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As I get closer to my 100th class at the Pure Barre-Near West End, I find myself reflecting on the importance of being open to new experiences and opportunities no matter how out of your comfort zone they might fall.
I met the owner, Sarah, when we both volunteered at a golf tournament now called Bow Tie Open benefiting Fetch a Cure, and she invited me to try out one of the classes. I knew very little about barre other than it had some basis in ballet. So after a couple of months I finally went to class thinking it would be no problem since I exercise regularly with weights, cardio, and cycling. In hindsight there might have been more than a little bit of my male ego in that particular theory. As class started, the room full of women fell into perfect sync of the warm up, I discovered just how unprepared I was for this work out and clearly stood out more than possessing the sole Y chromosome in the room. I remember the point when the instructor said, "Okay now that we are all warmed up," I saw the incredulous look on my face in the mirror that expressed, "Holy Schnikes, that was just the warm up!" I kept up as best I was able through the positions, stretches, and movements that seemed so small yet clearly worked my muscles with incredible intensity. The feelings I had after the 55 minute class, I can only equate to my high school wrestling days in the complete physical exhaustion after practice. It was a good feeling harkening back to the days I was in really good shape and that night was rewarded with a very deep sleep.
It would have been very easy to listen to my male ego and say that this was not for me, or clearly it was not designed with men in mind at all. (To be fair a couple of positions are not, "Legs zipped together" remains problematic.) I also endure some good natured ribbing from friends and co-workers because I can count on one finger how many times another male has been in class with me. I saw that there was something to the process of class that methodically works every muscle group to exhaustion with the timing of stretches after each area of focus proved essential to releasing the lactic acid in the muscles despite the high intensity of the work out. The instructors are always amazingly encouraging to everyone and I always hear an "Awesome Ben" or "Good focus, Ben" during class even from new or visiting instructors. (An extra benefit from standing out in the crowd).
This has been a very rewarding experience so far (especially to my belt line) and it is something I could have very easily never tried or quit after one class. The experience has been a humbling lesson to not let your pre-conceived notions prevent you from trying something new. In the workplace its very easy to follow the crowd or competition because that's the way its always been done but that can become boring and unproductive. When you take a leap of faith in a different direction, give it time to see results but be ready to change course because if you are on untrodden path the best way may not always be clear. That can be the most fun when you are carving a new path. When I hit the 100 class mark at Pure Barre Near West End next week I can honestly say I've recieved many benefits from the road less traveled.
"I took the road less traveled by, and that made all the difference." Robert Frost The Road Not Taken