Last Friday, during BlogHer ’12, I was invited to attend Well + Good NYC‘s blogger meet and greet event at Physique 57, a beautiful barre studio in the SoHo area where some of the most major league butt kicking would eventually take place. We were invited to enjoy a class, followed up by a meet and greet with the other bloggers and lots of refreshments (and treats!) from Chobani, courtesy of the new Chobani SoHo yogurt bar. Exercise and epic snacking? This is an event made for me, right?
Alas, while all this was going on…
…where was I? Stuck on the E train! Who’s got better luck than me? Everyone, that’s who.
Sure enough, I showed up a good 15 minutes late, totally unlike me. (As an Aquarius, I feel it is my personal duty to always strive to be early to anything, lest I give everyone who knows me a reason to say I live up to my free-spirited nature. No! I actually tried this time!)
While they couldn’t let me into the session I was missing, the ladies at Physique 57 were more than willing to work with me. I was gifted with a complimentary beginner’s course, taught by Sarah, followed up with a couple of scarf-down-worthy treats they’d saved for me and a lovely Physique 57 gift bag.
Now… I’m a runner. I’m a lifter. I pole for fun. I even occasionally wrestle around with 80lb dogs. I could pull cars across highways for a living if I wanted, and very little could’ve prepared me for what I was walking into when I stepped my properly-socked feet into that studio. (Physique 57 has its own special socks with grippy textured bottoms for its studio members. Gotta love it!)
That being said, there are a few things I’d wished I’d known before I waltzed in there thinking a barre class would be simple, and I’m going to share them with you:
1) Barre ain’t easy. I remember when my original gym started offering barre classes, and no one attended them because we all thought it’d be simple pretty prissy girl ballerina stuff. It’s not. Trust me. A tricky, yet challenging combination of cardio, flexibility and calisthenics, barre is a constant barrage of different movements that will leave you feeling like you’re going to keel over from how hard you’re working. And, while I can imagine that people are put off by the fact that “it’s a barre, and ballerinas use those, and ballerinas are just tiny,” the reality is that the way the barre is used in the class provides support to someone who might otherwise struggle with movements like squats and basic core work.
2) All that quivering? It’s totally normal. And, guess what? Sometimes, you can even keep working out when you’re quivering! (You must listen to your body and determine what is best for you, though. Just don’t be afraid to push yourself.) Your body will tremble when it comes to new kinds of challenges, partly because the muscle movements at that intensity are new to you…it wants to respond but isn’t entirely sure how. Forging through, to some degree, teaches it to you. (insert mumbo jumbo about new neuropathways) If it makes it better to know this, you can always come out of the sequence of movements and shake your body out (something similar to what boxers do before they swing on you? float like a butterfly, sting like a barre burn?) and then dive right back into it. I found that to be a huge help.
3) You, beginner, will need to warm up before you warm up. You’ll need a pre-warm up warm up. Do some jumping jacks, some mock jump roping… something. It’s likely your mind may not be ready, really, for what you’ll get bombarded with, so do it a favor and just get it ready for war.
4) A good teacher will be essential to your ability to enjoy and benefit from your barre class. Use them wisely. Pay very close attention to the teacher. If something feels too easy, you’re probably doing it wrong. Speaking of the teacher, don’t be afraid to ask for a modified version of a move…and modifications can be to make a move a bit easier for a full on beginning barre baby, or make it more difficult for an experienced, more fit, barre beauty. Sometimes, a modification can be as simple as “do it in double time!” or “uncross your legs” to change how much of a challenge a move will be. You’ll never know unless you ask.
5) Stretching post-workout is going to be integral to your ability to walk that night. You’ll want to invest in a foam roller… or at least a very good quality softball. (Any other kind of ball is likely going to be too hard and beyond painful, or it’ll be too large and too soft to get the job done.) DO some major stretching, spend some time sitting in a hot shower or steam room, and have some quality one on one with your foam roller or softball. Then thank me afterwards.
All in all, Sarah was an awesome teacher. There were, apparently, two other beginners in my class and she was very accommodating to us all. The Spring St location was beautiful, comforting and was full of lovely women who were both accommodating of my lateness and giggled as I joked about how I was going to have to crawl into a cab to go home. There would be no subway stairs for me.
(And then I made it worse by going out with those bloggers in the earlier class I missed that night. They were kind enough to wait for me!)
Oh, and the Chobani? Pistachio and chocolate. Bad picture, good yogurt.
I left Physique 57 with a slick-looking tote bag filled with their DVD and book, as well as a list of fun places to check out in the city, courtesy of Well + Good NYC. I left Physique 57 feeling just like a good class should leave you feeling – worn out, but eager to do it again!
So, tell me – have you tried a barre class? Did you love it, or hate it? What tips can you share?