In our experience there are many many reasons why people choose to workout. Some are forced to for injury rehabilitation reasons, others for their job, still others to impress someone else. These reasons and many others are all valid and worthy of the effort that they inspire, but today’s blog is written by someone who has an altogether different reason. One that many of us might not be very willing to share. One that perhaps many of us in fact have in common but either ignore or hide. Today’s contributor is someone who has now been attending The Barre for about 8 months. She is in some ways relatively new to The Barre family but in many ways she represents some of our most experienced veterans. We are moved by her words and thrilled to get to share them with all of you. You’ve most likely seen her in the studio, she is unassuming, often quiet, and fights through class with an uncommon fierceness. Here are her thoughts in her own words: Amy Holford:
I’ve just pouched an entire box of Jaffa Cakes and I’m not sorry. I knit my ribs together 1465 times this morning, tightened my lower abs, clenched my butt and stretched my hammies to the point of no return. This is my biggest challenge; not devouring all chocolate items within grasp after exercise. I overheard Natalie say the other day that the best time to eat sugary foods is right after your workout. I play fast and loose with ‘right after.’ By about eight hours, give or take. Listen, I’ve got that pleasant ache in my joints and an ability to run up the stairs without sounding like I’ve run a half marathon dressed as a white goods item, so if a pack of Jaffa Cakes is my reward, I’m inhaling it.
When I started attending The Barre last Summer, it was the first time I’d “worked out” in years. I danced as a teenager until I gave it up when I left school. After that, motivating myself to do any form of exercise was impossible and just felt unnecessary. I’ve always been slim, but as I hit my mid twenties (I know, moan, moan, whinge, to be young…) I started clicking and popping in places that one would only hear resonate from a seventy five year old. I felt weak and I felt unhealthy. I figured I didn’t want to get to my Mum’s age and not feel as fit and healthy as I should be. I started taking contemporary dance classes with Eliot Smith who’s company is in residency at the studio, so The Barre made perfect sense to me. It combined core training, stamina, endurance and a little element of the dance I had missed for so long. Because when you’re in class, you almost feel as if you’re performing. Not only for yourself, but to make sure you don’t get a finger in your butt from Natalie when you’re not clenching as hard as you should be. And that’s another bonus- you’ve got a team of ladies on hand who push you and prove to you how far you can take your body. To have faith in your ‘edge’ and take it one step further.
Faith in myself. This has been vital for me. On top of this motivation to become a stronger, better me, I had another more personal reason. Since April last year, I started noticing I was sadder than usual. I was sighing all the time, feeling as though something terrible was going to happen. As if I didn’t belong in company, and all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball in my room and never come out. I was frustrated and angry around my family, and I complained too much to my boyfriend. I hated my job, and I was tired all the time. I had wrist and shoulder pain, and I started to feel colourless. Admittedly, looking back, I can see that these symptoms had been coming on for awhile, and what I was experiencing was depression and more notably, anxiety. This was something I had seen friends go through, but never myself.
I didn’t notice as it become a state of normality for me, and that has been the worst thing. The illness slips under your skin as if it’s wearing you for bed.
But I did notice, and I realised I had to work on my self worth and kick this thing in the teeth. It was imperative that I started to colour in the blanks that I felt had consumed me. I need to feel in control, and I have to prove to this thing that I’m as strong as it says I’m not. It is still a battle, and the hardest thing is keeping the faith in yourself. Sometimes I go for weeks feeling positive- I walk into the studio ready to fight it out. Other days, when I’m not so, I’m there because I NEED to be there. I’ve pushed myself every step of the way to get in the car and get down. As I walk in, I stare at the floor, my mouth is set into a hard line and the cloud is well and truly settled above my eyes. And then we start, and suddenly the mist starts to lift a little, set by set, arabesque by plies. Every push up is a punch in the face of the thing that wants to see me sprawl, defeated across the floor. I glance in the mirror and I don’t shy away, but kinda dig how red I’ve become, how my stray pink hair is stuck to my forehead. ‘God, my roots are looking terrible…I have to sort that out…’ But I’m also looking into that mirror as if to say, ‘You’re not stopping. Ten more reps, nine, eight… you’ve got this, you’re doing it,’ until the class is over. The demon is beaten back to behind the door, and I have an instructor telling me at the end that I’ve nailed it…I’ve turned this thing into something positive, something to be proud of. There’s barely been a moment, inside that room, where I’ve given up. The most valuable thing I’ve taken from The Barre is an undeniable sense of strength and pride in myself…and also a solid reason to plough through the biscuits from the highest shelf in my kitchen.
Oftentimes, the anxiety still makes a return the following morning, so in that case I just combat it with another class, with another achievement. As I feel my abs strengthen into a wee four pack, and my boyfriend tells me fondly how my bubble butt is still a bubble butt, but it’s a strong one, and I click and pop less now, I feel a worth in myself that is so important in the times where shit gets hard. And that’s priceless.
Coming in to The Barre is a positive experience in itself. So many different people, men and women, all absolutely slamming it in every class to be the happiest version of themselves. Women double my age absolutely rocking plies and dance stretches better than I ever have (or probably ever will), murdering Barrdio as if being out of breath and sticky was in fashion. Big strong dudes who look like they’re wanting to cry in pain as much as you. Everyone is equal, everyone is striving for something. I’m inspired every day that I go by the people that share The Barre with me. There’s something for everyone. If you feel self conscious, you forget about it immediately. There’s no time for it. The only person you have to impress is yourself, and if you give it enough time, you will. One thing I’ve learned is how much stress you can put on your body, and how much it can take. The only thing holding you back, is you. The only person watching you, is you. And if you can walk out a couple inches higher (or lower if you’ve done BRX)…hell, if you can walk out ALIVE, then you’ll be impressed with yo’self. I promise.
The Barre has become a therapy of sorts for me, and I’ve never had to whinge on about my problems to anyone in order to achieve a sense of clarity. Sure, I’m on waiting list to get some proper help. But The Barre is always open for me.
Thanks guys! x