THE BARBARELLA METHOD: THE BELT

Wearing bikini by Oseree

I've been wanting to show you how I use one of my favourite props: the belt, or yoga strap. I prefer it to resistance bands, it's firm, it's stable, and it never hits you in the face.

But crucially- it makes me want to exercise because it makes me feel like catwoman with a weapon. And I believe that any inclination to exercising needs to be fanned like a dying flame.

In this sequence I'm going to show you a number of pilates/barre/ballet exercises, adapted to use them with the belt. They are here to give you ideas, and not necessarily to do the whole sequence every time (although you can). I suggest for a first timer, you divide it in 10 minute intervals, adding one per day to your usual routine. Warm up with sun salutations, they are perfect as an add-on for this sequence.

In a few sentences, the belt allows you to:

- Add chest openers. The kind of moves that open your chest can be so difficult to access, and often so tedious to do, I end up avoiding them. This is the best thing about the belt, you can easily add chest openers to and they feel as if I'm playing. Being bound by the belt in many different positions is always interesting. 

Chest openers are great because they will increase stability in your shoulder joint (so you can avoid injuries, which will happen to everyone that doesn't have stable shoulders), and put everything in its natural/healthy place, structurally. I can't overestimate the importance of doing that

- Add a level of challenge/instability by holding the belt between your hands during exercises where you would usually be using your hands to stabilise

- Make every stretch into an active stretch, doubling it's effectiveness. You are pushing and pulling at the same time

- Help you to do leg/hip exercises properly: By forcing you to keep the belt in tension, you will always have to push from your hips, which will engage exactly the muscles that you are supposed to engage. If the belt is up, you're engaging the right muscles. It's a sure way of knowing you're doing it properly. And properly means harder! And faster results.

Give it a try, and bear in mind that if you are not used to it, you will find it very challenging so start slow. At first, the shoulder/chest openers will feel alien. But as you get used to them, you'll discover spaces in your body that you didn't know about, and your posture will change, and you won't be able to hunch your shoulders anymore without being uncomfortable. Open chest will be your new default.

Let me know what you think!

WHY THE BELT IS BETTER THAN RESISTANCE BANDS

I'll be attacked for saying this, but I find resistance bands SO annoying. Springs and rubber bands are unpredictable, the level of resistance changes constantly throughout each move and not in a good way- It goes from IMPOSSIBLE to I DON'T FEEL ANYTHING. I have to keep the moves so small to get a reliable tension, that I might aswell not use the rubber band at all! It feels super aggressive on my joints when fully stretched. 

With the belt, I can maintain the level of tension the same throughout the movement, and to do this I have to use my stabilisers, so I'm working just as hard. 

Arguably, they are used for different things, but I cannot think of one situation where I will look for the kind of pendular resistance that resistance bands offer me.