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What Happened When a Newbie Mom Tried the Barre Workout

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Lift. Tone. Tuck. Burn. Shake. I’ve been hearing about barre-style workouts forever now. You’d think I’d have jumped right on the bandwagon considering my background in ballet, but I’ve held back, even with a two-week trial pass burning a hole in my pocket for months now.

I’ve signed up for classes a half a dozen times since spring, always managing to find a reason to back out. First it was because I couldn’t make it to enough classes to be worth cashing in on the two weeks. Then there were too many holidays and the studio was closed too much. Then my husband was away and I didn’t have anyone to watch my son while I went to class. Then I was too out of shape to go. Then I was too scared.

And then, I just did it.

I don’t know what was different about the last time, but I signed up and stuck to it. Partly it’s because they worked out a childcare arrangement, but mostly because I’d had enough of not doing what I wanted. Not taking care of myself, not exercising because it wasn’t convenient with a kid, not wanting to fall in love with the workout program because it’s too expensive for me to continue on my own.

Whatever the motivation, I finally bit the bullet. I signed up for a class almost every day for the whole two weeks and put them straight into my calendar, ignoring the option to cancel or switch classes. I wasn’t going to back out, I wasn’t going to be scared, I wasn’t going to give up before I even started.

When the time rolled around for my first class, I pulled into the parking lot way too early. I sat and waited, wondering what I was getting myself into. I hadn’t really truly pushed myself in a workout in months, how was I going to survive 50 minutes of an intense workout? Years ago I would have thought nothing of it, but now, I was scared. I watched a few girls walk in, worked up my nerve, and entered the building. I told them I was new and to please take pity on me. Then they threw me into class and we got started.

I 100 percent believed the first five minutes were going to kill me. I was way too out of shape for this. I should have started with a class more my level, like yoga for old folks or something. I was tired, sweating, and shaking — and we hadn’t even finished the warm-up. I ran through the options of how I could cut out of class in my head as I attempted to hold a three-minute plank and nearly died. But as I narrowed the list down to my final option, we started working on arms. Suddenly I noticed I was doing the workout. Not faking it, but really doing it. I bravely glanced towards the mirror and actually saw the strength in my arms. Arm work I could do; I carry a 35-pound wiggly, squirmy toddler half the day.

It wasn’t much, but it was enough to boost my confidence to stick it out for the rest of the class. Then a crazy thing happened: I was actually enjoying myself. The warm-up was a killer, no lie. But the rest of the class was perfectly doable or really impossibly hard — it was entirely up to me and how hard I chose to work.

I came out on the other side of class unscathed, likely because I spent half of each exercise sequence trying to figure out what body part I was supposed to be moving instead of actually doing the move. The movements in a barre class are so small it’s almost impossible to see them from afar. (I had to apologize to a fellow class member who clearly wasn’t a newbie afterwards for staring at her rear for so long.) You’d think a class based on such small things wouldn’t be effective or hard work, but to the contrary. I was working muscles that get overlooked in my daily life, even when I am being consistent about working out (I vaguely remember such a time). I was working the muscles I knew would keep me from getting injured in other workouts and toning all the typical trouble spots. And let me tell you, I was definitely doing something. It didn’t even take until the next day for my hamstrings to start aching and throbbing in that twistedly beloved it-hurts-so-good kind of way. I didn’t even know I’d worked my hamstrings.

Unfortunately it only took one class for my worst fear to happen: I fell in love. I didn’t want to love it, but I did. I do. The rest of my two weeks are going to be refreshing and fantastic, I just know it. Stepping out of my comfort zone did more than just work my abs and rear for an hour, it reinvigorated my passion for working out. It made me feel like I was doing something to make me a better mom, to give me confidence in myself and my abilities even when stepping into the unknown. Being new at something is no reason not to give it a try. There’s something energizing about speaking up and saying, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” It’s okay to not have all the answers or get everything right the first time. Even better, by speaking up, I found out there were two other newbies in my class. We stuck together in a triangle of newness, seeking comfort in the fact that we weren’t the only ones that didn’t know what was about to happen. I quickly realized everybody else in the class wasn’t only not new, but had the routine down pat. Instead of instilling fear and intimidation, it gave me comfort that one day I too might know what’s coming before the teacher spouts off a stream of instructions.

And perhaps the best part of all: My son stayed in daycare without throwing a tantrum, crying, or getting upset in any way. Mark that down as a first. I don’t know what was the bigger relief, the workout or the lack of worry. In the mommy world, both of those are precious and golden.

Wish me luck on the rest of my two weeks — goodness knows my abs will need it.

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

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