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Anybody who knows me will you tell you I am a fitness fanatic. In fact, before COVID-19 hit and shut down all the gyms where I live, I was partying on a bike at my favorite indoor cycling studio up to seven days a week. To help keep the momentum going in my fitness journey, I immediately looked on Amazon to purchase workout equipment to outfit my tiny apartment. Unfortunately, I was greeted with several “sold outs” on every search I made.
What was I supposed to do now? Refusing to succumb to the temptation of endless Netflix binge sessions and inevitably gaining the “COVID 15,” I knew I needed to get creative with my at-home workouts. That’s when I remembered I tried a dance-inspired barre workout a few years ago that required little-to-no equipment to get a good sculpt in. All I really needed was yoga pants and a countertop to act as my stationary handrail.
Ready to trade in my typical cardio-focused routine for an intense, strength-training workout, I grabbed my phone and pulled up my app to search for online barre classes. I live in Phoenix, and to say the barre scene here is popping would be an understatement. With the city at my fingertips, I decided to try streaming workouts from one of the local hotspots around here—barre3 Scottsdale.
Upon booking (just $10 for my first class!), I received a confirmation email letting me know I’d receive the link to my class 15-30 minutes before it started—they even suggested hopping on 10 minutes before class started to introduce yourself to the instructor (hey, Ashley!) and chat with the other students. The morning of my class, I slapped on those yoga pants, propped my laptop on my kitchen counter, and got ready to plie my little heart out.
Pro tip: If you're interested in taking your virtual barre experience to the next level by trying out multiple studios all over the country, you should look into trying out Mindbody Flex. Mindbody Flex gives you the power to try all the best livestream fitness classes from the comfort of your own home at a super affordable rate. There are thousands of livestream classes to choose from, at hundreds of great studios—and more and more studios are opting in to Flex each week. Check out this blog post to get all the deets on a Mindbody Flex membership.
When I logged into class, I was greeted by my instructor, Ashley, and a handful of other barre students.
Then I learned, I was the only newbie in the class. On top of that, my back was to my wall of windows, so I literally looked like a creepy shadow trying to pawn myself off as an elegant dancer. Not even five minutes into class, my entire body became a wobbly mess. To put this into perspective for you, I’m a part-time yoga instructor so I’m used to holding poses that make your muscles want to scream for an ungodly length of time—but movements involved in barre are no joke. Seriously.
I felt every inch of every single plie I did—almost landing on my butt half of the time. By the end of the class, my fingertips were clinging onto my countertop like I was a rock climber dangling off a 50-foot cliff—completely out of breath and wondering if I even had legs anymore.
All in all, it was a great, full-body workout and one that I (and my muscles) would not forget for several days. No—really. When I woke up the next morning, I could barely release my heels to the ground, requiring me to not only wear high heels to walk my dogs (it’s a great look with sweatpants by the way) but also around my apartment. Come to think of it, I should probably write my downstairs neighbor a letter of apology for causing so much ruckus.
Stretch before and after class. This one is a little embarrassing because I should have known better. While I did prep my muscles before the workout with some light stretching, I was so gassed after class that I completely forgot to cater to my limbs post-workout. Even just a few yoga stretches probably would have helped with the recovery process.
Invite a workout buddy. Hey—the more the merrier, right? I’m not going to lie—being the only newbie in this class, my ego took a huge hit. As someone who not only works out every day but also teaches fitness for a living, I was surprised at how humbling this experience was. I’m used to working out with others, and I think inviting some other beginners to partake in this class would make it even more entertaining. Who knows? Maybe if my boyfriend took the class with me, he would take back all those chuckles he had whenever I wore my heels to grab a glass of water during my recovery phase.
Find better lighting. Next time, I would probably set my laptop up at a different angle, so I didn’t look like a backlit, dancing ghoul. I’m sure it would have been easier for Ashley to offer me feedback on any of the movements I was doing if she was actually able to see me.
Stock up on Epsom salt. Or magnesium supplements of any kind. When I say you will be sore from a live-streamed barre workout, I mean it. Get yourself a big bag of Epsom salt and run yourself a bath to help your muscles recover—you’ll thank me later.
Even though I felt like a baby deer taking its first steps throughout the entire class, one session was all it took for me to want to add virtual barre classes into my COVID-19 workout routine. Did this class make me feel sore for days? Yep. Did it make me realize I had muscles in places I never even knew existed? You bet. But those are the types of workouts I crave because you start seeing results immediately and the recovery process gets shorter the more you go. Needless to say, I’m excited to take my next virtual barre class knowing what I know now.
For the first time ever, the globe will be watching surfing take center stage at the 2020 (postponed to July 2021) Olympics. People from all over the world will be appreciating the sport, many for the first time.
This symbolizes the surfing community breaking through centuries of negative stereotypes. Though conditions play a big part in the sport, the biggest hurdle the athletes will have to overcome to see success is mental. The winner will be the one who chooses their waves wisely with their understanding of the conditions and ability to intimidate and therefore overcome components. Meanwhile, they will be challenging themselves to emerge from crashing barrels, fly into the air, and land on the shifting surface gracefully. No big deal.
You’ve probably heard the invention of a wave pool, which creates the perfect man-made wave. In 2007, Kelly Slater founded his wave company with a passion to build the perfectly rideable wave at his surf ranch. It was debated whether the Olympics should be held in the ocean or on a manufactured wave, with many differing opinions on what would be right. The decision was made, and the event will take place in the sea, at Tsurigasaki Beach in Japan, about 40 miles east of Tokyo, where the rest of the 2021 games will be hosted.
As you watch, take a moment to reflect on the century of effort for this to happen. This initiative can be traced all the way back to the 1912 summer games that took place in Stockholm. Duke Kahanamoku, known as the father of modern surfing, won three gold medals in swimming, and while accepting his medal, he expressed that it was his dream to see surfing be added. To add fuel to the fire, International Surfing Association, recognized as the surfing world's governing authority by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), began lobbying for the inclusion of surfing in the Olympics in 1955.
Surfing is a multidimensional sport unlike any other. Nothing compares to paddling out to the serene silence that awaits beyond the breaking waves. Once you get out there, you immediately escape the many annoyances ingrained in everyday life—the constant notifications on your phone and laptop, your back-to-back schedule, answering to other people. You’re no longer on the time that your watch reads, you’re on mother nature’s time. You’re also no longer in control of your surroundings. Now, all you can do is surrender and wait for the next set to come, while trying to position yourself for when it does.
The high from catching the perfect wave is so addicting that surfers would fail on one hundred in a row just to catch that one. After you catch that perfect one, you replay it in your mind for the rest of the day.
A successful session is reliant on so many factors of mother nature—a force way bigger than us. For ideal conditions to exist, a good-sized swell must approach from the right direction, the wind must be flowing offshore, and you have to time your session right with the ebb and flow of the tide.
The sport is always teaching you life lessons. It is humbling, even if you’ve been practicing it for many years. One reason why it takes so long to master is that the conditions are going to be different every time you get out there. You might have caught a million yesterday, but today makes you feel like a kook because you can’t land one decent wave.
The community of people that you become a part of when you surf is special. A shared obsession with the ocean that brings you to dive into the water at dawn to get a session in bonds you quick. When you’re out there, you’ll find yourself interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds. People enjoy sharing the stoke of the sport. When you see someone out there teaching somebody new, you’ll encounter them cheering at the top of their lungs when they catch a good wave, and as you look around, you’ll see smiles all across the lineup. The other day, I caught a long wave in to be met with a cheering crowd of locals who frequent the spot that I do. When I got to shore, a local showed me their secret stash of hot packs to access in case I, or someone else, gets stung by a stingray when they aren’t around.
Being out in the ocean and abiding by her rules gives surfers a deep love and connection to nature. It’s common to see sea animals out there, like dolphins, stingrays, and fish. When you have an encounter, it’s a reminder that we are invading their territory. It sucks when you see trash floating in the water, or on the sand in its route to the water. It’s a sad reminder of the negative impact that humans can have on natural environments. It inspires you to pick up trash and advocate for sustainability so that we, as a collective, can take care of the beauty that we are lucky to have access to.
Tune in to see surfing break into the biggest international sporting event in the world beginning on Saturday, July 24th.
Do you live by the ocean? Paddle out with an instructor.
Don't live by the water, but still want to train for your next surf trip? Consider these classes.
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