I decided to take a 5 AM Barre class with my cousin.
Let’s stop a minute and analyze that sentence. I mean, there is so much wrong with it. 5 AM? Exercise? In a group?
I’m already a pretty early riser. We have to get up before the sun rises to get the kids to school, and I’m usually the first one up (that’s the only way to guarantee there’s enough hot water for a decent shower). But in order for me to get up and get ready to head out the door sans bed-head (which, if you have short hair, you totally understand my plight) and with enough presence of mind to operate a motor vehicle, I was looking at a 4 AM wake up call.
SWEET LORD WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE IN MY LIFE WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN TALKING SENSE TO ME?
Four o’clock arrived with the sweet sounds of an iPhone harp (which by the way, at four AM sounds pretty much like fingernails on a chalkboard). I clumsily told it to f*ck off for ten minutes. After the second alarm I managed to stumble into the bathroom and have a come-to-Jesus meeting with my hair. Then I went downstairs and started my car and remembered that I was still in my pajamas. So I climbed back up the stairs (we live in a quad and have somewhere in the range of nine-hundred to a kergillion stairs in our house) and tried to get dressed as quietly as I could so I wouldn’t wake the Hubster (pretty sure I failed. Sorry, T).
You know what? By the time I got into the car I was feeling pretty good. Delusional optimism had set in: Do you know what kind of productivity I could have if I could wake up at four AM every morning? I could publish, like, forty-five books this year! I could run a marathon! I could cure cancer and win a Pulitzer and discover solid evidence of extraterrestrial life!
So, my cousin and I are sitting on our yoga mats, barefooted and optimistic with a couple of hand weights and a cute little rubber ball, when the class instructor walks in. She’s little and perky and I like her immediately.
We get started. Techno music is playing in the background. I hate techno, but I try not to blame the instructor. I’m sure it’s not her fault–they probably make her play that music. It feels sort of like a bad omen, though.
The first fifteen minutes of class are no problem. Lots of squats, and I’m totally pro-squat, so I’m into it. But then we go to the barre, little rubber balls in hand. I’m wondering what they’re for, and find out soon enough.
Have you ever tried to squat while keeping a ball safely tucked be-twix your thighs? Yeah, I hadn’t either. Have you ever tried hold a ball in the crook of your knee while lifting your leg around like a clumsy ballerina with a giant tumor? Yeah, me neither. Have you ever tried doing either of those things while a petite brunette keeps telling you–in ever increasing tones–to keep your toes pointed!!? Have you ever chased a little, sweat-covered rubber ball around a room full of people who seem to have magically perfected the art of ball-squatting within a matter of minutes?
Yeah, me neither.
“Did you used to do dance?” the instructor calls out. My cousin and I snigger because both know without looking that she’s not addressing the question to either of us. My cousin is a runner and yogi, but bless her heart, her ball seemed to be popping out of place as much as mine. This was the only thing that was keeping me from spewing expletives as I chased my hateful ball around the room…again.
Anyway, contrary to what I was beginning to believe, it turned out that little bit of hell wasn’t eternal. The time had come to go back to our mats. The brochure for the class promised that Barre was a combination of yoga, pilates, and ballet. Oh, goody! I thought. It’s time for shavasana!
Oh, how wrong I was.
It wasn’t time for shavasana. It was time for killer crunches with the now sweaty little rubber ball tucked into the small of my back. Then it was time for killer crunches with weights. Then it was time for killer crunches with weights and leg lifts. Then it was time for killer crunches with weights and leg lifts and twisting.
“POINT THOSE TOES!” our instructor shouts out in gleeful tones. I’m liking her less and less. “Only one more!” Which is a hateful lie because one more really means two more, and one twisty crunch mean two pulses on each side plus the leg lifting, so really, if we’re doing the math here, it’s like forty-nine different movements all at once. Now I’m re-thinking all the life choices that have brought me to this point, and wonder if my cousin is doing the same.
“Now it’s time to lay back,” the instructor says and I’m nearly squealing with delight because I’m finally going to get my much-earned shavasana. But then she adds, “and beat our legs.”
It is at this point that someone else in the room hollers out, “I’m going to beat you.” I don’t know who you are, person in the 5 AM Barre class, but I’m pretty sure we’re soul mates.
So there we are, a classroom full of people with legs in the air, sweaty rubber balls under our butts, waving our legs around in the air while Perky Ms. Perkyton is shouting at us to POINT THOSE TOES! POINT THEM TO THE SKY! POINT THEM UNTIL YOUR LEGS CRAMP! and all I can think is (a) this chick had better never meet me in a dark alley, and (b) I’m soooo eating donuts today.
It ends abruptly. One minute we’re doing things that I know I’ll be feeling for the next six weeks, and the next we’re done–the techno music is turned off, yoga mats are being put away, and people are filing out. There was no gentle easing of motion. No lying on our backs letting all the hard work settle on our bones. Just a perky instructor telling everybody she hopes to see us again on Thursday.
I stifle a half-crazed laugh.
TRUE STORY: The only thing that’s going to be seeing me at 5 AM on Thursday is the business end of my pillow.