How Barre Workouts Boost Your Mood & Bust Stress

Close your eyes right now and imagine that feeling after you rock your Physique 57 workout — joyful, confident, empowered, accomplished, centered, and ready to take on the rest of your day. That’s the power of barre! As we continue to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re breaking down exactly how and why barre workouts boost your mood and help you feel calmer and happier. 

Releases feel-good chemicals

Exercise activates the production of endorphins, brain chemicals that naturally improve mood, relieve stress, and ease pain ¹. Endorphins deliver that “runner’s high” that comes with any type of challenging workout. With short bursts of intense activity, Physique 57 gives you a more effective form of endorphin-boosting cardio — without being tough on your joints like running. 

Exercise also increases levels of serotonin (aka the “happy chemical”), a neurotransmitter that can help brighten your mood and ease symptoms of depression ² ³. 

Relieves stress and anxiety 

Aerobic exercise — like the cardio-based movements in a Physique 57 workout class — reduce levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline ⁴. 

Exercise also helps relieve anxiety by conditioning the central nervous system. When we’re afraid or stressed, our central nervous system jumps into “fight or flight” mode, which leads to physical symptoms like sweating and increased heart rate. Workouts mimic these physical responses in a healthy way, so our bodies become accustomed to them and we’re less likely to feel anxious in stressful situations. In a study in the journal Depression and Anxiety, people who exercised regularly for just 2 weeks showed significant improvements in anxiety sensitivity ⁵. 

Brings your focus to the present

In addition to challenging your muscles, barre is also a mental challenge. Each small, repetitive movement requires your brain to remain intensely focused on your mind/muscle connection. Think about how you lock in mentally with each lift and pulse! This is a mindfulness practice and a form of moving meditation. You’re focused on the present moment, so your mind is much less likely to wander to your to-do list or other stressors. 

You can enhance this effect even more by practicing gratitude during your workouts. With each small movement, focus on sending love to that muscle and silently thank it for everything it does for you. Your strong legs carry you through your day; your arms are there for you to hug your loved ones. Think about that as you pulse, lift, and curl your way through barre class!

Helps you stand tall & confident

A 2020 study found that women who regularly did ballet barre exercises for 50 minutes twice per week had significantly improved head, shoulder, and pelvic posture ⁶. And having good posture actually impacts your mood and how you feel about yourself. Research shows that people with proud posture were more confident in their own thoughts and saw more positive attributes in themselves ⁷. Just one more reason to stand tall!

Improves mental clarity

Time at the barre also boosts your brain power. The endorphins released during exercise help keep your mind sharp. Research shows that the combination of Pilates and yoga specifically — similar to barre — may improve mental clarity and cognitive function and keep you thinking positively ⁸. 

Connects you to community 

Whether you’re doing your workouts On Demand, in the studio, or outdoors, you can feel the energy of your supportive and motivating Physique 57 trainers and community. Being in community is so important for your mental health — it will help you feel connected and uplifted in everything you do!

And most importantly…it’s fun! 

Our innovative choreography is designed to be fun and feminine — without any of the moves you dread in other workouts. With new sequences in every barre class, you’ll never get bored, and you’ll always be challenged. Best of all, you’ll leave class with a big smile on your beautiful face! 

Join us at the barre in our NYC studio or from anywhere On Demand for these amazing mood-boosting benefits!

Sources:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax
  2. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27353308/
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax
  5. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise
  6. https://www.koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO202018436566306.page
  7. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091005111627.htm
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6732550/

Mental Health Awareness Month: 7 Ways To Care For Your Mind & Spirit

Woman meditating in the sun holding a Gyan mudra yoga pose (cross legged with thumb and index finger together on both hands)

Our mission at Physique 57 is to not only sculpt and strengthen your beautiful body, but also to nurture your incredible mind and spirit! In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, we’re sharing 7 simple steps you can take every day to care for yourself from the inside out. 

Move your body

A Physique 57 sweat sesh not only tones your body — it also fuels and nourishes your mind. You’ll finish your workout feeling less stressed and more energized, confident, and empowered! Years of research has proven the mental health perks of exercise. A study from Harvard University showed that exercise can reduce the risk of depression by 26% ¹. Another study found that people who exercised regularly reported a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms compared to those who didn’t work out ². 

Exercise helps the brain build new neural pathways that bring on feelings of calm and happiness. It also releases endorphins, powerful brain chemicals that give you a boost of bliss ³. You know when you leave class feeling so accomplished and on top of the world? That’s what we’re talking about!

Join us for a workout On Demand or in the studio!

Deepen (or start) your meditation practice 

A regular meditation practice quiets the mind, brings your attention to the present moment, and gives you a deep sense of centeredness, balance, and peace. Multiple studies have shown that mindfulness relieves stress ⁴ ⁵. Meditation helps lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, while releasing mood-boosting hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin ⁶. 

If you’re new to meditation, ease into it. Start with just 5 minutes a day and work your way up to longer. You can do guided meditations or simply listen to soothing music and focus on your breathing. If your mind starts to race or thoughts come up, don’t judge yourself — this happens to everyone and you’re not doing it “wrong.” Simply take notice of the thoughts and feelings that come up for you without judgement and gently release them in your mind. Your meditation practice will start to feel more natural as you, well, practice it! 

Nourish yourself 

You’ll feel happier and more energized when you nourish your body with healthy, whole, unprocessed foods. Certain foods have also been shown to have mood-boosting benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts are linked to lower levels of depression ⁷. Foods high in vitamin B6 (think: bananas, salmon, and sweet potatoes) help synthesize feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin ⁸. And dark chocolate releases several mood-boosting compounds such as theobromine and N-acylethanolamine ⁹ — just in case you needed another reason to eat chocolate!

Have your moment in the sun

Soak in the sunshine! Research shows that sunlight can boost serotonin production, which brightens your mood ¹⁰. Plus, the sun synthesizes vitamin D (aka the “sunshine vitamin”), and vitamin D has been linked to lower levels of depression ¹¹. 

Take a break from your workday to get outside and stroll around your neighborhood. Remember to wear SPF to protect your beautiful skin! Also, watch out for artificial blue light from computer and phone screens, which can increase cortisol levels and zap your energy. There are lots of options for cute and affordable blue light blocking glasses. 

See how  Physique 57 trainer, Christine Mirzayan, makes mental health part of her morning routine.

Grab your journal 

Journaling is a powerful outlet to express your emotions, reflect on your experiences, practice positive self-talk, and release thoughts or feelings that aren’t serving you. Research consistently shows that journaling has a positive impact on mental health ¹². 

You can journal in whatever way feels healing to you — there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it. Some practices we love: 

  • Free writing: Write whatever comes to mind without editing or judging your thoughts. You can also free draw if that feels more intuitive for you. 
  • Gratitude journaling: Write down 3 specific things you’re grateful for each day and why you’re grateful for them.

Disconnect to connect 

So many of us are on our phones and computers all day long. Give yourself permission to disconnect from your devices in order to reconnect with yourself. Unplugging from technology helps you be more mindful in the present moment, deepen your connection with those around you, and become more in tune with your own feelings and instincts. 

Take a digital detox day or weekend where you turn your phone off and enjoy other activities you love — go on a hike or long walk, be present in nature, read, take a bubble bath, and spend time with loved ones with no distractions. You’ll feel so refreshed after!

Dance it out

Whether it’s pulsing in a Physique workout class or having a dance party in your living room, dancing is amazing for your mind and soul! Research shows that dance can help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression and keep your mind sharp ¹³. 

Come join us for a fun, empowering, and mood-boosting dance cardio class On Demand!

Sources

  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2720689
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100222161848.htm
  3. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24395196/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889159112004758
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4769029/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27472373/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16763894/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24117885/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3779905/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908269/
  12. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1745691617707315
  13. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0197455613001676

Meditation Can Improve your Exercise Goals- Here’s How

Woman meditating in field with crossed legs and prayer hands.

If you meditate on a regular basis, then you probably know how amazing it can feel. That sensation of deep centeredness combined with a quieter mind is pretty incredible, to say the least. And it’s no secret that meditation offers a slew of potential health benefits — such as lowered stress, depression, and anxiety levels. But did you know that meditation can also do a world of good for your workouts, and optimize your progress when it comes to?

Health Benefits Due To Meditation

When combined with a regular fitness routine, a meditation practice can set you up for greater success overall. By priming the body for better health — through lowered blood pressure, deeper sleep, and a strengthened immune system, meditation can help you level up your results like never before. Additionally, studies show that regular meditation yields cognitive benefits, such as greater mental clarity, that can help you commit to your goals and follow through long-term. Essentially, meditating on a regular basis can help you hone a laser-like ability to focus, making it easier to stick with it when your workouts get rough — and maintain that momentum over time. our absolute favorite meditation studio in NYC is MNDFL. Their beautiful studios are meant to feel like home and they feature expert meditation teachers from a variety of traditions, offering simple techniques in an accessible manner.

Studies Show…

According to a 2006 study from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, meditation can actually restructure your brain in such a way that boosts the ability to process emotions and maintain concentration. Moreover, stress reduction can help a lot when it comes to keeping up with your fitness routine. The more stressed out you are, the more likely it is that you’ll ditch your workout plans and fall back various coping hacks — especially those that can undermine your workout goals, such as emotional eating combined with Netflix marathons.

Cognitive Mindfulness

Not only can a meditation practice boost your ability to relax and commit to your goals, By amping up your self awareness — on the emotional, mental, and physical levels — you’re primed for greater achievement when it comes to athletic performance. By honestly assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and bringing greater mental focus to your goal setting process, you’re more likely to stick to a program that will yield more transformative results.

Exercising Your Mind To Achieve Your Goals

Basically, meditation is like a workout for your mind. With time, repetition, and practice you get better at it. Additionally, meditation can help you refine your ability to visualize the results you want to achieve, while giving you the mental stamina you need to follow through. Powerful visualizations plus sustained, committed follow-through, can help you reach your goals like nothing else.

Last Thoughts…

If you’ve never tried a meditation practice before, start small. Even five minutes a day can make a big difference, and, as you’re ready to, you can add to your practice incrementally as you go. Just like working out, you might face some challenges with your practice in the beginning — the habit of simply sitting, breathing, and being, without judgment of your process, can take some time to master — so don’t stress it. You’re practice doesn’t have to be perfect, and neither do your workouts. But when you combine your meditation practice with a regular fitness routine, you’ve got a formula for success that’s hard to beat.