The fitness industry has evolved substantially over the last 10 years; keeping in stride with those developments, fitness professionals and industry leaders have had to adjust and evolve their programming to maintain the safest and most effective practices.
Our barre mentors, Fred and Lis, were the leaders of these changes in the barre industry (as they established barre fitness), rooting their methods and core principles in the fundamentals of movement, the ‘why’ behind the what, and leading the demand for educated and qualified teachers.
Over the last 5 years there was a single movement that continued to threaten the very integrity of barre fitness on the whole, and continues to threaten the safety of clients when it is misused. That movement is the TUCK.
‘Because the barre class industry is over the top with pulsing, squeezing and tucking, the knowledgeable professionals in the world of exercise science do not see the value. They see it as imbalanced and incomplete.’ -Fred DeVito, co-founder Exhale Core Fusion [barre]
We are committed to the credibility of our programming, the education of our clients, and the integrity of barre fitness, which is why we (emphatically) emphasize the proper application of neutral spine alignment and core stabilization. And that’s also why you’ll never ‘tuck’ in thighs at b:core. While all of our teachers will be happy to educate you on our core principles and the ‘why’ behind each of our movements, our teacher Ellie offered up her own take. The below piece is not only a perfect summary of the risks of under-evolved programming or under-qualified instruction, but is also the perfect blend of Ellie’s deep functional knowledge with her dry wit — and is part of what makes her such a great pillar on our team. So, without further adieu, here’s why you shouldn’t EVER tolerate a ‘bad tuck,’ or worse, be a ‘mother tucker.’
A “tuck” in professional terms is a posterior tilt of the pelvis.
How do I get tucked?
If you lie down on your back, and pull your pubic bone to your belly button so that your low back is flat against the floor, that means you just got tucked. You got tucked good.
Why the tuck are we tucking?
There are a few reasons this position is used in barre. One is to protect the low back when doing glute/seat/butt work. In professional terms, we are trying to avoid lumbar extension while in hip extension. In regular people terms, you are trying not to arch the low back while moving the leg behind the hip. The other main reason is to work the lower abs. The lower half of your six pack ab muscles is the main muscle you engage while tucking, and therefore, during the ab section of class you would benefit from this position.
It is important to note that tucking is NOT a glute exercise. The tuck is used as a set up for glute exercise. Tucking is a CORE exercise.
Red flags and dangers:
We are a nation of tuckers. We’re getting tucked all the time. We’re getting tucked at our desks, in our cars and watching TV at home. So the majority of Americans need to strengthen the low back in the neutral alignment-meaning the posture we have standing up if we have amazing, beautiful UNTUCKED posture. The great thing is, you do not have to do a special low back strengthening section during your workout. If you are holding your spine in a neutral position while doing something else-thighs at the barre, plank, squats, anything- you are strengthening your low back AND you’re strengthening it in a functional, useful way.
Getting tucked at inappropriate times-when you don’t actually need the tuck to make an exercise more effective-you are risking grave injury. Sciatic pain is one of the most common negative effects of over-tucking. This is nerve pain down the leg, often due to over-tight, improperly exercised glutes. The second one- and the most important for all women in any age group, in any lifestyle- is pelvic floor health. Often you don’t think about those muscles until something is wrong (you pee every time you sneeze…or if someone else sneezes…or someone on TV sneezes) and by then it might be too late. One of the best and simple things for your pelvic floor is to go untuck yourself.
If you are in any exercise class and you spend more time in a tuck than in a natural posture: leave.
If you are in class and you are told to tuck while not working glutes or abs: leave.
If you ask your instructor the what/why/how of tuck and they don’t know: leave.
If you ask your instructor about your pelvic floor and they don’t know: leave.
Get tucked the right way! Get tucked the good way! Go untuck yourself sometimes too!
[You can find Ellie teaching group and private barre classes at b:core throughout the week, as well as group and private pilates (mat + reformer) classes at truPilates. Sign up for one of her classes and set your core foundation the right way. She’s also open to holding office hours at Brazo’s, but you’ll have to come to class to set up your tucking education with her.]