There’s a new revolution going on, sweeping the nation faster than a Law & Order: NCIS: CSI: Miami of Ohio spinoff. Everyone is either doing it, talking about doing it, talking about NOT doing it, or just dressing like they do it so they don’t feel left out cause they don’t actually do it.
I think it’s called “exercise.”
I discovered “exercise,” in the standard sense, about 2 years ago. I was going through a divorce and felt that clichéd superficial urge to be as skinny as possible, desperately needing a change of lifestyle while stuck in the same apartment I had been living in as a married woman. And what better way to do it than go to an insanely freaking expensive ultra-luxurious urban country club with hot trainers and a steam room that piped eucalyptus through the vents? Oh yeah, I was on TOP of it.
(You could argue that I’ve been “exercising” all of my life, since every time I do a show that involves any kind of movement or dance, I’m “exercising” on a daily basis, sometimes for as much as 7 hours a day. But because it’s what I love to do, and I’m being paid to do it, it’s just not the same as the necessary evil so many people put up with on a daily basis, dragging yourself out of bed, going to the gym/park/studio where you intentionally make yourself sweat for 30-90 minutes, and all you get at the end is a high-five. If you’re LUCKY.)
But somehow “exercise” has become a true part of my life, and one that I actually (no don’t say it don’t say it) enjoy (dammit I said it). And through the trial and error of the workout regimens/classes/crazes I went through, I’ve finally found what works best for me and makes me as excited as I can possibly be about going to a gym. It will never rate up there with getting an unexpected package in the mail or sweeping the Musical Theatre category in Jeopardy while your non-actor friends look on in amazement, but I do feel good baring my abs at a Skivvies concert, so it’s pretty much worth it.
So for all of my very official research on “exercise,” the following is my very official findings on some of the places I have visited, all with the goal of finding a positive environment in which I feel comfortable sweating my butt off while being supported by the instructors and staff.
These people are SERIOUS about fitness. These people have stock in Lululemon, own different workout shoes for running, training, walking, jogging, standing and peeing, and have way better hair than I do. These people literally “woke up like this,” have no problem accidentally on purpose elbowing you out of a good spot in class, and unironically drink fresh green juice after a workout at the smoothie bar. These people are not my people, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be your people.
The hardcore cheerleading of Barre Classes! The instructors are ready to ROCK, pump you UP, and be your best friend as long as it means you keep pulsing until your thighs actually give out and you melt into a puddle on the floor! Smiling is your best defense here, as is making pain faces so it looks like you’re working harder than you are!
THE BAR METHOD
Out of all of the options out there for barre classes, this one is that sorority in college that you didn’t belong to, but are almost sure liked you anyway. A pretty Midwestern girl named Kristin who pronounces the word “per-FECT” taught my class. She actually seemed disappointed with my work because I knew what I was doing. Like, she was so ready to be my Big Sister and bond over 2 pound weights and encourage me that maybe in a few weeks, I would be ready for 3 pounds. But I didn’t give Kristin what she wanted, so she turned her attentions to Joy, the other new gal in class. I proceeded to go home and write in my diary, agonizing over whether I wore the wrong thing or said something stupid, and would I ever be invited back to the house??? But my ass hurt the next day, so I will go back and try to win Kristin’s sisterhood once more.
Can be done at most gyms. Is expensive. Makes me look like Xena the Warrior Princess, and not in a good way.
For my West Coast friends, this is the best workout you will ever have. Not just because the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout is fast, efficient and appropriately difficult. But because the classes are led by incredibly hot Australians WHO YELL COMPLIMENTS AT YOU. Luke and Jimmy will know your name immediately upon entering, and once you see their butts in those almost-too-short-but-not-quite shorts, you will never forget them. (Full disclosure: My fiancée has just as much of a crush on Luke and Jimmy as I do. They’re THAT AWESOME.) A 45 minute, fast-paced, loud and fun workout, you will thank me profusely if you are able to attend a class. I’m not kidding. Go now. NOW.
At the one SoulCycle class I took, I was shocked at how many men were there. Then I realized that the instructor was simply stunning, with her little tiny sports bra and 6 pack abs and long flowing hair that never seemed to absorb sweat, no matter how hard she pedaled. There are candles and positive reinforcements and happiness, which I’m pretty sure is all there to distract from the searing pain going through your thighs as you struggle to pedal in time with the music. Being someone with an innate sense of musicality, it drove me INSANE that I couldn’t always keep up. Candles or not, this is spin class, and it hurts.
That’s just nuts. I ain’t doing that.
I’ve recently found my groove by joining something called ClassPass, where you get to go to as many classes you want at any of the hundreds of participating gyms. Physique 57, Crunch, FlyWheel, dance classes, Pilates, lots of yoga, etc. It’s only $99 a month, but the catch is this: you can only visit each studio 3 times in one month. So it basically forces you to change up your workout daily, or at least try new studios and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Therefore, I hereby promise that I will someday get up the nerve to take a pole dancing class and be sure to report back to all of you.