Three years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a syndrome that causes chronic pain all over my body.
I had to find a low-impact workout to replace running to keep my pain away, so I started going to Pure Barre. More than 500 classes later, it's changed my life.
When I first felt my muscles tighten after taking a few classes, I immediately became addicted to the burn. The best part was that I actually felt good after each workout. Sore, yes, but fibromyalgia-pain free. A lot of the exercises in the class reminded me of what I did at physical therapy but enhanced. It was a win-win.
It was a challenge at first, though, since I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't even feel challenged until my instructors corrected my form and I was able to really feel each move working different parts of my body.
Soon enough, I was able to leave my comfort zone and really push myself to feel the burning of each muscle. I could trust that this pain was good pain, knowing that my form was correct and the shaking my muscles felt was a challenge, not a bad thing.
Still, there was a level of self-consciousness starting a new workout, and I was initially afraid people would judge me for not being in good enough shape. Pure Barre hosts challenges, though, which helped me reach for milestones that were related to me, not anyone else. The challenges involve taking from 100 classes to 1,000, offering perks like free classes and praise on social media. When I used to run, I was the only person who celebrated my success, so the recognition from the studio and shout outs from instructors during class was hugely motivating.
Plus, these little challenges made realize that everyone was at a different level, everyone was a different size, everyone had a different goal, and I was never going to fit in with what everyone else was doing.
After losing 40 pounds in college, I never felt comfortable with my body. At an average weight, I weighed myself multiple times a day hoping to see a smaller number. Now, that is not the case. I weigh the same exact number as I did when I started taking barre class, but I don't look the same. My arms are toned. My stomach is flatter. My legs are stronger. And most importantly: I am happy with the way I look. (Dance your way fit with High-Intensity Dance Cardio, the first-ever socanomics DVD!)
Not everyone is going to love barre, but for me, it became the workout I'd always been looking for. It's sort of like dating. It took me a while to feel like it was the right workout for me, and there are still things about it that annoy me (there are just so many lunges!).
But I've learned to accept the flaws, just like it's a relationship (and it kind of is). The flaws are all part of the challenge, and I love how it makes me feel about myself more than anything.