Vicki Anstey: TRX in Barre
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and how you got into fitness.
When I discovered barre (via the Lotte Berk Method) around 12 years ago, I was an Advertising Manager for some big brands and had become so consumed with my career that I had really begun to neglect myself. My health, my happiness, my emotional wellbeing. I was overweight and did almost no exercise at all. I ate at my desk, spent long days and nights at the office or in edit suites, partied quite hard and spent weekends sleeping. I decided to make a change, firstly with my weight, then with exercise and soon I found that my priorities were changing. Soon I was scheduling my week around when I could exercise, curtailing long days at work to make commitments to attend exercise classes and go running. One of my strongest character traits is that when I decide to do something, I don’t stop until it is done. Soon I had lost 5 stone in weight, run 5 marathons, become an addict of the Lotte Berk method and changed my diet beyond recognition. I gave up my career in advertising to train in the Lotte Berk Method and 2 years later (after further training in New York at Exhale Studios and The New York City Ballet), I set up my own Studio, Barreworks. Barreworks celebrated its 10 year anniversary earlier this year and I have never looked back.
The toughest aspect of changing my lifestyle has definitely been maintaining it. Staying firmly ON the wagon. These days, I change things up a lot. Barre is always there (I call it the glue that holds me together) but I do a lot of weight lifting (essential for muscle mass and optimal bone density as we age) including crossfit, BMF (British Military Fitness) which I have done for 12 years, spinning and rowing. I still run, but with my dogs and not for marathons. I recently reached the final stages of Channel 4’s 'SAS Who Dares Wins', the ultimate test of my strength, fitness and resilience and it’s fair to say I pushed my body to its limits.
How did you start your journey with TRX?
I’ve used TRX for years, often at outdoor PT sessions where equipment needs to be mobile and versatile and also for my own workouts when I travel or go on holiday. It’s such an easy piece of kit to carry and set up and I’m still discovering new ways to use it.
How do you incorporate TRX into your training?
At Barreworks, we don’t offer specific TRX classes. Instead, we weave the TRX into our sequences at the barre or in the centre. It’s a brilliant tool for challenging strength, balance and posture - all key components of our method. The TRX allows you to perform classic barre movements leveraging even more of your body weight and or maintaining balance that would otherwise make a position impossible to achieve. We perform suspended pliés, planks, pistol squats, relevés, lunges and arabesque sequences. Sometimes we use the barre to perform the movement and then move to the TRX to repeat it in a slightly different way, placing a different stimulus on our muscles or enabling a more dynamic movement to get heart rates up. Our classes are never the same twice, so using TRX at relevant times, simply adds to the variety.
What unique benefits do you see when incorporating TRX into your workout routines compared to using other or no equipment?
Versatility is probably the main benefit. But ‘pure’ barre sequences involve no additional load to your body weight, so TRX is the perfect compliment. We do use resistance bands and weights, but our aim is always to train position and alignment first, THEN add load. So because the TRX is only ever using your body weight and is totally adjustable, it’s the perfect progression without overloading.
What does movement mean to you?
For me, movement is about strength, physical AND mental. Feeling physically strong creates a feeling of empowerment that is hard to beat. And strong bodies are only created from good foundations. Human beings were designed to move in different planes and in varying degrees of range. Our convenient lifestyles side-step this human need and mask so many limitations to movement. We want people to walk tall before they run. To stand with good posture before they lift heavy loads. To balance before they leap. Barreworks is all about the small, stabilising muscles that support every other part of our bodies. Sweat the small stuff and the rest will follow.
A keen athlete, Vicki discovered the benefits of a dancer’s workout over 10 years ago. She found that not only did it improve her own shape, muscle tone and flexibility beyond recognition, but that it increased her strength and stamina for other sports.
In 2008, Vicki trained in the Lotte Berk Exercise Method and has since gained significant experience teaching classes on a group and private basis in a variety of locations across London, including at the Lotte Berk Studio, Fulham. With overwhelming demand for her classes, Vicki opened Barreworks Studio in Richmond in February 2010.