Physical activity has always been a huge part of my life, from ballet and hip hop dancing (check out cringe worthy picture) at a young age, to playing ringuette, soccer, flag football and hockey through my teens and into adulthood. I owe my love of sports to my Dad who, at age 64, still plays in his basketball league every Wednesday night. He was definitely my role model for physical activity.
Being active became especially important to me after the birth of my daughter, Olivia, in 2013, after which I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I met Lisa as I was searching for treatment.
We discussed that one of the best things I could do to feel better was to continue being active, and to use my “activity time” to bond with other moms and Olivia.
I signed up for it all – stroller fitness, mom and baby fitness, swimming, the works! Yes, some days it was really hard to get out of the house, but being around others, being active and bonding with Liv during the activity, especially in those early days, really helped me get over the PPD hump. Although the activity was great for the body, it was really the laughing with other moms, hearing their tips on how to get through the day, and witnessing how they got through the struggles that got me through it. Not to mention Liv’s face light up with wonder when we did parachute games. What a thrill!
Fast forward to 2016 when I decided to open my studio: Studio Barre Plus in the Pointe-Claire village. A class at Studio Barre Plus is a mixture of ballet inspired movements, cardio, resistance training, core work and stretching all set to modern music. Barre is a great fitness class that can be adapted in many ways depending on who is taking the class. It is a wonderful way to get the body moving and feel great!
As a fitness nut, I have completed certifications in pre-post natal fitness, personal training, health and wellness and when I was 37 weeks pregnant, I did an intensive 4-day Barre training course after falling in love with the barre trend in 2012! Of course all that was on hold after Liv was born, but in 2016 I was ready to get back into it and thought…hey this doesn’t exist yet on the West Island! A place where moms and babies, toddlers and parents, pregnant women and women (and men of course) in general could take a Barre class close to home. I especially wanted to offer something to women, since we are at a higher risk of being inactive than men, especially during pregnancy and after baby is born.
Another ‘hat’ I wear is one of a PhD candidate – I am fascinated by motivation and how to get people to become more active. Using my research skills, I looked into how to get women to want to be more active and what types of environments foster and support continued participation in physical activity. Studio Barre Plus is in essence what I learned through my research. I have small classes where people get to know each other. There are no mirrors on the walls so we don’t have to focus on what we look like, but instead on how we feel (because the classes are small, I can correct form). It is a non-judgemental environment and I try to foster self-efficacy to help Barre-Belles and Beaus feel successful during classes, and walking out the door happy!
I will not talk about burning calories, getting a beach or dancer’s body or losing weight during a class or on my website. These can be great goals, but I really wanted the “feel” of the studio to be about the experience and how great you feel being active.
I really love encouraging people to be active and offer discounts to teachers, students, the over 65s and cancer survivors, all groups of people at higher risk of being less active. What’s great about barre is that it can be adapted to many different intensities, so it is accessible to many.
My Mommy (parent) Baby classes are such fun to teach – the babies are adorable as they watch their moms being active! It is amazing that these moms get out of the door in the dead of winter to come, be active and bond with their babies and other mothers. Moms who don’t know each other are now meeting outside of class. They all chit chat and feed their babies after class, change their diapers, and talk about (lack of) sleep! I had a mommy tell me last week that the class was the highlight of her week – what an amazing feeling for me to hear this!! I would love to see women come to my class while pregnant, love it so much that they attend the Mommy Baby Barre classes and then regular Barre classes after their maternity leave.
I love seeing women become more active and feel more confident! I really want to help people move. I also love that the babies see their moms being active, soaking it all in with their young brains.
One of the biggest predictors of a child being active is how active their parents are (thanks Dad!).
There are even many mother and daughter, sisters, mother and son combos who come to class together. Now that is special! Talk about family bonding! If Barre can help just one person start and maintain being active (and feel great doing it) I will have done my job! If you are ever interested in Barre check out the studio website at www.studiobarreplus.com
Erin O’Loughlin is a PhD candidate at the University of Concordia studying health and exercise psychology, a research coordinator at the CRCHUM and founder of Studio Barre Plus. She is the proud mother of Olivia.