All about barre-style workouts, what inspires me and tips on healthy eating for life


Why the barre n9ne challenge changed my perspective. By Jolene Bonina

It might sound dramatic, but honestly, the barre n9ne challenge has changed my life in many ways, and most certainly, my perspective. You may be wondering how a workout could have that affect on me, but it has, and here’s why.

  • I view food as fuel, not happiness. I never thought I had an emotional tie to food, but going into this challenge, I most certainly did. I thought sticking with my ‘number’ would be insanely difficult in the summer, especially, where there are cookouts abounding, drinks aflowing and goodies everywhere you look. But with Tanya’s guidance, I was able to navigate many cookouts and weddings too, sticking within my number (or as close as possible) without feeling deprived. This was one of my biggest a-ha moments and is why I plan to stick with this way of eating forever. It doesn’t end with the challenge. This is a lifestyle change (and yes, I was still able to fit in my beloved wine on weekends and not starve myself. It is possible!!)
  • I’ll never go to a gym again. (except the dreadmill in the throes of winter). I’ve already canceled my gym membership, and will only open a new one (when I move next month) soley for the dreadmill in the winter. This is a huge departure for me. I have had a gym membership for as long as I can remember. I remember moving to Beverly almost 5 years ago and trying to ‘time’ when one membership would end and when the next would start, so I wouldn’t have a gap in memberships. I went to my boyfriend’s gym at his apartment today just to stay active while he did a weight workout. Damn, I was bored. There were no machines that interested me, nothing. I just wanted to do plies and maybe even some dreaded love to hate planks. barre n9ne is where I wanted to be. It is where I plan to be, 4-5 days a week, sticking with the best and hardest workouts I have ever done.
  • I am starting to love, not hate, my body. Prior to the barre n9ne challenge, I was heading for a dark place, mentally, when it came to my body image. I tore myself apart. I hated how I looked and didn’t know if it was because I was comparing myself to others, or if I had actually gained weight. I didn’t want to admit that maybe I had, but looking back at pictures prior to the challenge and now, it is clear. I most certainly did gain a few, but beyond that, I was like a hamster spinning on a wheel. My workouts were not effective. I was not seeing results. Week one of barre n9ne? Results. Need I say more?
  • I don’t miss spinning, lunges or squats. At all! When Tanya laid out our plan when we started the challenge, she requested that we do not do any other classes except hers (a very fair and valid request, given the goal was to do HER classes to see results) and do not do lunges or squats. She swore by her Legs class and as much as I was thrilled to start that class, I clung to lunges and squats at first. I panicked a little in my head, thinking that my legs wouldn’t see results without those two exercises (the ‘gym staple’). Damn, was I wrong. My legs have never looked better and I am amazed that I can even say that and believe it when I say it!

I could honestly go on and on, but I will leave you one piece of advice for those of you considering the challenge.

Immerse yourself.

Surrender to the challenge and live it, breathe it and commit to it. You won’t be dissapointed.

And, if there is any reason you are wavering against doing it, please, GO FOR IT, it will be worth every penny, every  bead of sweat, every minute of pain. (pain in a good way!). Trust me.

Tanya, thank you for giving my sister and me the challenge of a lifetime. I firmly believe you meet everyone for a reason and we met you at exactly the right time in our lives. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of the barre n9ne community, to have met you and Julianna and the other fabulous instructors, and to be what I believe is just the beginning of something huge.




I wrote this post a few weeks ago and sent it out in my monthly newsletter for barre n9ne™. I thought it would be a great second entry for this blog 🙂 Enjoy!

This post is inspired by both of my 60 day challenge ladies (Jessica and Jolene), in different ways.

Without getting too personal or explaining how it relates to them or what they said or did that prompted this “blog post” I will just focus on a revelation I had most recently.

Also please excuse my HONESTY it is not meant to sound conceited at all.

Now with the disclaimers out of the way here goes.

If you know me you know that genetically I have been “lucky”. I was never “fat”, however there have been times when I was more “fit” than others.  I have always worked out but never really had to go “crazy at the gym”. I worked out because I enjoyed it, it made me feel good, and because I liked how I looked as a result. Being HONEST here, I was never really “worried” that if I didn’t go to the gym I would get “fat”. I knew that I could always look better but that if I didn’t work out I would still be in pretty good shape due to my genetics and healthy eating habits.

Most of you know that I have danced my whole life, taught fitness classes all over, cheered for one of the best NFL teams  (or at least I think so!), traveled to parts of the world I never imagined traveling to and so on and so forth. My love for fitness and dance and the combination of the two lead to the opening of barre n9ne™ studio.

I opened my doors in March of 2010 looking the best I had looked in my entire life and being SO excited to share my method with everyone I came in contact with! All the time I spent eating so healthy, toning all the areas I have always had “trouble” toning i.e inner thighs, slimming my quads, and defining my triceps, had finally paid off.  I LOVED what I saw when I looked in the mirror, so much that I had purchased my first pair of skinny jeans since my thighs FINALLY fit into them! (I always had a super small waist and thick muscular legs.)

Fast forward 2 months (yes two MONTHS!) to May when I learned I would be having my first child!

What crazy timing 😉

Again fast forward to literally last week….

· Have I lost all the baby weight? NOPE!

· Can I fit into my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans? NOPE!

· Do I LOVE what I see when I look in the mirror? NOPE!

· Have I had meltdowns about all these things? YOU BET!

Did I think that I would just “magically” go back down to weighing less than 100lbs without reallllly having to work at it? YES…I actually thought this, knowing EVERYTHING I know about fitness, nutrition, dedication, motivation, hard work, and determination. YES I actually thought I WAS DIFFERENT.

Well guess what!? I am NO different than anyone else struggling with body image issues, weight loss issues, managing eating habits, finding time to work out, the list goes ON.

I am here to tell you that I CAN relate to how you are feeling. HONESTLY, before my pregnancy and weight gain I didn’t fully understand how hard some people HAVE to work at looking a certain way. I felt that if you worked out and ate healthy the weight would just come off. I did not realize that some women are literally killing themselves in the gym taking kickboxing, spinning, and weight training combined with running at 6am before work and taking classes at night AND doing fitness dvd’s at home.

I commend you if you are one of these women….but I also feel terrible for you if you ARE doing all of these things and you STILL do not look the way you want. I also feel terrible for you because it really is not necessary to kill yourself like this.

I want to help you take control of your life and exercise habits. Please reach out to me if you are unhappy with your body and you are working out SO hard and not seeing results. HONESTLY, anything you do not like about your body is truly an engineering issue and I really can help you. This is one of the many things I teach in my seminars and personal training sessions.

AND no I am not trying to make it sound easy….hell if it was that easy I would already fit into my pre-preggers jeans RIGHT?
Here’s to working hard and SEEING RESULTS!