Whew. My life has been total and complete chaos since Thanksgiving (well, really since Nov. 1, but we won’t go there). Now that I’m finally settled into my new job and new apartment and have some semblance of a routine, I can get back to my training and my blog and my actual life. HOORAY!
In keeping with my commitment to off-season fun, I added another kind of workout to my growing list of cool cross-training options. I very recently discovered that b.fit barre studio is across the street — no, really, across the street — from my building. There was no excuse not to check it out. The short version? I joined in a beginner class last night and had my mind totally blown.
I am not a dancer. I have no coordination and terrible posture and am pretty much the furthest thing from graceful to walk this earth. See: the end of this post. I’m also somewhat skeptical of exercise classes that don’t include a solid dose of ass kicking. I make an exception to the “bootcamp only” rule for the occasional yoga session. So I was hesitant up until the minute the class started because the room was filled with girls who were decked out in lululemon gear and looked like they didn’t much care for hardcore sweat fests. Ooof. Note to self, do not judge.
Basically, barre incorporates the core work from Pilates, the stretching from yoga, and the isolation exercises from ballet into one class. We warmed up with some planks and stretching then did some upper body work with light weights. The instructor informed us that the tempo of our movement was very important, so everything was done in time to music. Then we got to the barre.
It looks pretty, right? Well, you try doing a plie (NOT a squat) on your tiptoes for minutes at a time while also worrying about your arms and pulsing up and down. It certainly doesn’t feel pretty. We changed foot position and exercise type several times to isolate the glutes and the thighs and the calves. I shake pretty seriously when I do things like this — which is GOOD — and I was practically convulsing by the end of each set. I’m pretty sure my muscles were creating so much heat that steam was seeping through my capris. It buuuuuuuuuuuuuuurns!
Photos courtesy of b.fit
The next set of exercises was from Pilates — lots of rounded spine, roll ups, leg lift type stuff. I don’t know enough about Pilates to actually describe them. My core was burning about as badly as every last muscle in my legs and butt. Follow that up with some stretching, and I got my ass solidly kicked. I have one more class on the beginner pass, and so I’ll definitely be back!
The after-effects of this? I expected to be crazy sore when I woke up this morning, but thankfully I felt pretty normal as I rallied to head to my first-ever CAR hill workout. I think it takes more than 8 hours to set in. I now consider this the least of my current problems.
The hill workouts are at the Iwo Jima memorial in Rosslyn, which is a really beautiful place to watch the sun rise. It was super cold until I finished a solid warmup, and I think it’s time to consider some winter tights. Anyway, we started at the bottom of the hill for a loop that includes a .3 mile climb, a short recovery, strides, and another recovery down to the bottom. Six times through. I was feeling really great through the first three reps. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a dedicated hill workout, but I really enjoy running hills and all the hill sessions I did this summer were on a much steeper and longer incline in upper NW. So I felt like the whole thing was very manageable.
The problem is that for how much I enjoy and succeed at going up, I am very bad at going down. I usually slow pretty significantly for these sections because I have a fear of pitching forward, but for this particular workout the strides come on a downhill section. That’s all well and good, but I missed the point of picking up my cadence and was basically running with the longest stride possible and totally out of control. Add in someone who is already prone to tripping and a really uneven surface and you’ll get two bloody and bruised knees, scraped elbows and a huge gash on your left hip bone.
I want to say that my pride was what hurt the most, but in this case that’s actually not true. Yeah, I was pretty embarrassed — though thankfully I was behind two other girls with no one behind me to actually witness the mess — but when I got up I was nauseous from how painful the fall was. I managed to jog down to the bottom but had to step off to the side and try to walk it off rather than hit the next rep with the group. It took minutes to get my breath back. I’m pretty tough, but damn, everything hurt. I checked out my knees (covered by pants) and found blood and some initial swelling and figured my elbows were the same way (they were). It wasn’t until I got home and got in the shower that I found the gash on my hip. WHO DOES THAT?!?
I debated not finishing the workout, but since I had to get back up the damn hill at some point anyway, I toughed it out for two more reps. Also, pride. I actually think this was brilliant (go ahead, disagree) because it kept my knees from stiffening up immediately. Which they did, as soon as I stopped at the end of my cooldown and very definitely when I climbed into the car. More nausea. I was really nervous that showering would reduce me to blood-curdling screams, but the cuts themselves weren’t so bad. I was most worried about the bruising and swelling, and after a quick conversation with Nurse Mom I spent the rest of the morning walking around my apartment with Ziploc bags of ice prewrapped to my knees.
Anyway, now they’re the size of baseballs (basically there’s no definition between my quads and shins) and extremely stiff, which makes getting up and down and dealing with stairs really unpleasant. I feel like I just finished a goddamn marathon. Hopefully the recovery will be short and I can get back to all the fun I have planned for the week.
Are you as clumsy as I am? I have lots of scars to tell the stories, not all running-related…