We caught up with the awesome twosome – Mylene Mackay and Karen Lim, the founders and instructors at Barre2Barre, the barre workout studio located in the heart of SOHO in Hong Kong!
Always find it to explain what is barre. Can you please explain it in a simple way.
Mylene: Actually not many people know about Barre and that’s why people are confused. The easiest way to describe barre is as a combination of pilates, dance, and stretching. It is a high-energy class but with low impact exercise form, so it is very safe. It’s fast, fun and challenging! And why is it called Barre? Because we use the ballet barre for positioning our-selves.
Karen: I would like to add that some people think that its just like a dance class where as it is not. Yes, some barre methods are very similar to dance class, but it’s actually closer to pila-tes, more like an amped-up version of pilates.
What is the philosophy underneath the barre workout?
Mylene: A German dancer, Lotte Berk, created a mélange of strength-training, dance, orthopaedic back exercises for rehabilitation and core stability purposes in England. A lot of people started going for her classes and now, barre work out has attained a somewhat cult workout status. What has helped in growing its popularity is the fact that it is a very safe workout form. It starts with very small range of motion and once you build strength, you can go further. People are able to build metabolism, burn fat, and lengthen tight muscles really quickly.
How did your personal journey with Barre begin?
Mylene: While I was working for Four Seasons Hotel in London, there was a Lotte Berk studio right around the corner. I walked into the class out of plain curiosity. The experience was fast, fun, and energetic. The music and the whole ambience of the place was something I had never experienced before. I kept going back to the studio.
Few years after that, I moved to Hong Kong and started practicing pilates at a studio and that’s where Karen and I met. Eventually that studio wanted us to teach pilates, so we got certified through Bodycontrol pilates. But throughout that time I missed the barre workout form. So Karen and I decided to bring barre to Hong Kong. We suggested it to other studios, but it didn’t really fit with their philosophy, so we decided to set up a studio ourselves and that’s how it all started!
There is always an emphasis on Mind Body Connect at Barre. Can you tell us more about it?
Karen: We believe that everything starts with the mind. If you believe you can do something, that’s a start. If you were to start a journey without believing, you are just going to fail.
We want our clients to be present in the studio as a whole as opposed to being present only physically. The barre work out form naturally gets you mentally and emotionally into the present state. We put a lot of emphasis on building strength and good posture and consider it much more important than doing long hours of workout.
As a member of Barre2Barre, I see great vibes and bonding among the members, teach-ers. Is this atmosphere a manifestation of your personal philosophy?
Karen : We like people 🙂 and like to interact with them. We like to know our clients on an individual basis and be part of their wellness journey. I had always wanted to open a home studio and in some ways Barre2barre is like an extension of my home studio dream. I want people to come to the studio feeling very relaxed and welcomed, just like coming home. We are very lucky to have great clients that like us and support us.
Any books/influencers you recommend for those who want to go deeper in this?
Mylene: We use mostly anatomy books. If we had to recommend a book, it would be Joseph H. Pilates’s Return to Life Through Contrology because it’s a great book about the concept and philosophy of pilates method, which all beginners and lovers of fitness should read.
Rapid Fire Questions on Personal Wellness
Favourite form of therapy in everyday lives-
Karen: Sit quietly and just not do anything. No one calls me. No one talks to me 🙂
Mylene: I also do quiet time, too. But a little different from Karen, I like listening to relaxing music at home spending time with my husband. And going for massages!
Favorite Spa for Spa Day-
Karen & Myelene: Four Seasons Hotel
Top Alternative wellness therapies-
Karen & Myelene: Homeopathy
Favorite Essential Oil Fragrance-
Myelene: Tea Tree (know more about essential oils)
Tips for better sleep-
Karen: Go to bed early for better sleep quality. And avoid heavy dinners!
Myelene: We have a rule of no technology stimulation after a certain time in the evening. You can read a book but no interaction with a digital device.
Tip for better posture-
Karen & Mylene : Being aware of your body posture is the first thing. Lift up constantly and don’t slump over the desk.
Nurturing thought that you want to sign off with-
Karen:Looking after yourself is very important. You can have all the money in the world, best clothes, and best shoes. But to be happy, it is important to be able to appreciate little things in life.
Myelene: Take care of yourself. Enjoy the moment. Don’t always be focused on driving yourself harder.