My ballet career was brief.
I took maybe a handful of classes when I was 5 or 6 years old.
What I remember most is the itchy purple polyester leotard and chalk white tights that my sister had bought me as well as the fact that I didn't have a pair of toe shoes. I wore sweat socks. My mom reasoned that she didn't want to buy anything - including the toe shoes - until she was satisfied that I'd stick with it.
Sweat socks for ballet? Simply awful. I mean even my 5 or 6 year old self knew that those brutish socks ruined the whole outfit. It was supposed to be delicate, refined and sophisticated. That was the aesthetic. After all, Audrey Hepburn had started out as a ballerina. (Let me confess something right now - Aesthetics have always been super important to me, so that's why I now say that the absence of any toe shoes was definitely a factor in my becoming a ballet school dropout back then.)
I hadn't thought much about any of those purple polyester and sweat sock memories until after watching Black Swan at the movies a few years ago. Not only did Natalie Portman win the Oscar, but she (and the movie) also set off a crazy mad ballet barre exercise trend in big cities (the usual suspects - NYC, Chicago and LA) across the country.
I had read a lot about barre, but, at that point, was deeply immersed in yoga. Also, the barre trend had yet to hit RI. My theory is that it takes at least 3 years for any trend to reach RI, but before we get to barre (and Pure Barre specifically), let's talk yoga. I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you about how it saved me from life as a weakling AND a mouth breather. And I'd be a big liar if I said that the fact that you practiced barefoot (No toe shoes! No sweat socks!) didn't appeal to me.
At my skinniest, wearing a size 25 in a J.Crew jean, and as a beginning yogi (This about 5 years ago.), I had no muscle tone and barely any stamina. I was unable to hold a plank for more than a couple of seconds max. Thin but dangerously out of shape - what has come to be known in some circles as skinny fat. Not a healthy mix.
I also didn't know how to breathe - You see I was a shallow breather. Sometimes even a mouth breather, as horrible as that may sound. And I was in an extremely stressful job. Again, not a healthy mix.
Once I started practicing yoga breathing (essentially deep breathes in thru your nose and slow breathes out thru your mouth) and yoga regularly, things began to change. For the better. In fact, I looked and felt worlds better than I ever had. I was stronger too. Finally, I was in a healthy mix. (Find more info about my healthy mix yoga mentor @ Essence Yoga)
Then Pure Barre - and their decidedly non-brutish socks - came into my life.
I see now that it was all meant to be because the first time I spotted the Pure Barre studio, I was on my way to - or possibly from - one of my all time favorite places to shop nowadays, Whole Foods. Did I mention that my yoga practice had made me want to eat a whole lot healthier as well? (Prior to that, I was existing on a diet of primarily coffee, bagels, croissants, French fries and cheeseburgers. No kidding. And I felt pretty crummy, but couldn't figure out why. Well, Hello?!?!) That had led me to Whole Foods originally, which had then led me right straight to Pure Barre. Funny how that worked out, isn't it?
I started with one pair of the sticky socks (recommended for traction while you're doing the all important barre work portion of the class) and some of my own non-itchy exercise clothing. After 1 or 2 classes, that was it - I was hooked. It wasn't that I was excelling at any of it mind you. I wasn't - not at the warm up with light weights, the ballet barre work (for legs and butt), the Pilates-inspired abs work or even the cool down stretches. In fact, for the first 2 weeks, I could barely make it thru any of the routines. Thank goodness for the loud music - That way no one could really hear me groaning and cursing. But I stuck with it.
You see I was determined because I knew it was making me even stronger and moreover, WHO wouldn't want a ballet dancer physique? It's the one that's coveted most because it's lean, tight and there's no bulk. (Btw, PB also improved my yoga practice. Combining it with another activity you love is something that will definitely help you to see results across the board.)
Eventually, I had definitive proof that it was working.
People took notice.
After about 3-4 weeks of almost daily PB classes (I can be a crazy perfectionist once I start something, so don't feel the need to follow my 'go daily' lead. PB recommends going 3-4 times a week actually.) and buying up about a 1/2 dozen pairs of the sticky socks (clearly compensating for my lack of toe shoes decades earlier), I saw my sister and she told me how much she LOVED my jeans. Huh? They weren't close to new. I'd had them for months and months. Then it hit me - it wasn't the jeans, it was the Pure Barre! If you want to get stronger AND look better in your jeans, then find out more about Pure Barre Cranston, RI @ Pure Barre.
See you @ The Barre.
Photo Courtesy: Purple Polyester Leotard photo, Pinterest