The Fitness Rules I Live By: Emily Chadwick Vint
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There’s more to exercise than seeing physical results. I used to have a poor relationship with my body and viewed exercise as something I had to do rather than something I ‘get’ to do. I saw it as a chore and would put myself through workouts I disliked but ones I thought would get me a better body. In 2015, I discovered barre. I was in New York at the time, training to be a dancer, and saw a barre class on Class Pass. I thought it would be like ballet but within a couple of minutes realised this was far from the truth. I was feeling muscles working I didn’t even knew existed and this unfamiliar burn was something I’d never experienced before. It was a mini epiphany which changed how I viewed exercise forever.
Low-impact workouts don’t get better than barre. Nothing strengthens the core, challenges the muscles and is as fun, empowering or confidence-building as barre. Barre combines the movement of ballet with the strengthening of Pilates, the stretching of yoga and just the right amount of intensity to raise your heart rate. Barre was created by a ballerina named Lotte Berk in the early 60s as a way of maintaining her strong physique and core stability after an injury, but barre isn’t just ballet – it’s an incredible way to incorporate strength training into your routine. I do barre four times a week as well as one HIIT workout or hike.
Find a workout that benefits both your body and your mind. There aren’t many forms of exercise that tick as many boxes as barre, and in today’s time-pressured world, multitasking workouts matter. Barre builds lean muscle, increases metabolism, defines and elongates limbs, improve posture, increases flexibility and enhances mental resilience. Plus, due to its high intensity yet low impact nature, combined with its focus on endurance, results come very quickly with consistency. Over the years, I’ve learnt first-hand the strength that barre can build – far more so than any average strength workout.
If you want to see results, you need to keep the body challenged. Don’t be deceived by the small movements in barre – it’s the smallest moves that create the biggest burn. A lot of barre focuses on isometric strength exercises, i.e., holding your body still while you contract a small and specific set of muscles. There are so many ways to intensify a barre practice and there’s always space to grow because there’s no limit to how far you can challenge yourself. If I’m feeling good and want to make a workout more challenging, I’ll add in more resistance. If I’m doing a glute workout at the barre, I’ll tuck a light dumbbell (1-2kg) behind my knee for a leg lift, or I’ll put a block underneath the standing leg to challenge balance. A resistance band can also be slotted into leg work to increase the resistance on your quads, hamstrings and glutes. I carry a resistance band with me everywhere, especially when I travel.
Just because something is low impact, doesn’t mean it’s not effective. Throughout the week, I alternate between sessions that focus on the glutes and abs, glutes and core, and the obliques. I sometimes solely focus on the abs – core strength is so important. Every workout I do is low impact (that means zero jumping), yet high in intensity, so I always finish a session feeling challenged. Barre is cardiovascular, yet in a way you don’t notice. You barely move but as you’re working isometrically with lots of time under tension (think tiny movements for a lot of burn), you build stamina and muscular endurance quickly, and your fitness levels will skyrocket.
A few accessories will help. If you’re doing barre at home, you need something to be your ‘barre’ – a sturdy kitchen chair or kitchen counter work well. A small Pilates ball and yoga block can also help you get deeper into positions, but a rolled-up towel, cushion or hardback book will all suffice.
Exercise shouldn’t stem from a place of negativity. The biggest fitness mistake I see women making lies within finding your ‘why’. Your ‘why’ is the reason you work out, and is ultimately where your goal comes from. If your why comes from a place of negativity towards yourself then you can’t expect to stay consistent as you’ll always view fitness as a negative concept. If this sounds familiar, try to redefine your why as something that makes you feel genuinely motivated and excited to move and create a plan with structure. Random workouts don’t deliver sustainable results and they make staying motivated more challenging.
It's important to start your day mindfully. You should work out for your mind just as much as your body. I left London in 2020 after living there for six years and moved to Guernsey. I was always such a city girl but am now so grateful to be able to spend time in greener spaces, and to be near the beach. This summer, I’ve been swimming in the sea every morning as soon as I wake up. I head straight outside without looking at my phone. As the colder weather arrives, this will be tricky to keep up, but I’m determined to keep going for as long as possible. It’s my form of meditation. Just ten minutes to yourself in the morning – whether it’s with a workout, meditating, or just getting outside – will change your day. You should never feel guilty for taking that time for yourself.
Nourish your body. I teach clients first thing naturally fast until around 11am – this works for my body and energy levels. I’ll then make an omelette or protein pancakes with fruit and granola. Every week, without fail, I buy almond butter, frozen fruit, oat milk, eggs and yoghurt. I get through a lot of protein smoothies, both for snacks and breakfasts. In the evening, I love a one tray recipe – they’re an easy way to eat well and ensure you’re getting protein, carbs, healthy fats and colourful fruit and vegetables onto your plate. Two years ago, I set myself a challenge to cut out refined sugar for a month and I haven’t looked back. It was tough at first but the effects on my energy levels, sleep and mood are noticeable. If I’m craving something sweet, I’ll have a few squares of Lindt dark chocolate – it’s surprisingly low in sugar and rich in magnesium.
Supplements can keep you on track. I take a food-first approach to nutrition, but the right supplements can help fill the gaps – think of them as an insurance policy. I love Higher Nature’s formulas and regularly take zinc, magnesium, vitamins C and D, and fish oil capsules for Omega 3.
Try not to compare yourself to others. If you’ve never tried barre before, drop the comparison game – we are all made differently, and we will all look different doing the same move. Take it at your own pace, know you’re not going to get all the positions right on your first try, but approach it knowing the method is designed to challenge you. If in doubt, welcome the burn and stick with it – you’ll be surprised at the results.
For more information or to try one of Emily’s barre classes, visit EvolveYou.app and follow @Emily.ChadwickVint.
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