First of all, thank you all for coming back to read about my (mis)adventures in trying to keep fit! I have a certain lovely, amazing friend who has recently become obsessed with the barre method (yes you!). I’d heard of it before, but had never seriously considered going, especially after I picked up my new favorite form of exercise, the subject to which this blog is dedicated, pole dancing. But I’m stranded up here in Palo Alto without a car for the month, which seriously limits the places I can go to for exercise. Needless to say the minute I got here and got adjusted to my horrendous work schedule, I looked up pole dancing studios in the palo alto/ SF area. All the ones that looked decent were not within walking distance, so I resigned myself to working out at home. One fortuitous day, as I was exploring sleepy little palo alto, I stumbled across this place: http://www.purebarre.com/. Ah! Yes! I committed the class schedule which was so elegantly etched onto the front door to memory, and made a pact with myself to return to the Saturday class. Saturday morning arrived (and none too hastily, might I add!), and I get up and start to get ready for class. I love and hate getting ready for new dance classes, because I have no idea what to expect! What do I wear? Will I look totally different than the other girls in the class? As most dancers can tell you, a lot of dance classes have unspoken “uniforms”, partially dictated by the nature of the exercise, and partially dictated by our inherent need to fit in.
A short bike ride later, and I arrive at the studio. It is meticulously appointed, complete with candles and a very nice receptionist dressed in, you guessed it, a fancy lululemon tank top and leggings. Alright, fine. I do the whole registration things, signing forms saying that I won't sue them if I die, etc, all the while talking nonstop about how my friend loooves the barre method and how this is my first class but it seems like fun! Do I need anything special? Is this ok to do the class in (gesture to ensemble) Did I mention this was my first class?
The class itself was great! I have never taken an “exercise” class before, only dance classes, so the instructor walking around with a headset microphone and all the people doing synchronous crunches were a foreign thing for me. But the workout was fun, fast, paced, and most of all EFFECTIVE. I would have bet all my worldly possessions that the warm up was the whole class, because I was exhausted and shaking already, but the instructor’s cheerful “Alright! I hope you are all warmed up and ready to work by now!” combined with an incredulous glance at the clock which confirmed that indeed, only 20 minutes had gone by, dashed all those hopes. A mix of Pilates and ballet- barre inspired moves, all kicked up a thousand notches by the holding and pulsing we did constantly throughout class caused all the muscle fibers in my arms, abs, butt and thighs to revolt one after the other. My legs were literally shaking as we did a seemingly endless succession of squats and leg lifts, all with very small, isometric movements very unlike the fluid, large movements I was used to in ballet class. I gripped the barre for dear life while silently apologizing to the vertical poles I’d so fallen in love with, convinced this torture was their retribution for my infidelity. The class was only 55 minutes, but seemed to last 3 hours . At the end of it, that welcome rush of endorphins was coursing through my body, which made me feel great, even though I'm pretty positive I was the worst one in the class, except for maybe the devoted boyfriend who came with his girlfriend ! This class is definitely something I would recommend to all those former dancers out there looking for a way to stay in shape that doesn’t entail destroying your joints, as well as those brave of heart who like a workout that employs pulses and isometrics.
P.S. I never knew what isometrics were until I looked it up:
Isometric exercise or isometrics are a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction. Isometrics are done in static positions, rather than being dynamic through a range of motion.
Thanks Wikipedia! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isometric_exercise