Tag Archives: Pure Barre

Ms. Delicate

I am hands down the worst person to take on a date. Not only am I morally opposed to chain restaurants and establishments under a 99% health rating, but I require a menu diverse enough to accommodate my dietary restriction du jour. It’s no secret that I’m picky. But — a true rationalizer through and through — I believe that I am picky in a good way. Picky in a way that prevents me or any of my loved ones from eating at questionable restaurants or, God forbid, at a Cheesecake Factory.

If you knew me as a child, my current state of judginess would shock you. I grew up with a particular fondness for bologna and my favorite restaurant (using the term a little loosely here) was Taco Bell. Yes, Taco Bell. “Two soft chicken tacos no tomatoes” was a phrase heard all-too often in my household. At one point it was even my birthday dinner of choice.

So what happened, you ask? When did I turn from a Taco Bell lovin’ gal to a completely unqualified food critic? The first–and certainly most memorable turning point–happened when a girl at elementary school carpool told me that Taco Bell meat was actually dog food (an early whistle blower, if you ask me). As this girl had more LTD2 outfits than I had pet rats, I considered her an authority on all things important, and so I began to more thoroughly inspect my food for signs of foreign elements, including–but certainly not limited to–kibble. I began to question ingredients, food preparation and sanitary guidelines, and I no longer yearned for my favorite breakfast: the Hampton Inn continental buffet.

The red flags followed me well into my young adult life (the Mad Cow scare of the early 2000s, a live butterfly in my sister’s pre-packaged salad, Food, Inc., etc.), all culminating in one completely life-altering moment that set me over the edge: my first job as a server. I’ll spare the details, but it was at that moment I realized that I was truly alone in this world. No one shared my steadfast commitment to frequent and vigorous hand-washing, and no one understood the importance of cleaning lemons.

I should also note that at some point between my Taco Bell days and now, I became a vegetarian of sorts. I say, “of sorts” because I’m actually a pescetarian, but that just sounds way too pretentious. Now, I have nothing against meat eaters. Clearly, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of meat. And dog food, it would seem. And if a pepperoni were to sneak its way into my mouth, I wouldn’t throw a fit. It’s happened before. And–considering I once broke a tooth while demolishing a slice of Goodfellas– it will probably happen again.

But here’s the problem (yes, there’s more). Without painting too vile a picture, I can say that my digestive system is something akin to Mel Gibson –unstable and inflammatory. It’s not a new issue — I once went to the ER with a suspected case of appendicitis, only to come home with a formal diagnosis of gas. But since college, I’ve been plagued with an array of stomach pains and problems that have truly infringed on my quality of life, most notably on my favorite weekend pastime, Quesadilla Sunday. My doctor diagnosed me with IBS so, I kid you not, my chart now reads, “Anxiety, asthma, IBS” (I’m a catch, to be sure).

Quesadilla Sunday. Based on my sickly complexion and generally offensive expression, it's likely that this was my last-ever Quesadilla Sunday.

Quesadilla Sunday. Based on my sickly complexion and generally offensive appearance, it’s likely that this was my last-ever Quesadilla Sunday.

A few months ago, I decided it was time to do something about digestive misgivings. And–with at least one Pure Barre class under my belt–I felt I was ready to go full-on aristocrat and diagnose myself with gluten intolerance. Now, I realize that unless you’re a 40-something-year old white woman, you’re thinking that “gluten intolerance” is totally BS. And you’re probably right. But can you blame me if I want to have a backhand like Djokovic? Or abs like Bill Clinton? Or, at the very least, the ability to enjoy an afternoon without writhing in pain?

If you’re keeping count of my confessions, you’ll now know me to be a germaphobe, vegetarian, gluten-free* date with incredibly high-standards. To say that I am “delicate” is an understatement, as my frailty extends to all aspects of my life. Particularly traveling. Perhaps one day I’ll blog about how difficult it is to take me on a car trip. Or on a vacation, for that matter. But as I’ve now revealed my somewhat embarrassing health record, I think I’ll leave my soul bearing at this for the time being.

*After months of living on hard cider and overpriced ginger beer, I decided my love for beer (and pizza, when I’ve had too many beers) outweighed my desire to live up to a Gwyneth-like standard of gluten freedom. So I’m now drinking beer (and eating pizza, when I’ve had too many beers). It’s all very scientific. I wouldn’t expect you to understand.

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Return of the Gym Rat

I’ve decided I’d like to get ripped. Nothing too aggressive, just something that would look nice under a spray tan.

The decision comes as a result of several recent experiences, the most horrific of which being the morning my father told me that I looked, “Broad. Like a swimmer, Jo!” While I realize that this was probably a genuine attempt at a compliment, it was nonetheless devastating. I’ve always been a bit self-conscious of my shoulders — I was an early bloomer in middle school and once ripped a shirt in half while clapping. Over the years, I’ve done my best to avoid halter tops and overcome my insecurities. I’ll admit that I’ve even made some progress. But to have my stature likened to that Michael Phelps while wearing a new tennis tank was as a real tragedy, and I was immediately obligated to rethink my entire blazer collection. (I’d like to say that my dad soon redeemed himself from such a tactless comment, but moments later, he referred to my legs as “manscular.” The man has a gift.)

Another reason I’ve decided to get ripped is because I am embarrassingly weak (yes, even with such a “manscular” physique). I came to realize this when I decided to try out the whole “Pure Barre” fad. For the record, I’m not a Barre regular. Not only are the socks alone an ungodly financial commitment, but I’m fairly certain it’s an underground trafficking system for tennis bracelets and Lululemon. However, I was given the opportunity to attend a free class and, never one to turn down a freebie other than communal snacks, I decided to give it a shot.

I arrived at the studio in my trendiest yoga pants and thickest, most expensive pair of socks. I’d heard there was a barefoot component to the class, and I wasn’t taking any chances with potential skin-to-mat contact (ringworm is out there, and it’s only a matter of time before CrossFit sparks a worldwide epidemic). We began the class with a warm up, during which I was unable to complete a full push up. Red Flag Number One. Then, 10 minutes into the first routine, all of my cynical notions of the “Barre method” were completely debunked — that shit is hard. While the women around me were gracefully “pulsing” and “tucking” their “seats,” I was convulsing on the floor, grinning and clenching like a gassy old man. It was mortifying. I was physically unable to lift myself to a proper “tucking” position, so I instead used my free time to survey the crowd — Barre women are a breed all their own, and I was eager to observe them.

I looked around at my exceptionally flexible classmates, using the undercover creepy eye I honed in college, and quickly realized why people paid big bucks for the Barre method. The women were ripped. And I mean seriously cut. Before that moment, I’d only seen arms that sculpted on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, a physical achievement I imagined to be made possible by tricks of lighting and expensive bronzer. But there they were, the arms of my dreams, flexing and “pulsing” before my very eyes! It was breathtaking. More than once, I tried to compare biceps in the mirror, but it useless — I was clearly the runt of the bunch, a travesty that no amount of self tanner could correct.

A young, stylish dog-whisperer. You'll notice my bowl-cut, as well.

“A Bowl-Cut and Bones.” People often referred to me as a style icon of my time.

Needless to say, I haven’t been back to Pure Barre. Neither my muscles, my ego, nor my wallet could handle a second appearance. I’ve never felt so weak, and I’ve since spent a substantial amount of time researching Shake Weights. In my defense, I’ve never been a particularly strong girl. Sure, I was fast at one point — but that was back in my youth when I was nothing but a bowl-cut and bones. Back when I was a swimmer, and all it took was some desperate flailing and a packet of Fun Dip to propel my lithe, boyish figure to first place. 

Now that I’m a mature woman of 25, I need more than an adventurous creek walk or rigorous talent show practice to maintain my shape. While I can always lean on a strategically applied spray tan to fudge some muscle definition, will that help in the long run? Will it further my dream of becoming a music video celebutante? Or perhaps most importantly, will it prepare my feeble biceps for the heft of an adult cat? I think not. And as I plan to groom the largest cat in the clowder during my first week as an official Humane Society volunteer, I cannot risk physical inferiority. If he’s to truly respect me, I must first assert myself as his queen.

So, these are the reasons that I’ve decided to start working out again. My first goal is to build enough definition to fill out a muscle tank, as I now look a bit like a house elf in them.

How I look in muscle tanks

How I look in muscle tanks

And with that stunning visual in mind, I hereby declare that it’s time to reinstate my forehead vein and revisit my career as a Gym Rat. Below is the proof.