I want to talk about high school for a moment.
During my freshman year, I was on the Cross Country team, took Modern Dance and gym daily, and spent a solid portion of time changing from school uniform to gym clothes to dance and movement attire. I was constantly on the run (literally), and, though 70% of the time I was at a desk in a classroom prepping for the SATs, the other 30% was spent exerting energy, allowing me to process the pains of high school in a healthy manner, focusing on my physical being while building both my mind and mindset.
Fast forward ten years to 2015. I’m in my mid- to late 20s, on my fourth job since college, and I’m stuck at a desk.
I had a decent job, but in order to make rent and pay bills my priority was to get an even better job. My mental health was far from where it needed to be, and my body was an utter mess. I could barely eat but I would gain weight, I would be emotional and frustrated constantly, and it affected every avenue of my life. I realized my body was lacking in physical exertion, and by neglecting the time it needed to be active, I had become depressed. My body felt out of control, and I was drowning in it.
By this time, my relationship with my boyfriend was on the rocks (due to my dissatisfaction with myself and my unpredictable temperament), and I knew something had to change.
In the summer of 2015, a little studio opened up in my neighborhood called PureBarre. I had never heard of it but I was intrigued, and my man encouraged me to take a chance and try it out. Upon entering the studio, I was more nervous than I had been in a long time. I was afraid I would be dissatisfied with the workout, or worse, that I would give up on myself and walk out. But I knew I wanted -- no, that I needed -- to feel like myself again.
The instructors had bodies I had never seen before. Their long, lean limbs were enveloped in body-tight leggings, branded tank tops, complete with “sticky socks” to allegedly help keep one’s balance. Their muscles were toned, their demeanors friendly and inviting, and there I was rolling up like a slob in a baggy old tee-shirt and leggings that probably revealed my granny panties because, let’s be real, they were the only ones that fit right. However my appearance was the least of my worries. Class was yet to begin.
The first ten minutes of the workout was perhaps one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I’m fairly certain I blacked out. The music began and it felt like Saturday night at the club. As the music blared, they started us off with high knee alternating movements at a rapid pace. “Lift and lift and lift...” they kept repeating, perfectly on beat, but what was it exactly that was “lifting”? The next thing I knew I was on my back, being told to squeeze my legs tightly together, flexing my feet with my legs stick straight (yeah right!) all while rotating my mush of a belly from side to side. I was completely winded and could barely breathe. They then flipped us onto our bellies and instructed us to tighten our abs (what abs?), push into the floor with our forearms, and hold a plank for 90 seconds! (Did I mention I blacked out?) “Feel the burn!” the instructor yelled into her microphone. “Tuck your abs!... Squeeze your thighs!...Push harder!” All I could think was, what the heck is a “tuck,” my body hurts so much, and, damn, this music is my jam! I started to laugh as I found the beat, while beads of sweat trickled down my face, while gasping for air, while my body was in indescribable pain. And yet I was having the time of my life.
What happened in the next 40 minutes, you ask? Well, I don’t want to spoil that fun for you. But I will say that after my first PureBarre experience, my life has yet to be the same. The Kool-Aid has been consumed, and life has never been better.
Over the past year, since the opening of the studio, I have attended over 250 classes, found a voice for my body, figured out what “lifting” and “tucking” meant, and I am thankfully returning to that thriving balance I found in high school. Though pursuing a successful career is still vital to my journey through life, I will never be a success if I don’t I feel like one. Taking ownership for who you are and who you want to become is paramount.