coffee breaksFor the last several months I’ve been taking Barre3 classes. It’s a blend of ballet, Pilates and yoga and though I thought I was in decent shape before I started taking the classes, I learned pretty quickly where I was lacking. It’s made a pretty significant impact on my body and unexpectedly, many of the ideas apply to situations we all face every day at work.

At least once during every class we work muscle groups so intensely that our legs shake uncontrollably. At first I felt really dumb not being able to control my legs and was tempted to relax in order to stop the shaking. But instructors say “embrace the shakes” as that’s when the body changes are really kicking in. It feels strange and disconcerting to be out of control. But it’s where the good stuff happens.

At work, step just a few inches outside of your comfort zone. Stretch your revenue goal a little higher or your focus time goal longer than your first inclination. If you’re tempted to stop working on a project that’s been looming on your to do list for too long, stick with it for just a little longer. Push yourself a little harder than at first you think you can. That’s where the big rewards are reaped.

About Those Breaks

For the most part, the barre method requires the tiniest movements. Once you’re in a particular position you’re instructed to move just “up an inch and down an inch” for example, for a high number of repetitions. Just when you think your legs are going to collapse, it’s time to “flush it out” – which is making full-range, large, sweeping movements. You’re using the same muscles but because you’re making big movements, it’s blissful relief. Doing that for a few reps makes going back to those tiny movements do-able.

The work analogy? Intense focus on difficult tasks should be broken up by a few minutes working on easier tasks. It’s not reasonable to be intensely focused all day long, or even for extended periods of time without breaks. When you’re planning your day, make certain you have some easier tasks peppered in to give your brain a break.

In the barre class, when we’ve completed work on a specific area of the body, we close it out with a thorough stretch. It’s good for muscle recovery and to prevent being hugely sore the next day.

At work, it’s just as important to have full-on breaks.  Get up, stretch, grab some water, straighten up your desk, walk a flight of stairs, etc.  Do something to rejuvenate your body as well as your mind.

The breaks you take have a huge impact on your work-day stamina and success. Take ’em!