Barre-Barmethod-leg workout

Diamond Thigh: The Leg Workout That Can Change Your Entire Body

The diamond is the traditional birthstone of April, and as the saying goes, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend!” But we’d like to change the slogan to “Diamond thigh is your body’s best friend.” It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Diamond thigh is so much more than just a thigh exercise.

It’s THE thigh exercise that has the potential to change your entire body! It sculpts your quads, inner thigh muscles, glutes, outside glutes, and abdominals. It essentially works your entire body in less than 2 minutes! This position also stabilizes your knees, burns away fat, and improves your posture and alignment. This barre exercise is quite a beauty!

However, “nothing worth having ever comes easy.” So, why is the form in diamond thigh so difficult to get right? Let us break it down:

First, our glutes are big lazy muscles. Most people (aside from sprinters, professional dancers, gymnasts, or athletes) haven’t been taught how to effectively engage their glutes. Or more importantly, keep them engaged. Most of us are familiar with running, jogging, swimming, lunges, squats and nautilus machines at the gym. The problem with these exercises is they all bend the body forward at the hips, letting the glutes lose their contraction with every repetition. They are not tapping into the glutes true nature and full potential. In diamond thigh, you learn how to keep your glutes engaged and every time you perform a rhythmic tuck, those muscles get even stronger.

Second, most of us have weak posture muscles. We spend our days hunched over computer screens or slouching in the car while driving. We rarely pay attention to our posture unless someone is there to remind us to lift our head and pull our shoulders back and down. In diamond thigh, we teach you to enlist your stabilizers, namely your abdominals and erector spinae (a bundle of muscles running vertically up your vertebrae) to keep your spine upright. The more you do Bar Method, the more practice you’ll get recruiting your stabilizers to improve your posture, not only in class but also in those daily activities or “non-activities.”

Lastly, many of us suffer from tight hip flexors. Having tight hips makes the turn out in diamond thigh especially challenging. Don’t give up hope if you have sensitive hips!. Start small to begin to feel the catch in your gluteus medius and the stretch in your inner quads. Little by little open up your turnout by taking class consistently and notice your diamond thigh begin to sparkle!

Use these four tips to achieve better form in diamond thigh:

 

1. Place your feet in a wide turnout

Students often miss this cue, as it’s the first thing mentioned by the instructor in the set-up. This is important because good form starts from the ground up. Your feet are your foundation. Double-check your knees are turned out the same degree as your feet then lift your heels up to get started.

2. Relax your low back and drop your tailbone

By doing this you will instantly activate the stabilizers we mentioned above and begin to notice the work in your thighs become more intense and effective. The minute you do the opposite of that (flexing your back and sticking your tailbone out), you divert the attention away from your quads and glutes while moving it up to your low back. Not to mention, this improper form shifts you out of alignment and puts added stress on your hips and knees.

3. Bend slightly forward at your waist to engage your abs

Keep your abs cinched in as if you’re wearing a tight corset. Breath deeply to recruit and tone your deepest layer of abdominals, the transversus abdominus. This muscle is most responsible for pulling your waist tighter to your spine and stabilizing your spine when needed. In this exercise, that stability is needed for you to work in your best form.

4. Look straight ahead to stay focused

Get in your zone. Find something in front of you to look at and do your best to focus your attention on that object throughout the exercise. This keeps you mentally focused, in the moment, and undistracted by others around you. Bonus: Take this tip and apply it outside of The Bar Method and notice all of the wonderful, new opportunities around you that you might’ve missed with your head down.

Now, get to class and practice … so diamond thigh can become your body’s best friend!

Vegan Peanut Butter Crunch Cups for Easter? Yes Please!

Are you still scratching your head about what to bring to Easter brunch this Sunday? Our favorite “golden girl of wellness” and go-to source for all things clean eating has you covered. Indulge in this incredibly easy, delicious and dare we say vegan recipe for peanut butter crunch cups. All you need is a lot of love for dark chocolate and a little willpower to not eat all of them before Easter Sunday!

Makes: 20 peanut butter crunch cups
Ready in: 40 minutes


Ingredients:
One bag (11-12 ounces) semi or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter coconut butter
3/4 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 cup crispy rice cereal
+20 mini cupcake liners

  • Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it at 100 percent power in 10-second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool slightly and then scrape it into a large bowl. (You can also melt the chocolate in a large bowl over a pan with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring the chocolate occasionally, until it is completely melted).
  • Using a small paintbrush or pastry brush, coat the bottoms and 3/4 of the way up the sides of the liners with some of the chocolate (set aside the rest for later). You want the coating to be fairly thick, so that when the liners are peeled off, the chocolate shell doesn’t crack. Place the filled liners on a plate and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to several hours.
  • While the shells chill, make the peanut butter filling. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the peanut butter using a wooden spoon and then add the confectioners sugar and rice cereal. Mix until well combined and gooey looking (it should look like slightly melted chunky peanut butter). Allow the mixture to cool slightly; about 10-15 minutes should do it (if the mixture is too hot, it will melt the chocolate shells).
  • Remove the chocolate cups from the refrigerator. Use a teaspoon to fill each shell 3/4 full with peanut butter filling (you can use a wet finger or the back of a spoon to smooth out the top if you like). If the remaining chocolate in the bowl has hardened, re-melt it in the microwave in 5-second bursts. Spoon some chocolate over the peanut butter filling, spreading and turning the shell so the chocolate seals the cup. Return to the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (or up to 2 weeks in an airtight plastic container) to harden. Serve chilled.

Candice Kumai is one of the country’s leading wellness journalists and the most trusted source in clean eating. She is the 5x best-selling author of Clean Green Eats, Clean Green Drinks, Pretty Delicious, Cook Yourself Sexy, and Cook Yourself Thin. Candice is a regular contributor to E! News, The Dr. Oz Show, and The Today Show. Candice lives to inspire a a whole new generation of wellness lovers, creative artists, fitness gurus and cooks in the kitchen. Click here for more of her recipes, wellness tips and life hacks.

5-Bar-Method-Exercises-Spring-Break

6 Bar Method Exercises You Can Do Anywhere This Spring Break (No Ballet Barre Required)

Does your love for barre go deeper than what your friends and family would consider a “reasonable obsession?”  If so, you may start to panic when Spring Break rolls around. Maybe you’ve been in a groove, taking classes consistently and finally starting to feel like you could get through a full set of thigh without releasing. Or maybe you’re addicted and literally can’t imagine a day, let alone a week, without Bar Method.

Spring Break is here and whether you’re packing up the family for a quick trip to the coast, staying home to chaperone daily play dates, or working straight through because you feel like you’re behind in just about everything, we have just what you need.

Here are 6 easy Bar Method exercises you can do anywhere
(bonus: no ballet barre required)

Plank

Plank is one of the easiest exercises to perform just about anywhere! You just need a flat surface and a little motivation. All plank variations strengthen and tone your abdominals, back, seat and shoulder stabilizer muscles.

plank-core-exercise

  • Come down to your forearms and the balls of your feet
  • straighten your legs and grip your glutes
  • Draw your abs up and breathe sharply
  • Hold for 45-90 seconds

Push ups

Pushups are one of the most effective full-body exercises you can do, and require zero equipment and only about a minute of your time for an effective set of 20-30. They strengthen and tone your core muscles, deltoids, biceps, triceps, pecs, and shoulder and back muscles! Even better, your muscles visibly respond to pushups immediately after doing them because blood flow increases to your many working muscles, and the fibers are contracted.

  • Come down onto your hands and knees (or balls of your feet for more of a challenge)
  • Place your hands under your shoulders and bend your elbows back on a diagonal toward your waist
  • Spread your shoulder blades apart and draw your abs in
  • Do 20-30 pushups on-tempo

Heel Lifts

Heel lifts are a great way to get the blood pumping in your legs. They warm up your feet (great to do if you’re planning to do some serious walking or hiking on your vacation), Strengthen your knees and tone your calves, hamstrings and glutes.

Calf-exercise-heel-lifts

  • Stand straight with your feet parallel or turned out
  • Hold on to a ledge, counter top or chair for stability and balance
  • Grip your glutes and keep your legs straight
  • Lift your heels up and down as many times as it takes to feel a burn in your calves

Second Position

Second position thigh work pays homage to our dance conditioning background. The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen and tone your quads, gluteus maximus and gluteus medius. Not only that, but it makes you feel and look like a beautiful ballet dancer with the impressive turnout and wide, powerful stance.

second-position-barre-exercise

  • Open your legs into a wide stance with your hips and feet turned out in line with each other
  • Bend your knees outward in the same direction of your feet and grip your seat muscles firmly
  • Drop your tailbone and upright your spine to vertical
  • In a small 1-inch movement bend your knees on-tempo 10-15 times and resume to a standing position
  • Repeat with 3 sets

Clam Curl

Clam curl uses two kinds of abdominal contractions, eccentric and concentric, both good for creating definition in the abs. The larger moves and continual curls help to raise your heart rate and shave inches off your waist by aerobically burning away fat calories.

girl-sitting-smiling

  • Lay down on a flat surface and cross one knee over the other
  • Close the space between your legs and lift your feet off the floor to dangle
  • Cross your arms across your chest and keep your neck elongated, look up
  • Bend your waist slowly in and out while you move your legs slowly in and out like you’re closing a clam shell and reopening it
  • Repeat this 10 times slow and 20 times fast on each side

Back Dancing

Back dancing is the easiest way to sneak in some seat work while on vacation because again you don’t need any equipment. This exercise is easy to perform safely and sculpts your glutes, hamstrings and thighs. Depending on how you position your feet you can tone your inner thighs or carve your outer glutes all while stretching your hip flexors and therapeutically releasing your back.

glutes-barre-exercise

  • Lie down on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor
  • Keep your rib cage on the floor and tilt the rest of your torso up off the floor using your glutes
  • Relax your back so your hips can move freely
  • Lift and lower your hips 60-100 times at medium speed

So, now you can enjoy the week, keep your core tight, and feel good about time away from the studio (and hopefully getting a little tan)!  And if you are craving a full Bar Method workout, take one of our online classes.

Bar Online offers a comprehensive set of classes — from some of our best teachers across the nation and at all different lengths (20, 40 and 60-minute).  For just $15 you get unlimited classes for 30 days! https://baronline.barmethod.com/

 

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