One of the life-lessons I recently introduced to my 9-year old son, Nico, is the premise of mastery. He and I are exploring mastery in the context of weekly spelling tests, poem recitals, book reports, and the game of lacrosse. One of the challenges about embracing mastery today is that it is contraindicated by a society that demands instant gratification, and instant results. We are told to expect to be instantly successful; that we will experience immediate and complete results. We are sold on the Right Now. I try to explain to my son that there is as much joy in the journey of mastery as there is at its endpoint. This is a lesson that can take a lifetime to understand and accept, and the understanding and acceptance only come with experiencing the journey for oneself.

As one masters something, one acquires expertise. Malcolm Gladwell magnificently addressed the acquisition of expertise in his book “Outliers.” Mr. Gladwell tells us:

“In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”

― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

Ten thousand hours translates to nearly 5 years of practice, performed 8 hours a day, every workday of the year. That’s a lot of practice, which is why expertise is such an elusive thing. Few people actually achieve real expertise, despite the fact that the word is so casually used.

So, in order to acquire expertise, one must work consistently at mastering something. To master something, one must practice it. In order for it to be practice-able, there must be complex elements that one performs over and over, and measurable improvement must be possible over time.

When I conceived Barre Motion, I wanted to create something that would compel those who practice it to want to master it. In fact, I wanted the pull of mastery to be so strong that people would describe feeling addicted to it. I wanted those who practice it to know that regardless of who is instructing the practice, the same complex elements will be front and center, waiting to be mastered.

One of the principles you will discover about Barre Motion is that its instructors tend to regularly voice the goals of mastery for particular movements. For example, when performing Second Position Plié in Relevé, your Barre Motion instructor will remind you that a sign that you are on the road to mastery is if you can get your thighs parallel to the floor and keep them there for the full duration of the exercise. Initially, you will not be able to achieve parallel thighs, but every time you practice this position, you will get closer. And one day, you will come into the studio and perform Second Position Plié in Relevé with your thighs parallel to the floor. You will feel magnificent for having reached that milestone, and you will notice that a wonderful byproduct is that your thighs are slimmer and more elongated for having consistently practiced it.

There are countless examples I could provide for how this journey of mastery will look and feel in the Barre Motion studio. Yet, what is true for Nico is also true for you. You must come practice Barre Motion for yourself in order to truly understand the joy you will experience in the journey.

May 19, 2014