For years and years, I danced ballet. Yes, me -- the one who brags about my killer boxing skills (I got a mean right hook!). The one who often trips, falls and smashes into things. And yes, the one who’s body is a bit, shall we say, lumpy?
So yeah, I’m not exactly the itty bitty prima ballerina type. But back then, I was much smaller, and I even danced on pointe for a bit.
So when we went to the B. Fit barre studio to shoot a “What’s Your Workout?” segment (shameless plug: WYW airs Wednesdays on News4 at 5), I was thrilled. Here was a workout that combines elements of pilates, yoga and dance technique. A good portion of the workout is at the ballet barre, while the rest of the class is done in the center of the room, sometimes with light hand weights or on your mat.
I was a little nervous about trying this class out. I took a few adult ballet classes last year, but once I realized that I don’t have the body of a 13-year-old anymore, I literally felt like a hippo in a tutu trying to be graceful.
So now here I was again, attempting to plié my way to a slimmer body. And that’s what fans of this type of workout will tell you. All of the exercises focus on abs, thighs, upper body and seat (that’s their classy way of saying behind, hiney, tuckas, etc.). The idea is to have the streamlined look of a dancer. Yes! This is what I need to get rid of those, um, er, lumps.
As I waited for class to begin, I took a good look at the people around me. It was predominantly young females (there was one guy), all were pretty slim and wearing lots of Lululemon. I couldn’t decide if this was good or bad. Are these women tiny because they’ve been taking this class? Or does this mean I’m going to have that old hippo-in-a-tutu feeling again?
Amy, the instructor, gave me a few pointers. She said as we go through the exercises, various parts of my body will be burning and shaking. But that’s what will help change the shape of the body.
Hmmmm… burning and shaking? Maybe I can live without this type of workout. I mean who doesn’t love a few little lumps here and there? More to love, right? But for the sake of all of my loyal readers (there has to be at least one), I convinced myself that I could stick this out.
We start with a “warm up” by lifting the calves and knees in front of the body in time to the upbeat music. This is definitely an ab exercise. You need to use those core muscles to control the leg and get it up there. Then we went in to a serious of planks and side planks. Don’t forget about the push ups, tricep and bicep work using weights. I was already tired and sweating.
Next came some of the barre work. Think ballet technique but set to hip hop music. If it didn’t hurt so bad, I would say it was fun. Different exercises included classic ballet moves to painful leg lifts. Once we finished that part, we sat down underneath the barre, gripping onto it so we could work our abs. One word: Ouch!
Most of the exercises focus on small, isolated movements. So think -- tucking the tail bone and squeezing the belly so that you can lift your leg. It’s super hard and Amy needed to adjust my body because I just had no idea what to do.
Speaking of Amy, I can tell you one thing for sure: that woman does not lie. At one point, my glutes were burning so bad I thought they were on fire. My thighs were shaky. My arms were exhausted. And it wasn’t just me. As I looked around the room, everyone was sweating with shaky legs. OK, maybe I’m not the hippo. Everyone is struggling like me. Sure, I was struggling a little more, but it was my first time!
So it’s been two days since I took my B. Fit class. I’m sore. My legs, seat (yes, I’m classy!), arms and shoulders are all sore. I tried to take yoga yesterday, but my muscles were screaming at me whenever I asked them to hold a pose.
Looking back, I was definitely dropping F bombs in my head throughout the class, counting down the minutes when I could flee from Amy. But then we finished and I felt the effects on my body. Wow! I think I’m hooked. Give me a few more weeks and I’ll be pirouetting my way across the newsroom.
P.S.: Amy totally noticed my excellent ballet technique. Told you I could dance!
Lauren Dunn is the medical producer for NBC Washington.