16 August 2022

The Revival power of Body-affirming language

The ROC team sat down with Adrienne & Eric Rabena to talk about their newest series, why language matters, and how they embrace ‘Embodiment’ in their own practices. Try for yourself.


Let’s start at the beginning, how did Barre Eclipse come to be?

Barre Eclipse is first and foremost a pandemic baby! In Feb 2020 when local yoga and barre studios shut down, we were out of work and we had to make a choice: we could look for other work or we could invest our savings in camera equipment and offer online barre. At the time, people were familiar with Adrienne’s barre workouts from her classes on Alo Moves, so she was gaining thousands of followers a week - all asking for more!

We hosted our first livestream class on March 27, 2020 and to our surprise, 70 people from around the world showed up and even more wanted the replay of the class! We knew we were onto something special, so we kept leading weekly livestream classes. Our community kept growing so we later developed an online barre teacher training program, and we kept growing so we then later created our own on-demand content and app!

Now, Barre Eclipse has over 1,000 people taking classes every week, representing all continents in the world! Barre Eclipse is a culmination of our decade of experience studying and teaching barre, yoga, embodiment, and radical self acceptance. After owning studios and leading teacher training programs for so many years, Barre Eclipse holds all of our skills, talent, and offerings in one place!

The Revival series combines movement in a way you’ve probably never experienced before and it allows you to occupy your whole self with more ease and peace.
– Adrienne Rabena

How do you set your practice apart from from a typical studio or gym workout?

Barre Eclipse is a refuge from diet and fitness culture. You will never hear us imply that you need to be different than how you are right now, and yet, you will still feel inspired and motivated to move. The language we use in our classes is inclusive and empowering. It helps you decide what you want and need out of class while helping you understand the benefits of your effort.

We are not aesthetic driven, we are feeling driven because we know that when you feel like the authority of your own body and your own experience, magic happens!

What inspired your latest series, Revival?

Revival was inspired from our decade of studying and teaching yoga, energetic anatomy, embodiment, somatic therapy techniques, and barre. Our platform primarily hosts very fierce and intense barre workouts, yet we have the skills to teach something quite the opposite.

For the Revival series, we wanted to offer classes that tap into a side of wellness that is less tangible and more felt. We utilized our years of experience to fuze several different restorative and healing modalities so that students can truly revive their bodies and experience more connectedness and longevity! The Revival series combines movement in a way you’ve probably never experienced before and it allows you to occupy your whole self with more ease and peace.

When did you start noticing how language affects the body? Do you have any examples or stories from working with a particular student to share?

Adrienne, like millions of others, experienced the harm from diet and fitness culture first-hand in her early 20s. Trying to fit in and experience more love and acceptance, she started changing her eating to match what the magazines said was “healthy.” She internalized messages from the fitness world telling her to get “flat abs” and “slim down,” and she developed body dysmorphia and an eating disorder.

Shortly after awakening to how these cultural messages perpetuated her disorder, she started an organization called: Individuals for Disordered Eating Awareness at Miami University. Since her 20s she’s been very aware of what language perpetuates body loathing and has dedicated her teaching to use body-affirming language.

Eric and Adrienne Rabena from Barre Eclipse
Eric and Adrienne Rabena blends their expertise to create Barre Eclipse, a studio that fosters healing through movement and empowering language.

When Adrienne became a barre and yoga instructor in 2011, she realized the messages were there, too, but sometimes it was different. For example, in yoga, people were glorified if they were thin and could achieve contortionist shapes. The striving for the yoga “look” perpetuated the same issue she tried to avoid! At her first barre studio, they actually measured people with measuring tape and reported success when people shrank (cringe!!). Since then she’s learned how to apply truly empowering language to her classes.

We receive messages from students every week with the impact of these words on their movement and their mindset. Many students say they are more compassionate with themselves and feel both calm and strong after consistently doing Barre Eclipse. Those who’ve struggled with eating disorders are especially grateful for a place to workout that is not triggering for them.

What sort of things do you do to make your classes inclusive and body affirming?

We have a few tools to make our classes welcoming and supportive: 1) language, 2) shapes, and 3) class descriptions & titles.

First, the language we use in class is invitational, not authoritative. We also don’t use gendered pronouns or heteronormative language, and we use specific language to not imply that one way of moving is better than the other. Finally, we use body-reclaiming words to help you take ownership of your body and your experience.

Secondly, the shapes we use are mostly accessible. Now, we say mostly because we are a fitness platform and best for able bodies and folks who really enjoy movement. With that said, our shapes are pretty straight forward and repetitive, so it’s easy to catch on, follow along, and take breaks as you need! We have filters to find the best movement for you based on what you’re craving, your experience level, or the intensity you desire too.

Finally, class descriptions. We’ll never use words that imply you need to change your body or that certain body types are ideal. The words “sculpt” and “tone” glorify a small fraction of healthy body types in the world, so we never use words like this. We also will never promote weight loss, muscle gain, or anything like that! This allows for people to come as they are and build a deeper relationship and appreciation for how they are as opposed to thinking they need to change who they are to be successful. You are whole and worthy NOW and our classes invite you into that with the titles we use.

What do you think is the most important component to building a trusting, supportive environment?

Consistency and autonomy. We consistently provide a space that is truly empowering and body-affirming, and after a while people get used to it. They go back to old teachers or classes they used to take onn Youtube and they feel the difference body-affirming language can make for them.

Autonomy: we allow our students to be autonomous. That means we don’t tell them what to do! Instead, we invite them to join what we’re doing. We truly believe that the student knows what’s best for themselves, even if they don’t think they do! We trust our students to take care of themselves. So our classes help students listen to what they need and respond to it with their movement.

We truly believe that the student knows what’s best for themselves, even if they don’t think they do! We trust our students to take care of themselves. So our classes help students listen to what they need and respond to it with their movement.
– Adrienne Rabena

How do you embody the practices you teach in the Revival series in your everyday ‘program’?

We believe that all movement is medicine and can serve you when you need it. Movement that is cooling and restorative (like Revival) can be medicine and movement that is fiery and intense (like our barre) can be medicine! It really depends on what you need and what helps you feel the most alive and nourished!

So in Revival, you’ll hear a lot of “tuning in” and we’ll say things like “if you want, try this…” The rest of the classes on Barre Eclipse have the same approach, just with more fiery and intense movement. We’ll ask you to feel, reflect, and shift based on what you want and need that day, just like in Revival.

In Revival we go deep - we tap into the intangible. In our barre classes we are primarily in our muscles and in our activation center (our core). We touch every body part for holistic workouts but we also are focused on action in barre. If you’re into that or you feel that you need it, you’ll love the classes on Barre Eclipse! As an activist, you can think of barre as being a “spark” for your confidence and energy every day.

Anything else you want to share?

We are very active on Instagram and we’d love to meet you there! Send me a DM at @barreeclipse or @barrewithadrienne to say hello! Thank you to ROC for being such an incredible platform for people like us who want to take action on important issues but don’t know where to start, and thank you for sharing our offering with the ROC community!

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