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I’ve written a lot about Bar Method (here, and here, and here, and here), so you know it is my exercise of choice. You also know that it was not/is not easy for me! When I took my first class on 9/8/2009 I was super cocky. After all I was a triathlete. What did I have to fear? I promptly almost threw up 1/2 way through class! After nearly passing out I walked out of class into the waiting room where one of the owners (although I didn’t know that at the time) Kate, came out to check on me and Mason (who I also didn’t know at the time and wasn’t even the super star teacher he is now) promised me it got easier. I must have looked as bad as I felt.

Just a small sampling of the classes I've attended.

Just a small sampling of the classes I’ve attended.

Over the years I got better. Not great, but definitely better. I’ve admitted before I’m not at all flexible so it is a slow process for me. The day I could touch my toes I was elated. The day I got through all of thigh exercise without re-setting I was beyond happy. The day that one of the teachers said, “Oh my goodness Wendy you are at the tall barre.” I smiled like a cheshire cat. All of these things were HUGE accomplishments for me.

Last year I took a time-out from life (as you know). Due to travel and mental angst I didn’t go to class as often. When I left my job at the beginning of the year, I told myself that while I was looking for my new career I would take Riggins up Runyon and go to Bar Method as much as possible. My health and happiness was going to come first … dang gumit!

Going back “full-time” to Bar Method was not easy. I re-dedicated myself to 3 or 4 times a week. If I was insane, or it was raining and I couldn’t do other activities, I’d bump that number to 5. It took me a long time to get back to where I thought I had been before (minus the gumption to stay in thigh … man I hate thigh). It was heartbreaking how hard it had become again but I wasn’t going to give up.

This week I made myself a vow to step it up to the next level. Riggins is still limping so my daily trips up Runyon or my run around Silver Lake isn’t happening. I have no excuse not to give 100% in my evening Bar Method classes. I can’t rely on the crappy excuse that I was up early spending an 1 and 1/2 hours hiking up and down a mountain with a dog or two, so didn’t have to work as hard. I needed to dive deeper into Bar to move to the next level. This week during class I realized what I had been missing. I was missing the mental aspect of class. It took me this long (4 months) to shake the self-doubt and general unhappiness I had last year and to refocus on what I was doing for myself. My body wasn’t the only thing in the game anymore. My head was back in it as well!

Concentrating really hard on controlling my shaking hand.

Concentrating really hard on controlling my shaking hand.

Let me tell you it is tough! I’m back to hurting every day after I work out. Something somewhere hurts every day. The good hurt. When I leave the parking lot and put that little parking ticket in the machine to let me out, my hand is still shaking from how hard I worked. Tonight I went to meet a friend for a drink and had a hard time holding the wine glass correctly without it slopping all over the place because of my STILL shaking body (1 1/2 hours after class had ended). What has changed exactly:

  • I force myself to always take the “extra challenge” in class. Extra challenges make the hard movements even more difficult. I’ve always been good at taking some but now I at least try them all … well most of them. I mentally give myself a point for every challenge I try, and two points if the instructor gives me a “wow Wendy” or “way to take the challenge Wendy.”
  • I demand that I can do better for each move that I hate. Thigh in wide second …. hate … go deeper. Pretzel … hate … move my knee back further. Arabesque … hate … get that leg higher. I’m constantly trying to check to see if I’m doing the most I can. It’s a pain in the butt … sometimes literally. It IS not easy to keep that up for an entire hour. I can also feel more of my muscles working beyond just the “main” ones that exercise focus’ on which means overall I’m getting more bang for my buck.
  • I try to stop caring about the counting (just get me to the last number … please) but instead try to listen to the music. This was suggested by the founder of the Bar Method in her last blog. It is working for me. She suggested it for thigh … I haven’t mastered it for that section yet. I’m in too much pain. In general if I feel I can’t keep up the level I’m at for any longer I try to listen to the music. This doesn’t work when that Barbara Streisand song is playing. That thing cracks me up and I have to tune it out.
  • I don’t give a shit that I’m not the most flexible, strongest or best in the class. I’m not. Nor am I the youngest, skinniest or prettiest. Who gives a flip? It use to really bug me that I would get so sweaty during class while the adorable young 20 something year olds glide through the movements with obvious ease and nothing past a lovely “glisten” covering their brow. I was the dancing hippo next to the lovely gazelles. I would get upset when I would read a review about the Bar Method that says it’s great that you don’t get sweaty. Were they on crack? And really what an odd thing to say, “this is a great exercise you work so hard you don’t get sweaty.” I get sweaty. Granted I get sweaty doing anything … a n y t h i n g … but that doesn’t make me any less of a bar-er ball-er. Now I purposely try to work so hard I HAVE to change my top after class because I’m such a sweaty mess.
  • I always use to play mental games with myself while I was running why didn’t I do that in class? Sometimes I pretend if I can stay in thigh the entire time the cute guy from Match.com will write me back (never works but it’s a good way to push myself). I will pretend that my friend I’ve been trying to get to come to class is behind me and I have to show her how it’s done.
  • I try to act as if the teacher is always watching me … the thought that they are makes me work harder.

None of this is earth shattering. In fact it’s odd I didn’t put two and two together months ago. Again I blame everything on my horrible last year. I obviously had to turn my brain off to survive and it’s starting to fire back up again!

One day I was walking back to my car after class and a young woman asked if I had been going for long. I said I had and then she asked if I ever feel like it is hard. Apparently she felt she didn’t get a workout and would now have to go to the gym. I told her she was doing it wrong. I was a little nicer than that but not much. I feel the same way when people leave negative reviews online (there aren’t many). It’s easy if you want it to be. Get your head in the game, and mind your positioning (aka do it right) and you will be shaking when you put the parking ticket in the machine too! If you aren’t feeling it you are letting yourself do it wrong.

I have followed this new and improved work out plan for an entire 3 days! Ha! I feel like I’m getting more out of it and overall I’m prouder of myself and find myself standing up taller. The best thing of all? Now I’ve written it down so I HAVE to keep it up or I’ll not only disappoint myself but I’ll disappoint you and we can’t have that!

Please share any tips you have on getting to the next level of your exercise of choice. I’d love to steal them! AND … if anyone can give me tips on how to get through dreaded thigh during Bar Method class PLEASE enlighten me.

The current Pasadena instructors (and owners Kate & Liz).

The current Bar Method teachers at the Pasadena studio. Source.

(Bar Method studios are all over the US & Canada. I have been loyal to the studio located in Pasadena, CA and can tell you all the instructors there are wonderful. I’m not the kind of person who chooses the class she goes to because of who is teaching it but instead I go when it is the best time knowing no matter who the teacher is, I’m going to be getting a good one. The two owners of the Silver Lake, CA studio used to teach at Pasadena so I can tell you they are also pretty brilliant.)