While I’m a big fan of my current personality, I decided to take the whole “New Year, New Me” thing semi-seriously. Since I’m not going to change anything about myself internally, it seemed like a good idea to work on the one area I can actually improve – my waistline. So when my local Pure Barre class decided to offer a free trial course, I decided, what the hell, let’s do this thing. I did ballet as a kid, so I know that dance basically consists of walking or lightly skipping around a room while doing various combinations of gentle arm raises and pointed toes. This seemed like a workout I could totally get behind, so I signed up immediately.
I showed up to the “studio” a few minutes before the class started. I put “studio” in quotations here because unlike an actual dance studio, this building was 90% a room that resembles a lululemon, and 10% a cramped, carpeted room. A small child approached me and asked if I’d like to put my things in the cubby in the back, and it took me a moment to realize that I hadn’t actually stumbled into a luxe daycare, but that the course’s instructor was a small human who was close to half my size. I took this as a good sign that after this class, I too would become a minuscule version of an adult. I followed her into the back room where I was instructed to leave my items in a cubby and pick up a ball, a rope, and a set of weights. The weights came in 2, 3, and 5-pounds, and the instructor recommended the 2-pound weights for a new client. Obviously, this woman doesn’t know that I lifted weights once four months ago, so I ignored her advice completely and chose the 5s, because I was going to get my money’s worth out of this free workout.
By the time I made it back into the barre room, the class was about to begin, and the only spot remaining was at the front of the room. Not a problem – I put my items down confidently with a huge smile on my face. I’d probably pick it up easily; several of my friends from college are now part-time barre instructors, and I figured that after a couple of classes I might be able to pick that up as well.
The music came on, and the instructor – let’s call her “Danielle” – had us start with a couple easy exercises involving marching in place and stretching. Easy. We dropped to the floor for a stretch, and once Danielle knew we were down there in a vulnerable position, she attacked. We were doing push-ups, planks, V-ups, side planks, over and over again, without so much as a break. I did more ab work than I’d ever done in my life – or, really, pretended to do more ab work than I’d ever done before, but I’m adopting the “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy here. Finally, Danielle took mercy on us and told us to head to the bar, where I’d finally get the opportunity to relax a little and pick back up the ballet I’d dropped when I was 12.
We assumed our positions at the bar with our red balls in hand, but it became clear that things were not going to occur as I’d imagined in my mind. We put the balls between our legs and started doing what Danielle called “seat work” but what really was twenty minutes of a variety of slightly different versions of bodyweight squats. It wasn’t long before Danielle started speaking in a foreign language using words like, “tuck,” “pulse,” and “isometric hold” in regards to the motions we were doing – or supposed to be doing, at any rate. If anyone can understand what “pulse, tuck, hold, pulse, tuck, FREEZE” means in English, I’d love to be enlightened, but I primarily spent this time staring unashamedly at the most serene looking woman in the class and gave a really poor imitation of what she was doing.
Finally, the lights went down and Danielle started passing out mats for savasanah. I’d worked hard – really, incredibly hard – and I definitely deserved a nice stretch and a few minutes of rest. Danielle instructed us to take our mats to the barre and place them 3/4 of the way up the wall, which seems really inefficient for child’s pose, but I’ll go along with it.
All of a sudden, the music ramps up, we’re told to sit against the wall with our red balls between our thighs so that we can do ab work. Ab work? What does she think we were doing when we started off this class with about a hundred sit-ups and five minutes of planks? Apparently, what I thought was more than a full workout was actually just a warm-up.
We sat with our backs against the wall, ball between the legs, and did some sort of “squeeze/pulse/tuck” combination that resulted in all of us thrusting our hips out while keeping the red ball between our legs. As I looked around the room and saw thirty women sweating, faces full of pain, round balls close to their vaginas, it honest to God looked like we were all part of some group labor experiment, and I fully expected to have birthed a child I didn’t know I was carrying by the end of the class.
We eventually finished birthing our red ball children and ended the class with some stretching – which, of course, was full of hidden exercises that I mostly ignored while I laid on the floor in pain. The lights were out anyway, so I’m just going to assume no one noticed. Finally, at the end of our stretching, the lights went on and Danielle had us give ourselves a round of applause for our hour of hard work.
We exited back into the overpriced apparel store, where the best part of the class existed so far – snacks. Yes, for an hour of sweating and nearly dying, not only did I want a snack, I deserved it. There was an array of green juice, vegetable strips, and hummus that I quickly passed over when I saw that there were cookies. I grabbed a couple and headed out the door before I had to face Danielle and lie to her face about the “great class” I’d just participated in.
I popped a cookie in my mouth and realized with horror that this was a “healthy” cookie – my reward for this full-body workout was a bland, dry, tasteless, sunflower seed and quinoa patty that I wouldn’t even give to my dog. I spit it out, got in my car, and called my favorite pizza delivery to arrange for a hot pie to be at my door immediately upon my arrival. It may not have been the “Pure Barre way,” but on the bright side, I could eat a couple of extra slices thanks to the calories I was told I’d burned over the course of the class.
Maybe this Pure Barre thing wasn’t so bad after all. While I dreamed of my extra large pepperoni pizza, I signed up for the new client special of a discounted month of unlimited classes. Sure, it was absolute torture, but if I can eat extra pizza, it’s probably going to be worth it. Besides, after I take a few of these classes to get the hang of it, I bet they’ll still ask me to be an instructor. .
Image via Instagram / Pure Barre