Last month, I reported on five ways that exercise enhances beauty by changing the behavior of your cells and hormones, and how strength-stretch techniques boost these effects. To recap, working your muscles boosts collagen production, flushes out waste from your skin, decreases stress hormones, increases sex hormones, and improves the quality of your sleep. It’s motivating to know this! After writing this blog, I worked all the harder in class knowing I was simultaneously treating my skin to a platter of these beautifying treatments.
The final five ways I’d like to mention that the Bar Method makes you more beautiful include ones you normally associate with exercise, plus a few that may surprise you:
6. Pretty muscles
Experts say we can’t “spot reduce” parts of our bodies. We can however “spot tone” them. The Bar Method focuses on our muscles’ ability to change shape with targeted exercises. It especially targets hard-to-reach muscles that, when toned, help create a graceful, dancer-like body. Take for example the gluteus maximus. It’s both our largest muscle and one of the most difficult to “turn on.” The hamstrings are our walking muscles, and they get so used to doing the work that they tend to dominate during exercises that use an alternating leg pattern, such as jogging and spinning. Your glutes activate for intense actions such as bursting into a full-out run, leaping into a “grand jete,” or taking an exercise class such as the Bar Method that methodically targets them. The Bar Method’s “arabesque” exercise, for example, engages your gluteus maximus in two ways. This large muscle extends your hip and can turn it out as well. So in arabesque, you contract your gluteus maximus to turn out your working leg, then compel it to stay contracted while it raises your leg upwards in one-inch sized lifts until muscle exhaustion. After doing arabesque, you know you’ll walk out of class with a more chiseled rear. Speaking personally, I started bar-work with a very small rear and now have a nice lifted one.
7. A leaner body
There are several things going on in a Bar Method class that make you lean. Exercise physiologists say that working your large muscles groups — as opposed to smaller muscles such as the biceps — results in optimal caloric burn. Most exercises in a Bar Method workout are strengthening several large muscle groups at a time, particularly those in your legs and in the backs of your limbs. Examples of multi-muscle Bar Method moves are “reverse pushups” (the triceps and traps), “diamond thigh” (the quads and glutes), “fold-over” (the glutes, hamstrings and quads), and “flat-back” (the chest, abs, hip-flexors and quads). At the same time, the Bar Method’s interval training format – intense strength intervals followed by a few minutes of stretching – burns more fat in relatively less time.
Great posture is a must-have if you want to look your best, regardless of your inborn traits. One way to attain this key beauty feature is to take ballet classes, which compel you to perform rigorous arm and leg exercises while maintaining a straight back and a lifted chest. Barre fitness workouts that focus on posture provide this same benefit. The Bar Method for one is dedicated to helping you focus on posture throughout the class. Most students who improve their posture discover that they’ve also given themselves a “prettier” appearance overall.
9. Altered gene expression
We are born with a unique genetic code that tells our cells how to function. At any one time our cells use only part of this genetic information. This year, researchers made an amazing discovery, that exercise deactivates genes related to fat storage, type 2 diabetes and obesity. So far, researchers have found that exercise changes the expression of 7,000 genes and are still studying this phenomenon. Meanwhile we can throw out the old belief that we’re a helpless product of our DNA. Exercise can transform us into a different version of ourselves! The surest way bring out your “lean genes” is to find a workout that’s easy to stick with long term, a feature that thousands of exercisers have found in the Bar Method.
10. Prolonged youthfulness
This exercise effect is one of the most significant that science has discovered. By exercising, you greatly reduce the likelihood of living the last part of your life in ill health and infirmity. Exercise can keep you active and healthy, not to mention physically attractive, until the end. Our growing knowledge of exercise’s ability to extend our prime of life is changing world cultures, economy and life habits. With exercise, you can look more striking and sensational with the years. Hear it from 54-year-old Dallas nurse Cynthia Tarantino: “I thought since I was older that it was impossible for me to change my body because I had tried everything,” she wrote me. “I felt horrible about myself and it was affecting myself esteem. …With only three months at the Bar Method, I have never looked better in my life. I refuse to be that middle aged woman with the big belly and the cafeteria lady underarms!”