By Tizzy Brown, Barretender at Pure Barre DC
For those of you who have done Pure Barre before, there’s one word you hear all of the time: “tuck.” With nearly every move and modification your teacher reminds you to “tuck your hips!” If you’re a beginner in a barre class and the teacher tells you to tuck, even if she’s explained the move, demonstrated the action, and maybe even made a hands on modification, its tough to understand without getting to the point where you can feel the difference. Like so much of barre, as you take more and more classes your body begins to recognize the difference between proper and improper form, and when your hips are tucked.
There are many ways to describe the tuck motion. Simply put, a tuck is when you drop your hips down, curling your seat under so that your hips are aligned with your shoulders, engage the tops of your thighs, and draw your abs in. Wait, what? One way I like to describe the motion is a pelvic thrust, Rocky Horror style, except instead of gesticulating with your whole body, you want to keep your upper body still, tucking your tail bone underneath your hips, creating a strait line from your neck to your seat. While the tops of thighs engage, your seat will also flex, as that is what is pushing your pelvis forward. As your upper body stays motionless, your abs will flex in order to prevent your chest and shoulders from moving. Every teacher and barre enthusiast has their own way to describe it. Another helpful way I’ve heard it explained is to imagine you are being punched in the stomach; your abs both engage and curve away from the punch.
So that’s a tuck when you’re standing, but what about when you’re sitting doing ab work? It’s certainly difficult to tuck your tailbone under your seat while you’re sitting on it! This is where the punch analogy comes in. While seated, focus on tucking your abs inward, engaging your core, and less on drawing your tailbone in. As you draw your abs in, your hips will naturally tuck.
As you become a Pure Barre veteran, you’ll start to feel that twinge in your lower back when your hips are not tucked. A tuck is not only important because it helps you properly work each muscle group, but it also saves your muscles and joints that are not being worked, especially your lower back. It is easy to tuck your hips at the beginning of the exercise when the teacher reminds you to, but as your muscles start to shake and you get more tired, you lose your form, and often that means losing the tuck and allowing your back to arch.
One of the best parts about Pure Barre is that you not only do you get beautifully toned, but you also start to understand your body. When doing thigh and seat work especially, losing the tuck usually means your back becomes arched, which can lead to lower back discomfort and injury, in addition to not getting your best workout! While its great to tuck your hips while setting up your pose, it is important to continually check your form and keep those hips tucked! If you actively think about your tuck throughout class, your core and seat will be engaged the whole time. The more you tuck, the more you burn!
Beach season may be coming to an end, but legging season is upon us, and that means its time to show off your Pure Barre ledge! That area where your thigh meets your seat will get nice and sculpted while you tuck it out in class.