My first time taking a group exercise class was last November, when I walked into Beer City Barre. I have never Zumba’d, yoga’d, pilate-fied, cross-fitted, kick boxed, or Aqua Fit For Senior Citizen’d. Although straight up: I have been VERY tempted to just jump into the water with all the grandmas and their dumbbells made entirely out of pool floaties, like “What UP Phyllis let’s DO THIS SHIT!” And Phyllis is like “You best be pacin’ yerself, you NANCY! Eat my dust!” And golly, would she ever be right, because I do not have what you’d call “endurance” when it comes to exercise.
My gym routine is pretty boring- I get in, don’t make eye contact with anyone, do some treadmill sprints, sweat offensively and odorously, and then I hit the steam room with my best gym grandma friend Phyllis. She’s 92, and invited me to her birthday party this weekend. Suggestions on gifts for her are most welcome. I’ve asked myself, “what sort of gift will I want at the age of 92?” And the answer will always be Legos, so that’s what good ol’ Phyllis is getting unless any of you can help me out with a better idea.
Phyllis is sassy- she is crabby and all over the place and a good steam room chat with her will either ruin your entire day or give you a brand new perspective on life. There is no in between. “Why are these towels made for MIDGETS?!” one day and the next she’s saying “Listen you just gotta do the things you are scared to do sometimes. Like gardening. It’s scary weird to plunge your face into cow shit to make veggies grow. But it’s the best way to make veggies grow. And they aren’t going to grow themselves. You gotta plant the seeds into the crap first.” My girl Phyllis is a TRIP, and I take whatever she says to heart because I truly love her.
I remember feeling “scary weird” walking into that first barre class. Good nerves, but also sweaty pits nerves. First group exercise class and first time at the barre, I bravely opened the studio door, my hands clenched full of proverbial seeds ready to be planted into the metaphorical shit garden. Thank you Phyllis for that visual. I made it through the class feeling awesome, invigorated, properly exercised and stretched. Walking outside, the air is fresh, the sky is bright, there may have been birds singing but I recall being distracted by the smell of wafting bacon emanating from Field & Fire so much that I forgot where I parked and was forced into a life of nomadic wandering for at least 15 minutes.
The next morning after that very first class though? Holy cabbage. I opened my eyes and was first inclined to believe I had suffered a mild stroke. Am I….hungover? Did I get hit by a bus? Am I being punished for the crimes of my past lives right now? If so, I must have been a supreme asshole apparently. EVERYTHING HURTS. I’m just going to tell people I got hit by a car, because that’s a lot easier than explaining how I fell UP the stairs because my legs gave out. Walking anywhere at all that morning had me literally singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with each step. Belting it at the top of my lungs:
“She TIED YOU TO HER KITCHEN CHAIR SHE BROKE YOUR THRONE and SHE CUT YOUR HAIRRRRRR AND FROM YOUR LIPS SHE DREW the HALLELUJAHHHHHH” I sing this in my head during the intense fire thigh moments of barre when Cori, Kim, MeLisa, or Kelly (and any of the other instructors I have yet to meet) put you in that invisible chair and make you hold it. “It’s like you are water skiing!” No, it is not. It’s like I am Samson, and the instructors are Delilah, and they have taken away my power to LIVE DEAR SWEET SHAKING LEGS! And yet- I keep coming back for more. Why is that? One barre class is all it takes for the seeds to root. You hit the studio, deposit the blood, sweat, and tears into the ground, give it all you’ve got, shaking like the dickens, and leave with a whole new sense of self. The self that puts in the WORK. You reap what you sew. It’s rewarding. It feels so good.
I am honored Cori asked me to document the next 2 months of my barre experience here for you all to read so much. I welcome all encouragement during class towards this 32-year-old tired mother of three who can most easily be identified in studio by the severe amount of shaking limbs during the WARM UP and if that doesn’t give me away then look for the girl with the dry shampoo/dandruff dusted mat. That’s me, your girl Alicia A. Wilkdogg. Throwing up the sign of the cross because she’s sure of her imminent death by blue loop. Heavens to gracious.
#meetmeatthebarre, Alicia Wilkdeezy