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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

127

What's That Workout? Pure Barre

I kinda... maybe... shoplifted my first class at Pure Barre.

As in, didn’t get asked to pay at the end? And waited around for the receptionist to acknowledge me but she didn’t and then chatted with the teacher and then still didn’t and I’m thinking like, “Shit, this class is TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS and yeah it was hard and I’m sure effective and stuff but the teacher was totally unacceptable and may as well have been an audio cassette with an accompanying laminated poster, sooo...”

I didn’t intend for it to be this way.

I was pretty excited about trying Pure Barre, the ballet-inspired Pilates-style workout that promises to re-sculpt your whole body in the long, lean, carved-out-of-aspen image of a ballet dancer. As someone who has spent a considerable portion of her life staring in ecstasy and envy at dance documentaries and YouTube clips of Sylvie Guillem and Aurelie Dupont, I can be suckered into pretty much any ballet-related workout. I’ve taken adult beginner classes, bought ballet workout DVDs, talked to dancers I know, and I get it. I’m not going to be a professional ballet dancer. I can still be many other types of dancer at this point, but ballerina is not one of them. I GET IT, OK?

Also, though I’ve gone through a litany of exercise phases, Pilates has never floated my boat. It’s sooo booorinnng. Guh. I’ve tried ab-busting alternatives, many of which incorporate Pilates moves, and though I’ve gained strength in my core I still have a real hard time doing that balance-on-your-butt-with-your-legs-and-arms-outstretched pose. (WHY CAN’T I DO IT??? I’VE TRIED! MY ORGASMS ARE CRAZY AWESOME NOW BECAUSE OF ALL THIS AB WORK AND THE OTHER NIGHT THIS DUDE I KNOW WAS LIKE ‘DAMN GIRL YOU LOOKIN’ FIT AS THE FUCK’ AND YET I STILL CAN’T DO THIS SHITTY STUPID MOVE???)

So for someone who’s ready to take on that extra push in toning, who keeps a shred of the dream of ballet transcendence tucked away in a pointe shoe-shaped locket, Pure Barre is particularly enticing. The $25-a-class price tag made me mad at the world for a minute, but I got over it. I was ready to take on some grown-ass-lady exercise.

First things first: Bring socks! Everyone has to wear socks or dance footie things, and if you show up without anything soft with which to clad your feet, you either have to go home un-Pure Barred or pony up $12 for Pure Barre socks. The socks do come with grip-bits on the bottom, so that’s nice, but — just bring socks.

The workout is structured to be an intense, 55-minute, core-targeting blast that “works your muscles to fatigue and then stretches them out.” Sounds fun, right? Like I said, grown-ass-lady shit. Hard work. Ass-sculpting, pussy-popping rewards in store. Let’s go.

The studio I went to was long and narrow, the better to accommodate a larger merchandise area on the other side. Whatever. Hard work. Focus. All the ladies in the class, about a dozen, were seated quietly with a set of props next to them. I retrieved the props — a stretchy rope-band, a small ball and a set of dumbbells — and sat down, looking around. Everyone seemed under 35, with one exception, and in relatively good shape.

Our teacher, a post-grad-looking hottie, walked in wearing a microphone headset, introduced herself, turned on the music (Rihanna, Katy Perry, some likeminded muzak) and got down to business. We sat on the floor, legs bent in front of us, and began to “tuck.” Tucking and untucking is the refrain that Pure Barre returns to throughout the workout, so it would seem important to explain it correctly. In dance, abdominal tucking is a core element of "neutral spine" posture, something that dance teachers spend years making second habit in their students. The Pure Barre tuck exaggerates that movement to work those pelvic floor and lower ab muscles acutely. So while I surmised what the teacher was talking about, I was surprised she gave no more than a cursory explanation of the movement. Just “tuck.” Alrighty then.

The warmup was no joke: mild cardio (knee raises), stretches, and a brisk succession of Pilates/core-strengthening movements, including my dreaded balance-on-your-butt pose. (I finally tracked down the name: Teaser. You’re a little bitch, Teaser.)

We moved on to some butt/upper thigh exercises, all of which were done from a seated pose with one leg in front and one leg behind so as to look like a Z. I tried to anticipate the correct form: hips square, both cheeks firmly on the floor, weight centered. Again, no elaboration from the teacher. These exercises were fun because they allowed me to flex each butt cheek carefully and deliberately, and that pleases me. The variations got harder and harder, and I saw a couple of my neighbors strain and contort their posture to achieve the movement, which couldn’t have been good for their lower backs. The teacher walked back and forth, always talking in her sorority-girl purr, but she made no corrections or adjustments.

This went on. And she knew that half the class was made up of first-timers, because she had us all raise our hands at the beginning. She’d say things with limited helpfulness, like, “You should only be lifting the leg a tiny bit. These are isometric movements.” Well pardon me, madame, but the only definition of “isometric” I’d be able to find is one straight up my ass, so can you toss a sister some elucidation?

In the reviews I’d read online, people raved about their teachers’ help and specialized advice, but my instructor seemed completely on autopilot. That was a shame, because many of the exercises — especially the leg and thigh series, done in a sustained plié en relevé (standing on your tippy-toes with your knees bent) — were innovative, complicated, effective, and totally worth geeking out over with the right guidance.

I took several years of belly dance, which also works very specific muscle groups with small movements, and I wouldn’t have stayed interested for so long if I hadn’t had a teacher who knew her human anatomy and provided ideokinetic imagery — explaining what comes from where, connecting each movement to its source in your musculature — to understand the exercises. From reading about other people’s experiences with Pure Barre, I think that’s exactly what you get in a good class — not to mention a terrifically efficient toning regime.

Alas, that’s not what I got. So when class was over and I stood waiting in front of the reception desk (not exactly piping up, I admit) and went unacknowledged for one minute, two minutes... I thought, “Well, I guess I’ll settle up ‘next time’”?... and slowly turned around... and walked out the door.

(Postscript: I went back the next day and paid because after that flower-cookie-on-a-stick grocery store heist years ago, I resolved to stop shoplifting once and for all. I’m too old for that shit.)

Molly Reid is a journalist based in New Orleans. Her blog, which surveys the world of workout videos, can be found at worldofsass.blogspot.com. She is not affiliated with or paid by Pure Barre to write this.

Photo by Tatjana Strelkova, via Shutterstock.

127 Comments / Post A Comment

special_boots

Possible reasons for trouble with teaser, aka boat pose:

--tight hamstrings (easy to fix!)
--tight hip flexors (if you find a way to fix these PLEASE ADVISE)

I can never get the exercise out of my fucking hip flexors, so I just keep my knees bent. Damn thing doesn't even touch my ab muscles. Oh, well.

Kivrin

@special_boots Tight hamstrings are easy to fix? Do tell! I've been trying for years. All I've managed to do so far is TEAR my fucking hamstring to the point where I have to do downward dog with bent legs to keep from re-injuring it.

I've got awesome hip flexors, though.

Gracefully and Grandly

@special_boots actually keeping the knees bent is totally what you should do! your abs will still get a work out, promise. If you feel it in your hip flexors (which I do in yoga ALL.THE.TIME) it's because your abs aren't totally up for doing the pose like it is in the fancy pic - yet. That means your hip flexors decide to join the muscle boat party to help you into the pose. So keeping the knees bent is just one modification you can do to make sure those ab muscles do the work. I think you can also lower the legs a little, but I don't think my office would appreciate me getting into that pose now to double check.

I may have just created my account to answer you! Mostly because me=lurker for life ha!

sam.i.am

@Kivrin Yep, same here. My hamstrings are epically tight. Remember the v-sit-reach for the presidential fitness award (or whatever)? My reach was so pathetic, it wasn't even measurable. They have gotten better over the years after a decade of ballet classes, pilates and yoga, but I still can't touch my toes. Hell, I'm glad I can even sit up straight with my legs in front of me.

But my quads are super flexible, to overcompensate. Whee!

dracula's ghost

@ferdinand the bull Is Pigeon not a good hip-flexor stretch? I swear to god, Pigeon has changed my life. My hips are open as fuck now--I can even do that thing where you sit cross legged with one leg straight atop the other and put your elbows on the floor in front. 4 years ago (i.e. pre-Pigeon) this would have been impossible.

PIGEON FOREVER!!!

Kivrin

@sam.i.am We're like leg twins! I'm pretty sure that the "sit and reach" was the only test I ever flunked in high school. (And I'm still upset about it.) I was flexible as a kid, but then I grew a few inches over one summer, age 13-ish...and, when I went back to ballet class that fall, I could hardly get my leg up on the barre! So disappointing.

I can't sit up straight with my legs in front of me, either. So I get frustrated a lot trying to do yoga. But I have super-flexible hips, so I can do lotus pose, and that makes me happy. :)

Dancercise

@dracula's ghost
I had to Google this to find out what "Pidgeon" was, but I love that stretch!

Stretching might be one of my favorites things ever.

sox
sox

@special_boots TIGHT HAMSTRINGS ARE NOT EASY TO FIX ALDJFLAFHAOIHLKGHSDFOG!

(says the girl who still can't touch her toes after 9 years of yoga. fuck you hamstrings.)

Gracefully and Grandly

@dracula's ghost pigeon is an awesome hip flexor stretch! Lunges of the high/low variety are also pretty awesome. But I'm right there with you chanting PIGEON FOREVER. I feel like it undoes the damage from sitting at a desk all day.

Megatron

@dracula's ghost YES! I thought I was the only one who looooooooved pigeon, but I'm glad to see I'm not. In fact, I took a yoga class during lunch today and got supes pissed there was no pigeon pose. It's like THE REASON I take yoga in the first place.

Dancercise

I've had some success with a foam roller for my tight calves. For some reason, no matter what stretches I tried, my calves were always just really tight. But a trainer recommended a foam roller to me, and (though I don't use it as consistently as I should) I've found that my calves feel looser when I do downward dog. I just sort of roll my lower legs back and forth several times on the foam roller (bonus arm/lat workout as you hold your upper body off the floor!) to work out knots and massage and lengthen the muscles. (This is what the trainer told me. I know not of what I speak.)

special_boots

@Kivrin Ok, I'm sorry, I meant that MY tight hamstrings were fairly easy to fix, via lots and lots of yoga. Much of flexibility is genetic, so this was probably not a good way for me to phrase this. My bad, and I hope your poor hamstring gets better.

...now gimme those hip flexors.

special_boots

@ferdinand the bull Thanks! I feel like my core is actually super strong after all these years of yoga and Pilates, but I'll keep doing it knees bent and hope for the best...

Megasus

@Kivrin Yeah, my hamstrings can get better, but will never be as loose as they should be, because my spine isn't the right shape or something like that. Lord knows I have tried. I could do that pose with bent knees at one point in my life.

special_boots

@sox I'M SORRY see my apology to @Kivrin it is personal variation and was a stupid thing to say. *I* used to have super tight hamstrings and no longer do, thank you yoga. *I* have hip flexors that are tighter than ever and I suspect it's my build (long back, short legs, wide hips) and there's nothing I can do about it.

We are all bitter in our own special ways!

Gracefully and Grandly

@special_boots of course! Sorry - I didn't mean to say that your core wasn't strong (my apologies to your abs). I was just trying to say that our hip flexors sometimes compensate when doing the boat. In the end, we're all united in being confounded by boat pose...

sox
sox

@special_boots Oh hee hee, no need to apologize, I was directing my rants to my enternally tight hammies. My yoga teacher once tried to console me with "maybe you just have genetically short hamstrings" to which I replied, "if I can ever afford plastic surgery, I shall get hamstring implants." Good luck with your hip flexors!

special_boots

@ferdinand the bull My core can find it in its heart to forgive you. No actual personal offense taken, I promise! I'm a little yoga obsessive and really do want all the tips I can get, so additional core-strengthening it is. Got any favorite poses/exercises to recommend?

special_boots

@sox I knew you weren't really mad! But I totally empathize with that feeling of OMFG DON'T SAY IT'S EASY I CAN'T DO IT. Given my yoga obsession (and my own weird personal physiological failings), it really was a dumb thing to say.

My advice to you is... hot yoga. And a palanquin so that you never do anything to make your hamstrings tight.*

*Both of these pieces of advice are fake, as I have never tried hot yoga or a palanquin.

Gracefully and Grandly

@special_boots I like (hahaha I never thought I’d say I like any sort of ab exercise. Maybe, the ones that I tolerate, is better) holding plank for extended periods of time, plank on your forearms, moving from dolphin to plank on your forearms, trying to balance in plank – raising left/right foot, modified chaturanga pushups w/knees down (I think they’re kinder on the shoulders/easier to keep proper shoulder alignment), oooooh and leg lifts - these are good: lie on your back, legs are perpendicular to the floor, arms are raised above your head, stretched straight on the floor (if you have a strap, strap the legs around the calves so the legs move together) slowly lower them towards the floor and back up. If you feel your hip flexors gripping, don’t lower your legs down as much – abs will still be working promise!

And now you have all of my ab secrets. By all I mean the ones I can think of right now. But you probably know all of these since you’re into yoga (me too! me too!) But these are ones that I think are easy/safe to practice at home.

Dancercise

@special_boots

Also? Butt scoots. Sit on your butt with your knees bent and place your hands on the floor slightly behind your hips. Lift your feet off the floor and kick your feet away from you over and over, keeping your ankles, knees, and thighs together. The idea is to scoot forward a couple of inches each time you kick your feet.

It is sooooo much harder than it sounds. The first time I did it I literally did not move - I was just randomly kicking the air. Now I can scoot forward bit by bit, kicking my feet 10-15 times without putting my feet down. I'm trying to work up to not having to touch the floor with my hands.

Note: You will feel like an idiot when you do this, so choose wisely whom you are near when you do it.

World of Sass

@special_boots Wowee wow, thanks everyone for the Teaser-improvement suggestions! If I ever manage to hold that pose steadily for 10 whole seconds, I'll write a freaking poem about it.

Nutellaface

@sam.i.am Aaaaah we are the saaaaame. I didn't know I had a hamstring twin!

Rawr

@sox i was once told by a yoga instructor that people carry their family tensions in their hamstrings. for some reason this really pissed me off. i CANNOT TOUCH MY TOES because i have t-rex arms, NOT because i am the child of a broken home, athankayou.

jorden

@special_boots Tell me more about how your build affects this stuff, because I have a similar build to yours!

(Although I think my hamstrings are much tighter than my hip flexors, so much so that I can't actually sit on the floor with my legs straight out in front and sit up straight.)

hideously

@ferdinand the bull The hip flexors are one-half of the primary muscle group of that pose! It's supposed to hit both and there'd be no way to do it with just your abs.

hideously

@ferdinand the bull I loveeeee low and high lunges, and then following them up with Firelog to hit the outer/side hips. http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/2477

M'fly

@Dancersize I really wish I wasn't at work in an office full of people so that I could try "butt scoots" right now. Will it work on carpet or is a laminate/hardwood floor the only way it's doable?

Dancercise

@J Keems@twitter
I've never tried it on carpet, only wood floors. I imagine it's possible, but more difficult and more susceptible to causing butt rug burns.

megancress

@ferdinand the bull My pilates teacher always called that stretch the 'Swan', which I feel sounds nicer and more graceful (like the stretch!) than 'Pigeon'. I'm not sure I want to emulate a pigeon! What does a pigeon do apart from bobbing around awkwardly and getting gum stuck to its feet that it can't get off...actually that sums me up as I am now. I want to be a swan!

Rrrowena

@special_boots I know this is days late, but... Tight hip flexors: When mine finally got so bad I was walking like an old person (because I couldn't move my quads backwards anymore) and I went to physical therapy, here's what the PT lady said:

When women do alot of cardio (or anything that bulks up your quads) it can create an imbalance between your hip flexors and your still weak hip abductors. Your hip flexors try to take over the whole load, and end up freaking out. So the solution for me was to strengthen my hip abductors. Like magic. I'm supposed to be doing special PT exercises, but for maintenance purposes, doing 60 reps on the hip abductor machine in the weight room a couple of times a week works fine.

This was such a simple fix I felt like a moron for suffering for months before I went to the doctor (mine was intermittent, which just made the whole thing even weirder and more unnerving.) I hope you're got the same issue, because then you can feel better!

Craftastrophies

@sox Huh. My whole family has tight hamstrings. Maybe it's related to our family scoliosis? (My physio is a second cousin). Everything below my waist is tight atm - I carry tension in my butt. OF COURSE.

My phsio does this thing where she has my lie on my back, and holds my knee folded up near my chest. Then she presses on a pressure point on my hip flexor. It hurts like a BITCH and then suddenly everything below my armpits relaxes. It is so weird and awesome.

I need to start doing Yoga again because after a winter on the couch, I swear I am about two inches shorter because of my tight everything pulling me inwards on myself.

parallel-lines

Physique is definitely setting the barre (ha, get it!) for difficulty--I've done a few different places that do some variation of Lotte Berk and the only place that made me so sore I couldn't walk the next day was Physique. They sell DVDs, which I advise because the classes are bonkers expensive.

PURE is seriously the best yoga studio I've ever been to (three months discounted with a gilt voucher, I can't afford that shit!) and my favorite teachers from other studios all teach there. From the $90 yoga mats to the chilled eucalyptus towels it really ruined me for anywhere else. Going back to Yoga to the People was a nasty, stinky wake up call.

parallel-lines

@parallel-lines Oops, looks like Pure barre and Pure yoga are different things, but they do offer some sort of barre class at the yoga place, where you should go and steal a thousand chilled eucalyptus towels and feel like the fanciest lady on earth.

nocomment

@parallel-lines Pure Yoga's new barre class - Figure 4 - is really great. I went to a free preview of it in July. My biggest problem with Pure Yoga is that it's membership only. All of the other barre studios allow you to buy a package of classes so you can sample and try. Pure Yoga is owned by Equinox and you have to sign a contract (except for community classes or opportunities to sample free classes).

punkahontas

@parallel-lines Equinox has the eucalyptus towels AND a eucalyptus steam room! At least they did last time I was there, which was like 3 weeks ago. :(

parallel-lines

@punkahontas And Kiehl's products in the shower. I tried so hard to justify a membership there (just to steal the Kiehl's) but I couldn't.

Bridget Smith@twitter

No worries, girl, I can't do the Teaser either! I swear, where other people have a flat surface I have a pivot point, and there's just no way for me to sustain it. I'm constantly toppling over.

Actually, this might be true. Weird/problematic sacrum, I have, and I've got the x-rays to prove it. Maybe the same thing that gives me back problems also makes this impossible! That makes me feel better.

World of Sass

@Bridget Smith@twitter Omg my belly dance teacher once said the same thing about my sacrum! (Yeah, she was feelin up my sacrum. Hawt.) I feel better now!

nocomment

I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I LOVE barre workouts, though I've never done Pure Barre. I like Core Fusion at Exhale (They have lots of DVDs, too!). I find Core Fusion to be challenging with great instruction, and the teachers are always good about answering questions and working around injuries.

MissArgentina

wait, bomb abs, bomb orgasms? wha?

MmeLibrarian

@Crockita Drag your man or your lady to a yoga class or the like. Repeat for a month or two, once a week. Observe the, erm... results. It's crazy. Crazy awesome.

Beericle

@MmeLibrarian hold on. Need more info here. (although I have pretty strong/toned abs, and pretty bomb orgasms) But it has kinda always been that way so no idea they were related. Is this a real thing?

dinos

I guess it makes sense that toned abs usually equal toned pelvic floor, but it never occurred to me that it'd equal crazy orgasms. Huh. I guess I have to join a gym now.

LolaLooksFrench

@MmeLibrarian YES THIS. I met boyfriend at yoga class. He is still boyfriend. Enough said.

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@dinos: I am thinking a stronger pelvic floor/other related muscles probably increase the strength of the contractions during orgasm and may be able to flush more blood into the area/nerves, resulting in a more intense effect.

dinos

@Too Much Internet: Makes sense!

madamvonsassypants

@Crockita Dude, all I can say is CAMEL POSE. That pose, utilized elsewhere = RAD.

World of Sass

@Too Much Internet Yup, pelvic floor is, ahem, where the magic happens. Strong pelvic floor = LOCKED-IN TIGHTNESS. Also, I've found that when my abdominals are stronger and I'm straining less, my body can relax more. That's crucial for me. @madamvonsassypants hahahaha camel pose. right on.

MmeLibrarian

If you can't do that pose with your legs and arms fully extended, start out with a bend in your knees. You can even hold on behind your knees if it helps. Make sure you don't have a death grip and are still using the muscles you're supposed to be using (if you've done the pose, though, you know this isn't really an issue). You still get the benefits and will find that you can hold it longer, which will allow you to build up to the full pose. Paripurna (boat pose) and I have been staring one another down for years now. The modification really helped me understand it.

Gracefully and Grandly

@MmeLibrarian You said what I was trying to say just much more eloquently. I was just so excited for my first Hairpin comment that I couldn't contain myself. But yes - you still get the benefits from modifying the pose. Modifying is the best. Especially when poses and I have disagreements (looking at you, boat pose).

Ellie

I have never had trouble doing this move . . . is there something wrong with me? I know I'm more flexible than average but definitely NOT gymnast level or creepy flexible. I'm not in perfect shape either and don't do yoga. I always thought of it as a muscle strength thing rather than flexibility thing. Should I conclude that I am doing it wrong?

OnceWhen@twitter

@MmeLibrarian Modifying is the BEST! As a newbie to yoga several years ago, I was terrified of modifying poses; of looking like I couldn't do something, or looking like I didn't know what I was doing which ultimately was a red flag that I didn't know what I was doing.

Then with my practice as I started to see others modifying their poses and understood the nuances between teachers, I began to realize that even though you're in a class environment, it really is a solo practice and you have to respect what your body is willing to do for you and DO NOT COMPARE your abilities with those around you. While sometimes you may need to scan the class to understand a pose when you're first learning and the teacher is not providing a detailed enough explanation verbally -- NO JUDGING. It's a lot like life, we all have different weaknesses and strengths.

I just wanted to rant a bit to encourage anyone contemplating yoga, but hesitant to for any of the above reasons, because it really is amazing.

MeghanElizabeth

I feel guilty now that I can't even remember the last time I attempted a teaser (and no, I could never actually do it). I need to be a better grown ass lady and be all responsible about my fitness level.

emilylou

I have a dear friend who is obsessed with Pure Barre. She claims you can "see major results in just two classes!" but that seems like a gross exaggeration to me.

I always dabble in exercise trends, especially dance ones. (Did anyone ever try the "Core Rhythms" dance workout DVDs? I totally got suckered into them during a late-night infomercial binge a few years ago. I think I did them like, once before deciding it was a total waste.)

In the end, for me, it always comes back to the classics: treadmill + weight training combo at the gym, and running outside.

Dancercise

@emilylouise I never had Core Rhythms, but I once bought 7 different dance workout DVDs (including TWO Paula Abdul ones) from Amazon. I think I tried each one once or twice and then they sat for months and then I gave them to Goodwill when I was moving.

emilylou

@Dancersize Ugh, you are more realistic than I. They're still on my DVD shelf, along with about 15 other exercise DVDs I will never, ever try again. At least my collection makes me look athletic when strangers come to call?

sam.i.am

@emilylouise I MUST go to classes. I cannot work out by myself. By myself, I get about 20 minutes in and I'm all, "This is hard. I'm hungry" and I quit. If I'm in a class, all the other people are judging me if I quit or don't do enough reps.

Plus, with classes, I buy multi-class packs, and I think, "I spent $90 on this, so I have to go."

redheaded&crazy

so I'm not sure why but this article has sparked the first interest I've had in years in actually being "fit as FUCK" - I mean I do alright. But now I want to tone my abs and arms!

Ugh can't I just skip from point A to point B without the boring part in between? Belly dancing sounds fun ... maybe. I have a pretty short attention span for "lifting" "weights" and I tried pilates but couldn't stay interested for long enough. Maybe I should just start running more often? But I'm terrible at running! Then again there's yoga ... hard not to laugh at the funny moaning noises people make ...

Anyways, all this thinking about exercise has really tired me out, time to go grab a hot chocolate.

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@redheadedandcrazy: Sorry, results through repetition. But if you come around to feel fitness is fun, then the sky's the limit.

thebestjasmine

@redheadedandcrazy (Spoiler alert: it was the mention of orgasms.)

Dancercise

@redheadedandcrazy I highly recommend finding something to distract you. I, too, have very little patience for weight lifting and running, but I've found it necessary to make me a better dancer. My kick-ass running playlist and Netflix queue full of awesome TV shows to watch while lifting weights and doing crunches make things more bearable.

crotch_kicker

@redheadedandcrazy Good music to distract you - and you have to work hard enough to get an endorphin rush after. I swear, that makes all the difference -- and once you get high from endorphins, you chase after them like nothing else :)

I also recommend burpees (also called squat thrusts) for full body conditioning. Those, along with cleaning up my diet, has put me in the best shape of my life at almost 39.

thebestjasmine

@crotch_kicker I feel like this "endorphin rush" is a thing that only certain people get. Because let me tell you, I have never in my life experienced it, nor anything with regard to working out worth chasing. Don't get me wrong, I have found two kinds of exercise that I really enjoy, so I do them both with on and off consistency, but when people talk about endorphin highs I feel like there's a secret society that goes around giving shots of drugs to runners that no one has initiated me into.

crotch_kicker

@thebestjasmine I hear you! And I used to feel the same way. The secret - for me, anyway, and I'm a former marching band geek who HATED working out -- is to work out RIDICULOUSLY HARD. Like, think-I-might-die-seriously hard. It's tremendously fucked up, but it works. For me. I never got it much from running - but stair sprints, or hitting a bag? Definitely.

What exercises do you enjoy?

Brunhilde

@redheadedandcrazy Yeah, Pilates fucking HURTS and running makes me throw up blood and want to kill myself, the only thing I've been able to stick with for any period of time is yoga, and that's probably because I convice myself that it's good for my always-in-pain back. Oh, and I don't have a car and I walk everywhere, which I figured out adds up to around 1-2 miles on a weekday but it doesn't seem like excersize because I'm doing something with a purpose (getting places).

thebestjasmine

@crotch_kicker Yoga and swimming are the only two that I like enough (and I genuinely like both a lot) to keep doing on a regular basis. And the weird thing about both is that both of them are things where I can't concentrate on anything else -- with cardio at the gym or whatever I read a book or listen to my iPod to get me through it, but with both of those I can't do either and yet really like them.

I wish I could run, I actually don't hate it, but my flat feet and fucked up ankles prevent that, sadly.

rayray

@thebestjasmine I know, I used to run and flat feet gave me shin splints and now I have to be soooooo careful in case my fucking precious princess shins start getting all uppity just cos I decide to have me a little treadmill time.
@crotch_kicker YES THIS.
And like @dancersize says, a really great playlist will get you ANYWHERE. That and the endorphins are why I enjoy my workout.

World of Sass

@Dancersize Agreed wholeheartedly. I have cultivated a library of workout videos to distract me from the arduousness of working out. (And now I have a workout video blog to prove it!) But yes, sometimes plain old jogging and conditioning is just what you gotta do. I used videos to bring me to a point where I could actually run without wanting to die, and now I use running to keep my endurance up for dancing and stuff.

Bridget Smith@twitter

@thebestjasmine Yoga's simply not going to give you that rush. The muscle-focused exercises don't really work for that, though they will get you more toned. Swimming, well, I love swimming and did it competitively for 12 years, but it's never given me that rush. And trust me, I was working HARD. That's the sport that gave me this compulsion to push myself to the limits of what my body can do EVERY TIME I work out, which is not super healthy. The only thing that's ever given me the endorphin rush is running, which I otherwise hate. Sorry. :/

thebestjasmine

@Bridget Smith@twitter So that's why runners are all so insane, because it's like their drug? Because all of what what people are describing, this killing yourself to get there and then feeling high afterwards...yeah, I feel okay about not being able to get there.

redheaded&crazy

@Too Much Internet ohhhh I see what I've been doing wrong all this time! let me give it another try ... Belly dancing sounds fun ... maybe. I have a pretty short attention span for "lifting" "weights" and I tried pilates but couldn't stay interested for long enough. Maybe I should just start running more often?

... aaaand I feel fitter already! repetition really does help! :D

redheaded&crazy

@thebestjasmine it really was the orgasms that caught my attention.

@all crazy running endorphins type people: I have been getting more into running lately, I find the biggest thrill for me is the thought process "I'm running! I'm really doing it! All by myself! I can run! I CAN RUN!" but that usually gives out after like 20 minutes when I develop a cramp. But I will keep it up!

I too am an exercise walker. That shit helped me lost 20 pounds! But I may have to get into some of these classes where the instructor comes up with awesome playlists cuz I really have trouble keeping up with music trends.

crotch_kicker

@thebestjasmine I teach (and train in) Krav Maga. It's the best of everything --- endorphins, hitting shit, learning to defend yourself. I do that and crazy high intensity cardio stuff (like burpees). Krav Maga, though, seriously? Changed my LIFE.

Endorphins. Nature's antidepresssant!

redheaded&crazy

@crotch_kicker I would argue that puppies are actually nature's antidepressant! BUT ... I don't do krav maga, so maybe that's my problem.

batgirl

@redheadedandcrazy I just started doing some sort of boot camp conditioning class that is super fun. It's much more fun to work out in a class full of other people who are laughing at the fact that our instructor just told us to play tag for four minutes or when we do the drag/run thing. Other people really help make it fun and it's not all super serious like yoga where you get in trouble when you giggle.

rayray

@redheadedandcrazy At the risk of extending this thread way beyond it's natural lifespan, it's all about finding what music makes YOU wanna move about. Generally anything that makes me want to dance will work. Run DMC and We Built This City on Rock n Roll by Starship both currently feature on my running playlist.
@batgirl I take a 'Phoebe from Friends running' style approach to classes which ensures that I find them incredibly fun and probably burn more calories.

thebestjasmine

@batgirl Boot camp classes are my version of hell. Or maybe an extreme anxiety attack. The only classes that I can do are yoga classes, because the teachers are nice and the whole thing is supposed to be not judgey of those who can't do everything -- I would probably burst into tears and run away in most other classes. They are not for the not that fit, kind of anxious, yet totally competitive of us out there.

rayray

Man I need me some stretching. What do people recommend for a lady who does a fair amount of cardio and resistance work but isn't all that flexible and has a weak lower back? My instructor told me pilates would be good but for someone a little addicted to the buzz of cardio, it's a total snore-fest. I am also poor. Is yoga the thing?

rayray

@rayray P.S. I had never tried the teaser, and I genuinely just got down on my living room floor to try it. I can do straight legs but I still might be doing it wrong.

MmeLibrarian

@rayray Check out your local yoga studios to see if they have classes specially designed for athletes. Iyengar-style studios are particularly good about offering such classes (sometimes, they even call them "Yoga for Athletes"). They make heavy use of props to help students work through their inflexibility (can't reach the floor? Here's a block! The floor shall come to you!) and deal with their injuries.

the angry little raincloud

@rayray Some dance studios have dedicated stretching classes-- in NYC, Peridance has quite a few, although almost all are in the middle of the day, so not good for us with 9-5 jobs-- and there's also this class called M.E.L.T. that is basically super stretching (I've seen it on the schedule at Alvin Ailey but I think it's taught other places). Yin yoga is also good for opening up the hips and improving flexibility, although some find yin to be really boring because you hold poses for something like 5-10 minutes.

dracula's ghost

@rayray YOGA YOGA YOGA YOGA YOGA! Many years ago I was just like you (a track runner with no stretching) and then a physical therapist I saw told me I had "the flexibility of a 90 year old woman." He was completely disgusted with me. It was a major wake up call. I started going to yoga just twice a week and now it's six years later and I can't even remember what it was like to not be able to put my palms flat on the floor with straight legs. Or I can grab the SOLES of my feet when I do the forward-bend thing with my legs out in front of me. My life is UTTERLY CHANGED FOREVER.

I feel like yoga is the answer to so many physical problems. I sleep better; I feel better; my back doesn't hurt every night in bed; etc. And sure, you can "stretch" on your own, but come on, you know you won't, and anyway you don't know how to do it good. Just go to class!

Hot secret: community rec centers often have majorly cheap yoga classes

Also you can join a gym for like $30 a month and take all the yoga you want. I mean, if a drop-in yoga class is $10, just pay $30 and take it all week long, every day if you want! My gym has shit-tons of yoga and it's not even that fancy. DO IT

Bebe

@rayray I love yoga, I really do, but if you have lower back issues proceed with caution! My husband had deep muscle spasms in his lower back twice, which were incredibly painful and had him laid up at least 2-3 days each time, and very, very delicate for weeks afterwards. After his PT was over, I wanted to surprise him with yoga classes assuming it would be good for his back so I called his physical therapist who warned against it. Unless your instructor is very knowledgeable about specific issues, you can end up hurting yourself again. A yogi/physical therapist and private lessons until you know your limits would be best. Otherwise, sorry - pilates.

I have to say, the pilates has done wonders for his back...and he looks even hotter with his shirt off now!

rayray

Thank you allll. I will try Yoga. I'm already a member of a (university but still very good with great classes) gym, and I know they do yoga.

rayray

@Bebe I know the pilates at my gym isn't for me, so if I opt for that I'll look elsewhere to make sure I get a good-un.

February Revolution

@rayray If your gym offers multiple classes/instructors, or if there are other studios nearby, it's probably worth checking out a few different styles of yoga, too. There's a lot of variability in the pace of classes, how much they emphasize physicality and athleticism, whether they talk at all about yoga as a spiritual practice... I personally like vinyasa/power flow for being kind of athletic and not boring.

rayray

@February Revolution I checked. They do four different types including 'athletic yoga'. Monday's class better be ready for me! I'll report back.

Craftastrophies

@rayray I've also found Tai Chi really good for back stuff, too. It's not as all-over stretchy as yoga, by a long shot, but it it good at sort of general toning and stretching, and great for core muscles. I found it helped me with posture etc more than yoga did. I wish I could find a class here that I like because I really miss it, and I've forgotten too much to be able to do it by myself.

So, if the yoga isn't a good fit, maybe try some kind of slow martial art like Tai Chi or Chi Gong, or whatever?

the angry little raincloud

@parallel-lines I love Physique, and my ass is still sore from a class two nights ago (it had been a while since I'd gone. I apparently get out of shape very quickly). And I also tried Pure Yoga very briefly-- I came to my senses before the cancellation period was up, realizing that I can in no way afford a $170/month yoga membership on my non-profit drone salary. Those were some nice bathrooms. Sigh.

hulia

@ladysporksalot I loved Physique when I tried it out. I did a groupon for Core Fusion/Exhale, though, figuring it would be the same, but the Physique instructors seemed more hard core than the instructors at most of the Exhale classes I went to. Plus (and this is kind of gross, so apologies in advance), I'm pretty sure Exhale gave me a small bout of ringworm due to that end-of-class part on mats that I never saw them disinfect. And thanks to that suspicion I have not been back since! This was sad for my abs already, but now I learn it's sad for my orgasms, too? Perhaps I need to start looking into the videos.

the angry little raincloud

@hulia Oh, ewwwwwwwwww. And Exhale always seemed so clean, like they have armies of underpaid staff running around spraying things and cleaning up after the Lululemon-clad after each class.

Now I'm even more afraid of the mats at the cheap place I go now (since I really can't afford Pure); they provide mats, but I've never seen them cleaned, and let's just say there's a smell. But, on the bright side, yay? Another excuse not to workout?

Rana Gheissari@twitter

There is a Pure Barre in town, but I'm a die hard Bar Method girl. Great instructors, fun music, and they lend socks if you forget to bring a pair. I'm feeling guilty about not going today but it snowed like a foot and I don't feel like leaving the house.

ennaenirehtac

@Rana Gheissari@twitter Yes, Bar Method! I'm too poor for classes but I love the newer DVDs.

Phlomis

@Rana Gheissari@twitter Third, Bar Method! I'm recovering from a long period of severe illness (several years), and Bar Method has been awesome for getting back in shape. I have an ass (perky and uplifted, even) for the first time in my entire life. And my posture is so much better that I had to go for a new bra fitting.

battlestarlet

@Rana Gheissari@twitter Bar Method girl here too. Love it. Some of their lingo makes me crack up in class though. I wish they'd stop saying "seat" and just say ass already. And, when they say, "Ok, let's do one more big blast from our seat" I almost can't keep the laughter in.

Rana Gheissari@twitter

@battlestarlet Same thing in Boulder, but the end bump and grind is referred to as 'now for one last little bit of seat work' and tucking is always like zipping up a really tight pair of jeans. Isn't the consistency amazing though? Never any ass/heinie/tush/bum/butt/rear-talk.

lemonyfreshk

I love Xtend Barre, which sounds like pretty much the same thing except no socks are required (or no one wears them in Florida anyway?) INCLUDING the $25/class thing which is why I stopped taking it after my health insurance decided they weren't going to pay half of it anymore.

ample pie

@lemonyfreshk: Is Xtend awesome? There's a studio not too far from me that teaches it, I might try. Currently I take a similar ballet-inspired class at a teeny studio and I adore it.

lemonyfreshk

@ample pie yes! during the class its like "oh this isn't hard" but then I would be sore for DAYS afterward.

Creature Cheeseman

New Orleans had a Groupon for Pure Barre earlier this week! I thought about getting it, but now I'm glad I didn't...

marigny

@m.cat The New Orleans one (on Magazine) isn't bad at all. I took a few classes there back in June with the $100 New Client Special and really liked it. All the instructors are pretty helpful and check their students for good form, etc. I was thinking of getting that Groupon tonight and trying it out again since $55 for 5 classes seems like a good deal.

dragoness

I'm a total ballerina-wannabe too! Alas, no pure barre classes in my state. Anyone know if the DVDs are worth buying, and if so, which ones?

ample pie

@dragoness: I use the Core Fusion DVDs and they are amazing. That plus a live class similar to Core Fusion/Pure Barre/what-have-you has changed the shape of my rear end very quickly.

Bittersweet

I love Sylvie Guillem as much as the next aging failed ballerina, but she is a TOTAL FREAK OF NATURE and no amount of Pure Barre will give you those hips, feet, arms, back or extension.

That said, though, I'm going to try Pure Barre at my Pilates studio soon...

CheeseLouise

I live right by that PureBarre studio! Hi Molly! What? No I've never been in. It costs like $25 and I'm still pissed the bagel place that used to be there went out.

marigny

@CheeseLouise Do you live in NOLA by chance? Cause I think I know what you're talking about. (Unless Pure Barre has an MO of stealing the leases from bagel shops..)

CheeseLouise

@marigny Yes it's the one on Magazine. It was a perpetually going out of business carpet place before Pure Barre. If you ask me though we need bagels more than barres.

Creature Cheeseman

@CheeseLouise I live right by it too! We must be neighborsish

World of Sass

@CheeseLouise Hi! I'm in the Channel.

marigny

@MollyReid Mid City represent. AH! So you did try the Magazine location. The 5 times I went weren't too bad (but I had the same instructor each time, and she was really good). $25 is pretty crazy for each class which is kinda why I didn't return. I think a better idea would be to just spend the money up the street on alcohol.

Creature Cheeseman

@marigny Just in case y'all didn't know (I don't know who's who), we're trying to plan a nola pinup for next week at bacchanal. We have a google group.

MousesHouse

@CheeseLouise OH MY GOSH I live here too! midcity! I accidentally missed the last meetup at cure (distracted), and have been regretting iiit!

madamvonsassypants

A huge pet peeve of mine is when fitness instructors don't instruct properly, and when they don't correct bad postures or movements. After I've been to the class enough to know the correct form and "ideokinetic imagery" (perfect phrase), I look for it throughout the class.

but i'm a bird

but see, dudes, ballet class also does all of this - and you get a pianist. and leotards? and a dance skirt, a bun, omg you guys its the best. twirling, leaping, camaraderie, and typically quite a bit cheaper than $25 a class. trend-resistant, euro-trashy, real-deal ballet class. check it out

World of Sass

@but i'm a bird True dat

SallyForth

@but i'm a bird I have had major ballet-dancer envy since I was five and quit my ballet class because the other girls were mean. I just found out that the new place I'm moving to soon has an adult beginner ballet class right around the corner. I am SO gonna take ballet classes, you have no idea, and my yoga classes can shove it.

but i'm a bird

@SallyForth you're gonna love it! because you're grown up now, you can tell yourself that mean ballet girls are just part of the fun! think of them as atmosphere (although you will probably also make totally awesome friends with at least one lady in your class. many of my best friends I've met in a leotard)

macaroni

A girl that I work with teaches Pure Barre! I've wanted to try it a bajillion times but as a former dancer (15 years) who hasn't taken a full ballet/barre class in like 7 years, I'm so intimidated! She keeps telling me to come & I'm just being crazy because I used to dance (as did she), but I feel oh so inflexible & out of shape. I need to just buck up and do it because I know I would LOVE it.

dustwindbun

hahaha tucking. part of why I quit ballet at 9 - when I realized I'd never be good at it because I have a BIG DAMN ASS. and always have. Ballet lady was all 'tuck harder' and I was like, lady, it doesn't go in any further unless I'm so tight I can't move my legs. (literally: I used to tuck so hard that I couldn't bend anything between my ribcage and my ankles, and she was still on me about not trying hard enough because my BIG DAMN ASS(TM) was sticking out. I found out years later that she was trying to make me drop out - she told my parents that I was too short and round to do ballet and was wasting her time. in a class for kids, for god's sake. wtf ballet bitch.)

so, as long as everyone's talking about exercise, I have a question/theory, that I've never gotten a decent answer for. I feel like all of this western-culture exercise thing is really obnoxious and conspicuous-consumption-y - I mean, there are people with not enough food, and we eat extra just so we can go burn it off doing made-up pretend work. Why wouldn't we just eat only enough to fuel the actual work we do every day, and stop flaunting our ability to consume extra resources? Exercising is a slap in the face to starving children, yo.
Every time I've told people this, the only response I get is, that's just dumb and wrong and my crazy is showing, and when I ask why, they can't tell me why, they just say it's obvious. BUT IT'S NOT OBVIOUS! OTHERWISE I WOULDN'T BE ASKING!!
so, explain me. please. this has bugged me for years, and I refuse to work out because of it (I'm sure if it gets resolved I still won't work out, but at least then I'll know it's because I'm a lazy terrible person instead of a righteous philosophizer.)

but i'm a bird

@dustwindbun so your teacher was a fool, because every ballet girl I know has quite the ass. (ok yes she may be skinny everywhere else)

Beck Rea@facebook

@dustwindbun It's a decent question to ask.

My response would be that it's not (necessarily) about "consuming extra resources". Some folks (like The Boyfriend, damn his hide) can plow through 3,000 calories a day and STILL be hungry.

Other people (me, and my BIG DAMN ASS) eat 1500 calories and have to exercise to simply maintain our weight.

And, most of us have sedentary jobs, since we're no longer an agrarian society. That means that we need exercise, period, just to not Die of Sitting in an Office Chair Every Day.

I don't think conspicuous consumption is the reason why most folks in the US work out--there are other pressures that are far more prominent, sociologically speaking (like your dumb-ass bitch ballet teacher--WTF, lady?!?).

That said, a lot of people simply exercise to be healthier. Nothing wrong with that. :)

(I also sponsor children who live in extremely poor areas--because I believe it is my individual responsibility to give to those who are in need. My church does this for its congregation as well. They paid for my rent when I couldn't. Love that.)

insizlane

I know I'm 3 days late, but...

PUSSY-POPPIN!

Peppermint

Personal pet peeve: "toning regime". "Toning" is a word used by promoters of "women's" fitness regimens/devices/apparel which is generally thought to mean "muscle definition achieved through physical exercise." Decades of (what essentially amounts to) fitness propaganda have inculcated the view that working out too much or too hard will give women "bulky, unfeminine" muscles. Heaven forbid. So instead of strength or hypertrophy or whatever else men get when they work out, we supposedly get "toning". Hence my contention that anyone who uses this word is labouring under some serious misconceptions about fitness and women's health.

I'm not even going to get into why the whole "bulky muscles" theory is bullshit, but know that "tone" (visible musculature) is a function of body fat percentage. If you reduce the amount of body fat you have by ANY METHOD (dieting, exercise, liposuction) the result will be visible muscles. They are already there, under your fat! However, no quantity of innovative ab exercises will make them visible, because those exercises are incredibly ineffectual at promoting fat loss. Be wary of any ad campaign that says otherwise.

chirisjerrycho

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bill.marks

However, no quantity of innovative ab exercises will make them visible, because those exercises are incredibly ineffectual at promoting fat loss. Be wary of any ad campaign that says otherwise. trailer tent

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