Barre 2 Barre

The Barre 2 Barre Academy Diaries:
Cheryl Koh (Part IV)

The Barre 2 Barre Academy Diaries: Cheryl Koh (Part IV)

Tue 16 Jul, 2019


12 months ago, Barre was just another way for me to stay fit. 12 months later, I find myself having a better and deeper understanding of the BarreAmped method that I have been practicing, and in a position to share this newfound knowledge I’ve gained with other barre-enthusiasts.

How did I get here? Well, let’s rewind back to the start of 2018. I’ve just moved to Rotterdam for a school exchange programme - my home away from home for the first half of the year. I had a tight budget to stick to, so getting a package at a barre studio was out of the question. Instead, I signed up for Suzanne Bowen Fitness for video workouts and made my living room my makeshift studio. Thank God for Decathlon - I managed to get a mat, a ball and my 0.5kg weights for just 20 euros, and that, was my 5 month unlimited package. Hah.

5 months whizzed by, and before I knew it, I was moving to Amsterdam for my last month in the country. Having stayed in contact with Jess throughout my stay there, she encouraged me to take my certification with Mylene while I was in Amstedam and then come back to Singapore to apprentice with her. I figured, why not? I have always been interested in deepening my practice and what are the odds that I’d be living in the same city as one of BarreAmped’s master trainers!  It would be a meaningful way to spend my last weekend in Amsterdam as well. So I said yes, and both Mylene and Jess started designing a training plan that suited my timing/living situation. Next thing I knew, I was taking a barre class with Mylene at PLTS Amsterdam before heading back to her boat house to start my training.

I’d say that my training was slightly different from most. It was separated into two weekends - the first being more anatomy-focused since we lacked a barre on the boat, and the second covering all the exercises that involved a barre back in the Singapore studio.

On top of that, I was Mylene/Jess’s only student, which meant that I had both of their undivided attention. This was awesome of course, but slightly intimidating as well. I was never that kid who liked sitting in the front row back in school. Haha.  

So, about the intensive anatomy training that I got, it was truly an eye-opening experience for me. Having taken barre classes for about 2 years now, I’d always hear the instructors telling us to ‘maintain that neutral spine’ or ‘pull your belly button to your spine’ and make all these tactile cues that cause us to shake uncontrollably, but I never REALLY understood why or how. With this anatomy training, everything clicked. I learned how to determine anatomical movement -- where the movement is happening, which body part that is moving. I learned about the importance of having the balance we need in both our front and back body strength to stand in good posture and alignment. I realised that all these cues given in class were rooted in the extensive knowledge that the instructors received from their training. There were just so many lightbulb moments that weekend.

Through this training, it also made me realise how difficult it is to be a good instructor. I remember the first time Mylene asked me to try setting her up. My mind went INSTANTLY blank. All I got out was “uhhhhhh…. Stand with your feet… hips…hips what? Apart? No that doesn’t make sense.’ There was another time I said ‘bend your ankle’ when I meant the ‘knee’. Haha. Mylene shared with me a teaching formula that I try to adhere to in my classes.

  1. Set them up in 3-4 instructions. Get them moving.
  2. Alignment
  3. Movement & Muscle Cues (Where should they feel it?)
  4. Observe.

From giving clear and concise cues, to counting right (giving equal time to both the left and right side), to catching the beat, while spotting and correcting clients in bad form - it’s a LOT of multi-tasking that I did not realise and this realisation gave me a new-found respect for all BarreAmped certified instructors out there.

Fast forward 6 months, I began my apprenticeship. I took classes and I observed classes on top of the practical classes I taught. It was such an amazing journey in so many different ways. The learning never really stops. Even with the intensive anatomy training that I got in Amsterdam with Mylene, putting that knowledge into action really gave me a deeper understanding about how each muscle gets activated differently through each targeted exercise. I also grew more confident to teach in front of a crowd with every class (I’ve this thing where my face turns tomato-red the moment my heart starts racing a lil faster than normal lol).

The best part though, was being able to witness first-hand how my friends have grown stronger with every class I taught. They were doing more reps than when they first started, and doing the exercises in good form - which to me is a testament that I’ve gotten better in guiding and correcting them, and articulating myself clearer so they could better understand and act on my instructions. It was definitely a confidence-booster.

All of which was only possible, through the guidance of Jess and Denise, who came down to give me feedback on how I was doing, and what I could improve on. I am also very thankful to have so many friends who were so supportive of my passion for barre. Never failing to turn up to ensure I have bodies to teach 3x a week. In fact, maybe this is the part I loved most about my apprenticeship. The way my passion for it brought people together. Family, friends, friends of friends. It was such a heartwarming experience seeing my different groups of friends mingle with one another, getting supper at BK Eating House after class (cause they felt they deserved it) haha!

Guess the TL;DR version of this entire blogpost is… through this entire journey, it really opened my eyes to see why people do this, even as a side hustle. It’s that mind-body connection on an individual level, and that growth you see in yourself that spurs you on to continuously want to make little improvements, and then watching how these little changes you make reflect onto the clients you teach. It’s knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life, however small, that gives you this sense of fulfilment that makes this journey such a meaningful one. So, if you’re a barre lover, I’d encourage you to take your passion to the next level, like I did. ◡̈