Meet at the Barre

Smart Barre just opened a studio right around the block from my house.  I scheduled a class to find out more about it.

Here’s the information posted on their website.  Smart Barre practices concentrated movements that function as deep sculpting tools to strengthen and lengthen muscles. As a total body workout, the class fuses principles of ballet, Pilates, and yoga to target body areas in which women struggle- the core, hips, thighs, seat and arms.  A traditional ballet barre is used to help maintain balance and provide resistance, however, you don’t need a tutu in this class to achieve the long, lean look of a dancer. In addition to the barre, light weights, a playground ball, and a cushy mat are used. An efficient, upbeat workout, you will find it a “smart” use of time.

One of the things I like is that all the scheduling is done online, you can even put their app on your smart phone so you can register on-the-go if you aren’t in front of your PC.  You reserve your spot in a class then walk right in.  No waiting in line to pay or explain your situation.  The windows of the studio are frosted so no creepy people are looking in.  The studio is painted a fresh, serene shade of blue.  The lobby has lockers for your belongings, a changing room, and complimentary white fluffy towels.  The studio is just off the lobby.  I also noticed it smelled clean like a day spa.
The room looks just like a ballet studio — mirrored walls so you can check your format and alignment — with a ballet barre.  All the equipment is provided for you.  Beside each mat is a ball, a stretchy resistance band, 2 and 3-pound hand weights, a strap and a mat.   The people around me were friendly, all ages and various fitness levels.  I chatted with a few ladies who said they started doing the classes in the last 6 months and had the same concerns I had — hip tightness, lower back aches, muffin top, and bra fat — let’s just call it what it is, okay?  They have noticed improvements in all those trouble areas.
The class was doable.  There were a few times I had to stop for a second because my fat was screaming, “don’t let me out,”  My heart rate was up, but I wasn’t winded.  In fact, I found it amazing that a tiny repetitive move I was doing with a leg lift could make me feel like I just did a sprint.  What I liked was that the time flew by.  The music was up-to-date direct from their own ipods, so no cheesy gym music (you know, a Brittany Spear’s song but not sung by Brittany.  That gets on my nerves).  About the time you think you can’t do one more lunge, the instructor switches to a different movement.  When I was done with the class, I felt great.  All day.

This morning I feel a little sore, but nothing drastic.  The instructor recommend coming at least three times each week so your body never fully recovers between sessions that way you are always working on the core and muscles to keep them guessing.   After 10 sessions you are supposed to see a difference in your ability and maybe even your body’s shape.
Smart Barre is a trademark, so if you don’t have this company in your neighborhood look for something similar.  It is definitely a great way to get in shape.

A river ran through my massage

Last August, for my birthday, my family gave me a spa treatment at the European Skincare Institute.  I finally used it yesterday to gift myself with an 80-minute hot river stone massage.  I’m the kind of person that does very little research on what you are going to do to me.  I’m very trusting.  It sounded soothing so I just made the appointment and showed up.

While I waited I prepared myself a cup of herbal tea.  Cinnamon sounded good.  I sat and sipped my tea while I completed the “in take” paperwork.

Skye was my massage therapist.  I am not sure if this was her “stage” name because I also heard someone introduce themselves as “Sunny”.  Skye got me all set in a room that was dimly lit with candles and Enya playing in the background.  Before we started she explained the benefits of this type of massage.  Ancient civilizations believed that hot stones were beneficial in healing in many ways, especially for cleansing the body, relaxing the heart, grounding the soul and soothing the mind. Shaman placed stones on or near a body to facilitate healing.  Native American women would place a warm stone on their belly during menses and they used heated stones in their sweat lodge. The Roman baths involved hot water and the
cooling effect of lying on marble tables.  Japanese priests that fast wear sashes in which they put three stones to help slow the digestive process.  Since I had just finished planting 80 annuals in my garden, I knew this would prevent the lower back ache I always get the next day.

Skye presented me with a tray of small white bowls.  In each bowl was a stone inscribed with different words — Believe, Prosper, Peace and Harmony.  She asked me to select the stone that most described what I wanted to achieve during the treatment, holding it in my hand to allow the stone to run through my mind and body.  I chose peace.

She started with the massage and after she got my muscles warmed up with essential oils she started with the hot stones.  They were heating up in what looked like a giant crock pot.

I was laying face down and had my eyes closed so I really have no idea the size of the stones.  She started with a line of them down my spine.  I was thinking this was relaxing and different.  Then I noticed the weight of the stones seemed to increase.  At one point it felt like she was putting hot lava rocks on my back, but she assured me they wouldn’t burn my skin.  If I felt they were too hot, she would either swap one out for a smaller rock or would put a towel on my skin, then the boulders stones on top of the towel.  As the massage progressed I eventually had a line of stones down my spine, all along the back of both legs and tiny stones between my toes.  I knew the massage was therapeutic because my nose was dripping like Niagara Falls. 

After it was over, I walked out of the room like a mole coming into the sunshine — all squinty and puffy eyed with rosy cheeks.  She gave me a glass of lemon infused ice water had me drink it and advised me to follow up with two more when I got home.  I felt so relaxed when I left, different than any massage I had ever had.  I felt a little nauseous when I got home and I know it was because she had released toxins that had built up in my muscles.  The water helps to flush these toxins out.  The best part when I woke up this morning my back felt great.  Skye also recommended a new product to help with achy muscles.  I’ll share what it is in a future post.  I tried it last night and OMG I love it.

Summary:  I liked the massage.  I found myself focusing more on the stones rather than the relaxation of the the massage probably because the process was new to me.  Now that I know what to expect I might be more relaxed during the massage.  Regardless, I felt wonderful today.  So my verdict is that a hot river stone massage is worth a try.

Oven Roasted Cauliflower


I think I might buy stock in cauliflower farms.  Can you marry a cauliflower?  Tonight I was testing the recipes from Pinterest, and this one was in the queue — oven roasted cauliflower and it was a hit.  Like, licking my plate, wishing I had more, hit.

It was lemony, garlicky, with just a few bites of caramelized crunchy
tips from the olive oil.  And the Parmesan cheese at the end, adds just
another zest.  I think this would be the perfect side to grilled chicken or salmon.  One medium-sized cauliflower served three people generously, so if you want to make it for a dinner party you might want to cut up two heads of cauliflower.

Now go out to the grocery tomorrow and make this.  Follow me on Pinterest for the recipe, or click above for the direct link to the recipe.