Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones, you guys, but I am feeling particularly emotional about my last Pure Barre class this afternoon. At noon, I'll teach my last class before taking some time off to go grow this sweet baby.
It's definitely time - my "demo's," where the instructor shows the clients how to set up positions, are getting a little laughable with this bump in the way. The clients at our studio have been so patient with all things pregnancy, particularly with the times when I'd get a move set up and then blank out completely. "Heavy tailbone, and...huh. Hmm. OH YEAH! Okay, 2 pulses down!" Hot mess.
That kind of grace and community is just one of the many reasons I have loved this workout. If you've been following my blog for a while, you may remember this post about me going to Pure Barre for the first time, then an update after I gave it a shot for about a month, posted here. I've been taking Pure Barre since March 2016 and teaching since August of the same year, so I've spent a lot of time in that studio. Here are my thoughts as I put the mic on for the last time (for a while, at least!) this afternoon:
1. Pure Barre is the most effective workout I've ever done.
From a purely exercise-based place, all the emotion aside, I cannot say enough about these classes. My background in exercise was pretty limited in terms of what I'd tried in earnest. I grew up running (very slowly, but running), and that had always been enough. As I graduated from college, I realized that running alone wasn't going to cut it. I added in some light arms and ab work, but it was always exactly that: running for 2.5/3 miles, then arms, then abs, then I'd leave the gym.
I'd done group classes like Zumba, pilates, and yoga, and found myself really digging the class atmosphere. I'm a person who is pushed harder by the presence of other, more in-shape people. And running was starting to get hard on my knees and shins.
Enter: Pure Barre. I started this workout a few months after an ankle injury that prevented me from running regularly. The difference I saw in my ENTIRE BODY - arms, abs, thighs, butt, posture, strength level, endurance - took about three weeks to start and hasn't stopped yet. I don't feel like I ever plateaued, I don't feel like it ever got easy. One of the complaints I hear is that Pure Barre isn't enough cardio. I'd encourage you to attend one of the new Pure Empower classes, a 45-minute cardio-centric class that has even the instructors dripping sweat. WOOF (but in the best way).
It has changed my body, my confidence in myself, and my perception of my own strength. I'm not an Olympian, but it turns out I can work pretty hard and achieve the results I want. Who knew??
2. The clients are incredible.
One of the things that Pure Barre Asheville has cultivated is a ubiquitous sense of community and positivity. When you hit the door, you'll be greeted by name by anyone standing in the lobby. For me, these days, it's been, "Look at you, cute pregnant girl!! How are you feeling??" (This happens on days when I am most certainly NOT cute, so that should tell you something about the level of support these clients offer me all the time!)
My very first time, I was so nervous. Upon entering the studio, I was greeted by the women who became my "8:30 family" (the class time I always chose) - Linda, Vanessa, and Kendra. These ladies, ranging in age from younger than me to closer to my parents' age, made me feel so welcome and right at home. I include the part about their ages to add another dimension to the wonder of Pure Barre - I know of a client we have who is 19; I know of a client who is in her 70's. And these are REGULAR clients. The same goes for size, shape, and race. We've got clients all across the board, all of whom show up and prove their inner badass every single time. We show up to work out, not to put on a fashion show, not to judge each other. It's the most supportive workout environment I've ever seen - every SINGLE time.
There is something about a group of women (although we have several male clients too, who I absolutely adore!!) banding together to lift each other up that is all too rare in this world. Girl power is a THING. The Spice Girls had it right. And Pure Barre is absolutely dripping with it.
3. The team I teach with is next-level amazing.
Pure Barre is hard. There's no getting around it. It's a challenge mentally and physically to push yourself beyond what you think you're capable of doing. In order to feel good and encouraged by that challenge, rather than defeated by it, you need a team of people who's going to ensure you see yourself as a dadgum fitness warrior. That's exactly what exists at PB Asheville.
These girls are just precious and delightful and energetic and wonderful and uplifting and ALL the rest of the adjectives. It doesn't hurt that they're all knockouts, either. I mean, why not have something pretty to look at while you're sweating your vital organs out?
I moved to Asheville with no friends or family, and have found both here. I love sitting around after class and chatting with my fellow instructors when the studio is empty and no one else is around. We've shared fears, hopes, developments in our dating lives, pregnancy stories, career moves, engagement stories, house-building excitement - it's just a really special group of people.
There is no greater gift than helping another woman realize her potential - to see it written across her face that she did it after all, even when she thought she couldn't. I've watched clients go from not being able to hold a plank position for more than 10 seconds to breezing through the 90-second plank during warmup. I've seen people struggle through a few push ups early on, then conquer those things with no problem after a couple of months.
Pure Barre changes people's lives because it changes the way people see into themselves. One of the things you'll hear repeated on the mic from instructors is, "You're stronger than you think."
Well, you are.
4. Carrying this baby around is a lot easier.
I mean, I don't even want to imagine what carrying this monster baby around would be like if I didn't have a strong core to start with, thanks to PB.
(Probably very hard.)
A strong body and mind going into a pregnancy is something that's helped me exponentially. Not to mention walking into a studio three-four times a week where people say, "You look great!" even if you don't FEEL great; where people are pushing themselves to be their best. It makes me word harder, sweat more, and, most importantly, keep showing up and giving it my best shot. I am not Gal Gadot by any stretch (holler at your girl who filmed parts of Wonder Woman while she was 5 months pregnant ARE YOU KIDDING ME), but I can hold a 90-second plank in my sixth month of pregnancy, damnit. And that's not half bad.
So, for now, farewell to teaching. It is weird to close this particular chapter because I feel like this was the last thing to "go." Months ago, when I was planning out when I'd probably need to step away, this day seemed like it was years in the future. It's here, and it means that Jordan's and my life is about to start getting really different with the arrival of this little baked potato.
I am so grateful for this year of my life I spent with a Britney Spears mic strapped to my head, ra-ra-ing our wonderful clients, cutting up with instructors, drinking a million smoothies, getting wisdom and development from our studio owner, Flavia. Pure Barre has been a gift from God to me, as have the people that inhabit that studio daily. I'll still be taking classes, of course, but for now, I'm taking a minute to be still, to be thankful, and (at noon) to go get after it one last time.
Nothin' but love, PB.