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Hi my name is David McMahan, and I like you to welcome you to my Fletcher Barre work class. So the barre work is very special to me and it’s a signature technique of Ron Fletcher. Ron developed the barre work really is the first bar method that was brought into a Pilates studio. And Ron developed it throughout his career out of necessity. Ron very early on in the Pilates world started teaching many workshops outside of studios and didn’t have equipment to always be able to utilize in those workshops.
So that lead him to developing things that were much more mobile. And there’s also only so long that you can continue to teach the Matwork sequences over and over. So Ron started to develop his Fletcher Floorwork, Fletcher Barre work, and the Fletcher Towelwork techniques. And the great thing about this work is, it is so portable, it does connect with so many bodies, and it brings the body back into that sense of life. A lot of times Ron was very big about mounting and dismounting the equipment work and starting and ending in a sense of standing in that verticality.
And the barrework also continues that thought. So Ron also likened some of the work that was brought from the reformer to standing. One of the pieces that we’ll do today in particular is Ron’s running pattern that brings in some of the prance work that you commonly see on the reformer and integrates that in vertical. Ron also does utilize ballet terminology for this. Part of out of simplicity ’cause it’s much easier to just say plie than fold your hips knees and ankles equally while maintaining distribution of weight across your foot center.
Plie is much more of an economical term to be able to convey that. So he does use ballet terminology like plie, like tendu, like attitude, those all come into play here. But he really developed this technique to be more based around alignment without what is the mannerism of ballet. Ballet really is a development there for dancers. It’s a presentational medium which I also have experience in, but that’s not what you need to bring to your clients.
What they can benefit from are the base sematic understandings of how do you organize in vertical? How do you hold your rotators? What is basic movement of those joints and how to stand? And those fundamental understandings in vertical are what make the barre works so great to be able to bring into your practice. So let’s begin.
So we’ll begin just facing toward the barre. And we’re just gonna start with a little bit of simple arm work. So go ahead and just be a fair distance away from the barre, hanging the arms right by your sides here. And just start with a little bit of breath, breathing into the sides of the ribs on an inhale, expand. (inhaling deeply) And exhale.
(exhaling deeply) Bringing all the air out, we’ll do that two more times. Inhale breathing into the back. (inhaling deeply) And exhale. (exhaling deeply) Bringing out through the waist, lengthening up through the center line of the body. One more time, breathing in.
(inhaling deeply) And exhale. (exhaling deeply) Bringing all the air out. This time we’ll bring the arms right in front. We’re just gonna inhale lifting the arms up to the chest height. (inhaling deeply) and exhale right back down to the hips.
(exhaling deeply) Inhale arms up to the chest and feel the pinky fingers press through the edge as you bring them back down toward the thighs. Twice more inhale as you lift, (inhaling deeply) and engage from the back as you press long through the back of the body, once more. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) This time inhale the arms all the way up overhead and bring them back down in front. (exhaling deeply) Inhale as you lift. (inhaling deeply) And exhale to press down.
Focus the breath inhaling into the back to help keep the ribs stabilized, and then re-engage as it comes down the front once more. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Inhale, just the right arm up, and then open it out to the side changing your focus, looking out over the palm. Inhale, bring it back to your center, and exhale lower the front. Left side, inhale, lift. Exhale twist, and look.
(exhaling deeply) Inhale center and down the front. And again right arm lifts. Think about your use of focus out beyond the arm. Bring it back and center, and again. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) From here add the focus to the hands.
Follow the right hand as you lift and open to the side. And follow the hand with the focus, and then back down the front. Left arm lifts up. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Again, each side, right arm lift and out. See the hand, follow it with the gaze and lower left side.
(inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And lift and center, both arms lift up. Keep the focus as you open the chest, gather back up and down the front and inhale lift, open through the chest, lengthening the top line of the body, bring it back to center and down two more times here. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) One more and expand the chest and lift and press from here. Reach the arms long as you lengthen to your center (exhaling deeply) and reach the arms back behind (exhaling deeply) inhale arms up (inhaling deeply) and long sweet back. (exhaling deeply) Starting to open up that posterior range long reach down through the fingertips two more.
(inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Still engaging up through the middle line of the body. So the rest of the body is stable holding it there. Little crisscross the arms behind (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) two breaths in two breaths out last set reach and reach the arms up. (exhaling deeply) Take a breath, open the chest, putting these movements together, inhale lift, and add an upper contraction now as you sweep and press the arms behind inhale as you lift higher release, as you open up tops. (exhaling deeply) inhale center and press lift and open the chest again, (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) moving with the breath.
Two more times gather the center and press last time, (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) lift and press holding there and find a plie. Deepening that upper contraction, pelvis same long toward the floor and lift the whole body up higher release and lift and plie contract and lift (exhaling deeply) starting to get a little bit more movement in through the body and the spine (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) and contract last time, lift up center and press the arms all the way down the front. So from here, go ahead and now advance closer towards your barre. Place the hands on top and place the heels of the hands here, shoulders down the back. Think about the elbows reaching wide to the sides and you’re trying to engage from underneath the back.
So you’re not bracing the barre. You’re not grabbing it with the hands you’re using and actively working the bar. A lot of times we will liken the bar and the Fletcher work to utilizing the Fletcher towel. So that broadened to those top poles. You’re thinking about the same utilization in the bar work as well.
So the upper body’s still active, even though the next several sequences are going to be a little bit more lower body focused. So from here, I’m standing tall facing toward the bar. Shoulders are down, elbows are wide, and I’m even thinking about pulling the heels of my hands outward on the bar slightly from there and keeping the crown of the head time just gonna take a simple bend to the knees, finding the plie and lengthening up crown of the head is reaching to the ceiling and up again. The plie is not just about a down and an up, but I’m working that opposition through the whole line of the torso. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And I’m gonna plie and like that all the way through the crown of the head.
We’ll do it one more time. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) From there, press to the ball of your right foot and then reach the heel, inhale the left, and then reach the heels, starting to articulate the ankles, pressing to the ball, the right foot, and then actively pulling the heel down. So as we move through these, try not to just let your weight shift over into the standing leg, but you’re still feel the work in the gesture leg as well. So I’m pressing up so I can feel that activation of the back line of the leg, bring it down. Let’s do a double breath to the toe now.
(inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) To the ball, to the toe, ball and heel and ball, point, ball, press the heel. As we do this, you’re watching, you’re not crunching the toes, but you’re slightly letting them unweight from the floor. So you’re not creating compression in that toe joint. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Adding onto the ball of the right foot plie the standing leg, come back up and press the heel and (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) inhale lift exhale press, right leg up and plie lift and press ball the left and plie double breath here, and (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) One more time each side watching again that you’re not shifting over into one leg or the other when you change and press. From here again, just find your plie and press down through the floor to lengthen up through the back of the neck, one more time.
Plie. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Now slightly shift the way back into the heels, lifting up through the toes and rotate the legs to your turnout back to parallel and turnout. (exhaling deeply) Parallel and wrap to turn out one more time. Parallel wrap to turn out and hold now watch when you go into this, try to resist the temptation to do the little wiggle, to try to get more turnout just as far as you’re able to functionally hold from your rotators. That’s as far as you’re going here, you’re working for what you can organize, not what you can cheat and find a plie here and lengthen out.
Think about as you pull into that plie it’s really a spiral of the thigh that brings the body down to that turnout and then pulling back up to that midline to lengthen, two more. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) One more time. You’re checking to see if one leg more than the other, gonna hold onto that control and from your press to the ball the right foot, and pull the heel, left and press the right and press. We’re gonna follow a similar pattern that we did when we were in parallel press to the ball of the right foot, plie the left and lift and lower. And again, take note of what you’re feeling.
Keep that control through the bottom of the legs. Notice if you feel one side’s like, oh yeah, I totally got it. And the other side is nonexistent. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Let’s take that into the double breath now And feel the work of the rotators both on the down and the up of the plie, last time, (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Lift both legs up, find the relevate and then pull the heels toward each other as you lower down, Re-establish in the stream that turned out first position in hell as you rise and exhale grow tall as you pull the heels down toward the floor, twice more, it’s not about getting up and getting down, but creating that almost internal slide growing in both directions, one more. From here, let’s rotate the feet back into the parallel position on a breath.
And from here, we’ll find our relevate take a full breath this time to slide up to the relevate position. Again, minimize how much you’re just shifting your body weight forward. So try to stay right over that plumb line and then leave the crown of the head on the ceiling. As you reach to stretch the heels down and again, full breath up full breath to lower. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And lengthen through the waist as you pull the heels down.
So both ends of the body are actively working throughout this. Take a full breath to find your relevate stay. Now from here, we’re gonna slowly build into this pattern. This is a pattern that Ron taught quite often, and it comes from there former work building through a running pattern. So we’re gonna inhale to reach the right foot down and exhale to lift, inhale to reach the left heel down and exhale to lift.
This one is commonly taught a lot of times though, if it’s taught too quickly, it tends to become a little bit of a drop at the bottom. And Ron was very specific about it being an up, finding that activation that quick rebound and to build into this. It becomes a progression as we start to take up the speed. So we’re gonna reach that right heel down. You’re gonna have eight little taps, Five, six, (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) and reach two, four, and one, two, and, (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) and, (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And going on to twos and, and, and, and so always that quick rebound on the and be bringing you up, working again with both legs, not just that bottom leg singles one and (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Last set, hold it there.
Reconnecting your midline ankles, knees, inner thighs, drawing the magnets together from here, maintain your balance. Take a breath to reach the arms overhead. Challenge yourself to check in with your balance and alignment. Bring the hands back to the bar. Keep the crown of the head tall.
As you take a full breath and lengthened to pull the heels back down to the floor and it will take a plie lengthening out the curves and press a little reset there and plie and press going on from here. This part’s is nice, following this passe your right leg up the foot is gonna come up to the knee and then reach the foot back, lengthening the heel. So stretching out that curve line and bring it back up to that parallel passe and place the foot, press through the foot to lift and lengthen back and up and place going on. Right foot comes up and lengthen it back, hold the lunge here, reach the right arm high. And then you’re just gonna take a little side bend over that left side, further elongating through that hip.
And let’s come back to center and place right leg passes up and place the foot left side, Lift the arm up and over center exhale place inhale passe and lower the foot. We’re gonna go back to stay, right foot and reach inhale lift the right arm. And over now let’s just come in and out of the side bend a couple of times, inhale as you come back to center, still engaged that left arm up and over create lengths to create the arc. So it’s not a compression on the underneath side, but the elongation, I’m trying to grow taller of out the hips with each stretch. Once more.
(inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Inhale back up and press the arms, reset passe up and articulate the foot as it comes back into the floor left side, lift and thread the foot back. Inhale lift side bend up and over now to the right, just like the left. We’ll do this a couple of times and he’ll come to center and up and over lengthening the left hip as you go to the right, inhale come back to your center. Two more. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Last time here.
Bring the body back up and place the arms. Passe the leg up and articulate the foot to lower. And from here, lift the arms up and reach them down from here, just gonna bring the pinky finger so they’re just above the bar. We’re just gonna do a little bit of rotation in the upper body, now to break up our mechanics in the back, inhale, lift the arms up and lower and lift and lower, just similar to what we did in the beginning. Last time, now just the right arm.
And you’re gonna lift the arm up, rotate the back. And then again, take the gaze out over the hand, bring the body back up to center quick return and lower down left side. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Inhale lift inhale twist exhale look, inhale return and lower left arm. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Let’s do this pattern one more time, each side. See out over the hand.
Go ahead and place your hands onto the bar. And now take a few steps, bringing the body back, try to size yourself up here. So you’re in a long flat back position. Again, shoulders down the back. So you don’t wanna be dropped into it here try to maintain the organization of your upper body and feel the body as if it’s flat against the ceiling here.
And just take a plie folding in the hips and press a little bend of both knees into that parallel plie here and extend you have two more times. Think about the hips trying to stay high and extend, hold it there. Take a full breath to extend your right leg long behind without letting the body shift and a full breath to lower down, left side, full breath reach the leg back, opening the hips. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) One more each side here. Think about the reach out of the leg.
Just as much as the lift. So again, you’re creating link to the whole trunk as you find that line, let’s take that right leg back to stay and hold there. Inhale and exhale as you bend that bottom knee. The reason being is I want you to focus on keeping the body tall, inhale lift, feel the spine go up as the hip folds and brings the body down. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) So I’m creating space in the joint versus just letting the body collapse down.
One more, lengthen that leg up and hold. Tap the right toe to the floor and lift. Are you still balanced between your engagement in the upper body? Last one, lift and stay flex the foot. Find your parallel they’ll length out through the heel and bend the knee in and point to extend flex and bend and point to extend.
Two more times, flex and bend holding on your organization. Point and extend, flex and bend, point and extend flex and bend the leg to hold, bend the standing knee and extend little plie of the standing leg and press. And this is a great opportunity to look down at your standing knee since you’re staring at it, make sure it’s still in parallel. One more time bend and stay top knee is gonna come down to meet the left and then extend it back up. Hold onto the organization of your hips and your hip bolts.
That they’re still maintaining level here. One more, extended and stay, hold it there a little pulse to the heel, for eight, one more set point the foot extend both legs out long. Bring the foot back down and place it into parallel. Curl through the hips, rounding through the waist, bring the spine forward and find a plank line with the body coming irrelevant with the feet now, if you’re on an unstable bar, be careful how far you go on this one. There’s a couple of stickies that are giving me help with this.
And I’m gonna take it into a small pushup and press. Focusing on maintaining the organization of the shoulder girdle here. Last one, send the hips back and a return back to the flat back position, extend the left leg back this time, full breath to hold it there. Inhale and exhale to plie in the standing leg, inhale lengthen, and stay tall as you bend on that knee. Two more times.
Once more notice if one side feels maybe a little different or a little more foreign than the other, lengthen the leg and now tap the left toe down and lift lower to touch and lift. Last one, lift and hold flex and hamstring curl, bend it in point and extend, flex and bend Two more. At point and extend the leg and flex and bend to stay. Bend the standing knee and press again hip staying level in square Bend the standing leg to hold now top knee is gonna come forward and extend it back. Think about that left tip staying square that it doesn’t rotate open as the leg lifts and again in and extend.
Once more back with the left leg to stay on hold now from their abs lifting up, shoulders sliding down, little passes up through the heel. Four, three, point the foot and extend both legs long. Bring the leg back down and place the foot starting from the low abdominals contract up through the waist, bring it forward to find your plane lifting up through the heels. Set the frame of the upper body four pushups here. Two more connecting down the back.
Last time, hinge the hips back contract through the waist, walking the feet in, roll the body all the way up to your vertical. All right, now that we’re a little bit more warmed up or I am, rotate your feet to find that turned out position, and we’re gonna go into that passe action. So the right leg is going to jump up to the passe. So there is work through the foot and then actively articulate the foot as it comes back down. So there is some dynamic to this and inhale lift almost the action of like a piston.
So with this, we’re gonna take the same action and we’re gonna go into that same sequence or progression that we did before 8 8 4 4 2 2 1 1 1 1. So it slowly regressing down. All right, starting with the right leg think about that lift and press ready and (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Four and press three and press try to articulate the foot as it lowers one and switch and. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Six and press, two more, right leg for four. By going in this pattern it gives you time to start to figure out the organization with standing leg, four and press three, and you have slightly less time and two and switch and two, singles.
Last one and press plie and extend again, wrap to plie and lift. Lift to your relevate, rotate the feet to parallel and lower the hips down. So about a little wider than a hip distance apart here, take a parallel plie folding in the hips, knees and ankles, and then press the floor away to lengthen, two more here. One more time. So this next piece we’re gonna build into, Egyptian is what Ron called it.
Add some more of that rotational element that we started to address earlier. So I’m gonna lift up. I’m trying to keep my upper body squared to the bar as I rotate through the lower body and bring the feet down aligning in tendu. So from here, I’m trying to bring that inside hip around and bring out the waist, bringing me toward the bar inhale lift center and reach the heels. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And if this doesn’t whittle the waste, nothing will there’s lots of sound effects of this piece.
And, as you rotate, think about it coming not from your feet, but from that upper thigh, lower down to stay holding here, thinking about bringing that inside hip forward, inner thighs engaged feet lining up right in that tendu while maintaining up organization, your upper body, take a plie. Now, as you stretch, try to deepen that rotation. Hips come around, chest comes back, Allow the plie to help give you more length along your spine to help facilitate more movement in the back. Once more. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And lift up Left side.
(inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And here’s where you get to decide if one side likes you more and plie, and find that length as you lengthen and plie, twice more, again inside hip glides forward, as you lengthen up one more time. And lift center, place the feet going on. Now from here, lift the right arm up, and you’re gonna allow that inside arm to slide forward as it needs and rotate all the way around to your other direction. So again, just as we built before that focus is going out with the hand, return the upper body back to the bar center lift and place. You’re getting that full range in this rotation, lifting up Full breath.
(inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And lift up and center lifts square the hips and lower again each side and twist (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Last time, follow the hands. And lower lift the feet, rotate to turn out bringing the feet into that first position. Once again, take a plie to turn out there and lengthen one more time. So from here, holding the rotation equally in both legs, we’re just gonna extend the right leg forward to a tendu view. So just to the point of the foot, again, no pressure shifting into that leg and then work that wrap from the thigh as it comes back and the left.
(inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And right, (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) One more each side here, again, minimizing the shifts. Similar as we set up in the passes earlier. From here, full breath to extend your right leg out to stay. Now we’re gonna take this into a Rond de Jambe action inhale as you open to the side. And now think about that hip bone staying forward as you lengthened to bring the leg back behind you.
So I’m trying to open from my hip, not from my back full breath to bring it around to the front. So you’re challenging that leg, finding that mobility in the hip socket versus the stability of the body and a full breath to bring it around. Two more times, full breath to take it back. (inhales deeply) (exhales deeply) And a full breath to bring it back around again, no weight in the toe, but it’s tracing that circle on the floor. And bring the leg back in and reset to your first position, transferring to the second side, a full breath to extend the left leg forward.
And once again, full breath, circle the leg back behind, feel the waist lifting up to create space, (inhales deeply) (exhales deeply) Full breath back. (inhales deeply) (exhales deeply) And a full breath to trace it around for two more times here. Notice as you do this, are you still holding onto the turnout of that standing leg? Whereas it started to give in to allow range of motion on the other leg. One more time.
Bring the leg back in and find that first position. Let’s take a plie and a lift up through the legs. One more time here to plie. And next we’re gonna take this into a longer sequence. So this is another longer more signature piece of Ron’s the attitude pattern, that takes a lot of the elements that we built so far and puts them into a longer movement sequence.
So again, it’s that concept which she brought in a lot of taking things from its base parts and fundamentals and building those building blocks to reaching for a more movement piece, getting that flow emotion going, getting more of the spirit of the movement, integrated into the piece. So we’re gonna break down all the parts and then we’ll start to take up the pace as we move through this. So take a full breath and passe your right leg up. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Now, just to readdress that passe position, I’m just gonna take the leg across, let it turn in and then reset that turnout. Let it turn in.
So adjust the leg and turn out, two more and turn out from there, take the leg back and find that attitude position. Think again about opening from the hips versus just pitching the body. And again, one more time, try to take the knee back with you and again, this is your range. So again, for some of my clients, this may be like barely off the knee and even possibly down into a coop air lower so it could be position for them to actually find that range. It’s what the body is able to functionally do versus us trying to force the movement.
So again, the hip opens to find that attitude position and a little pulse of the thigh. This is good for swimsuit season back to passe and place the foot, take a full breath to bring the left leg up. And again, we’ll prepare it on this side, cross it over, let it turn in and turn out and turn in two more, still organizing that standing organization on that right side, hold it there. Take a deep breath in and again lengthen that left thigh back to find your attitude, bring it back and open. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Still thinking of the list, even though it’s slightly brings you forward, one more time.
And a little pulse from the left leg, not literally letting the pelvis go or losing that right side, bring it forward and place the foot. Let’s take again a plie to reset and extend, one more. Adding onto this pattern now, full breath to lift the right leg, full breath to the attitude (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) from here that leg is gonna extend out on a diagonal behind you and place the foot down. Now, the angle that diagonal is gonna be dictated by how much you’re able to maintain the rotation of the hips. This knee shouldn’t be compromised in forward, but still holding the rotation from that left leg and aligned over your standing foot.
So if you need to take a less extreme turnout. So from there, my waist is still lifted up. I’ve set my lower body here. I’m gonna now add the arms similar to what we’ve done before lifting the arm up and follow the hand with the focus. So my hip is still gliding forward against the arm reaching back.
So I’m not letting everything go to it. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Let’s do that again (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Twice more. And if your glutes aren’t on fire at this moment, something is not engaging it up. One more and close now lift up onto that standing leg, pointing through the back foot. Now here’s the back of our Rond de Jambe bring the leg back around to the front and then find a rotation to close back into the beginning.
Let’s go through that again slowly on the left side. And then once again, we’ll start to pace this up. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Open the hip, (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) reach through the shin and the foot lengthening to place and articulate the foot down. And if you’re not as long as me maybe reach the bar, keeping the turnout on your right thigh, lift that arm, up. Lift and place.
(inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Thinking again about maintaining that standing leg, even though the focus is going with the upper body in the hand, one more. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Lift up Building through this slowly and. Attitude. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Hence the name attitude pattern, very subtle. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Inhale lift and exhale to bring it in.
So a little more dynamic there and Attitude, reach the foot, lift the arm up and open, bring it back and to the bar and lift up circle and close moving through this. Half breath. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Inhale the go, exhale return. Inhale lift and attitude and, finding the flow. (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) Last time each side, (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And, move with the breath (inhaling deeply) (exhaling deeply) And plie, lengthen up through the back line.
One more here, Pivot on the heels to pull back into your parallel and again plie, zip up through the ankles knees, inner thighs, lower abdominals, back of the neck, crown of the head, take your inventory. (exhaling deeply) And go lower the arms down, step back to slightly away from the bar now again bringing the body back to a sense of standing on its own and breathe into the back (inhaling deeply) and exhale. (exhaling deeply) How to plie and feel the whole body like a rocket pulling up through the center taking off through the crown of the head, last time. And there you have it. So I hope you enjoyed this sequence.
And I hope that you learned a couple new things and got to experience some of Ron Fletcher’s signature pieces that he developed for the barre work. I find this as an amazing tool to be able to incorporate to your Pilates practice because it does bring the Pilates work just standing. It makes it both portable, something that you could even do in the sense of your home, and also gives it a sense of completion. It brings the body to stand. It sets the body for the rest of your day, and it doesn’t necessarily always mean that the barre works easy, I’m drenched.
So there’s a good amount of challenge that can be had just doing these simple movements. So thank you.