Hey, there! Today’s post is all about how to save time choreographing your barre classes. When I first started teaching barre, I found myself spending hours on end trying to come up with the right class. Along the way, I’ve developed some tips that help me quickly choreograph classes that my clients love. Every studio and instructor is different; so, all of my tips may not work for you. But I think you’ll find at least one tip you can put to use today to help you create your classes a little more effectively!
How I format my classes.
Every studio is different, and some studios require instructors to format their classes a certain way. This section only applies to instructors who have the freedom to format their classes the way they want. For example, I can do core work at any point in the class I choose.
I like to have a set order in which I go through the different sections of a class. If I want to occasionally switch it up, I may do that. But I typically don’t deviate from that order.
Having a set order allows me to easily mix and match sections from previous classes to create a “new” class. Which brings me to my next point…
Class notes storage.
I touched on this in my post where I talked about tips for your group fitness instructor audition. In my opinion, the best way to store your choreography notes is electronically. I don’t use a notebook or paper for my choreography notes at all, and here’s why.
Mixing and matching different sections of the class allows me to create a “new” class without really adding any new choreography. I can pull together a class using different series from a bunch of past classes and boom - I have a brand “new” class with hardly any extra work. But this becomes a lot more time consuming and hard to track when I have to flip through a huge notebook of notes (or multiple).
Here’s exactly what I do:
I have an armband that I wear during classes that holds my phone, which is a lot easier to glance at than a notebook on the floor. Plus, I have an electronic record of what I taught (and when) that makes it very easy to mix and match when I’m short on time.
Use outside resources.
If you’re a barre instructor, there’s a good chance you also have some awesome choreography ideas. It’s important to tap into that, but it’s also important to know that there’s no way you can come up with fresh ideas every week. It’s okay to go online and be inspired. There are tons of resources out there with excellent barre choreography ideas, both free and paid!
I was certified through Barre Above, and afterward, I decided to join their Elite program. It only costs $99 for a full year of new releases every month. I don’t get 100% of my choreography from Barre Above, but I always use at least one or two of their series in my classes. The Elite program gets you get monthly releases of different choreography styles, which I love. Every month there’s a traditional Barre Above release, a Pilates-focus release, a ballet-focus release, a musicality “to the beat” release, a HIIT/cardio release, and more. With all that fresh content being released so often, I can’t even get through it all by the time a new release is out!
I also get great free ideas from YouTube. BODYBARRE has some excellent and fun series. Their Bohemian Rhapsody Plie series is one of my clients’ favorites! There are always new ideas you can get from looking on the internet. Checking out what other people are doing will also spark you to come up with great new ideas.
Finally, take other people’s classes. I can’t stress this enough! Fitness is an ever-changing industry with new trends and movements coming out all the time. We can and should all be learning from one another. I can guarantee you there’s another instructor at your gym or studio who uses a technique you haven’t seen before. In that hour of class, you’ll get a workout AND save the hours you might have spent scouring the internet for that perfect hamstring movement using a Pilates ball. Take other people’s classes, and take them often. You’ll continue to learn new things that you can take back to your choreography sessions.
PS - Take classes outside of your format, too. Your classes will be a lot more unique and creatively designed because of it. Pilates, spin, yoga, and CrossFit have all taught me things I’ve implemented in my barre classes.
Everyone’s classes are a little different, which is one thing that makes freestyle barre classes so awesome. I personally find it so much better to use music in the foreground of my class and develop choreography to the music in my playlist. My clients like it better and catch onto moves easier. Plus, it makes things a whole lot easier for me as an instructor and choreographer. Let’s not forget that Barre is ballet-based. Even though it’s not a ballet class, adding musicality to it and getting clients to understand an 8-count makes the class better (in my opinion).
Storing notes electronically allows me to quickly create a “new” class using sections of previous classes when I’m short on time. This seriously comes in handy during busy weeks!
I’m a huge advocate of using online resources for choreography inspiration. When you find a series you like to use, you can repeat it in multiple classes to a different song to give it a new feel.
While I do try to introduce at least one or two new movements to my clients every week, I don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel every class. There are lots of ways to make your classes feel new without actually spending hours coming up with new content every week.
If you’re a new instructor and you feel like you’re spending way too much time planning your classes, try some of these tips! And keep in mind that it’ll get much easier as you become more experienced.
If you’re an instructor, do you have any tips you use to save time creating classes as a group fitness instructor? How often do you use online resources for ideas?
If you take group fitness classes, do you like to have a brand new class every week? Or do you prefer some aspects of the class to be repeated?
Let me know your thoughts below in the comments! And check out the workouts I did last week.
Hey there! This week, I’m talking all about Alani Nu Plant Protein. And I’m including a recipe for VEGAN fruity cereal ice cream using this protein powder. It’s so good!
Alani Nu is a popular, relatively new nutritional supplements brand owned and operated by Katy Hearn. Katy Hearn is a popular fitness trainer/coach with over 1.8 million followers on Instagram (myself included). On top of holding several highly successful virtual fitness challenges each year, Katy and her husband Haydn own several businesses beyond Alani Nu. They own a gym in Indiana, a meal delivery service called Bite Meals, Onyx & Rose CBD Products, and the Fit by Katy weight training app.
Alani Nu products are sold at GNC and online. One of the line’s newest product releases was a vegan, plant-based protein. Given how popular the whey protein is, I wanted to give the plant-based protein a try! I’ve been on the hunt for a pleasant-tasting vegan protein option. While I’m not 100% vegan, I try to stay away from dairy and dairy-based products. Because I drink protein so often, I like to stick to plant-based options. Unfortunately, all of the vegan proteins I had tried tasted awful! People really seemed to really love the Alani Nu Whey Protein Powder. So, when I saw that they came out with a vegan option I jumped right on it.
Cost, ordering, and shipping.
The protein was $44.99 plus a flat shipping fee of $5, which brought the total to $49.99 for 752 grams (25 servings). The cost comes out to $2 a serving, meaning it’s on the higher end of price per serving. I ordered my protein on the Alani Nu website on July 30th and it arrived August 1st. I was super happy with how quick the shipping was and the packaging was nice.
Although I don’t typically drink my protein like this, I decided to just shake it up with some almond milk at first. I usually use my VitaMix and blend my protein with a couple of other ingredients, but I know that some people only use a shaker and would appreciate knowing how it tastes when consumed that way.
To be honest, I hated it. It mixed well with the almond milk and wasn’t very clumpy. But the taste was awful. It was just as bad, if not worse, than other vegan proteins I’ve tried. There was a weird, chalky aftertaste and I didn’t really get the taste of fruity cereal at all - it was just bad. I struggled to even finish the small cup I had.
Discovering how to make it taste great.
The next day, I decided to try it blended with some almond milk, ice, and a banana. I figured the banana would add some sweetness and possibly make it easier to stomach. When I tried it, I was shocked at how delicious it was!
The cold temperature plus the sweetness from the banana brought out all the good flavors in the protein, and it was seriously like drinking a Fruity Pebbles flavored milkshake! I actually look forward to drinking it when I do this because it feels like a treat even though the ingredients are very clean. There’s almost no sugar, sodium is low, and you get 21.7 g of protein in each serving. The protein comes from a blend of pumpkin, watermelon, and pea protein. I usually have bad digestion with pea protein, but I didn’t have any noticeable issues after drinking this. I’m super impressed that the pea protein taste isn’t detectable.
Vegan ice cream recipe:
My favorite thing to do with this protein is to make vegan protein ice cream. It’s so quick and easy. And ice cream is one of the things I miss most while eating a plant-based diet. The fact that you get almost 22g of protein per serving makes it even better!
Although I used a regular ripe banana, you can freeze yours the night before and use it to make your ice cream a little creamier. Or, feel free to just add a little extra ice and continue blending until you get the consistency you want. I used about 2 cups of ice, but feel free to use more or less depending on your preference. Your banana may be a different size than mine and your milk may be a different thickness, so play around with the amount of ice until you get the consistency you want. If you want to make it a “milkshake”, go for it!
I used original unsweetened almond milk. I felt like the banana added enough sweetness. But if you have a sweet tooth, feel free to go for the sweetened or vanilla version. If you want creamier ice cream, you may want to opt for oat milk or cashew milk.
It’s that simple! I really love this protein and can’t wait to see what kind of baked goods I can create with it. While I wouldn’t drink it with just water or almond milk, it tastes delicious when paired with something sweet like a banana. The ingredients are super clean, and I love the fact that it’s vegan. Alani Nu really created an awesome product with this!
If you use this protein to make vegan ice cream or any other recipes, let me know! Do you have any plant-based protein powders that you enjoy?
I finally did it. I finally went to a SoulCycle class!
I really wanted to see what all the hype was about and find out for myself whether SoulCycle is worth the (in my opinion) exorbitant amount they charge for a class. For a number of reasons, SoulCycle is one of the most controversial fitness classes available. From the cost to the atmosphere to the movements done on the bike, this indoor cycling class was the first of its kind and has become one of the most popular classes ever.
I think fitness instructors have a unique perspective on fitness classes. So, I was looking forward to reviewing SoulCycle as someone who both takes and teaches classes regularly. If you’re interested in my thoughts about the SoulCycle experience, keep reading!
For first time riders in NYC, the class is $25. For everyone else, classes are $36 a pop. There’s no unlimited monthly option, but riders can purchase class packs which slightly discount the cost. The most “cost-effective” option is purchasing 30 classes at once for $900, bringing the cost down to $30 a class. They also offer a more expensive option called Super Soul, which allows you to reserve classes ahead of sign-up time, includes full concierge service, and gets you priority on waitlists. The Super Soul package is $3,500 for 50 classes, bringing your cost up to $70 per class.
Being a fitness instructor, I haven’t paid to work out in a long time. I’m also generally frugal and never saw myself paying anywhere close to SoulCycle prices for a class. $36 for one 45-minute class seems insane to me - a piece of me died just paying the $25 as a first time rider! But people do pay it, and they pay it often. There are people who live and breathe SoulCycle, paying to take classes multiple times a week - some almost daily! I wanted to find out what the big deal is, which is why I forked over the money.
I normally elect not to give my business to companies who charge seemingly ridiculous prices like this. However, there’s one thing about SoulCycle that caused me to make an exception. SoulCycle instructors are paid a living wage and receive benefits. While the cost of a class makes me cringe, I appreciate that instructors can earn a salary and have sick time/PTO. The life of a full time fitness instructor can be a struggle. I’m glad that I have a full-time day job that pays me well, but I can’t imagine trying to make it as a full time instructor. Instructors tend to be underpaid and overworked in many cases. But SoulCycle definitely got this right. The instructor hiring process is also incredibly selective, and instructors undergo an intense training program before they can begin teaching. From what I’ve seen, SoulCycle instructors seem generally happy doing what they do. Kudos to SoulCycle for recognizing the worth of instructors!
PS: This review was written prior to the recent controversy surrounding a SoulCycle investor/owner hosting a campaign fundraiser for Donald Trump. Please note that while the review is being posted in the midst of the controversy, the class was taken (and review written) several days beforehand. By posting this review, I am not expressing any particular opinion regarding the controversy - this review is strictly about the class I took last week. Now, back to the fun stuff!
Booking a bike.
Bikes for the upcoming week are open for booking at noon every Monday. SoulCycle classes are known to book up very quickly. So, I was stalking the site 10 minutes before in preparation! At 12:00 on the dot, I booked the bike I wanted and saw that many of the bikes had already been booked by 12:01! I can’t imagine the stress of being a regular and having to do this every week.
After booking and receiving confirmation, I checked out some of the content they had on their website for first-timers. If you’ve taken an indoor cycling class before, there probably isn’t much there that you haven’t seen before. Keep in mind that cycling shoes are required for all bikes! SoulCycle studios have them available for rent or purchase.
My class was at the East 83rd Street location in NYC. When I walked in, I was a little overwhelmed by how hectic it was! There were a lot of people leaving from the previous class or signing in for this one. The desk employees were very friendly, though. We got complimentary water and shoe rentals since it was our first time. I was expecting to have to pay for those, so this was a nice surprise! The studio is small and really nicely decorated. Of course, there’s plenty of SoulCycle gear for sale. There are complimentary lockers where you can store your belongings using a passcode you create.
This location has two studios. We were in Studio B, which I believe is the smaller one. Because I was expecting the room to be huge, I was surprised to find how small it was. It was comparable to the other cycling classes I had tried in the past.
After class, I hit the locker room and shower area just to see what it was like. It was probably the nicest locker room I’ve been in. They also had lots of high-end toiletries. Plus, if you forget essentials like a blow dryer attachment, a hair tie, hair spray, or q-tips, they’ve got you covered. The studio altogether was really nice.
I took a 10:00 AM class with Maya, who was great. Her energy was very positive and she was super welcoming. I also loved her playlist! I can tell she’s been teaching for a long time by how well she handled a participant with a medical issue. Towards the end of the class, a man actually had to be walked out by several people because he was feeling faint. As with most indoor cycling classes, you do sweat a lot and often become very tired. Maya saw him having trouble standing and ran to grab help. We found out later that the man was okay, but it was great to see how well Maya and the SoulCycle team dealt with the emergency situation. Maya, like a true professional, was able to hop right back into the teaching the class after we had been stopped for a minute or two due to what happened.
This was a traditional 45-minute SoulCycle class; it had most of the same things you’d expect from any reputable indoor cycling class. Tapbacks, lots of standing, and mix of intervals. One thing that differentiates SoulCycle from other cycling classes is that they incorporate dancing on the bike. They worked in things like body rolls and clapping, which I found really fun.
SoulCycle is the third indoor cycling studio I’ve tried, and they’re the only one I’ve seen do “push-ups” on the bike. I expected this from reading other reviews, but doing it felt even weirder than I had anticipated. When we did fast push-up pulses, the fitness instructor in me wanted to scream. Moves like push-ups while on the bike, especially fast ones, are contraindicated and not very beneficial. They’re actually downright dangerous, and I wish SoulCycle would do away with them. It would be so easy for someone to hit their face on the handlebars, especially considering how sweaty and fatigued people can get during class. Your feet are also still moving and that just adds to the danger. Plus, these really aren’t doing much for your arms. It’s simply added movement. It’s totally unnecessary. There’s an arm section of class that uses light weights safely. I really wish they’d stop using moves like push-ups on the bike!
I liked that the room was dark and lit with candles. And I don’t mind the music being loud. My only issue is that in studios like SoulCycle, I find it impossible to hear what the instructor is saying. I don’t know if the mic is always too close to their mouths, but it sounds so muffled that I only catch about 30% of what they’re saying. I was expecting to hear really motivational and encouraging words from the instructor (SoulCycle is known for this). This may have been happening but I couldn’t hear it. I’ve had this issue at another studio that’s close to me. So, it’s not just a SoulCycle thing. But I’ve also been to studios where I can hear the instructor.
All in all, I got a great workout at SoulCycle. I was dripping with sweat and my legs got a good burn. Plus, some of the dance moves were really fun and the music was great. I get free classes at a local spin studio thanks to a partnership with one of the gyms where I teach. It’s very similar to SoulCycle; the room is dark and the instructor has different lighting settings to play with (one being glow in the dark, which is very cool!). Classes are 50 minutes instead of 45. And thus far, I haven’t noticed anyone doing push-ups on the bike. The movements are a little less dancey and classes here are significantly cheaper than at SoulCycle. To be honest, I enjoy those classes a little more than the class I took at SoulCycle.
I can see why people love SoulCycle. Some people call it a cult, but I get the sense that it just gives participants a really strong sense of community. The instructors are well-vetted and the experience from start to finish feels very luxe. However, the class itself didn’t wow me. In fact, I prefer the classes at my local studio that’s cheaper and offers an unlimited monthly option. I can see why people who have the money might want to splurge on SoulCycle. But I do get the sense that when you’re paying for SoulCycle, you’re paying extra for the brand name. Their brand identity is very strong, and it seems like attending SoulCycle classes is the “in” thing to do. There are other studios in NYC that are cheaper and probably similar in the quality of class they provide. Paying the premium for SoulCycle is the route a lot of people choose to take, though. Personally, I care more about the class itself; I’m not interested in paying more for the name or the glowing signs in the studio. At $36 a class and with no unlimited monthly option, it’s just not worth it for me.
I would encourage anyone who wants to try SoulCycle to test it out. But also try out other spin studios near you to see which one you like best. If money is no option for you, SoulCycle may be worth it. But you may find that another studio in your area actually fits your needs more. If you like dancey spin classes and like to be at the most popular class in town, you’ll probably love SoulCycle. If you’re looking for a more traditional spin experience, you may find a better option for you elsewhere.
PS: SoulCycle, if you’re reading this, PLEASE do away with the push-ups on the bike. It’s not effective, but more importantly, it’s not safe. Safe dance moves are fine, but dangerously thrusting your face down towards the handlebars are not.
Thanks so much for reading, and let me know if you have any other classes you’d like me to review! I’ve been thinking about trying [solidcore] or Barry’s Bootcamp and letting you know my thoughts. What are your favorite workout classes, and which ones have you been dying to try?
Check out my workouts from last week below:
Dominique Cheylise, 25 year-old engineer and group fitness instructor.