Written Conversation :: Regan Nelson, Instructor barre3

Regan was the instructor for my very first barre3 class and is one half of the dynamic duo behind the blog Cardigans & Couture. I knew her twin sister, Katie, but it was the first time I had met Regan and I not only enjoyed the class, but welcomed her energy and passion she had towards teaching. As a swimmer, I'm not used to the fitness class setting, and I've taken a class or two where the teacher is a little too overzealous, so I'm often leery of group fitness. But Regan had the perfect balance between enthusiasm and motivation and I was hooked.  She and Katie are the reasons I went back for a second (and third) class and continue to take barre3 classes today.

This is the first interview in a three part series, where I'll talk to three women, an instructor, the founder of barre3 and a studio owner, to hear their unique perspective on the evolution of the brand and it's outstanding growth over the last 6 years.   Regan, who is both an in-studio and on-line instructor, lives on the West Coast with her husband and daughter, and works with the executive team/staff in the barre3 headquarters in Oregon.  Below Regan shares with Genuine Joy how started with the brand, what she sees for the future of online classes and why this is a fitness program that EVERYONE can do.

Hilary: How long have you been with barre3?

Regan: I have been a barre3 client for almost 4 1/2 years, and I became an instructor nearly 3 years ago.

H: You teach classes in studio as well as online, how are they different?

R: The studio classes are always a 60 minute class utilizing a ballet barre, light hand held weights, the barre3 core ball and a mat. The online workouts, however vary in length, from 10-60 minutes and don’t always require props. They are both equally as challenging as long as you are willing to put in a good effort. I love studio classes for the great energy as well as connecting with the amazing people, but I love the online workouts for their accessibility. I travel a lot, and that means I can take barre3 with me wherever I go. I’ve done the online workouts in Austria, Italy, Mexico and all over the US. It’s like taking a piece of home with me, no matter where I am.

H: If someone is new to barre3, can they sign up for the online classes or is it recommended to come in and take an in-person class?

R: I love having first time clients in the studio and introducing them to barre3, but I also appreciate that some people are intimidated by group exercise. If someone is really intimidated, I think the online workouts are a great starting place to familiarize yourself with the workout. Barre3 online is also a good option if you don’t have a studio near your home.

On the other hand, all of the instructors at barre3 are warm and welcoming, so there is no reason to be intimidated by the studio. The benefit of being in the studio is that instructors are there to help you connect with your body, suggest modifications and answer questions about postures. I love our digital world, but there is no substitute for face to face interactions.    

H: How have you seen your body/mind change during the course of your time with barre3? Have you experienced greater calmness? Toned?

R: Without a doubt, barre3 has changed my mind and my body. I have been an athlete all of my life, including a competitive alpine ski racer and cyclist. Years of pounding and overuse of my body has resulted in many injuries and surgeries, including 2 hip surgeries and 2 knee surgeries. I found barre3 at the perfect time in my life where I was unable to do many of the athletic activities I had participated in previously. It provides me the perfect balance of challenge and forgiveness on my body. I can say hands down, my body is as toned as it has ever been, and more importantly I haven’t exacerbated any of my injuries. 

I have far more body awareness then I ever have. I believe that one of the most special things about barre3 is the mind, body connection we help our clients find.

Despite having a Masters degree in Physiology, I have learned the most about my own body and health since coming to barre3. The barre3 approach to health is not just about the workout, it’s about your whole body health. I eat eat more vegetables, I drink more water, I eat less sugar, I try to get more sleep. I think more about my health now than I ever have before.

H: You practiced barre3 during your pregnancy, so it sounds like it’s safe for everyone! What do you recommend to someone just starting out?

R: I took a barre3 class on my due date, and I returned to barre3 as soon as my doctor would let me, about 5 1/2 weeks after my daughter was born. When she was 6 months old, I went through instructor training. Barre3 is an amazing workout for pregnant and postpartum women. Having a baby is tough on women's bodies. Barre3 focuses so much on the areas of the body that are most affected by pregnancy: postural muscles, pelvic stabilizers and most importantly the transverse abdominals. Barre3 was the best post baby bounce back workout I could have asked for. And, the fact that barre3 has on-site child care makes it so easy for new moms to take care of themselves, which is so important. I would suggest that all pregnant women consult their doctor before trying a new workout.

H: Do you have anything new coming down the pipeline for online classes?

R: We launch new online workouts once a month. One of the great things about the online workouts is the variety of instructors. Everyone has their own energy that they bring to the workouts, so you can find the ones you connect with. I don’t have any specific dates for my next online workout. I really enjoy the challenge that filming provides me, so I am always excited when I have the opportunity to be a part of the online workouts. I hope to be back on camera again soon.

H: What brings you Genuine Joy?

There are a lot of things in my life that bring me genuine joy. I feel lucky to have an incredible husband and daughter to share my life’s adventures with. My greatest moments of joy come when I am in the outdoors with my family- hiking, XC skiing, fly fishing or any of the other activities we enjoy doing together. Exercise is my medicine, my psychiatrist, and my meditation. I often joke that my religion is “seventh day recreationist”. My church is the mountains, the ocean and the lakes. Therein lies my Genuine Joy.

Want more Regan? Take one of her classes on the barre3 app or head over to Cardigans & Couture (It's one that I read daily!)

Until tomorrow...