If working out to be thinner or stronger isn’t your jam, try thinking of it as better mental health with a side benefit of increased fitness.
My vision of women in ballet barre classes are tall, lithe, ballerina-like women in expensive ath-leisure. This is not me. I am not tall. I am not skinny. I have never, ever been to a ballet class.
But here I am, in my 50th barre class. I’m addicted.
I hated barre classes
A few years ago a girlfriend asked me to buy a Groupon for 5 barre classes. I did not care for them. In fact, I may have genuinely hated one of those instructors. But last fall I found myself in a fitness rut. And perhaps in a life rut.
I wanted to avoid sliding from a rut into something resembling depression (it took me years to recognize the need for this, let alone how to put knowledge into action). I knew I needed to shake up my workouts. I also wanted to find something that lifted me up. Something or somewhere that could be my happy place.
Through Class Pass I tried yoga, pilates, aerial acrobatics, and other classes and gyms.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a gym by it’s classes
Wanting to give it an honest try again, I went to three different barre studios. They were vastly different. One made me remember why I had hated the class years ago, another was just too damn hot, and the third wasn’t an immediate love affair but I liked it and kept coming back.
Four months later I encouraged a girlfriend to come with me. It was then that I realized that studio had become a happy place for me. During class, I can’t check my phone and I’m working too hard to stress about life or work. This is me time that I don’t feel guilty about because I’m building a stronger body AND mind. At some point I started to value the classes because I always left feeling better than when I arrived.
I am happier and I am stronger
I have more muscle in my arms (though there’s still an annoying jiggle). My legs are stronger than they used to be. But more importantly, I have added another happy place I can feel grateful for. I take pleasure in making the time to go to the studio twice a week. I am grateful for instructors who uplift, inspire, and encourage me. They push me harder than I will push myself. So I have learned I am stronger than I thought. It’s a wonderful feeling to make this surprise discovery.
Tips to find your workout bliss
- Start close to home
If you can find somewhere that fits into your drive to or from work, it’s easier to make the time. If you work in a business complex, chances are you have a studio nearby that caters to busy professionals like you. Start Googling.
- Shop around for the perfect class
Sites like Class Pass, FitReserve, and offer packages to help you explore different classes, gyms, and activities. If you don’t have Class Pass in your area check out the websites of gyms and fitness studios near you. Many offer a free or discounted first class. And don’t forget about the YMCA– it’s affordable and has a surprisingly robust selection of classes.
- Be fearless
Everyone in these classes was new once. They are probably concentrating too hard to judge you anyway. You got this! Really!
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