How exercising has changed my mental health for the better.
I want to talk to you all about my experience with a new form of exercise for me which is called Barre.
Barre exercising, you may be wondering; what it is? It’s a form of exercise which incorporates pilates, yoga and of course ballet. My experience of Barre has been with the company Barre Balance which was founded by Natalie Butler in which she created the first dedicated Barre studio in Liverpool.
I have been taking part in the classes for almost five weeks now and I want to inform you of just how much of a difference I’ve seen within myself since starting my journey with Nat and Barre Balance.
As many of you may know, I suffer from anxiety and depression. During my childhood, I loved exercising and I was involved with nearly every after school club there was which featured sport in some way. I also did Ballet, Pointe and Tap in my spare time at a local dance school since I was 5 years old. I adored being on the move and getting involved with as much as I could.
I was first attracted to Barre Balance due to it incorporating Ballet within it. With my mental health issues, things which are unfamiliar to me can create a great deal of stress and anxiety which results mostly in me avoiding it for as long as possible. Whereas things which are familiar to me provide an element of comfort.
As I got older the joy for exercising left the building and makeup/fashion filled the space it left behind. Suddenly during my first year of university, I began to get worse symptoms of my anxiety/depression and the thought of going to the gym in public was too much for me to handle. Fast forward to recent times. We are all in a pandemic. I started my journey with Barre Balance online during the time gyms were still closed and Natalie had created this new way of exercising even though her studio had to be closed.
Everything was kept to the same schedule but was shown through ‘Zoom.’ There was even pre-recorded lessons available so that you could fit in a workout whenever you wanted. I found the pre-recorded sessions a godsend when first starting out. It took the fear out of it as I could just be alone with no one watching me and I could work through the exercises at my own pace. It enabled me to get used to the movements and practice how to do them properly.
I used mainly the pre-recorded classes over the five weeks of using the online service as I was still anxious about getting involved with the live sessions. But recently I built up enough courage to do a live session and it was amazing!
Everyone is muted so that you can only hear Natalie and the wonderful music she picks to go with each session. You can even turn your camera off on ‘Zoom’, which I chose to do as it made me feel more comfortable.
From doing both the pre-recorded and the live, I’ve found that both are fantastic! But I do prefer the live sessions more now which is a complete shock to me. It’s nice being able to work out with other people, even though they are just through a laptop screen.
I’ve found that the support and motivation Natalie gives me during the class is so helpful and makes me so much more determined. I don’t want to give up. She pushes you to reach your full potential but makes sure to remind you to listen to your own body in the process. Only doing what it is capable of and she gives you tips on what moves to do if you are finding it hard.
Plus, she has the most soothing and calm voice I’ve ever heard! It’s a joy to have her motivating you.
Taking part in these sessions has transformed my physical fitness. I feel stronger, more able and healthier than I have in a long time. Also, I’m starting to get that desire to work out again which I thought was lost forever. I have this determination to workout every day now.
For my mental health, doing Barre Balance has changed the way I used to feel about myself. I feel so much happier and content. I listen to what my body wants now and use the workouts as a way of putting my worries to bed.
After each session, I feel focussed and full of energy. It’s like drinking an energy drink without the buckets of sugar and soon-to-be mood drop, just all the benefits.
Barre Balance has renewed the way I view my mental illness and given me an insight into how I can make my symptoms less severe. I couldn’t be more grateful to have this form of exercise in my life and can’t imagine my life without it now. Plus, as I’ve been exercising lots it has given me the perfect excuse to buy more workout gear!
Love, Shannon Leigh xx
*Barre Balance has very kindly gifted me access to their online service*
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