Have I mentioned I’m an Irish dancer? Look at these amazing ladies. I’m so fortunate to dance with them!
Last year I joined our performance company, which demands a level of fitness beyond just dancing for fun. I have been running to improve my endurance for dance, which worked pretty well until I got a stress fracture in my left foot running this September. Not only did that ruin my chance of dancing with our team at the Oireachtas this December by putting me in a cast for 6 weeks, it really put me off running, which I honestly never enjoyed in the first place.
One of our company dancers recommended barre classes to me as a low-impact workout for days we don’t dance, and a few days later, when my neighbor announced she was trying out the new Pure Barre studio opening in town, I decided to join her. (That was rather uncharacteristically spontaneous of me, I admit.) They had a nice introductory offer: 5 weeks of unlimited classes for a reasonable price, and it just so happens that I had almost exactly 5 weeks before our Disney cruise to the Bahamas and a week of wearing my swimsuit in public. The stars all aligned, pointing in the direction of Pure Barre, so I went.
I was nervous. My neighbor had said, “At least you’re a dancer, you’ll know sort of what to do.” HA. Not so much, my friends. This was not like anything I had done before. And it’s HARD. But that’s good for me, right?
I’ve been an Irish dancer for 8 years, and I’m in pretty good shape. I weigh the same now as I did before my daughter was born five years ago. I didn’t expect barre class to be easy, but after so many years of dance I’ve got some strength in my legs, which I hoped would help. We don’t use our arms much in Irish dance, so I know mine need some toning. Truthfully, everything could use a little firming up, so I’ve decided to do a little experiment: what will happen if I go as much as I can in my 5 weeks?
I went for my first class. The studio is beautiful, and the owner is lovely and kind. Here she is in the photo below.
I bought some of the famous grippy socks when I arrived and found a spot in the back corner where I could hide. The nice lady next to me advised me to go get a tube, a ball, and a small set of weights, clearly identifying me as a clueless newbie. What followed was a brisk 55-minute lesson in wow-holy-cow-oh-my-gosh. Who would’ve thought that such tiny motions could be so hard?
Thankfully, we moved quickly from one area of the body to the next. (When you’re in your first plank, 90 seconds seems like a very long time.) Rebecca talked us through each exercise, offering encouragement and correcting our positions discreetly when needed.
I hadn’t done any yoga or pilates before, but I was able to follow along with the rest of the group and it was fun to do something new. Fun in a sweaty, semi-painful sort of way.
At first I was worried that everyone could tell I was just praying that the ball I was trying to squeeze between my thighs wouldn’t go shooting across the room. Then I realized they were all so focused on getting through their own ball-squeezing that noticing anyone else would’ve been unlikely. No need to be self-conscious here. Almost everyone was struggling along at some point during the class.
The mental focus required for Pure Barre is one of the best things about it, as it turns out. You have no chance to worry about anything but what you’re doing at that moment, and breathing. The rest of the world waits for you to come out of the studio when your workout is done.
I felt so good for the rest of the day after that class, tired but relaxed. I loved that it was low-impact, giving my foot no trouble. And unlike running, I was not left red-faced and exhausted by my efforts. I went four days out of five the next week, and by then I felt encouraged to keep challenging myself.
It’s too early to tell if Pure Barre is changing my body, but I like it and it’s helped me commit to stepping up my game, which has to be a good thing. I hope I’m getting stronger, and that my efforts will pay off in some tangible way. I’ll let you know where I am at the end of my five weeks, and whether or not my ball has gone shooting across the room.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. Links provided in this post are purely meant to be helpful. Special thanks to Rebecca Dunn at Pure Barre Cedar Park for her permission to share photos.