Sunday, April 8, 2018

I Did Barre For 30 Days & I'm The Same!... But Better!

Did I ever tell you that I was a cheerleader for a day?

Maybe it was longer than a day. Maybe it was a week. The only thing I can say for sure is that it clearly did not last very long. My best friend was a cheerleader, and I'd spend many Sundays watching her cheer at football games. I figured that since I was a dancer, I could also be a cheerleader. But... well, it didn't work out for me. Sports just were not my thing.

So it's pretty hilarious to me that I've recently started working in (and loving) the fitness and sports industry. Sports still aren't my thing. In fact, if you were to ask me what my favorite part of a Patriots game was, I'd say "buffalo chicken dip."

Anyways, here I am... in the sports industry... going through a manager training program. And part of that manager training program was taking on a 30-day FITNESS challenge.

My first reaction was “Ugh, no thanks.” Despite not loving sports, I've gotten into fitness over the past few years. Mostly that means doing yoga in my bedroom or going for walks around lakes and through the woods. I had no interest in taking up Crossfit, or going to bootcamp or joining a GYM.  I convinced myself that those things just “weren’t my scene” and that was OK.

Initially, I thought that I’d write it off since I already did a 30-day yoga challenge in January. But... that wasn't the point of the challenge. And really, that wasn’t much of a challenge at all. It was at-home yoga on my bedroom floor. Sometimes it involved lying on a blanket in the end. And sometimes I did it while also watching Parks and Recreation.

This challenge had to entail changing my mindset about a fitness activity that I had reservations about. Something I always wanted to try but was too scared. For me, that’s pretty much any group class… especially when by myself. But the one class I’ve always wanted to try but was WAY TOO SCARED was barre class.

I had this vision of super fit girls with high ponytails laughing with each other in their yoga pants that matched their sports bras. I didn’t fit in with those girls. My yoga mat is from Target and has my dirty footprints all over it. Those girls would all laugh at me when I couldn’t do the moves!

I had this hang-up about group classes, especially “trendy” ones, being some sort of exclusive club that I wasn’t allowed to enter. The only way I’d ever go to a class was if I got really good at it and then went to class and BLEW EVERYONE ELSE AWAY.

But that’s not the point of fitness classes. How does one get good at something they never practice? Do we expect to all be born NATURALS?

The actual challenge was to choose a fitness activity and do it for 30 days. It didn’t mean we had to go to class every day, but we had to practice in some way every day for 30 days. I chose Barre and Soul in Melrose because I always wanted to go there (I love the name) and they had an introductory membership cost of $79 which is pretty cheap. I made the goal of going to class four times a week for four weeks. In between classes, I’d do my usual at-home yoga practice to recover and stretch but also to keep using the muscles and doing some sort of activity.

Going to that first class was TERRIFYING. I was really nervous. In fact, I couldn’t even go to barre at first because I was still so scared, so I chose a vinyasa yoga class because at least I was familiar with it and could scope out the studio situation.

When I walked in, I was literally shaking but I just followed what everyone else was doing. I got a yoga mat, I got blocks, I got a blanket... I had no idea what all the props were for, but I got them because I wasn't going to be the ONLY DUMMY WITHOUT PROPS.

Thankfully, I was able to do the whole class easily keeping up with others in the class, and then some - blowing away my theory that everyone would be better than me and make fun of me. Nobody was paying ANY attention to each other at all. And, since we’re adults, nobody laughed out loud or said, “I can’t believe that girl can't do a standing split without a block!!!"

So I had a great workout and I really enjoyed the class. As soon as I left, I signed up for a barre class the next day. And sure, it was fucking scary. And I hesitated to go. And I wished I hadn’t scheduled it for after work because I had ALL day to think about it and pull out of it… but I WENT. And it was fine. It was a little scary, and REALLY FUCKING HARD and my thighs felt like they were going to fall off… but I did it.

And I went back. Again and again. And not only did I get more confident every single time (even though it was still hard), but I actually really started to LOVE it. So much so that I had a class scheduled and when I found out there was going to be a snowstorm, I canceled it and booked it for a day earlier so I wouldn’t miss the workout.

The goal of the challenge was to change our mindset and get more comfortable with growth. In order to grow, we need to step outside of our comfort zone. We need to hear what we need to work on, we need to try new ways of doing things, we need to take risks, we need to be more collaborative, we need to experience something new in order to stretch ourselves as human beings.

My mindset towards barre was warped and completely fabricated based on my own fear and insecurity. I’m so afraid of what people think that I’m holding myself back from great opportunities. I’m afraid of changing things, or trying something new, not because I’m afraid I’ll fail… but because I’m afraid of LOOKING STUPID. And that’s completely ridiculous.

Going to barre almost every day for the past month has been, I'm so sorry to use this word, but life-changing. It has made me physically stronger and given me a new party trick (holding a bouncing ball between my thighs with ease) (as you can probably tell, I don’t go to many parties). But it’s also made me embrace the notion of starting somewhere. We’re not supposed to be automatically good at anything. We’re just supposed to try our best, start somewhere and deal with the fact that we all look like idiots together with the hopes of eventually looking less like idiots.

I extended my barre membership for another three months and I plan to keep going 4-5 times a week. And honestly, I feel like a god damn BARRE WARRIOR for stepping out of my comfort zone and loving it.

So now, about 20 years later, I think I'm FINALLY ready to march down to the local baseball field-turned-football field during football season and become a cheerleader for Everett's pop warner football league!!!! See you soon, D team girls!!!! 

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