As I continue on this journey towards creating my strongest and healthiest self, I’ve spent a lot of time rethinking what nutrition really means as far as fueling my body and my goals. After a year of and a half of following a low carb, no sugar way of clean eating, I have a better understanding of what makes me feel good from the inside out, and have gotten into a great rhythm of tried-and-true recipes, go-to weeknight meals, and staying on my plan even while on the road for work.
This journey hasn’t been perfect, though. Yes I have lost 85lbs, and yes feel SO much better than I have in years, but truth be told, throughout this journey I’ve been struggling, specifically in the around my workout routine. And not just the physical aspects of exercising, but the mental and emotional challenges as well. And I haven’t really talked about them, until recently.
For years I was a member of a gym that focused on group workouts based on high intensity interval training that I absolutely loved. I loved the coaches. I loved the members. I loved the workout, the energy, the challenge, the atmosphere- all of it. For years that place made me feel stronger, faster, and was the first place to support me in becoming the person I am today. They helped me follow my dream to be able to run, and push my body to do more and be more. And I was so grateful for those experiences.
But sometime around November of 2018, those feelings changed. Instead of feeling strong, the workout itself had started to feel really hard on my body, and I even endured some injuries along the way. But as I continued to work on my health goals and get stronger, I wanted to do more. I wanted to go faster and go longer distances on treadmill. I wanted to use heavier weights. I wanted to do more and be more. But the more I pushed, the more I injured myself. My mind and its desire to do more was competing with my body- and my body couldn’t keep up. Feeling this way brought on a lot of internal pressure, and injuries pulled me away from workouts for long spurts of time while I healed. That internal pressure caused me to view exercise as a burden, instead of a blessing. I no longer looked to it as a source of strength. It was a source of setback and disappointment instead.
Finally, in March of this year, after months and months of internal debate, doubt, and excuses, I knew it was time.
I didn’t want to use the word that has so much guilt and stigma attached to it, but I knew it was coming.
I needed to quit and find something else.
I thought about it for weeks and weeks.
I didn’t want to give up. I didn’t want to leave the gym that had given me so much life.
I didn’t want to quit.
And as I mulled over the bit Q word, I immediately felt like a failure. I couldn’t give up. Giving up would mean I was giving up on my dreams.
But the more I pushed myself toward these goals I had set for myself (like becoming a runner, for example), the more setbacks I faced. And eventually I had to ask myself “Why are you holding onto this goal? Why is it important to you?” and the answers I came up with were legitimate ones. I enjoyed the feeling, the whoosh and the high, the accomplishment, the excitement, the power and strength. As I listed those things, I knew that there were now consequences attached to them all. Injury, setbacks, struggle. And those weren’t feelings that I wanted to continue to experience.
At that moment I asked myself an important question. “Were running and high-intensity workouts the only way to achieve those feelings and emotions? Could there be other things I could do without jeopardizing my wellness? Could I find something else to help me meet my fitness and health goals? What exactly was I holding onto and why? Was it the length of time I’ve talked about these goal that made it necessary for me to not give them up? Did I fear societal pressure? Internal pressure? Fear of failure? Fear of quitting? To be honest, I could answer “yes” to quite a few of those questions. And even one “yes” is an unhealthy reason to hold onto something- even if it’s attached to a goal.
Next month I turn 40, and I want my body to continue to get stronger, healthier, and leaner, and to be able to move fluidly, strongly, and flexibly as I enter this new stage of life. I knew I needed to find something new. Something safer for me. Something sustainable. I needed to be a learner again. I needed to understand how to move and think in a way that supported my goals, instead of competing with expectations of what I thought I should be doing in order to feel strong. I needed to find something low impact, but still challenging, with a strong focus on stretching and flexibility to loosen up the muscles and tendons that I had been overusing repeatedly for years. I needed something less intense, both physically and mentally because it was important for me to not only be able to prioritize my body’s needs, but my emotional needs as well.
Some friends of mine had been telling me about classes at The Bar Method for a long, long time, and it had been in and out of my mind for a few weeks as I searched for something new. After about a month of thinking about it, I decided to try a class.
As expected, the typical thoughts of a curvy girl ran through my mind- would I fit in? would I be accepted? would I be laughed at for being “larger”? Would I be clumsy and awkward? Would it really support my goals? Would it be enough of a workout to get my heart-rate up? What do I even wear to a Bar Method class?
Those thoughts went through my mind for a while until I finally told myself “you’re still thinking about it, so just TRY IT.” So, I acknowledged those emotions as they surfaced, worked through each of them with a rational answer (which was usually a “just do it and you’ll find out!”), and walked into my first class with courage and a smile.
And here I am sitting here sharing this story with you having logged in 50 CLASSES since joining in March!
And those 50 classes have been nothing short of amazing! One free class turned into a new client unlimited 30 day class pass to continue seeing if this was a good fit for me, to today, where I’m a proud member of an unlimited Club Bar membership!
From that first moment I walked into the studio (wearing Old Navy running leggings, a form fitting dri-fit t-shirt, and grippy socks, by the way was all totally fine!) I have felt genuinely welcomed and included. Everyone, from the instructors, to the desk staff, to the other members, have been SO supportive, encouraging, and inclusive. I have learned so much about my body in this time, and continue to learn with every class. Each instructor at The Bar Method is highly trained and there for us. Although classes are in a group format, every class feels personalized because of the individual attention to each instructor provides, which includes learning each person’s name and providing support, encouragement, feedback, correction of form for safety and injury prevention, motivation, and even help with goal setting!
Each class begins with a warm-up, upper-body exercises and push-ups and/or planks in the middle of the room, followed by a sequence of leg and seat work at the barre, and core exercises on the floor. The method uses our own bodyweight for resistance along with a few basic props – free weights, mats and a ball. Every single class is different, but equally challenging, combining a balance of aspects of dance, yoga, cardio, weight training, and stretching. And it is a challenge- big time! I’ve brought friends with me to try out a free class and they all leave saying the same thing- “that was a lot harder than I expected!” And although it’s hard, it’s not hard on my body. It’s one of the most supportive ways of moving my body I’ve ever experienced. The moves are typically tiny -sometimes just an inch- but repetitive, so after 20 or 30 reps of a single leg lift or arm raise, you feel the burn. Everything we do at The Bar Method is designed to sculpt, strengthen, and lengthen.
I love attending class because it gives me a space that is calm, more streamlined, focused, and still, and provides a greater attention to flexibility- all while still providing me with incredibly challenging and heart pumping movements that will continue to change my body for the better. Not only do I leave classes feeing looser and more limber, but I also leave feeling confident and strong. In class I don’t feel like I stick out or don’t belong. There are people there of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities, and we are all there with the same goal in mind- to be kind to our bodies. And after 50 classes, I have seen some major changes in my body, mind and soul. I have noticed my body is toner, stronger, leaner, and more flexible. I stand up straighter, use my muscles differently than I ever have, and I have lost inches around my legs, arms, waist, hips, and chest! I have found that overall my mind is calmer, and clearer, and any stressors I am facing seem to lessen after time at The Bar Method. And most of all, I feel a difference in my soul. I feel like I’m a part of something special and more connected to myself as a whole. The Bar Method has changed my life for the better, and after 50 classes, there’s no looking back!
Quitting is never an easy thing to do, but we have to find the courage to remove the fear, judgement, and guilt attached to it so that if there is something we know we need to quit (a workout, a relationship, or anything else not serving our goals and well-being), we can take those steps to move forward and do what we know is best for our body, mind, and soul and discover our true purpose.
I’m excited to see what the next 50 classes will bring, and look forward to sharing my progress with you!