Once we settled into our new apartment in Chicago (code for our boxes were pushed to one side of the room), I went on the hunt. I went on the hunt to find a new gym. Since we were living downtown, I thought that there would be plenty of possible contenders where I could get my squat on. Surprisingly, there weren’t as many as I had expected. Perhaps my expectations were too high… wouldn’t be the first time.
So I finally found the place where I would spend my mornings. The main ingredients that I was looking for in my new gym were:
1) Cleanliness… no explanation necessary
2) Safety … Back in Canada, I had never ever used a lock in a gym locker, however, I knew that I would likely have to start here.
3) Location – Close enough that I couldn’t convince myself that the gym was “too far” come winter time.
4) GROUP CLASSES – I likely would have given up everything else for the best group class schedule
I like Group Classes because they make me do things that I would never do on my own. A good class will push me to my absolute limit, will make me drop many “eff bombs” in my mind, will teach me new things, and will leave me covered in a nice, healthy, dripping glow of sweat.
One of the classes that my gym offers is “Ballet Sculpt”. It followed the 6:00am spin class, so I thought that I would give it a whirl. I thought that it would be a good stretch and a good, long cool down after coming straight from my spin class.
So I enter the studio, and see that everybody else has taken their shoes off, has a mat and has a set of 2.5 lbs weights. I grab a mat, take my shoes off, grab two weights in one hand and think to myself “Pfft I got this…” I even ponder the thought about ditching the class before it even starts so that I can go do some “real weights” on my own, but I figure that I’ll at least give the class a shot.
The instructor turns on some Lady Gaga, tells us to grab our dinky little weights and she leads us through a set of arm exercises. I’m following along, waving my dinky weights in the air, preparing for her to tell us to stop and to do some sort of pilates style moves on the mat.
Except she doesn’t stop. She doesn’t stop for 15 minutes.
Now, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care how big your biceps are, I don’t care how strong you think you are. Waving 2.5 lbs around for 15 minutes is tiring beyond belief. By the end of it, I couldn’t breathe properly. I couldn’t lift my arms straight above my head if my life depended on it. I couldn’t lift my arms straight to my sides to form a T-shape. My arms didn’t straighten. They were too heavy. And that is when I realized that maybe this “Ballet Sculpt” class was going to be a hell of a lot tougher than I gave it credit for.
After the tiny, little ballerina is done yelling at us: “Do. Not. Put. Those. Weights. Down. Keep going, push it! Puussssshh it! You’re almost there!” (you were not almost there, that is a lie that they tell you to trick you), we go to the bar! (I’ll have a cosmo with raspberry vodka please)
It was not simple at all. We start plie-ing, and the instructor keeps coming over and telling me to stop squatting. “It’s a plie, not a squat!!!” After all these years of doing squats, I’ve never been yelled at for doing one. In fact, I’ve received compliments on my lunge and squat form from complete strangers at other gyms. When I bend down, my body just naturally squats. I can’t seem to control it from stopping… If the body wants to squat, let it squat!
Nope… she was not having any part of it.
“Tuck your butt in!” I don’t even know how to tuck my butt in…
“Keep your back straight!”…. I’m trying to tuck my butt in, I didn’t know my back wasn’t straight! Finally, she gives up on me and I do my absolute best to plie rather than squat.
Please don’t yell at me, tiny little ballerina lady.
After we plie (by ‘we’ I mean ‘they’), we then start kicking. I don’t know what the ballerina term is for kicking, but I’ve always been a straight shooter and to me, a kick is a kick. So we stand with our feet angled out so they are shaped as a ‘V’ and we repeatedly kick over, and over, and over again with our one leg in the same direction. At first, it started out fun. My toes were even pointed (thank you gymnastic classes that I took as a child), and I kicked so high that I thought I was going to kick Heaven. But then after probably five minutes of doing the same kick over and over again, I could hardly lift my foot off the ground. My other leg is starting to ache in places that I didn’t know could ache. It’s not supposed to support all of my body weight for that long on it’s own… after all, isn’t that why we have two legs!?
There are plenty of “eff bombs” rolling through my mind at this point, there is sweat dripping into my eyes, my arms can hardly reach my face to wipe the sweat off because they are so shaky from those dinky weights, and I see the tiny, little ballerina coming over my way as she shouts at us to “pulse”.
“How does one pulse a kick?” I wonder to myself. Well, you pulse a kick by holding your leg up as high as it can go and by making it go up and down REALLY fast without dropping your leg too much. But, the problem is is that by now, I literally cannot lift my leg much higher than a foot off the ground. Even a foot is probably giving myself too much credit.
So I am pulsing as best as I can as the tiny, ballerina lady comes over to me and shouts at me to go HIGHER! I try… God knows that I tried. She shouts at me again to go HIGHER, but I physically cannot lift my leg any higher. In fact, my leg is so tired that I am now not even able to pulse it a foot off the ground. I pulse the best that I can, thinking to myself that even if I had a gun to my head I could not pulse any higher. I’d have to get shot… and at that point, that didn’t seem like such a terrible idea (I kid, my lovely, I kid…)
So finally, the class is over. One of the longest hours of my life. I plied, I kicked, I got yelled at by a ballerina… And at that moment, I remember thinking to myself that maybe I should have gone to the spin class as a cool down from the ballet class instead!
As I left the class, I learnt that a ballerina is a whole hell of a lot more than I have ever given credit for. A ballerina could kick a ninja’s butt anyday… She sure as heck kicked mine.