I didn’t know I needed Barre Base Anywhere until my super-fit, 32-year-old daughter noticed my struggle getting up off the floor.
In my mid-sixties, with a torso that bears testimony to the hormonal havoc of menopause, the rigours of motherhood and a little too much Brie and Pinot Gris, I knew at my core, that my core needed some care and attention. Once simple tasks, like navigating the knicker take-off or putting pants on, now required exam-like concentration, hand waving for balance and guttural sound effects. Even buckling my shoes had become a stretch.
And so, I ventured on-line, tried the 7-day free trial that Barre Base Anywhere offers, committed to a $30 per month membership fee and now I am a devotee.
Barre Base Anywhere is, simply, an On-Demand series of 150+ classes (with more being added regularly) that combine barre, Pilates and yoga workouts. Launched in June 2020, creator Rosa Anderson-Jones crafted this online series, both as a response to COVID-19 and as an adjunct to the Dunedin Barre Base studio she set up seven years ago. “There is a misconception that Barre Base is a dance class,” Rosa explains.
“Barre fuses Pilates, strength training and mobility work. It is all low impact and certainly does not require any dance experience,” she says.
But there are plies – bending deeply with your knees over your toes, which, with the correct breathing Rosa maintains, is one of the best exercises for your pelvic floor. The videos last between 20 and 30 minutes and all you need is a chair (your barre), a yoga mat (optional) and occasionally a cushion. With a degree in communications and a background in marketing, Rosa’s videos are slick, specific and easy to follow.
One benefit of the online classes over physically attending her studio sessions, is the ability to watch Rosa performing each exercise with meticulous attention to detail. Also, you can always pause, stop and replay if you want to analyse her technique. Having danced for 26 of her nearly 31 years and having taught jazz and contemporary dance for nine, Rosa knows just when to cue, and when to remind about body alignment and engaging the core. Her instructions are simple, seamless and elegant.
She encourages you to extend yourself within your unique capabilities and always offers less rigorous alternatives when the going gets tough.
Whether you want to work up a morning sweat or simply stretch before bed, there are lots of options. The sessions are grouped into subsets that cater for all abilities, body parts and muscle groups. There’s Gentle Barre, for example, which takes a slow and steady approach with fewer repetitions and a large focus on the breath; Glue Grit, which is a floor-based series that focuses on strengthening and stabilising the glute muscles; Yoga Barre, which encourages more upper strength work and mobility and Barre Base Burn - the classic workouts that her studio is known for. When muscles are tight or joints are stiff, the Stretch and Lengthen sessions or the Stretch and Freedom series combine stretching, breathing and mindfulness to relax the body and elongate muscle groups.
What Barre Base Anywhere is not, Rosa emphasises, is a weight loss programme.
“The ethos of Barre Base is to move with strength and freedom from thinking you should look a certain way. I never encourage people to talk about weight and what they can lose rather than the stamina and core strength they can gain“ Rosa reiterates.
Currently, Barre Base Anywhere's subscribers range from 16 to 70. “Mums with young kids, shift workers, women in their 60’s, those who live rurally or overseas with familial links to New Zealand, make up the numbers“ Rosa explains. “And for those who want further challenges, we offer a 45-minute 'Class of the Week' session and there are regular 14-day challenges for those who want to take part.
“Our main goal” she summarises, “is to make movement accessible to anyone.
Regular movement can help us better ‘consciously’ connect our body and mind. It can help us shift emotions, find new ones and learn how our body responds to what comes up along the way. Barre Base is almost like a fun version of physio exercises” Rosa surmises and Maree Frost, a Christchurch-based Pelvic Health Physiotherapist agrees.
A member herself, Marie recommends Barre Base Anywhere to her clients and says of the series, “I enjoy B.B.A. as it is quality instruction that suits what my body needs, which is a balance of strength and flexibility. Due to past spinal and pelvic joint damage, I am prone to joint and muscle stiffness, especially as I age and B.B.A. keeps me more supple. Rosa’s instruction is excellent. It is like she can see you and knows just when you need to engage a muscle, correct a pose and keep smiling. Fitting in B.B.A. suits my schedule as well as reduces my carbon footprint.”
Me, I just want low-impact exercise that helps me connect to my breath and strengthens my pelvic floor. A bonus is that I don’t have to buy the latest leggings, answer to a time constraint, or even start the car. I can do it with bed-hair in my oldest jammies in any room I choose. And if I swear at Rosa – much as I love her sessions – she has the grace to not answer back.
Sara Faull is a Christchurch writer and stylist. Her business, Sage Styling, is designed to help baby boomer women ‘Find Their Fabulous’ by coordinating, layering and repurposing what is already in their wardrobes.