The Art of the Tuck
by Maureen St. Germain
What is the tuck that we talk so much about in Native Barre classes and why is it so important!?
Those who come to class often could recite the opening lines the instructors say in their SLEEP! “Feet in first-position, legs zipped together, hips TUCKED forward, buns squeezed, bellies pulled in and chest lifted. We start in this position because it allows us to stack our body, building a strong foundation…for class and for everyday life.
Our hips are in the center of our body so when we tuck our hips forward your tailbone is allowed to drop. Dropping your tailbone takes pressure off your low back and forces your belly button to pull into your spine. Now of course, we want to you to go deeper by gripping into your glutes which in turn locks down your hips and pulling your belly against your spine which (we know this is not possible BUT it provides a visual of how deep we want you to pull your belly in) provides optimal support for your low-back, keeping you safe through many Native Barre exercises while working your core.
Once you understand the tuck…and I mean OWN IT, your core is completely engaged so each exercise becomes more intense and meaningful.
The most significant change you will see will be the intensity of seatwork. One of my FAVORITE standing seatwork positions is when we stand at the barre, in the same position as when we start class except our hands are on the barre with our elbows comfortably at our sides. We then bend our standing leg knee and bring our working leg back a few inches with a flexed foot so your leg is stick straight and we do small, precise leg lifts and micro-bends of your knee so you kick to straight. If you do not have your tuck-meaning tailbone dropped to the ground, glutes gripped and belly pulled in, you have NO IDEA why this exercise is so intense and difficult. When you DO have that perfect tuck you realize you are only able to move your working leg up and down an inch or two. Your amazing body is providing the resistance so you can dig into your seat and truly start to change your body.
So practice your tuck maybe in profile in front of the mirror on profile…as I say in class, make it big and dramatic so you feel the difference. Start with your feet in 1st position, stick your butt out, make a diamond with your legs and then pull your hips forward so your legs zip together, glutes grip and tailbone drops and stomach pulls in…there you have it…the illusive TUCK!!!