4 Tips To Improve Posture – From The Barre To Your Bed

You’ve been hearing it since you were a little girl, “Sit up! Quit slouching!” But now that our bodies are getting, err more ‘settled’, it’s literally becoming a pain not to have better posture. Your posture can help you look and feel better, inside and outside of the studio, so let’s break down 4 quick tips, with checkpoints, for you to try during class, sitting at home or the office, and even sleeping!

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1) Standing Posture Test: Stand up with your back against a door or wall. Your head, shoulders and seat should be touching the wall, but your heels should be roughly two inches in front of the wall. Now place one hand on your belly and press in, drawing your navel in tight towards your spine and feeling your tailbone stretch down. Holding it there, try sliding your other hand behind your back against the wall. It should feel like you can barely slide your hand through, only getting your fingers behind you. This is what we consider proper alignment, and a ‘tucked’ position at Neighborhood Barre. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and you want to think about a string lifting your upper body higher, while your tailbone (and core) is rooting you back down to the ground, keeping your lower back in line

2) Next you want to find (and maintain) your center by tuning into your head-to-toe alignment. This is particularly important when it comes to exercising, to protect your joints, and in the case of barre, target the proper muscle group.  You want shoulders, hips, and heels stacked when standing.  Think about keeping your chin level with the ground, your shoulders back, and your belly drawn in. It should feel like your body is being stretched apart, in opposite directions. This takes more practice with seat exercises, since you are typically working one side at a time and your body wants to put all your weight in the standing, or stabilizing side.

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This principle holds true even when we’re on all 4’s, seated, or on your back in class! Think of your body as right angles, when the legs are bent. Your head, your neck, your back, through the seat, should all be aligned, in any of these positions. Make sure your knees, or feet stay hips-width apart so you keep your posture and your weight evenly distributed throughout your body.

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3) Seated Posture test: Sit on the floor and put your hands under your sits bones with palms facing down. Adjust your position until you can feel your weight centered between both palms.  (Again consider a string lifting your head up, chin level, shoulders back, abs tight!) When exercising, if you start to favor one hip over the other, it’s time to take an adjustment to realign your posture, and re-center your body weight. It should feel just like if you were sitting on your hands!

4) Lastly, your body needs sleep to recover, and the last thing you want is to potentially wake up with a sore neck or back, not from exercise, but from poor posture during sleep! If you sleep on your stomach (spoiler alert, the WORST position for posture), use a pillow under your belly, or lose the pillow under your head. If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees. If you’re a side-sleeper, place a pillow between the knees and pull them in towards your chest. All of these options allow you to sleep in essentially a ‘NB tucked’ position, who knew? (Now try not to dream about barre!)

Photo credits: Wikihow.com

You Are What You Eat – How to fuel, and refuel, your workout

Leggings – check, sports bra – check, water bottle – check, but wait – did you pack food? Are you fueling, and recovering with nutrition as part of your exercise routine? We all know the saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen’, and your entire diet should be just as important as which exercise class you choose. But proper nutrition pre-and-post workout can truly maximize all the effort you’re putting into class – and who doesn’t want that, right?

There are the more obvious reasons that you shouldn’t opt-out of your pre-workout snack or meal, like dizziness, lethargy, nausea, and even the potential to be more prone to injury. But even if these things don’t plague you, skipping out on food can reduce your performance, and ultimately reduce your exercise gains. So, where do you start?

Repeat after me. Carbs are OK. Especially before you break a sweat. Carbs break down into glucose, providing you the energy and endurance you need to exercise at your maximum capacity. Opt for simple carbs that break down quickly to give you that energy boost. Great options include: a piece of fruit, oatmeal, greek yogurt, a handful of dried fruit or crackers, or toast. When you perform resistance or strength training, like Neighborhood Barre classes, adding a little bit of protein is important for muscle recovery. Again choose easily digestible protein so you don’t feel weighed down (no pun intended), during your workout. Solid choices are a handful of nuts, again greek yogurt (hint hint), a hard-boiled egg, or protein-rich milk.

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So when should you eat before, and after your workout? Shoot for anywhere between 30 minutes to three hours before you exercise. You may have to experiment to see what amount of time works best for your body. For example, if you’re an early-bird exerciser, you may not want to (or have the time to) eat a whole meal before you hit the studio. Try a mini-snack, or shoot for a protein-packed smoothie, where you drink half before class, and half after. If you exercise later in the day, either 1) have a 150 calorie snack pre-workout, or 2) you may be ok to power through if you’ve had a well-balanced meal within 2-3 hours of your workout.

Lastly, hydration is of course key to your workout performance, and recovery. Aim to drink about one cup of water 10-20 minutes pre-workout, to avoid low energy and muscle cramps or spasms. Consider drinking another cup during your workout to stay properly fueled, especially if you’re sweating profusely. And lastly, drink two cups post-workout to replenish the fluids you lost.

So you’re done – now what? You need to eat after your workout. Period. You’re not only inhibiting your body’s ability to repair itself, but if you skip eating after your workout routinely, it will be harder for you to reach your fitness goals. Ideally, refuel within 30 minutes of your workout. Your post-workout food of choice should be high in complex carbohydrates, and more importantly loaded with healthy protein. Here’s the issue – it’s really easy to over-compensate on the calorie count. You don’t want to necessarily eat more calories than you just burned! So skip the energy drinks, bars, or sugary smoothies.   Again think about 150 calories if it’s a snack, or under 500 calories if you’re headed straight to meal time. Snack-wise, think whole-grain crackers or toast with nut butter, 2 hard-boiled eggs and toast, or a cup of chocolate milk.

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We’d love for you to share your fave healthy snacks with us! Tag us in your social posts where you’re fueling or hydrating pre/post barre class, or use the hashtag #nbbarrefuel.