THE BARBARELLA METHOD: A FITNESS INDULGENCE

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My method is based on the principle that we want a body that is fun to use, and that doesn’t hurt. A clarity of mind, muscles that don’t pull, and that are relaxed. A body that makes you feel sexy, light and agile. And a way to achieve it that fits seamlessly in your life.

There is a great deal of ignorance when it comes to our body, what it’s capable of doing and how we should treat it. It is true that everyone is different, and a no-brainer that you should follow your own instinct. And this is why my biggest rule is to break the rule, and stop compartmentalising.

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MY PHILOSOPHY

I take my principles from my study of yoga, pilates, classic fitness and ballet. Through experience, mistakes, and injury, I have learnt a few things. The infrastructure of my method can be outlined in the following ideas:

CONTINUOS STRETCHING
is absolutely a part of fitness. Understanding types of stretching is important. Stretching with resistance, where you stretch against a push. Stretching by relaxing, surrendering. Stretching by manually pushing or pulling a part of the body. Use them.

CONTRACTING A MUSCLE
is necessary, and contraction is what will make it work. However, it is equally necessary to release it. Ultimately, muscles should be soft and relaxed- their purpose is to allow our body to move, not to keep it stiff as stone. A person that spends all their training with their muscles contracted, for example a ballerina, ends up pretty early on with a hip replacement.

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THE HIPS
can subvert our whole anatomy, and we don’t give them the respect they deserve. We hardly use them to their full potential, our lifestyle keeps them in such constraint that they always hurt. We can never be creative enough with our hips. We must strive to dedicate every waking moment to stretching them; it’s never enough.

THE SHOULDERS
are one of the most misunderstood joints. Almost everyone I know has a shoulder injury. Few people know how to do have a plank. I have only ever been explained how to do a plank correctly once. This is not cool, and indicates that there is a problem- in instruction, and in comprehension. Thinking of « posture » ruins us. Knowing how to « push » is key.

POSTURE
is a mind-fuck of a word, because it’s impossible to achieve a good posture by trying to achieve a good posture. It just doesn’t work that way, just like nobody ever relaxes when being told to relax. A good posture happens when your core and chest is strong, and your muscles are balanced, free of contractions and in the right place. You cannot manually, by force, place your muscles in the right place. It’s a consequence, not an action. I think « shoulders down » is one of the dumbest directions ever. It's better that you don't even think about your posture, and trust that it will come if you're doing the exercises correctly.

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EXPLOSIVE EXERCISES AND IMPACT
causes wear. Wear causes premature injury. Most so-called cardio is impact. Impact on the joints is not healthy and wears them out. Instead, I am very keen on low impact, high intensity exercises. In moderation, you can do high impact cardio sometimes and see how you react, but I think to do that several times a week is suicidal.

Finding your BALANCE is the trickiest thing of all. In yoga there is a term, to find your « edge ». You wanna sit on the edge, challenge yourself, but don’t go over the edge, don’t break yourself. It is one of the hardest concepts to grasp because it’s really very hard to judge for oneself. I’ve learnt the hard way, by breaking myself. And I can only say: it’s so not worth it! Too intense training will break your body. Respect, don’t abuse.

VARIETY is a cliche but it is key. I alternate yoga or stretching, cardio, ballet fitness and pilates.

DIET. The right diet will make you feel light and flexible even without exercise. I recommend that you stay within your ideal weight. Not to be skinny, but to be free. I find it harder to exercise when I am heavy, my body moves slower, and I am not myself. It’s just not worth the justifications.

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MEDITATE, or INTELLECTUALIZE IT

Sometimes, you need to let your mind fall off into the cosmos. Meditate, be idle, listen to the ambient, put on the timer on 60minutes and give yourself this time to just listen to your inhales. Listen to classical music

Other times, the only thing that will motivate me to exercise is to have an interesting podcast to listen to, or an audio book, or a documentary. It makes me feel like I’m achieving something, intellectually. Sometimes my mind needs this activity.

There are no rules. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing it. Your body and its health shouldn’t be sectioned off: Don’t be masochistic. Just do it along with all the other usual things that you do. At the same time. It doesn’t matter.

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which brings me to

DON'T STOP BEING YOURSELF
I don't understand why people will throw all their principles, preferences, habits out of the window when they exercise. It's like they want to make themselves miserable for the occasion. Stylish people will dress dreadfully. Alcoholics won't let themselves drink. Intellectuals won't let themselves think. Social people will force themselves to exercise home alone. It's just stupid. This should be part of your lifestyle, not some kind of parallel universe where everything you like is denied. 

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DRESS TO PERFORM
It is only with the right image that we are the person we want to be. If you are serious about what you’re doing, then you dress for it. When you feel striking, imposing, arresting, then you’ll do a good job. Everything you set out to do in life: Do it with authority, and this goes for training too. So dress to perform. Whether you’re going out or staying in, make it into an event, and dress accordingly

  • Discover dance-wear, it caters for competitions and it can be frilly, sparkly and exhilarating

  • I like having a pink yoga mat. Maybe you want a turquoise one. In any case, get the one you want, not the one you think you’re expected to have. Nobody cares

  • Favorite drinks to entertain (yourself) during exercise include: Kombucha, ice cold wine spritzer, a homemade chai latte, or a cup of Earl Grey

  • I like incense, but maybe you want to douse yourself in Flowerbomb. Who cares, do what you want, you'll live happier and you'll become hotter

Amen.

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EQUIPMENT

You will need…

  • A yoga mat. The Manduka and the Jade for traveling, are the best. Get the colour that speaks to your heart.