“What the Tuck” – Fix that Anatomy in Barre Fitness Classes

Stop compromising the body in barre classes with the crazy tucked pelvis position! It does not allow for neutral posture, ultimately causing risk of injury.
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In my recent blog Let’s Challenge 3 Barre Fitness Class Misconceptions, I did not speak of the infamous “tuck” position found in some barre classes. I felt that this position shouldn’t be lumped together with other misconceptions, but rather discussed on its own. So this week, let’s investigate this position. I mean seriously, what the tuck?

The “Tuck”

In some barre classes, students are asked to tilt the pelvic bones forward, i.e. tucking, and then pulse for a long period of time. This motion restricts the movement of the pelvis. By restricting the movement of the most powerful part of the body, we will create dysfunction, back pain and injuries.

For example, try to throw a ball without moving the hips; that ball will not go far.  If I restrict movement of my hips over and over again, what do you think my posture is going to eventually look like? I will create upper cross syndrome, better known as kyphosis.

You have heard that sitting is the new smoking, right? Sitting for long periods allows gravity to take its toll on the spine. Most of our participants sit at their desk for 8 hours. Then barre instructors are asking the student to compromise the spine more by adding unnatural load by tucking and repetitively pulsing. Hm.

Creating a conscious movement for a subconscious result

So what is natural movement and what is the solution for the absence of a tuck position in barre class? Well, what do you do in real life? We lunge to reach something on the floor. We squat to site down. We also reach and rotate. Do you ever tilt your pelvic bones forward in a tuck position? No. It is unnatural. Stand up. Roll your shoulders back. Lengthen your spine. Stand tall. Now, tilt your pelvic bones forward, rotating your glutes forward. Do you feel natural, strong, or capable of movement?

We should train for what we do in life.  When I wrote the functional science section of the Barre Above instructor’s manual, I wanted to stress this important and overlooked fact. We should be training barre students in the same manner that we train other class participants. We should be training movers, not exercisers.

Now, we have access to the newest science of movement ever in the history of fitness! So why not seek out the best information there is available?

I had the amazing opportunity to work with Thomas Meyers of Anatomy Trains and a cadaver lab, as I wrote about in The Fitness Industry’s First Bio-Skills Anatomy Lab, PUREAnatomy. For me to see a model with severe knee and back issues was a wake up call, in more ways than one! We need to be taking care of our bodies throughout our lives, not just waiting until after the damage has been done! And, I can tell you that I see many overuse injuries at every convention where I educate. It is not only the participants that we should protect, but our own bodies as well.

So my message to all fitness professionals is to explore the why of each exercise. Don’t just memorize a series of exercises. Fully learn the proper execution and the desired effect of each movement you are teaching. Learning is a process and I am still on my journey. In fact, I have cadaver lab #2 next month!


"What the Tuck" - Fix that Anatomy in Barre Fitness Classes 1

Leslee Bender

Leslee Bender

Leslee Bender has been in the fitness industry for over 25 years. She is the creator of the Bender Ball method of training and co-creator of Barre Above. Leslee has filmed over 25 DVD’s, has been on national TV as a fitness expert, and presents internationally at several educational conferences. Leslee is a trainer to professional athletes in Orlando, Florida, where she is also the fitness adviser of Club True Barre. Leslee is the co-creator and education director for True Bar Fitness Systems. Leslee’s field of expertise is Functional movement analysis with an emphasis on flexibility. Leslee has had the experience in working in a Cadaver lab of which gives an understanding of the complexity of fascia. Leslee also works to help trainers learn the purpose of exercise and why they are performing movements and not simply memorizing them. She believes that the fitness industry need to have higher standards of education, requiring trainers to truly understand human movement, as it applies to science.

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