I’m obsessed with arm muscles. Not male arms, but all the magnificently sculpted female arms and shoulders I see everywhere now that I’m paying attention. Somehow in the past eight years since my husband cancelled our gym membership (because I never used it), I fell asleep at the wheel while the arm craze exploded. Ditto for the Lululemon craze, but I’ll get to that later.
A little background: I’m not an exercise person. In high school and college I did STEP classes, roller bladed, and whatever else people loved in the 90s. That said, I was never slim. No matter how many miles I logged on the treadmill or how many Cindy Crawford videos I tried, I could not possibly compensate for the sheer volume of frozen yogurt and Snackwells cookies I ate in the name of “fat-free” living.
Now that my kids rely on my choices for their nutrition, I try to eat like a reasonable person. I also begrudgingly but consistently do thirty minutes on a recumbent bike in my basement. I don’t even sweat because HELLO, it’s a recumbent bike, but I’ve managed to keep my weight in check through four pregnancies.
Weight is one thing; ripped arms are another.
I’m definitely out of shape. As I’ve mentioned before when I pledged to finally start eating like an adult, I can barely carry my baby’s car seat; I can’t do a push up; and my abs are a long-lost cause. A few months ago I attempted a toning routine using Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD, but I soon got bored. Finally, after almost a decade, I was ready to exercise in public again.
ENTER MY NEWEST HOBBY: PURE BARRE
In the words of Pure Barre:
“Pure Barre is the fastest, most effective way to change the shape of your body. Using small isometric movements at the ballet barre set to motivating music, Pure Barre lifts your seat, tones your thighs, abs and arms and burns fat in record-breaking time. Clients see results in just 10 classes, lose inches in weeks and have fun doing it!”
The grand opening of Pure Barre in Minneapolis was announced just as I’d grown tired of working out alone. Since the studio is located minutes from my girls’ preschool, I thought I’d see what it was all about. I loved the idea of a small studio as opposed to a gym. Several of my friends swear by Core Power Yoga, which is also a small studio concept, but those workouts are hot and sweaty. Hot and sweaty means I’d have to deal with my hair on a regular basis. And I cannot deal with my hair on a regular basis. I know there are Pure Barre videos too, but I was ready to enter the public arena.
NOTHING TO WEAR
Arriving for my first class, I couldn’t help but notice the Lululemon insignia on almost every tank top and pant. Honest to goodness, there was not a Nike, Adidas, or other logo that I could see. But before I could fully contemplate my outdated early-2000s ensemble, we were up and moving. There was a blur of warming up followed by a quick and impossible (for me) ab routine on the floor. Then before I knew it, we were standing up in front of the mirror again, weights in hand.
The result of eight years of grandmotherly-paced exercise on a recumbent bike was never more evident. Apparently, somebody forgot to send me the memo when arms became “a thing.” All I saw reflected back at me in that wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling mirror was one set of defined biceps, triceps, and shoulders after another.
I was like that woman from every sitcom who only sees babies the minute she decides she’s ready to become a mom. For days all I could see was sculpted arms, and I wanted my own set. That’s when I signed up for a month of classes and got to work.
True to Pure Barre’s claim, after ten classes I already feel stronger and more toned—probably in my legs and tush more than my arms, but my friend Jacy swears she saw some definition on my biceps last time we took a class together.
Here’s the biggest shocker for me: I actually like being part of an exercise community. At the risk of sounding like I’m drinking a little too much of the Kool-Aid, I have to say there’s good energy at Pure Barre. The staff and the clients are friendly. Nobody points and laughs when I make weird faces during the hardest parts. You can make a reservation ahead of time online so there’s no fighting for space. And nobody sweats on me. All good things.
AND NOW THAT I’M ONE OF THOSE EXERCISE PEOPLE . . .
I obviously “needed” workout apparel appropriate for public viewing. Being the completely unoriginal non-fashionista that I am, my first stop was Lululemon. Weeks later I discovered Athleta, which is just as expensive. Then I happily found the activewear section at Old Navy.
I can see now that staying in shape is like a part-time job. I spend less time on the computer than I did before because I only have so much coverage for my kids. I don’t think I’ve made a bad trade—at least for now. I spend less time on Twitter and Facebook and almost no time on Pinterest whatsoever, but it’s been worth it. Or at least it will be once I can do a full set of push ups.
Of course once that happens I’ll probably move on to some other obsession that has nothing to do with health and exercise. I guess that’s the joy of hobbies, right? Nobody said you could only choose one.
EDITED ON 2/27/13 to SAY: I wrote about my 100-Pure Barre class milestone. Check it out!
Photo by lululemon via Flickr