Re-posted from Freedom Group Exercise Creator Amanda Strand’s January 29, 2018 Facebook post regarding the online article titled The Secret Sexual History of the Barre Workout by Danielle Friedman on The Cut.
Thank you, Friends,
So many of you have sent this to me, that I felt I should address it. As funny as this seems to us now in 2018, for Lotte Berk, who began teaching her method in 1959 – her ideas about women being “allowed” and “empowered” to feel pleasure was absolutely revolutionary. It was not a joke, to her. And women in 2018 have Ms. Berk and others like her to thank for bringing the topic out of the closet. Her vision as well as that of other progressive women who openly discussed a woman’s sexual experience, are partly responsible.
My Freedom Barre® format is not designed to be a “secretly sexual” workout. I do not teach barre that way, train my instructors that way, or design my classes to be “practice for” sex.
Berk named an exercise in her workout “the Prostitute” and referred to much of her workout in terms of its benefits for women to experiencing sexual pleasure. Nothing wrong with that, if that is what you like – it’s your body, your money and your workout. But that is just not my vision for Freedom Barre.
As those of you know, who come to our classes – I am fiercely protective of the language used for the human body and its parts. That is, in part, why I refused to wear a “pussy” hat in any of the recent women’s marches. To me it is unacceptable to refer to my own, my daughter’s or any other female’s sexual body parts in denigrating language. Words matter to me. And I just will not do it. Those body parts are partly responsible for the miracle of life. The slang language used by others to make them into toys has been in part to blame for men treating us like ‘toys.’ I choose not to use that language.
Do I talk about the pelvic floor? Absolutely. But only very briefly. Is it about sex? It’s possible that developing an awareness of and strengthening those muscles may enable some women a sense of awareness, mastery, pleasure and empowerment in their sex lives. If it is helpful to them, helps empower them and makes them feel better, wonderful.
for millions of women, strengthening the pelvic floor, particularly after child birth, is basic women’s health. Regaining control of one’s own body is empowerment. Doing Kegels is advised by doctors for all women, for many reasons besides sexual ones.
And talking about our bodies in positive, open ways – even having a sense of humor that does not denigrate women or diminish the wonder of what our bodies are capable of is also empowering.
I came up with the term “flashlight” to help women find the direction of their tuck. I say, “Shine your flashlight straight down.” Because there are no known negative sexual associations with the term “flashlight.” The term is an effort to find a neutral way to refer to where the impulse for the movement originates. I also chose it because it involves light – not dark. It does not involve a sense of secrecy or shame. And a flashlight is useful. We should all have one. 🙂
But most of the workout is just that – a Ballet inspired workout.
And I am a big believer in the total body benefits of barre. My arms and legs are much stronger and more defined. I have definition in my core – which no other workout gave me. My ankles and feet are stronger and much more stable. My posture is transformed without being out of alignment – which it was when I was doing ballet full-time. Also, I have not had a neck spasm since I started teaching barre. It also requires me to lengthen muscle – not just shorten muscle. I work supportive tissue, not just big muscle groups. I am moving through space – which science says is more beneficial than using a machine. And then there is the balance piece – the benefits of which are infinite.
Do I have much more control of the pelvic muscles? All of them? Yes. And there are numerous benefits to that, as women well know. The majority of those benefits have nothing to do with sex. But here my husband has given me permission to share that he absolutely loves the results of barre. That’s nice. I’m glad he’s happy. But the important thing is I am happy.
After all it’s my body. And I can talk about it if I want to.
Without shame, or fear of judgement. I am the beneficiary of all of its wonders and I am steward of its safe-keeping.
That is empowerment. And that is what I hope Freedom Barre will give to others.