I’m a strong advocate for women lifting heavy weights.
I’m also a strong advocate for challenging yourself to try new things.
On one beautiful Sunday morning, I allowed my belief of trying new things overrule my passion for heavy lifting and found myself at a Barre class with some of my fellow lifting ladies from Core to Extremity Fitness.
For those that don’t know what Barre is, it’s a whole body isometric workout with aspects of Pilates, yoga, and ballet. Often participants use free weights to increase the intensity of their workout. For us holier-than-thou heavy lifters, it was the chance to try a fun and easy exercise routine, the opposite of our usual Sunday morning gathering.
Of course, being human as we are, we made judgements the moment we walked through the door. Picture if you will a brightly lit studio, with uplifting pop music, and a peppy and upbeat instructor to welcome us to class. It was a study in contrasts when compared to our usual haunt: a sparsely decorated industrial style gym that usually houses large men and angry music of either the rock or rap genre. The lovely instructor informing us that we could use 1, 2, or 3lb Dumbbells was the clincher in our “piece of cake” mentality.
Boy, were we wrong.
I chose to use 3lb Dumbbells, due to my apparent abilities to handle heavy weights. Around 10 minutes in, after holding those weights up in isometric positions, they started to feel like 50lb Dumbbells. When you lift heavy you quite simply pick up the weight and put it back down. In barre, you’re holding the weights up for minutes at a time. If there’s a reasonably light object next to you, I ask that you pick it up in your hand and hold your arm out away from your body. Hold this position for as long as possible. Go ahead; I’ll wait.
There’s also a decidedly unpleasant motion in Barre called “pulsing.” In addition to the isometric holds, you get to bounce a little. Stand on your tip toes, perform a squat, hold, and bounce. If the rhythm moves you, feel free to scream in pain.
Meanwhile, while we’re holding, pulsing, and crying inside, our cheerful instructor is cheering and “woo!” ing in delight. My fellow lifters- one of which who can throw more than my bodyweight over her head like it’s nothing- were dropping their pitifully light weights.
I managed to get through that class and was exhausted and sore for days afterwards.
So do I recommend barre class?
That one class worked my entire body. It challenged me in new ways. It targeted muscles that get missed in my usual routine, and despite the pain, it was super fun. We owe the enjoyment to the infectious enthusiasm of our instructor. Don’t mistake my compliments for sarcasm; she lit up the room.
So what did I learn from barre class? Never make the assumption that just because someone’s workout appears easier, that it won’t leave you panting on the floor regretting your cocky attitude. And maybe don’t pick a fight with a ballerina anytime soon.
Have you tried barre? Comment below!