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Guelph couple helping locals stay healthy with their inclusive and unique workout practices

Ballet techniques and kettlebells help to develop strength and skills for everyday living
Supplied photo

Husband and wife team Ian and Lauryn Conlon are passionate about sharing their lifestyle of fitness and wellness. 

Their studio, Barres + Bells located in downtown Guelph, offers clients unique exercise classes on the barre, which incorporates ballet movements, and with kettlebells, an apparatus that uses various movement patterns to work every muscle in the body.
“By engaging in the barre practice you’ll work on some mobility and some flexibility attributes to movement, and working with the bell you’ll start gaining strength,” said Ian, who leads the barre classes. 

“It’s a full body exercise, every muscle is working, you’re focussing on each step of the way, it’s progressive and what we like most about the kettlebells is that it gives you strength and skills for life,” Lauryn said, who leads kettlebell classes.

A value that transcends both, however, would be the value of the consistency and the simplicity of exercise, Ian said. Not that the workouts are “easy” but they can still offer benefits with less repetition. 

As well, Lauryn said both exercises utilize one’s own body weight and strength, and create mobility awareness. They want to educate people on how to move their body in stronger ways that will benefit them in their everyday lives. 

“Getting up off the floor, lifting things into your car, bending over to clean something, gardening, biking, walking, it gives you strength to do daily tasks,” she said.

Barres + Bells workouts are beneficial for anyone at any age

Whether you choose a barre or a bells class, you don’t need experience to participate. They work with people where they are, and gradually progress the exercises as clients meet their goals. For the first few classes, you won’t be using the barre or holding a kettlebell at all.

“We always start with body weight only before adding any sort of load, and whether that is patterning kettlebell skills with an imaginary bell or patterning our barre skills, both are done first with body weight and then we add load,” Lauryn said.

As well, they’re proud that their workouts can be enjoyed by all ages, and apparatuses aren’t necessary to reap the benefits.
“You can have a great workout where you don’t touch an external load. That’s for any age, where you’re just learning to move your feet and your ankles and your wrists and work on balance and getting up and down from the floor,” Lauryn said. 

When apparatuses are used, it’s a gradual progression and can be tailored to the client. Ian said this helps people become more competent movers in their own bodies so they can apply that to what they enjoy doing. For example, if someone loves to bike he can show them some skills and drills to prepare or recover, or if you enjoy rock climbing they’d work on flexibility and grip.

“There are attributes in training that can be applied to everyone’s real objective in life and it’s our goal to try and find that and find a way forward to link some of the gaps between their deficiency or ability or their ultimate goal,” he said.

From in-studio to online: How Covid offered barres + bells an opportunity to pivot 

For Ian and Lauryn, the pandemic meant that after years of hosting classes in-studio, they now had to create a larger online presence.  Lauryn said they were already in the process of doing so but the pandemic gave them the push and time they needed.

This past year, they’ve launched their YouTube channel and an online membership, where members can access live classes each week and choose between barre or kettlebell classes from beginner to advanced. These platforms have made their workouts more convenient and accessible to anyone, wherever they are.

“The online classes allows a focused approach to your fitness as well,” Ian said. “We’re finding training online allows our users to really concentrate that effort on themselves, to put themselves in that moment to train versus the distraction you could find in a gym.”

While they look forward to welcoming people back in studio, starting June 16, they’ll be offering workouts every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., at York Road Park. Classes are pay-what-you-can and meet-up is at the bridge. Their online membership program will continue and a hybrid in-studio/online option will also be available.

Become a member at Barres +Bells today! Check out their YouTube channel or contact them to learn more.