Monday, April 7, 2014

Barre With Alex aka Operation Holiday/Summer Muscles





As with most fitness-related things in my life, the story of my first barre class starts with Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter.  Picture it.  Super Bowl Sunday.  2013.  A beautiful young peasant girl decides to finally take her friend (my heroine, Stephanie Bramlett) up on her barre class offer.  I went to Paradise Fitness that morning (I think the class was at 9) and proceeded to have my behind KICKED for the next hour.  I don't remember exactly what we did, but I remember what happened later that day. I was watching the Super Bowl halftime show.  Beyonce was slaying like always, and I think I called myself trying to do the "Single Ladies" choreography.  When I tell you that I couldn't get up off the floor!  Brian was on his way out, and I told him to just leave me.  He, being the great husband that he is, said that he couldn't leave me laid out on my behind.  He helped me to my feet, and I think he's going to heaven for that.

Fast forward a year.  Alex, Queen of Fitness, Dog Moms, and Dark Chocolate, teaches a barre class in the same studio.  My friends Carol and Wendy had been hyping the class up, so I figured that I'd check it out.  There was stretching and planks and push ups.  I remember wall sits, but I could be hallucinating.  A couple of times I had the nerve to go to barre and then go immediately to Zumba.  I always liked the class because it was interesting to see Alex in a different teaching mode.  In Zumba and hip hop, she moves a lot and we spend the class following her.  I'm usually too blinded with sweat and my own sexiness to pay much attention to her anyway.  In barre, I got to see how much of a cheerleader and coach she is.  When I first started, I had lots of modifications, and she always knew exactly what to tell me to help me get right.  As I sit here and type this, I am thinking back to those days of impossibilities.  This class was instrumental in my falling in love with push ups and planks.


 Eventually, the class got the ax at Paradise.  Here's where I really saw my transformation loud and clear.  I told Alex that I really loved her class and asked if she'd be willing to keep teaching me.  She named a price and now every Friday morning, I haul my super sexy self out of bed and head over to her house for 7am barre class.  Usually I'm sleepy from staying up the night before watching and analyzing Scandal.  In the class, we continue to do planks, push ups, stretching, fun with weights, and squats that always make me want to curl up into a ball and die (if not for the fact that they make my legs strong).  Before this class, I never knew there were so many ways to do leg lifts.

This class is the truth and over time I've made lots of improvements.  However, every time I think I can kick back and be on my Quiet Storm tip, Alex changes it up and I get clowned again.  Here are the 5 biggest gifts I've gotten from her barre class.

1.  I have developed so much faith and pride in my muscles.  I trust myself to complete a push up and that trust translates into other scenarios (like ring rows or push ups).

2.  Just because I can't do something one day doesn't mean that I can't do it on a different day (or even that I can't do it at a different time on the same day).  Some days I get to class and my back or knees feel sore.  ok, that's most days.  However, after a little bit of moving around they feel much better.

3.  Just because I can't do one thing doesn't mean that I can't do another.  This seems really obvious, but I think that as a fat woman, I'm socially conditioned to think that I can't do things.  I'm constantly amazed at how much I can accomplish.  There's a lot of strong muscle under my "protective coating" to quote Alex.

4.  Being an effective teacher means setting students up for success.  One of the many great things about Alex's teaching style is that it's like she's inviting you to do the move with her.   It's like "Hey!  Let's do this really fun thing, and maybe we'll look like dorks while we do it.  Just keep breathing, ok?  Cool?  Cool."  Though it is work, she makes it feel like play.

5.  Dogs are hilarious.  Every week, Bo and Bella are super excited to see me, and Alex has to tell them to chill out.  They kinda listen, and it's funny to see her plead with them to stop barking or stop jumping.  These cutie pie puppies encourage me to always meet my workout with enthusiasm and panting.