Small Muscle Group Training for Big Benefits

March 2017 - Active Lifestyle

It’s easy to get stuck in the old ideas of pushing and destroying our bodies in workouts to get the results we crave. Many of us look to shed our winter coats this time of year, and are tempted to push our bodies to the breaking point. We are a generation that wants instant gratification instead of waiting for the lasting results that only come with slowing down. I would be lying if I said I haven’t been guilty of this in the past. Even now I struggle with feeling like sweating more and pushing myself to the point of feeling like I’m going to puke will achieve quicker results. But thankfully through strong fitness industry mentors I’ve explored the idea that maybe faster, harder, and more hours at the gym is not the best idea.

A little slower this time…” and “Don’t rush it…” are some of the phrases you’ll hear when you face the adventure of your first Lagree class. A combination of pilates, yoga, and dance strength exercises, Lagree will challenge you at any fitness level. Lagree combines elements of strength, cardio, balance, core, and flexibility in every session to challenge you and keep your body guessing. This is extremely effective on the slow twitch muscle fibres, which are scientifically proven to burn more fat and create lasting results. Lagree uses spring-loaded machines to keep constant tension on the muscles, recruiting more of your muscle fibres and working them to maximum exertion. In short, your muscles will be burning, your core will be screaming, and you will never question again whether a bodyweight workout can really challenge every fibre of your body.

If you had told me four years ago that I’d be spending more time with bands attached to my legs than on squat machines or bootcamp classes, I would have thought you were crazy. After all, more sweat leads to better results, right? Wrong! Although weight training and bootcamps are beneficial and I still add them to my workouts, I’ve found my body responds in a more positive way with slow-twitch-muscle-fibre-training-type workouts like Lagree.

My love for this type of workout began when Barre was becoming popular in Canada. I saw the difference it was making in my clients’ bodies, posture, and overall health and was instantly drawn to it. I saw firsthand how my clients’ lower backs and pelvic floors were strengthened, and saw them loving the way their bodies felt as they leaned out and weren’t beaten down after a workout. I decided to take Barre to really experience what this small-muscle-group training was all about.

Some of the benefits:

  • improved flexibility
  • increased muscle strength and tone, particularly of abdominal muscles, lower back, hips and buttocks (‘core muscles’)
  • balanced muscular strength on both sides of the body
  • enhanced muscular control of back and limbs

After four years of Barre training and having undertaken Lagree training, I’ve seen my body respond positively. The number one change? I stress less about my workouts yet see more results. Now of course I’m not on the couch eating chips and shaking my head at gym-goers! I still put time and effort into my workouts, but I’ve noticed this puts less stress on my body, physically and emotionally.

It’s scientifically proven that weight training and cardio are beneficial for the female body, but can be negative when the workout isn’t right for us. For me, this was definitely the case. After spending years sweating it out and seeing little results, today I allow my body to move slower, allow tension to be the foundation of my strength, and allow grace where needed. I’ve seen my body lean out, my abs heal after three babies, my shoulders relax… the list goes on.

Another great benefit to Lagree and Barre-style workouts is that many movements are totally doable at home. My website has links to Barre workouts you can easily do at home to get started.

I feel passionate about encouraging you to change your idea of fitness this year. Doing so has led to such positive results in my physical and mental state. Maybe instead of rushing back to the same old workouts that didn’t give the lasting results you wanted or didn’t feel right, you should slow down and allow yourself to discover the strength within your body. I truly believe that if we take the time to listen, our bodies will direct us to what we need and show us what is not serving us. Each year is a mark of something new. Maybe this year it’s just about slowing down, listening to what your body needs, and seeing the change happen.

Looking for some at-home Barre workouts? Head to Or if you’re in the Vancouver area send me a message and come try a Lagree class!

Rachel Doell is an instructor, personal trainer, mother, and wife who loves health and fitness. Her fitness company, Daily Routine Fitness, ( features simple ways to fit living a healthy life into your everyday routine.
Blog and Workouts: | Instagram: @dailyroutinefitness

This article was published in The Good Life magazine.

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