As a monthly columnist for Tulsa Kids magazine, I’m always looking for story ideas that reflect Tulsa’s active community. I like to write about student athletes and parents staying fit. When the editor emailed me about a new Barre3 studio opening in Tulsa, I plie´d my way there.
Look for that story in a month or so. In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown.
Barre3 was not intimidating in the ways I expected it to be. After all, I AM a long distance athlete, you know.
So I approached the barre with my usual misplaced swagger, after running in 15 minutes late from being caught in a rainstorm somewhere between Choteau and Tulsa. My feet were wet and not at all sticking to the gorgeous cork floor. The young woman next to me wore a beautiful dancing ensemble and her eye makeup was perfectly, smudgingly applied. Her hair swept across her brow in that elegant way I could not ever hope to emulate. Her toes pointed, her eyes closed.
I tried to angle myself to see the instructor in the full length mirror, confused like an old person by the music mingling with the sound of her voice in the mic. I didn’t understand what we were supposed to be doing. Were my elbows supposed to be out or in? What muscles was I supposed to be squeezing?
I like to think I’m a fit woman, but I am thankful that running does not provide access to full mirrors. I do not need to see my jiggly parts jiggly all the time like that. I scanned the room: were other women present whose bellies rolled over their waist bands? Not many. In fact, most of the participants had that flat belly you only see photoshopped onto women in fashion rags. I assumed, wrongly, that they were rolling their eyes behind my back and calculating just how much weight I’d need to lose before I’d ever fit in there. After the class, they smiled and chatted with me; they picked up my props while I spoke with the owners. They invited me back. Jerks.
At one point, the instructor had us grasp the barre and extend a leg. Dude. I can extend a leg. I’m a long distant athlete (have I mentioned that already?). She asked us lift and lower the leg, using just the leg muslces, no movement in the hips at all. I thought This isn’t an exercise. It’s a lazy person stretch. Then, rivers of sweat ran from my forehead. They dropped like splashes down my back. My glutes were in an uproar. She said, half through the “lazy person’s stretch,” that these are barre-quakes. I did not think it was funny. And why was I the only person sweating like I was running a marathon on the sun?
A day later, I feel the existence of muscles I haven’t felt in a long time. I can tell that I was squeezing in the right places. I can definitely see Barre classes as a perfect supplement for runners. The leg and core work, plus a reminder to keep the shoulders soft all accent running. But I can also see women and men who want gentle, and it does seem gentle and kind and friendly and even and peaceful while also kicking arse, use barre work for general fitness and strength.