5 minutes with … Sophie Ritchie

Ageing is a natural progression for everyone, and though our society tells us to fight against it, this World Menopause Day, we’ve taken an alternative approach in helping us to age gracefully … literally.

We spoke with DiscoBarre Studio founder, Sophie Ritchie, about her most popular class; the Lotte Berk Technique, and the benefits it brings to postmenopausal women.

Tell us more about the Lotte Berk technique, what does it consist of?
The Lotte Berk Technique is the original barre class, which was created by Lotte Berk, a German contemporary dancer, 62 years ago. Lotte created it when she retired from dance to help with a spinal injury and to ‘keep her figure’ as she aged. It was devised with the help of an orthopedist and inspired by her dance training and the fact that at that time there was no exercise targeted for women. Using the ballet barre, most of the exercises are performed in a pelvic tilt. This enables you to really target specific muscle groups, supports the lumbar spine, allows you to really work the waist and also allows the blood to flow to your genitals. As well as really working your lower body and core in a really unique way, there is also as a section dedicated to the pelvic floor, called the ‘inner spirit’.

How long have you been practicing the Lotte Berk technique?
I found a VHS of the NYC version of the exercises from the 1980s at a carboot sale when I was a teenager and it became my favourite technique as I loved the femininity and sexiness of it. I then trained in barre 8 years ago, by someone who had trained in a later version of it and then 2 years ago, I was lucky enough to have 1-2-1 teacher training with Lotte’s daughter, Esther Fairfax, who is 86 and still teaching the method!

What are the benefits you personally experienced?
Since learning the original method, taught by Esther, which is a stunning exercise system, I move with far more grace, fluidity and sensuality, my waist has shrunk, I’m leaner and energetically I have experienced an almost sexual awakening. Orgasms are far stronger and I feel that I have amassed more sexual energy and vibrancy.

Do you think there is a connection between the Lotte Berk technique and delaying our body’s natural ageing process?
As women age we put on weight around our waist, which is obviously dangerous as it can increase our chances of heart disease and diabetes. Every LB exercise focuses on this area and no exaggeration, you can notice a difference after one session. Bone and muscle decreases during menopause and perimenopause, so strength training is needed and this low impact workout is so safe for joints. There’s a meditative element to the class and it’s about connecting to your mind, body and spirit, which can help with hot flushes, fatigue and irritability.

What are the long-term benefits to the Lotte Berk technique for postmenopausal women?
Our pelvic floor becomes weaker as we age due to the muscles weakening or an increase in weight can put pressure on the bladder – this can cause incontinence or a prolapse. Having a whole segment dedicated to this where we go through a series of exercises is really beneficial and everybody notices a difference in their strength in this area.

Discover the Lotte Berk Technique at Sophie’s studio; DiscoBarre Studio

Push Team x

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