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How to see an island from a different side...

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Growing up my family and I went on annual or bi-annual vacations to fun places, usually with warm tropical weather. It became a tradition that we enjoyed together and were able to explore a new place. I remember being so completely fascinated with the resorts we stayed in that had anything and everything you could imagine. I thought I was getting the full experience until one year when it was just my mom and I traveling back to Turks & Caicos for the fourth time. I was on spring break my freshman year of college and as a treat for working hard in my first year away from home, my mom booked us a long weekend getaway just the two of us. Previously, we had stayed at big name, all-inclusive resorts as a family but this time we chose a smaller, hotel/condo type place. I was excited as I love Turks and felt I knew it so well from being there three times previously. However, when I stepped off the place, it was as if I was on a completely different island.

There wasn't a valet van from the resort waiting for us and an attendant offering to take our bags. We had to hail a taxi on our own and give them the address to our hotel. The drive was different, and I saw a side of the island that I hadn't noticed before. The hotel was beautiful and the staff was incredibly friendly and welcoming to us. It was not an all-inclusive so there weren't twelve different restaurants to choose from on site. Instead, we had to venture out based on recommendations and pamphlets we read with reviews. Honestly, I had the best food of my life at the local restaurants we happened to stumble upon. The fish was so fresh, food so well prepared, and overall atmosphere was so comforting. It was a real, genuine Turks culture. We even biked to the local grocery store to get snacks since there wasn't a never ending buffet available 24/7 like at the all-inclusive resort.

You may be thinking that this isn't the ideal luxury beach vacation, however, I can attest that it was the most enjoyable time I have had in Turks this far. In venturing outside the hotel, we interacted with so many amazing locals who were so eager to talk about their home island. We went to a fish barbecue that happens on the beach weekly where various small businesses bring their goods to sell. There was fresh food, handmade jewelry, and authentic music being played. Everyone was so happy and lively, their positive energy just lit up the entire island.

This amazing new culture and lifestyle combined with the most beautiful scenery in the world made this weekend the best of my life. From the sunrise to the sunset, the crystal clear blue-turquoise water, soft sand, and vivid flowers, there is nothing more one could ask for. I even learned about the tourist culture of the island and how they don't even benefit from the big brand name resorts that take up a decent portion of the island.

I would recommend Turks & Caicos to anyone and highly advise that they look beyond the all-inclusive resorts to the smaller hotels that will force you to explore the island. I promise you will not be disappointed.

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Why You Should Go To The Barre

Keep your head high and your heels even higher!

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After going back and forth trying to decide if I wanted to try a barre class, last month I finally decided to. And let me tell you, it is one of the best decisions I have made for not only myself but my body! I tried my first class at Barre N9ne in Andover, Massachusetts (with multiple location in Woburn, Somerville, and Danvers), and I truly don't think I could have found a better studio. From the moment you walk into the studio there is a great vibe and the instructors are so informative and caring. If you are in the area, I highly recommend Barre N9ne!

It Is A Full Hour To Yourself

My favorite part of barre is it is an hour to myself. No phone, no distractions, just working to improve myself with each set. When I go to the gym whether I am lifting weights or running on the treadmill at some point I am on my phone responding to a text or changing the song I am listening to. During barre, I don't even think about who texted me or what email I have to respond to. It is complete me time.

The BEST Core Workout

During barre, your core is engaged the entire time. Then, at the end of the workout there is 5-7 minutes of actual core workouts. This makes it one of the best core workouts because instead of just focusing on your core for a few minutes, you are engaging it throughout the class and then additionally at the end.

You Will Gain Strength and Definition 

A typical barre class is a full body workout and over time you will gain strength and see definition. It takes about 5 classes to start seeing results. By strengthening each muscle group, you are not only gaining definition you are also strengthening all muscles (even the ones that are often underused and underdeveloped).

You Will Become More Flexible 

After each muscle group worked on, you will stretch. This is something that is often overlooked because people don't want to take the time to stretch during a workout and save it until the end, or even not at all. The amount of stretching done in a barre class will improve your range of motion and help to reduce any risk of injuries.

Mind Body Connection

During class you will often hear your instructor say to "focus on the mind body connection". But, what is it? Well, when you focus your attention on the muscle you are working, you tend to work harder and more effectively. This then gives you faster results. When you then focus on that muscle group and stop focusing on all the background noise of your stressful day, or what you have to do after class, or that big test next week, you are really able to focus in and have the best workout.

Your Muscles Will Shake (In A Good Way)

Barre utilizes micro movements. Meaning, since you preform many reps of the same movement involving specific muscles in barre, you are then working your muscles to exhaustion. When your muscles are exhausted, they start to shake. If you aren't shaking, work harder!

Through every pulse, squeeze, and tuck enjoy your time during barre. I hope you give barre classes a try because I know I don't regret it and I know you won't either.

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