How is Your Intellectual Health?

This year at Student Wellness we are shifting our focus from addressing specific health issues to understanding how health issues and behaviors impact the different Dimensions of Wellness. These include Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, Social, Environmental, Financial, Cultural, and Intellectual.

Historically, many of us may have thought about health as the absence of disease. If you ask a 4-year-old if they are healthy, they would probably respond yes, as long as they did not have a cold, the flu, a broken arm, or are confined to a hospital bed. However, we now recognize that being healthy is more than just not being sick, and it is also more than having chiseled abs and eating spinach with every meal.

The Disappearing Intellectual

Photo (The Disappearing Intellectual) by (Truthout.org) , Flickr Creative Commons

This month we are focusing on intellectual health and it really got me to thinking: what the heck is intellectual health, and am I intellectually healthy? My initial reaction is, “Of course I am intellectually healthy. I am ‘open minded.’ I try to stay up to date on current affairs and think globally. I must be doing great, right?”

Well…not necessarily. These could be part of intellectual health, but it is more than this.

Intellectual health is not about “knowing lots,” or being able to quote Nietzsche and sound “wicked smart” (insert Boston accent). I looked up Intellectual Wellness on a number of different sites, including ours, and found one definition from The University of New Hampshire that I really liked (though I liked ours as well).

Intellectual wellness is being open to new ideas, thinking critically, and seeking out new challenges.

So what does this mean? When we say we are open-minded, are we really open to new ideas, or only things that we may not have known about or experienced but fit very nicely within our world view? Do we really think critically about our deep founded beliefs and question why we believe what we do? Do we challenge ourselves on a daily basis, and when I say challenge I don’t mean by overcoming our fear of heights or running a marathon, but I mean challenge ourselves intellectually and culturally?

I think a lot of us don’t, regardless of where we stand on the cultural or political spectrum. So as you begin this new school year, I challenge you, and I challenge myself to not only focus on our physical and emotional health but also on our intellectual health. Hang out with people who are different than you. Go someplace that you would not normally go where people think and act differently than you. Take a class that is totally outside of your comfort zone. You will be healthier for it.

Get In The Flow

Leading Positive Psychology researcher, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, has been getting a lot of attention in pop Painterpsychology media for his concept, “Flow.” Why shouldn’t he? This idea revolutionizes the concept of human fulfillment. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi defines flow as being engaged in, and completely immersed in, an activity for its own sake. Motivation is a key component of flow. Nothing else is encouraging the individual to engage in the activity. The motivation is intrinsic, meaning that engaging in the activity is motivation enough!

The activityRun producing the phenomenon of flow must be completely engrossing. It is generally an activity that is challenging enough to require the highly skilled person’s complete attention. That, in essence, is what allows for Flow. The mind, solely focusing on this singular activity, forgets itself. The ego
is temporarily suspended. The subject is, for a moment, completely free of her or his place in t
he world and all its trappings. In his TED Talk, Csikszentmihalyi discusses how true ecstasy is being engaged fully in a positive activity that precludes any intrusion of negative thoughts.

Individuals who experience flow report that the activity involved becomes spontaneous. Writers “loses themselves” in their work as if the words just pour out of their minds and directly onto the page. The individual generally experiences “timelessness,” as hours pass by and feel like minutes.writer

The graphic below depicts the relationship between a subject’s skill level and the level of challenge
involved in an activity to draw conclusions about the subject’s engagement and the potential for flow. The pursuit of these activities will allow us to experience something so positive for the psyche, that evidence suggests it will enhance our creativity, resilience, flow chartmood, and productivity.

What activities do you excel in? Do these activities completely occupy your mind or do you still worry about paying bills, writing papers, or studying for an exam? What activities might produce a state of flow for you? What might you gain from achieving flow?

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: The Health Benefits of Walking

by Emily Wheeler

Albert Einstein said: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” In our increasingly sedentary world, it’s easy to go through a whole day without much effort to move on your part. You walk to the bus stop to catch the bus that will take you as close to your class as possible. Then you take the escalator in the Student Store as a cut-through to get you to the pit instead of walking up the stairs that are just a few feet away outside. Then you take the elevator up to your lab room on the fourth floor. Then you repeat in the opposite order to get home, where you sit at the table and do your homework until you’re tired and decide to go to bed.

You may just think of walking as a necessary means to an end: a useful skill that can take you from one place to another. Sometimes, if those places are far apart, walking can even get pretty annoying. However, walking has many of the same health benefits as other forms of physical activity, so maybe it’s about time that we stop being lured into the easy, sedentary patterns of life simply by walking a bit more every day.

photo (walking) by (aigle_dore), Flickr Creative Commons

photo (walking) by (aigle_dore), Flickr Creative Commons

The American Heart Association guidelines for suggested physical activity tell us that we should be doing 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, five times per week, or we should do high-intensity exercise that brings the heart rate up to 70-85% of its max three times per week. In addition to this, it is also suggested that muscle-strengthening exercises are completed twice a week. It seems like a lot of people focus on the 70-85% maximum heart rate suggestion and translate that into “to achieve effective exercise, I need to do something that is going to get my heart beating pretty hard, such as running or playing soccer.” However, note that there is a clear alternative to this way of thinking written out in the suggested guidelines—moderate physical activity. If you’re training for a marathon, preparing for a VO2 max test, or practicing for an athletic competition, then high-intensity aerobic exercise might be the best route for you. But if you’re just trying to establish healthy patterns in your ever increasingly hectic life, activities as simple as brisk walking are excellent forms of moderate physical activity.

In some areas, walking is not an ideal method of transportation due to the landscape, safety issues, or large, impractical distances between locations. In these cases, you might have to allot some times specifically to going for a walk in a designated park, greenway, or even on a treadmill while you watch your favorite show or read a book. Think about how quickly the time goes by when you sit down to watch a 30 minute episode. You could be investing in your body simply by walking while you watch it.

In other areas, especially in Chapel Hill, there are walking areas and opportunities galore—you just have to be willing to take advantage of them! It’s a little sad to me that even though most of us wouldn’t go for a 10 mile walk to work every day (which is completely understandable because in both directions, that would take all day and leave you no time to work), most of us also won’t go for a ½-1 mile walk to class every day either! I understand that timing is an issue for many people because no one seems to have enough of it, but fitting short bursts of walking into your day as you go to places that you have to get to eventually anyway can be a lot more manageable than setting aside an hour to go to the gym some days. That walk from Hojo to Chapman Hall might take 20 minutes, even at a brisk clip, and there you are already, starting your day out with 2/3 of your minimum recommended physical activity.

Yesterday, I didn’t think I was going to have time to go to the gym and exercise, but then I started out my day at the School of Public Health (I did take the bus to get there so I’m counting it as my starting point), then walked to Dey Hall, then Phillips Hall, then to Bottom of Lenoir Hall to grab some lunch, then back up the giant hill to the School of Public Health, then to Chapman Hall, and then home. Just by looking up the distances between those places online, I figured out that I walked for a total of about an hour and a distance of about 2.5 miles. That’s actually a pretty good amount of moderate physical activity in my opinion and all I did was walk to where I needed to be all day!

Still not convinced that adding more walking into your day can improve your overall health? In 2011, a study showed that people who walked briskly for an average of 2.5 hours per week saw a 19% reduction in all-cause mortality and reduced risk of cardiac events, some cancers, (the greatest risk reduction was in breast cancer, with a risk reduction of 20-40% shown in those who exercised five days per week) high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, blood pressure, mental stress, and even erectile dysfunction. An article published on the Harvard Medical School website cites a meta-analysis of research on walking published between 1970 and 2007 to show that “Among 72, 488 female nurses, walking at least 3 hours a week was linked to a 35% lower risk of heart attack and cardiac death and a 34% lower risk of stroke.” The same article also noted that randomized clinical trials (often the most reliable type of research), showed that in 8,946 patients that already had heart disease but who walked for a minimum of 30 minutes, three times per week, the risk of dying from heart disease was reduced by 26%! This just shows what a powerful effect something as simple as walking can have on your health. The little choices really do have huge outcomes!

Overall, it seems that this simple form of exercise that most everyone already knows how to do can walk the walk (haha!) when it comes to improving our health. If you aren’t already determined to add more steps to your daily routine, consider the fact that walking can be done inside or out, requires no special equipment, and doesn’t even require any special clothing or shoes if you’re just walking at a gentle pace. In our busy days, many of us march back and forth from place to place all day and even reserve time to go to the gym sometimes, yet when was the last time you just decided to go for a walk just for the intrinsic enjoyment of it? So get a friend or your dog to join you, or even a friend with a dog to join you, and just go for a 30 minute walk together one evening. It’s a great way to catch up with people you don’t see very often, and it’s better for both of you than just sitting at home watching TV. Even if you’re just going out to eat together on the weekend, consider walking together instead of driving, and as you’ve probably heard a million times, choose the stairs instead of the elevator when you can. The benefits of walking correlate more to the time and the distance walked than the speed, so whether you exercise regularly or not, you can improve your overall health and reduce your risk for a variety of diseases starting with the first simple step.

Sources:

1. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mens_Health_Watch/2009/August/Walking-Your-steps-to-health

2. http://www.c3health.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/C3-report-on-walking-v-1-20120911.pdf

3. freedigitalphotos.net

How to Overcome Inbox Overload

“Ding,” goes my computer.
“Whirrr,” goes my vibrating smartphone.

Without even thinking about it, like one of Pavlov’s dogs with a bell, I instantly check my email. It might be 9am and I just got to work, or it might be 9pm and I’m watching television with my partner. I just can’t help myself.

When I went to the beach for vacation this summer, I tried something I had never done before. I turned my work email account off on my phone. To some of you this may seem like no big deal, but I’m willing to bet there are others of you out there that understand the terrifying moment when you choose to disconnect from this mega form of communication.

Photo "Dangerous Inbox"  by  Recrea HQ, Flickr Creative Commons

Photo “Dangerous Inbox” by Recrea HQ, Flickr Creative Commons

For the first 12 hours I found myself checking that little notification bubble, and, I will admit, was actually let down when it remained fairly low. I felt tempted to turn on that Outlook® account again, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything important. It was so hard to let go of the satisfaction of being connected and the anxiety of a cluttered inbox. Never mind that this time was supposed to be about relaxing, spending time with family, and disconnecting from the work world- I felt like I still needed to know what was going on.

And why shouldn’t it? The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, found that the average person who uses email for work (and I would count being in college as “work”) sends and receives about 110 emails per day. That study was conducted in 2012, so I would not be surprised if the number is even higher today. Email is a form of communication we have grown to rely on; it’s a fast and easy way to get answers and pass along information without having to speak face-to-face or over the phone. But the flip side of this convenience is that people are able to reach us at any time, and the lines between school/work life and personal life grow more and more tenuous.

In a global media study conducted by faculty at The University of Maryland, they found that college students all over the world actually exhibited physical and emotional signs of withdrawal when asked to go 24 hours “unplugged” from technology. Other studies have shown that “email overload” can contribute to stress, decreased productivity & concentration, and is connected to feelings of burn out.

So, what can we do about this? Even as I write this blog, that little red notification bubble has continued to increase. Here are a few tips for managing inbox overload–or the “email beast”–that I’ve found useful:

    1. Empty your inbox. As emails come in, filter them into organized folders. This can help prevent the “inbox buildup.”
    2. Be the boss of your email. Set boundaries that work for you. This can be as simple as “I don’t check my email during class,” or not checking email after a certain time of day. Hold yourself accountable with some reinforcement, such as rewards for sticking to your goal for a set amount of time.
    3. Control the flow. Similar to emptying the inbox, control the flow of emails by setting a window of time each day that you concentrate solely on responding and sorting emails. Don’t let yourself get caught in the frantic email answering between classes—rather, sit down and focus only on the task at hand.

      Photo Ready to Start This Friday  by  Jabiz Raisdana, Flickr Creative Commons.

      Photo Ready to Start This Friday by Jabiz Raisdana, Flickr Creative Commons.

    4. Unsubscribe like your life depends on it. Remember at Fallfest when you signed up for every listserv for every organization you might ever want to join? I’m willing to bet your inbox has doubled with emails since that wonderful night a few weeks ago. Now that you have had time to settle in to the semester, go back and unsubscribe to the listservs that you haven’t read at all. You can also set up filters so that these emails automatically go into folders you can read later if you aren’t ready to un-commit yet.
    5. Take time to disconnect. While it might not be realistic or even desirable to go a day without email, set aside time to disconnect. Put up an away message, or simply turn off your email notifications until you are ready to focus on giving those messages the responses they deserve. Instead, use that “ding” or “buzz” free time to have coffee with a friend, take a walk around campus, or go to a performance you’ve been dying to see.

What’s for dinner? How about one of these recipes?!

We’ve all been there – it’s Wednesday night, you just got home from a long day of class, work, and studying on campus, and you’re exhausted. Then it hits you – you’re really, really hungry. Now you’re faced with a decision – should I go out to eat? Or should I make something at home?

Now, I’ll be honest. More often than not, the LAST thing I want to do after a long day is cook something for dinner. I can’t decide what to make, I don’t have the ingredients I need, and I just don’t have the time or energy to pull it all together.

I know from first-hand experience that it’s pretty easy to get into the habit of eating take-out or going out to eat – especially during a really busy week. To try to break this cycle, I have been looking for recipes that are easy to make, only have a few ingredients, and sound delicious. Here are two of my favorites:

Asparagus and Salmon Foil Pack

(Adapted from: http://www.food.com/recipe/salmon-and-asparagus-in-foil-113817)

 Ingredients:

  • 5 oz portion of salmon*
  • 7 asparagus spears
  • 2 tsp of lemon juice
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • One piece of aluminum foil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Snap or cut the ends off asparagus spears. Spray the center of a piece of aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray. Place your piece of salmon in the center of the piece of foil. Put the asparagus spears on top of the piece of salmon, and drizzle the lemon juice on top of that. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top of that to taste. Then fold up the sides of the foil to seal everything inside, making a nice foil packet (be sure to leave a little room for air to get inside the packet). Place your foil packet on a cookie sheet and cook it in the oven for 15-18 minutes.

*If you don’t like salmon, you could totally try this recipe with a chicken breast instead!

**To make this a complete, balanced meal, you can add a grain like rice or quinoa!

Photo (asparagus asparagus can you do the fandango, itsjustanalias, flickr, creativecommons)

Photo (asparagus asparagus can you do the fandango) by (itsjustanAlias), Flickr Creative Commons)

Brown Rice, Tomatoes, and Basil (Vegetarian)

(Adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/brown-rice-tomatoes-and-basil-recipe.html)

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Pepper

1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 large bunch of fresh basil, chopped

*You can get some of these ingredients from the Carrboro Farmers’ Market!

Instructions:

Boil 2 1/4 cups water. Add the brown rice and 1 teaspoon of salt to the boiling water. Bring the water and rice back to a boil, then cover and simmer (be sure to turn the heat down to low) for 30 minutes, until the rice is tender and all the water is absorbed. Once the rice is ready, put it in a big bowl. While the rice is cooking, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, remaining teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Pour this mixture over the rice. Then add the diced tomatoes and chopped up basil to the bowl. Let the mixture cool a bit, and then enjoy!

You might be thinking to yourself, “this all sounds great, but WHY should I cook for myself when I can just go to Chipotle and pick up a burrito in less than 10 minutes?” To that I say, good question! Here are some of my thoughts on the topic:

  1. Consider your financial wellness! Going out to eat and/or ordering take-out can get expensive. If you spend around $8 on a dinner for yourself at Qdoba, Noodles, etc., five times in one week, that would be $40! In contrast, cooking for yourself can cost as low as $20 per week! When living expenses are tight, cooking for yourself is a good way to cut down on your food costs.
  2. And how about your physical wellness?! When you go out to eat, you don’t always know exactly what you’re eating, so you’re less able to make sure what you’re eating is balanced and healthy for you! When you cook for yourself you know all of the ingredients, and so you can make sure what you’re eating is balanced, and will give you the nutrients and energy you need to go about your daily business.

Here are a couple tips that will help make the cooking process easier:

  1. Plan ahead! On Sunday, plan out your dinners for the week. Pick out the recipes that you want to try and then go grab the ingredients you need at the store. That way, when it’s 8pm on Wednesday and you’re exhausted and hungry, you’ll have EVERYTHING you need to make yourself a yummy meal!
  2. Keep it simple! Pick recipes that you think sound good, and that you’re comfortable with!
  3. Use your resources! See something in a recipe that you don’t understand (for example: what on earth does “minced” mean??)? Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or consult the internet! You can find all sorts of recipes and tips on Pinterest, and there are COUNTLESS cooking-related tutorials and videos on YouTube that will take you step by step through a particular cooking technique.
  4. Have fun! Cook with your friends, cook with your roommates, or surprise a special someone with a delicious home-cooked meal. Cooking is a learning process, so there will be bumps in the road – don’t be afraid to make mistakes! If you mess up a recipe, keep trying it until you’ve mastered it!

For more information:

Cooking for yourself on a budget:

http://twocents.lifehacker.com/a-guide-to-planning-meals-when-you-re-on-a-tight-budget-1573204892

http://www.studentcook.co.uk

Recipes you can make in your dorm room:

http://www.pinterest.com/westvirginiau/dorm-room-recipes/

The Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Town!

I’ve lived in Chapel Hill my whole life. Well… kind of… I was born in Orange County in the Bingham Township, but I had a Chapel Hill mailing address even thought I didn’t actually live in Chapel Hill. Technically I lived in Carrboro for a while too, but not in the official city limits, in the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) area… I’m going to stop now.

Complicated municipal and county governance boundaries aside, let’s talk about something I know very well: local food, and specifically, the local vegetarian restaurant scene.

I’ve been a vegetarian for about eight years. There are a lot of reasons why I made the switch, but one of my biggest motives was a desire to be healthier.

According to the American Dietetic Association, a vegetarian diet can lower your risk for a range of health-related conditions including “Heart disease, certain forms of cancer, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension (high blood pressure)” among others.

That being said, being vegetarian does not automatically equate to a healthier life. I know plenty of unhealthy vegetarians and have seen many unhealthy vegetarian eating habits. Like all diets, in order to stay healthy, you have to maintain balance, listen to your body, and be conscious about what you eat.

Cooking vegetarian food is an art, and deserves it’s own blog post. For today, let’s start with the fun (albeit at times very expensive) stuff—eating out!

Photo (vegetarian sub) by (geishabot), Flickr Community Commons

Photo (vegetarian sub) by (geishabot), Flickr Community Commons

Over the years I have compiled the following list of my favorite healthy vegetarian restaurants close to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. (Click on the name of each restaurant for information about their address, hours, and menus.)

Franklin Street

Vimala’s Curryblossom Café

Vimala’s offers a home-style South Indian cuisine cooked to perfection with vegetarian options galore. You can’t go wrong with the Vegetarian Curry Thali, a large sample platter full of fresh veggies, curries, and delicious assortments.

Mediterranean Deli

Med Deli offers a HUGE variety of Middle Eastern, North African, and Mediterranean foods that will tempt your taste buds. Check out the Mujaddara, a Palestinian lentil dish cooked with rice and onions that tastes amazing and fills you up.

Lime and Basil

Lime and Basil is a small Vietnamese restaurant boasting a full vegetarian menu and an amazing selection of Pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup. I recommend the Vegetarian Broth Pho with Tofu. For $8 you will easily get two meals out of this GIANT bowl of warm and delicious soup.

Cosmic Cantina

A Chapel Hill classic, no list is complete without Cosmic. This local Mexican restaurant is open at what seems like all hours of the day, and offers good, cheap, vegetarian friendly food. While I will admit it may not be the healthiest option on this list, a $3 Veggie Burrito is a great deal that you can’t refuse.

Carrboro

Weaver Street Market

Another local classic, Weaver Street Market offers a great Salad Bar (both hot and cold) with freshly baked bread, sushi, and much more. If you are looking for a hearty vegetarian salad, this is your place. The salad bar cost is associated with weight, so a strategic vegetarian can pile on the fresh light greens, vegetables, and proteins for a great meal at a good price.

The Spotted Dog

If you are looking for a nice sit-down lunch, check out The Spotted Dog. Located right across from Weaver Street Market, this locally owned restaurant prides itself in featuring a vegetarian, healthy, and organic-centered menu. I love the Lunch Special with a small house salad, a grilled pita sandwich, and a side of tabouli.

Special Side Note

Carrboro Farmers’ Market

While this blog post has been focusing on dinning out, one of the keys to maintaining a healthy diet is learning to cook your own meals. Cooking at home will save you TONS of money, and is both a practical and necessary life skill. The best place to get fresh and affordable vegetarian food to cook is the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. Check out this awesome local institution and stock up on fresh foods you can cook in your home or dorm room.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the amazing vegetarian food you can find in and around the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, but I hope it’s a good start. Being a vegetarian is a great way to eat healthy, but there are lots of other ways as well. It’s really about being conscience and intentional about what you eat. It’s about finding balance and listening to your body. I encourage everyone, vegetarian or not, to check out the restaurants above, support local businesses, and try to eat healthy this week!

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Looking at the Ballet Barre in a Whole New Way

BY: Emily Wheeler

 

There is a new type of exercise class increasing in popularity that you may have already heard of, known as “Barre” or “Pure Barre.” Dancers know that the horizontal bar at waist level that dancers, especially ballerinas, use to maintain balance during some exercises is more formally known as the “barre.” However, barre studios are popping up all over the place and they’re not targeting dancers—they’re inviting anyone who is looking for a new, fun workout style to enter their doors and start working toward those strong, lean muscles of a dancer.

What can you expect from a barre class?
Most barre classes are not designed to burn a lot of calories or to be a cardio workout. They are designed to increase muscle tone through small, focused movements. Many people say that they don’t feel strained or extremely tired during and directly following the class, but the next-day soreness is an indication of their progress. Others find the classes challenging and tiring; it all depends on the particular class, teacher, and studio that you pick.

What should you wear to a barre class?

It is recommended that you wear comfortable, stretchy clothing to barre classes to allow for a wide range of motion. It is not recommended that men or women wear shorts and I would guess that this recommendation is most likely put in place to maintain your decency during workouts where you lift a leg up and place it on the barre. Yoga pants and leggings are the best choices for women and men should wear sweat pants that are not extremely loose or baggy. Depending on the rules of the studio, men may be able to wear basketball shorts in some classes. However, covered muscles also mean warmer and more flexible muscles. Some studios have carpet and some have hardwood floors, and shoes are not worn during the workout. Many regular barre students find that buying socks with the little grippy spots on the bottoms helps them maintain better balance and be more successful and controlled in their workouts.

Photo (Barre Fitness Launch Aug 2010) by (rolexpv), Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo (Barre Fitness Launch Aug 2010) by (rolexpv), Flickr Creative Commons.


What if I have neither dance experience, nor a “dancer’s body?”

Come as you are! Barre studios do not require any previous dance experience because the workouts do not use movements that would be familiar only to dancers. The classes use many familiar workout movements such as squats and even crunches. Also, don’t expect every participant to be a long, lean dancer! Barre students come in all shapes and sizes, men are definitely invited, and everyone can benefit from the great, muscle-toning movements.

What equipment is required for the classes?
Many barre workouts use workout balls (the lightweight, squishy kind, not medicine balls), light hand weights, elastic resistance bands, and sometimes yoga straps or blocks. If you’re working out at a studio, all you need to bring is a water bottle and yourself dressed in the proper clothes; the studio will provide the rest. You may need to purchase equipment to do your barre workouts at home, however, and many DVD’s can be purchased where the back of a chair is used in place of a studio barre.

What is the outline of a typical barre class?

Most barre classes last for 50 minutes or one hour and start with a ten minute warm-up, an arms sequence using the light hand weights, followed by a legs and core segment that uses the ballet barre as well as some floor exercises. The last ten minutes of the class are spent stretching and cooling down from the workout, and barre classes are typically set to upbeat music.

Where can I take a class?

This link shows Pure Barre studio locations near you when you enter your state and zip code: http://purebarre.com/locations/. You can also simply search on Google the phrase “barre studios near me,” and several different locations and studio chains will come up. Most of their websites have location finders similar to the one I have linked above. There are at least five barre studios in Durham and Chapel Hill!

I have not yet had the opportunity to take a barre class, but after talking to a few people who have become regulars, I think I’ll give it a try once I get back to Chapel Hill! Most studios have special new student offers, such as taking the first class free or paying a reduced price for a month of unlimited classes when you begin! When I have the chance to take a class for myself, I’ll be sure to write about what I think about it and how everything went. I’m always excited to try out new workout styles and classes, so I’ll be on the lookout for more trendy new studios and workout types in the future!

Also, feel free to watch the above short video about barre classes that was featured on a news segment. The two instructors explain a little more about barre and give a demonstration with the help of the newscasters!

This link also gives a helpful review of the different styles that some of the big name studios offer in their classes. As it turns out, barre might not be as easy as I may have expected… have fun!

Resources:

http://www.sparkpeople.com/blog/blog.asp?post=what_to_expect_in_a_barre_workout_class

http://www.barreonline.com/what-is-barre/