uncommon for your jeans to feel tighter and the number on the scale to rise… Why? Because you are changing from the inside out. 

An athletic barre program will result in the gain of muscle – not bulking of the legs and seat – but long lean muscle mass, which is still adding muscle. Since muscle weighs more than fat, it is not uncommon for the number on the scale to rise or stay relatively the same once you begin your barre program. Don’t judge yourself by the number, let your eyes and those of others be the judge. Our NEIGHBORHOOD barre program refers to this phenomenon as Barre Skinny ™.  Why would you want to be skinny, when you could be Barre Skinny ™? Our barre-bies have muscles, not the bulky body-building muscles, but lean beautiful muscles that define the shape of the arms, back, abs, hips, glutes, thighs, calfs… did I miss anything? Just check out these changes: Image 

So why do your clothes feel tighter than before? Think of a marshmallow vs. an almond.  When your thighs consist of more fat (marshmallow) than muscle (almond) they are going to stuff nicely into your tightest jeans, thus molding themselves to the shape of the pants. Once you have replaced that fat with muscle (almond), the pants have to form to your shape instead. The answer? Give it time. Although we see results quickly in a classical or athletic barre studio, there are layers of change that need to happen in order to reach your ultimate goal. Keep working! The muscles often start to form before the fat has melted away, which is why you think you are ‘bulking’ or getting bigger. You will get smaller. We promise. Keep pulsing, drink LOTS of water, and don’t stop just because it burns :)

If you have any other questions about weight gain/loss in barre, post them below. Questions about burning calories? Visit our Facebook page and see the burn.

What The Tuck?

While perusing the social media world last week I saw someone answer the question “What is barre?” like this… “Barre is combination of yoga and pilates with a ballet barre that you use for balance…”. Ummmm, what?

Because barre fitness is still a relatively new phenomenon in the Southeast, we often hear the above-mentioned question “what is barre”? While many see it as a combination of workouts – pilates, yoga, dance – in a classical barre studio, this is not the case. Barre is its own workout, its own moves, its own identity.

So what is it? Barre is a full body workout that incorporate ELEMENTS of dance, pilates, and yoga with isometric movements to carve and shape key muscle groups in the arms, legs, abs, and glutes. It is not a fusion workout. At least not at our studio. Classical barre is based off of its own method – the Lotte Berk Method – which was created by a woman named Lydia Bach. It has been around for MANY years and is just now gaining popularity nationwide. The techniques differ from studio to studio and brand to brand, but a true barre workout (the classical style) is based from Lotte Berk and not a fusion or combination of anything. No warriors or balancing trees here, only tucking, lifting, pulsing, and holding.

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Another key component to a classical studio is the hip tuck. I said ‘tuck’, not ‘thrust’. Tucking of the hips is a classic dance posture that aligns the spine and engages the core. While some might say that the hip tuck is unsafe and outdated, we are confident from our research with local chiropractors, physicians, and physical therapists, that the hip tuck is safe and effective. Think of pressing your tail bone towards the floor. It keeps your body stacked in a position that is safer for the lower back and allows more muscle groups to be engaged during the workout, thus burning more calories and providing an overall strength benefit. 

What’s more comfortable to you? Standing like this..

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Or like this…

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While no studio is really right or wrong, it is up to you to find the workout that is right for your body and strength level and delivers the results you want and need. If a fusion studio that calls itself a ‘combination of yoga and pilates’ is your thing, then go for it; but if you want barre, then make sure you find  a classical studio that uses only elements of other methods, rather than fusing different workouts together. Barre fitness can provide amazing results if done consistently and correctly. At NEIGHBORHOOD barre we make it our goal to ensure that our clients get the best experience possible, with proper coaching to ensure safety and effectiveness during class. If you ever have any questions about a move or a posture, then ask! As we all know, barre can often get harder before it gets easier because we learn the technique over time. Stick to it and keep tucking! Don’t forget, your first class at NEIGHBORHOOD barre is FREE! Come see the difference.

How I Lost One Inch In One Week

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My basic formula for a quick change goes a little something like this….

Water + Sleep – Gluten = Change

Now, I am not saying this formula is going to work for everyone, or that you will all of the sudden shed inches from your waist like some miracle concoction; but I am saying that for me, making these dietary and lifestyle changes produces faster and more noticeable results than exercise and ‘eating right’ do on their own.

Miss Parks says it best with her “water, water, water” chant after every class. She’s right. Increasing your water intake does so much for your body from reducing soreness after a workout, to giving you more energy, and even reducing belly bloat – resulting in a flatter stomach. I bet you thought the belly bloat was going to relate to the less gluten portion of the equation didn’t you? Not so for me. Drinking more water aids digestion and actually causes you to retain less (water retention can have a visible effect on your midsection). I’ve upped my water intake to at least a 1/2 gallon (a.k.a. 4 Bkr’s) with my goal being to consume twice that on a daily basis.

New chant for you, “sleep, sleep, sleep.” Think about it. What do you do when you’re sleepy and trying to stay awake? Eat, maybe? I do, and I don’t always make the best choices, because I crave either sugar or ‘comfort food.’ Being well rested helps your body crave the types of food you need, not the types of food that are quick and easy. Like Chick-fil-a. And pizza. And Coke Zero. Anyway….

That being said, I am not an advocate for completely cutting something out of your diet unless there is a necessary purpose, like allergies or intolerance. However, I have found that significantly reducing the amount of gluten I eat directly results in less ‘fluff’ around my midsection. Why is this? It makes me think about everything I eat. For some, the consumption of processed wheat, rye, or barley can cause bloat due to a food allergy or intolerance to gluten. However, for the majority of the public, who do not have a sensitivity or allergy to gluten (me), it simply means you are consuming fewer empty calories, and rather, replacing snacks and side dishes with well thought out choices like fruits and vegetables. Things to remember? Less gluten does not mean less calories. In fact, often times foods that are labeled ‘gluten free’ are higher in calories than those that are not. Be mindful of snacks containing more sugar and fat as a result of less gluten.

Snack of choice these days? Larabar Roasted Nut Roll (which has less sugar than some other gluten free snacks) and one whole Bkr.

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Final tip… Don’t concentrate on the numbers on the scale. They can be deceiving. I weigh the same now as I did a week ago, but I look better in a bikini :)

Modify. It Doesn’t Hurt To Take A Lower Option In Barre Class.

Hot shaky muscles are a staple in our Neighborhood Barre classes, but actual pain can be another issue going beyond the barre burn to another level. While we do offer modifications throughout the workout, some pain issues require you to rework a position entirely in order to avoid discomfort in class. Common issues relate to knees, lower back strain, and strain to the neck and shoulders. While most of these issues will dissipate over time – as you build strength in class – it is important to use modifications to avoid unnecessary strain on your body. Here we will outline and demonstrate our most common modification needs.

Plank – During plank you want to think about pulling your belly button to your spine, allowing your core to do the work, and keeping a straight line down your body. We often see swayed backs and distended necks like this:  DSC00129

If you feel the sway, use this modification – drop to your knees and then pull your belly button back to your spine to shift the work into your core. If holding this position is still too much, then take little breaks by pressing back into Child’s Pose.

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DiamondThe most common complaint here is knee or hip pain. Often this type of pain can be caused by your knee to hip alignment, not anything you are actually doing in the pose. Here we demonstrate a typical diamond pose: DSC00146

To readjust, move your feet into a more narrow V taking pressure off the knees and putting more work in your thighs. You can also eliminate the ‘knee press’ portion of the exercise, choosing to hold a still position instead.

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Chair - Lower back strain can be an issue in chair. Core strength and proper alignment play a big role here. Make sure that your shoulders are stacked over your hips, your hips are tucked under, and that your knees are stacked over your ankles. We often see swayed backs, hunched shoulders, or improper alignment as demonstrated below:

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If you feel the back strain, walk your feet under the barre and use the baseboard for support. Pull your upper body closer and think about pressing your feet into the floor. This will properly align the body and put the work back into your thighs.

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Ab Work – Neck and shoulder strain and lower back pain can often be associated with Pilates-style ab work. Luckily there are MANY modifications for abs, but here are a few basics that work in most positions to alleviate strain.

There is always an option to use 2 balls. This works great for a pre/post natal modification, or for anyone who has a sensitive lower back, by allowing support to the spine throughout the portion of abs where we work high.

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The twist – our favorite modification on our twisting oblique work is to keep the ‘floating leg’ bent, thereby pressing the foot into the floor. You will feel your lower back press into the mat. This will shift the work back to your core and allow you to relax your neck and shoulders, as this is often where we feel the strain in this exercise.

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The pump is another exercise that can cause the shoulder and neck pain that we so often feel during Pilates.  Rather than setting your head down, try lowering your feet from table-top to the ground. Like the previous example, this will allow you to reengage your core rather than straining through your neck.

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Keep in mind that a lot of the pain – especially lower back, neck, and shoulder strain – will subside as you get stronger, as we often compensate for lack of core strength with other muscle groups. ALWAYS take the lower options if you feel pain. It is better to have proper form while performing a more simple exercise, than to strain your body towards an advanced position. By listening to our bodies, we will know when the time is right to take it to the next level. Start slow. It is always OK to perform part of a set in an advanced position and then move to your modification. The more you push yourself, the longer you will be able to hold the advanced poses, using the modifications less and less!

Resolution Schmesolution… Make It Your LIFE.

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The average New Year’s Resolution lasts for 17 days, with the number one resolution being to lose weight (statisticbrain.com). Unfortunately many of the pounds that are lost (if any) are very soon put back on due to lack of commitment, workout and diet burnout, or giving up because you’re not seeing the results fast enough.

There’s a saying that we try to live by here at Neighborhood Barre: “make what you love into what you do.” This saying can apply in a lot different capacities, but let’s try this. What do YOU love? …I love feeling good. I love feeling healthy, being comfortable in my skin, and not sweating the small stuff. How do I live it? I watch what I eat and I exercise almost daily. It’s what I do, so I can live the way I love to live.  Neighborhood Barre gets me there. I get a full-body workout in 55 minutes, it clears my mind of small-life stresses, it give me the ability to feel comfortable in my skin, and I leave feeling strong and healthy.  This year don’t make a resolution. Make a new life. Turn what you love into what you do.

See below for inspiring stories of real clients who have made Neighborhood Barre a part of their life. Living and chasing the shake for over a year! No resolutions here, only happy, healthful lifestyles.

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As someone who has tried every workout in the book, I can honestly say that I have never felt stronger since I began taking Neighborhood Barre classes. It has been a year now, and I am STILL seeing changes in my body!

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Since becoming pregnant, barre has been helping me maintain steady weight gain. I’ve had a big increase in my appetite and I don’t make the “right” choices every time I need a snack. Even though I’ve had to modify some of the work outs, Neighborhood Barre is still kicking my butt and definitely keeping me fit!

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The first time I noticed a change in my body was when my mom and I were moving a mattress up a hill. My mom lifts weights and always brags about how strong she is (and she really is pretty strong) but this time, I was the stronger one and I kept on going when my mom needed to take a break. After that, I noticed that my normal jog around Lakeshore didn’t take as long!! I was feeling better during my runs and so I was running much quicker! My muscles and core are much stronger!!! All this strength and NO BULK!!!

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I had sustained a low back injury from work and had been going to physical therapy for several months prior to coming to Neighborhood Barre. I also had my third flare up of plantar fasciitis that steroid injections and sleeping a rigid boot had not cured. My foot is 100% and my back is 90% better from the overall strengthening of my core. Both things I am thrilled about, but I have to admit my biggest testimonial is that in the past year I have gone down almost two full sizes in my jeans.

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My exercise goals are focused on getting in shape and toning my body; Nb has done that and more for me. It truly is an entire body work-out, and I can tell a difference in the way my clothing fits now. I can see new toned definition in my arms, abs/waist and legs that I didn’t have before. I overall feel much stronger and healthier, and going to the morning classes make me feel more energized to take on the rest of the day!

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After more than a decade of my childhood spent at the gymnastics studio, my body quickly gains muscle mass in the form of bulk. Nb is the first workout that allowed my body to regain its strength and flexibility without the bulk. After only a few weeks, my arms and legs were visibly leaner. I recently took a brief hiatus due to second-pregnancy exhaustion. It only took two classes before the tone returned. The workouts also greatly increase my energy level.

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I have truly enjoyed being a client of Nb over the last year. Not only have I experienced changes to my body, I have had a blast doing it! From my arms to my seat and calves it is like a total body transformation. I really like all of the instructors who push me to feel the burn and shake each and every time I take class. It definitely never gets any easier!

I love how every class is just as challenging as the first. I love how after every class my muscles are fatigued (sometimes still shaking) and I'm relaxed, but energized all at the same time - it's the perfect combo! And of course, RESULTS! I am amazed by the changes I have achieved over the past year. My muscles are longer, leaner, and stronger than ever before. I am a much stronger runner because of the strength I have built at Nb. I love it!

I love how every class is just as challenging as the first. I love how after every class my muscles are fatigued (sometimes still shaking) and I’m relaxed, but energized all at the same time – it’s the perfect combo! And of course, RESULTS! I am amazed by the changes I have achieved over the past year. My muscles are longer, leaner, and stronger than ever before. I am a much stronger runner because of the strength I have built at Nb. I love it!

 

5 Ways To Wear Your Leggings

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If you are barre or yoga obsessed, chances are you find yourself  spending all of your money on crazy expensive leggings only to realize later that you do not actually own any ‘real’ pants. Well, we’re here to help you turn those Wunder Unders and Beyond Yoga Leggings into street chic apparel. Here are 5 ways to wear your leggings in public without being embarrassed (a shirt long enough to cover your rear helps too).

1. Flats.

How about we jazz it up with a print?

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Or more specifically a smoking slipper with print…

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Leopard pairs great with color – especially those jewel tones that we are loving this season. Throw on a chambray shirt over your tank or your favorite slouchy sweater, and voila! You are casually chic and ready to hit the town.

2 & 3. Boots and booties. We might as well combine these into one even though they can give you two totally different looks.

Tall boots, short boots, low boots – they all look great with a legging. Add interest with a leg warmer or tall sock. Think layers for your legs.

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Toms makes a great affordable lace-up bootie. Also check Urban Outfitters.

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You don’t have to have a sock to be cute. Laces and buckles add enough to this look making layers unnecessary.

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Yessssssssss. We love a tall boot with a tall boot sock and leggings. This look can take you many places.

Great boots usually come at a steep price. You can keep it middle of the road with Frye. They make boots of all shapes and heights and with a varying price range. Most are a more casual look, which pair well with leggings.

4. Moccasins.

I’m a sucker for a good moccasin. Just don’t get too crazy. Keep the fringe to a minimum and buy a boot that is suitable for your height. This short boot looks great on most people. It still has the fringe and some detail without taking all of the attention.

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Where to find these and other great moccs? MINNETONKA. The mother of all things moccasin.

5. Platforms.

My personal favorite. Platforms can take your legging look from day to night especially if you keep it simple with black. Pair with a tunic or long sweater and you are ready, set, go.

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Above is a very affordable Steve Madden platform. The black on black keeps it simple and chic.

Homemade Granola & Greek Yogurt by Gussie Gayle

We’ve all heard about the Greek Yogurt craze by now, but what you don’t always hear about is how sugar-filled a lot of store brands can be (not to mention the preservatives). Here, our resident ‘house mom,’ Gussie Gayle, lets us in on one of her most popular recipes – greek yogurt and homemade granola. YUM-O! Perfect for any breakfast or mid-day snack! Here’s a sneak peek of the finished product:

Breakfast anyone?

Oh, and this recipe makes a LOT of granola, so if you’re not baking for a big family or group, cut it in half.

GRANOLA

Step 1: Gather all of your ingredients!

Old-Fashioned Oats, Wheat Germ, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Coconut, Buttermilk Powder, Chopped Nuts (optional), Dried Fruit (optional), Honey, Sunflower Oil

Step 2: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil and flour a cookie sheet with sides.

Step 3:

Dry Mix:  (In a large bowl)
5 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant)
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds (I prefer pumpkin seeds)
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup dry buttermilk powder
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup chopped nuts (optional, but I don’t always)

1 cup dried fruit (optional, but I don’t – I like to add fresh when I serve it)

Wet Mix:  (In a medium sized bowl)
1 cup safflower or sunflower oil
1 1/2 cup local honey

Whisk the oil and honey until they are well mixed and almost fluffy.  Then, pour the wet mix into the dry mix and combine thoroughly.

Once everything is happily groove-a-licious, spread the entire mixture evenly onto the cookie sheet.  It’s a big pile if you do the whole recipe.

Step 4: Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  I usually stir about mid way.  Watch it carefully, because it will overcook quicker than you realize.  It needs to be golden brown, and “dry” enough (after it cools and you crumble it) that it will stay loose in storage.  Store in an air-tight container.

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Step 1: Gather ingredients!

1 Quart Milk (I use skim, but use what you want)
1/2 cup Powdered Milk

1 container (1/2 cup) plain yogurt with an active culture (like Chobani Greek Yogurt)

Step 2:

Pour milk into small saucepan and whisk in powdered milk. Place over medium heat and bring to 120 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Once milk has reached 120 degrees F, stir in yogurt, blend well, and then pour into two pint jars (or one quart jar).

Step 3:

Turn the light on in your oven and place the jars close to the bulb.  I usually make the yogurt either in the morning and remove it from the oven before bedtime, or at night and leave it overnight until set.

Voila! The yogurt will be “looser” than store-bought yogurt, because it doesn’t contain all of the additives. Resist the urge to stir it, because that will loosen it even more. SO GOOD with granola and fresh fruit!

Self Expectations – Learning To Let Go & Embrace The Shake!

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Many of us expect too much of ourselves in general; and when it comes to physical activity, disappointment is very common. At Neighborhood Barre we pride ourselves on being a judgment-free environment. In fact, our mission states that our goal “…is to offer all clients, whether beginner or advanced, a quick and effective way to transform their bodies. The studio will evoke a sense of comfort and encouragement in our clients’ quest for improvement, free of judgment and comparison.”  However, sometimes outside judgment is not the problem, rather it is the judgment from within that holds us back.

Classical barre is an extremely challenging workout that can often feel even more intense by week 2 or 3 than it did in week 1. This is because our bodies start to adjust and become familiar with the positions, and over time we work deeper in the pose and movements become smaller, transforming from swings to contractions.  This scenario is NORMAL and only proves that you are growing in the technique.  On the other hand, some of us feel intimated from the start. Take it from me, don’t let this stop you.

I know all too well how daunting a new type of class can be. I recently tried hot yoga for the first time. Oh.Em.Gee. You would have thought I was hydrating for a hike through the Sahara with the amount of water I consumed that day. I had thoroughly convinced myself that I was either going to throw up, pass out, or both at some point during that 60 minutes of 105 degree heat. I worked myself up to the point of being so nervous that if my friends hadn’t expected me to be there, I probably wouldn’t have gone. Mind you, this is coming from someone who is, in fact, a certified yoga instructor… yeah. Bottom line, I loved the class. No one fainted. No one threw up. And I felt silly for being so nervous on the front end. Sometimes we need to just embrace a new experience and a new type of workout, and not expect ourselves to be the best. Embrace the struggle, the nervousness, and the new challenge before you, rather than loathing the thought of being the worst or not being able to make it through the class.

So what have we learned? DON’T BE AFRAID to try something new. The fear of the unknown can prevent us from finding things in life that we truly love, even if it’s just a new way to work out. DON’T GET DISCOURAGED! Remember that the barre SHAKE is a good thing – something we never want to lose. In fact, when you stop shaking, you need to start working lower and deeper. DON’T EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM YOURSELF! Go into a new situation with no expectations at all. If you need to stop, then stop. If you need water, then go get some water. If you need to sit down and rest, then sit down. No one is judging you, but you. So drop the self-judgment and the high expectations, and concentrate on what’s important – your health!

What’s In My Gym Bag? Miss Hope Parks Spills Her Bag Guts…

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We know what you’re thinking… Farm fresh eggs? Mason Jars with green juice concoctions? Home remedies? What could Hope POSSIBLY keep in that huge bag!?! Well, it’s all quite tame and useful, so here goes.

Of course there’s the ever-present grippie sock. Every barre-bie knows, the sock matters. Hope prefers her Crescent Moon sock, because the stickies “go all the way up to your toes” unlike some other brands. She always has fruit. You name it, we’ve seen it. Plums, apples, oranges, bananas. Today was kiwis! How fun is that? Kiwis are a perfect snack for working out. They provide lots of vitamins, flavonoids, and minerals. In fact, they contain more vitamin C than an orange and as much potassium as a banana! Hope always has other basic instructor possessions on hand like a watch, elastic ponies, bobby pins, and water; but there’s a few products in there that are must haves when it comes to her on-the-go lifestyle.

1. THE STICK. The Stick is a pint size massage that fits in your gym bag. It rolls out tight glutes, hamstrings, and thighs in a matter of seconds and is a must-have for any gym rat. The Stick is definitely a fave here at Neighborhood Barre!

2. AVEDA HYDRATING CREAM. This cream is awesome when you’re heading from studio to street. Wash off your sweat and then pile on this all-natural moisturizer for a healthy glow!

3. CHRISTIAN DIOR MASCARA. Did we cover this last time? Of course we did, because it’s a must have! Favorite mascara by far. Great eye brightener for those early mornings when you don’t want to appear to be so sleepy!

4. NEIGHBORHOOD BARRE L/S BURNOUT.  This long-sleeved burnout is a perfect fitness product for a variety of reasons… It’s lightweight, takes up very little room in your bag, and is great to wear through a warmup and then through to the side before you hit the barre!

5. SUGAR ROSE LIP STAIN. Prevent the ‘zombie’ look with this mild lip stain! It’s a balm, a stain, and lip treatment all in one! This ‘almost makeup’ look prevents you from being too overly done at the studio, but gives you just enough color to look fabulously fresh! http://www.sephora.com/sugar-lip-treatment-spf-15-P57002

You didn’t think we’d leave you without a mason jar did you?

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Perfect for Fall and pictured here, the Neighborhood Barre Dolman style hoodie (Hope has declared this her new staple piece for Fall fitness apparel) and her special Pumpkin Smoothie!

See recipe below:

1/2 Cup of Pumpkin

1 Banana (optional)

2 Tbs Almond Butter

Cinnamon, nutmeg, & ginger to taste

1 Tbs Maple Syrup

3/4 Cup Almond Milk

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Belly Up To The Barre And Challenge Yourself

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Belly up to the barre with our FALL CHALLENGE at Neighborhood Barre. Unlike a lot of challenges that reward you with a t-shirt, wrist band, (or don’t tell… me ‘bragging rights’?!?), Neighborhood Barre is here to help you commit to and achieve your fitness goals with an incentive that’s hard to turn down. Commit to only 3 classes a week and receive 10% off your next package, 4 times a week and get 15% off, and 5 times a week gets you 20% off your next package – the largest discount we will ever offer.

Our Challenge is important because it will keep you accountable to your workout, allow you to attend enough times within 4 weeks to see the results from the NB technique, give you an internal satisfaction and mental boost from completing the challenge, and provide you with an incentive that will keep you coming back for more.

There are several ways to use the Challenge in order to get the most out of it both physically and financially. If you have not yet used your New Client Month Unlimited, NOW IS THE TIME! It is by far the most bang for your buck of any package we have on the menu and will allow you to use your discount from completing the Challenge toward a full price package. If you are on a 3 Month Auto-Renew Contract already or are going to commit the auto-renew for the first month of the challenge, don’t fret. The Auto-Renew is a discounted package, but you have the choice to apply your discount to one of the months on your contract, or use it to discount a future package (using the discount toward a 3 Month Unlimited will give you the most bang for your buck here).

Are you on a Student or Bridal package? Don’t think you are off the hook! Sign up for the Challenge and the discount will apply towards the purchase of retail. With all of our new items to arrive within the next month, you can really rack up on some great stuff!

Join our challenge TODAY and see how barre can make a difference in your life. Whether you are a runner, a yogi, a new mom, or are looking to use barre as your main form of exercise, you will undoubtedly benefit from the Neighborhood Barre technique. You can choose your challenge and sign up via email info@neighborhoodbarre, phone 865-692-1148, or in studio. The Challenge starts September 10th (the Monday following Labor Day) and lasts 4 weeks. Discounts apply to full price packages only. You may only attend one class per day.