Today, my thighs were shaking. Eyes closed, I was breathing heavily and tiny drops of perspiration began to collect on my brow. No, this isn’t my attempt to write the next book in the Fifty Shades series. (Three is enough, don’t you think?)
Monday at 12 p.m. I completed my final class in Pure Barre’s “20 in 30” challenge. I began the challenge for purely physical reasons. I’m ending it with a resolve to continue Pure Barre classes for reasons besides my substantially stronger arms, my more defined abs, my noticeably leaner legs and my lifted glutes–or seat, as the Pure Barre instructors like to call it.
During my 20 sessions, there were a number of lessons that drifted through my mind (usually during the seven minutes of ab work) that seemed particularly important for anyone considering Pure Barre as well as pertinent to every day life.
Lesson #1: No one is good at everything but everyone can be good at something. The studio is filled with women of varying ages, heights, weights, and fitness levels. Some are very flexible. Some are very thin (not me). Some are trying to lose weight (me) and some are there trying to tone up in preparation for their wedding day (really not me). No matter their motivation, not one person is able to perform every single exercise perfectly. Even the instructors’ legs shake during some exercises.
Lesson #2: This is not supposed to be easy. Speaking of leg shaking, Pure Barre is not an easy workout and it doesn’t get easier. When I’m having a particularly difficult time, normally during the thigh exercises, I repeat this to myself over and over: “This isn’t supposed to be easy.”
Lesson #3: When you compare yourself to others you lose sight of your own progress, your own goals and the focus it requires to do your best. A lesson I may spend my entire life learning and re-learning was best said by Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When we compare ourselves to others in any way we lose sight of our own progress. We forget how far we’ve come and the improvements we’ve made to ourselves and to our bodies. We can always see beyond the flaws of our friends or perfect strangers but rarely our own shortcomings. When we lose sight of our own progress we lose faith in ourselves.
With a class as difficult as Pure Barre, your mental fortitude is half of the battle. Instead of looking at the woman next to you who’s able to withstand the thigh exercises without mouthing “fuck”or looking to the sky for divine help, focus on the fact that just a few sessions ago your legs didn’t look this toned.
Lesson #4: Your body hears what your mind says. There’s a direct correlation between the thoughts in your head and the progress you make. Don’t think for a second that you can accomplish a goal of any kind without your own support. Women are notorious for being hard on their bodies. Don’t be that girl.
Lesson #5: “If your legs are shaking it means you’re changing your body.” This is something that you’ll hear frequently during a Pure Barre class. If your legs are shaking it means your muscles have reached a place of fatigue and you’re on your way to getting the physical results you want. As I said, these exercises aren’t meant to be easy and your body hears what your mind says– cheer yourself on, babe!
Lesson #6: Listen. As important as it is to push through negative thoughts when they’re telling you that “you can’t” or “it’s too hard” there are times when those voices are your body letting you know that you’re toeing the line of injury. I started Pure Barre due to a pulled groin muscle. It’s important for me to listen to the small tinges of pain I might get during a particular exercise. Pushing yourself to accomplish a goal is a good thing. Pushing yourself towards injury is plain stupid.
Lesson #7: Little changes bring big results. Don’t fall for the misconception that you need to workout in a BIG way to see BIG changes. Pure Barre is a sequence of small but focused movements that yield results that are lasting. The more Pure Barre sessions you attend the more you’ll realize that small movements have the power to shape your body the same way that small adjustments in your every day routine have the power to shape the rest of your life.