In which I might not lift or tone, but definitely burn

aka That Time I Tried Pure Barre.

I went to a Pure Barre class with a friend because, I don’t know, I’m a lady who both aspires to be lean and be able to wear a lot of Lululemon. Also, they have a first-class-for-$5 thing going on, and I love a deal. Also, I’m weirdly into group fitness for someone who is both introverted and generally dislikes exerting myself physically.

As with all of my decisions, in between deciding to go for it and the actual event, I did an embarrassing and excessive amount of Internet research. All the talk of muscle shaking and shaping my body made me nervous, mostly, though I did enjoy the various accounts from men trying the class and getting their butts–I mean seats kicked. I did a fair amount of internal panicking about whether I would need to have special socks to go (answer: no, but you do need to be wearing socks in general). Side note — why are the only sizes for socks Small and Medium? Are we just trying not to make any ladies feel bad about maybe having Large feet? Is this like how the darkest shade of BB cream at Kiehl’s is medium, because God forbid we go beyond that?

When I got to the studio, I immediately texted my friend, “So many ladies.” So many fit ladies. Not a flabby bat wing in sight, other than, you know, mine. That said, the staff were all incredibly friendly, showing me around the small space, helping me get set up, and generally making it impossible for me to hate them. Damn.

We picked up a small ball, some resistance bands, and two pound weights. I resisted the urge to scoff at the light weights, and I’m glad I did, because we immediately launched into the warm up, and woo boy. Lots of plank/push-up things, some crunch-type things, and then we held up those tiny weights for approximately 40 years and made tiny circles with our arms. I immediately started dripping sweat. I was the only person in the class who appeared to be exerting myself at all. I knew, because the studio is lined with mirrors, so I could see my very red face from every angle.

We headed to the barre, where I was forced to encounter my reflection very close-up. There was a lot of prolonged squatting and pulsing up and down, which I thought was fine, until the teacher perkily had us lift our heels. She advised us, “The higher the heels, the more toned your thighs!” which both delighted and disgusted me. Another piece of advice she had was to not use the barre to support our weight so much, and instead, rest our hands on it as if we were “getting a manicure.” I appreciated the image, but I really did not need reminding that I was a lady at this point.

I started to “find my shake point,” as she also instructed… but at least at this point, other ladies were also visibly struggling. At some point, the instructor, announcing we were nearly done with one move said, “You can do anything for 30 seconds!” I proved her wrong.

We did some series on our hands and knees, lifting our legs, which mercifully allowed me to just rest my face on the carpet without being too conspicuous. The entire time, we were being told to “tuck,” which was basically scooping your pelvis in toward your belly button. You know, lightly humping. I found it mildly awkward to be tucking rhythmically, but I liked that it kept me from arching my back too far, which I frequently do without noticing. At some points, they had us “tuck” to one side or the other, which was I never able to master and seems like some kind of myth.

Back at the barre, we sat with our backs to the mirror/wall and lifted our legs up and down, contracting our abs. This part was sort of lost on me, and I mostly just enjoyed being able to sit and rest against something.

Finally, we did a stretching sequence that went just fast enough that I couldn’t quite get into any stretch, and then ended with some light air-humping to one final song in dim lighting.

Things I Liked About Pure Barre:

  • It seemed like a very efficient workout. Done in an hour.
  • The staff were all really nice.
  • I liked the straightforwardness of their approach — we know you are here to look good naked, so let’s get to it.

Things I Disliked About Pure Barre:

  • For really selling the stretching, I found it to be too fast to really get into anything. I get that you are paying for a workout class, not a stretch class, but at that point, why bother?
  • I couldn’t get over how awkward I thought it was that they referred to a butt as a “seat.” I had a few moments when I was advised to move my “seat” up or down and I thought, “OH are we supposed to be in a chair right now? That must be why this is so hard.”
  • I didn’t really feel like I fit in with the other clientele.

Conclusions? I don’t know. Shortly after the class, I alternated between wanting to sign up to go a unlimited number of times in a month so I could look more like their clientele and never wanting to return. At this point, I’ve settled on pushing that decision until later. I think the type of exercise that will benefit me the most right now is moving around a lot and burning calories and building general strength rather than specifically targeting “problem areas.” They are all sort of “problem areas,” is what I’m saying.

That said, I did go back for another class because I found another promotion lying around. So who knows. You might see me looking lean in Lululemon, yet.