Pure Torture

Yesterday, as I was about to hit “publish” on this ode to my hatred for cross-training, I saw that Colby had published a new post – about her love of cross-training. Oh, Yin and Yang we are, Young Grasshoppers! Here’s my take…


Have I mentioned that I hate to cross-train?

In case you haven’t caught the last 500 times I have mentioned it: I hate to cross train.

First, because whatever it may be, it isn’t running (duh). If I am doing something that falls under the category of “exercise,” I want it to involve running. Or cycling. Cycling is ok. But it’s gotta be something with forward motion – weights and the like are lost on me and doing them just makes me wish I was running instead.

Second, because no matter what I choose to do, it hurts. A lot. Because whatever it may be, I never stick with it. Muscles are so funny like that. Drag them from their slumber and make them perform like Marines 3 times a year and they will complain loudly each of those 3 times (duh). Wimps.

Every year, I resolve to cross-train. I know it is good for me, my overall health and even my running. And every year, other than riding my bike to train for the Pan Mass Challenge and some wintertime sessions on my bike trainer, I fail miserably in the resolution. This year was no different, so in a last-ditch effort to squeeze something in before 2015, I signed up for a month’s worth of unlimited classes at Pure Barre.

Oh. My. God.

It is so hard.

Satan himself could not design class more likely to push me out of my comfort zone. I am neither flexible, nor coordinated, nor strong. If I had any one of those attributes, maybe I could lean on that talent and get through the class without crying inside. But I don’t, so I can’t. I am such a square peg in this round hole of a class, it isn’t funny. Well, kinda funny. But mostly painful.

I also don’t have any cute workout clothes, so I’m like the Rudolph of the class. All these years, I have walked through Lululemon looking for running shorts with hidden pockets and wondered where the hell people wear all of those wraps, circle scarves and leg-warmer-y type socks. Now I know – they wear them to barre class. I, of course, show up for barre class like I show up for most other things – in running tights. (And so far, they are still letting me join in all of the reindeer games torture! Probably because I am paid up through 12/31. Let’s see what happens if I try and re-up come Jan 1.)

The class brings you through a series of exercises that target pretty much every muscle below your chin. It is a combo of pilates, yoga, isometrics, Lotte Berk method, and whatever else the sickos can incorporate into each 55 minute class. You do work on a mat, at a barre, standing, sitting, you name it. Sometimes you use specific instruments of torture: a ball, weights, elastic bands, and sometimes you are forced to torture yourself without any props. The goal is to work your muscles to the point of fatigue, which generally takes me about 3 seconds. It is so freaking hard. And made all the more difficult by the fact that I can barely touch my toes, let alone “shake things out with a split-stretch” after a particularly rough circuit. Are they serious? I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do a split when I was a toddler.

I cannot believe I just ran a marathon with this body. I must have run it solely on willpower, because I am so very weak I can’t believe I can stand up unassisted, let alone run a marathon.

My abs are abysmal. My lower back is even worse. My arms and shoulders are in better shape but nothing to brag about. Not even a little. Even my legs get crazy-sore and wildly shaky during class. Et tu, Hamstrings?

The only part of my body that isn’t bothered by the exercises is my “seat,” as they call it in Pure Barre lingo. Gluteus Maximus for you science folks. I assume that this is either because I am constantly forced to run hills in my hilly neighborhood or, more likely, because I am doing the “seat” exercises wrong. shhhhh. don’t tell! If the instructor notices, I will get an “adjustment,” which involves her touching my “seat” to move it into position – kind of unpleasant for both of us, don’t you think?

Don’t let the legwarmers and cutesie accessories fool you – this class is not for the faint of heart, or muscle. I hate it. But I need it. So I’m going to keep going – at least until the month is up.

Am I the only running junkie who hates to cross train? Has anyone else tried a barre class? What did you think??


37 thoughts on “Pure Torture

    • That is hilarious. I wish that guy attended my studio – everyone there seems to be a pro. I have been waiting for the Ghost of Lotte Berk herself to waltz in and take a place at the barre…

  1. I just did my first Pure Barre class this past weekend and it was intense, even for me (and i”m usually beast mode at classes). The other barre classes that I’ve done have been lame sauce, but I dug pure barre because it kicked my quads (you know the move). And especially with Phoenix, I am going to need that!

  2. This post made me laugh. I am a yoga teacher (and a runner), so I see a lot of people in my classes that probably feel a lot like you do. Keep up with the Barre, though! It’ll pay off in the end!

  3. I hate cross training. This summer i did yoga 1-2 times a week and enjoyed it (and I really do think it helped my running). But, I can’t work it into my schedule in the winter/spring. I have promised myself to do some kind of cross training at least twice a week. It WILL be torture.

    • We’re in this together Wendy. I’m going to shoot for 2x per week, too. That will add up to around 100 more cross training sessions next year than I did this year. I hope I can stick with it.

  4. I was DYING for this post. And I’m laughing at us. Total Yin and Yang. But secretly, I know you’re loving this. I wish I could go with you to a class! Patience grasshopper. This is good Tina. I’m glad you’re doing it. If only for my daily I HATE THIS SHIT texts.

    Oh and ps. Expect a shipment this week. I got you some cute legwarmers and a sweet wrap. xoxoxox

  5. That’s because you went to the wrong place. It’s spelled B- A- R as in Bar and Grille. But I agree that there is something fundamentally wrong with the universe when you can run 26 miles on a bright, sunny, Sunday morning but you cant’ touch your toes. Your honor, I object.

    • Dude – you don’t want to know, Seriously, you don’t. Just keep twisting your own arm. It’s cheaper and can’t possibly hurt as much as this class, even if you accidentally snap it right off.

  6. What’s cross training? Only sort of kidding. I can never make myself follow through with cross training and I have damn spin bike in my house. Weights and classes? ha! But then we also don’t have many options around here. One of these days I’ll follow through.

    • I knew I had a soulmate out there! I think I might start watching TV for my cross-training. I don’t lift weights enough, but I also don’t think I watch enough TV. That might be cross-training I can stick with.
      I do ride my bike on the trainer fairly regularly in the winter if the weather is bad and I can get one of my kids to do “Just Dance” or “Rock Band” on the Wii to keep me entertained. But that is about it. I’m terrible with follow through.

    • Please send some of that infectious love for cross-training my way so my body doesn’t just give up and break in half one of these days! I DO like spin classes an would probably take more but the classes at the local spin studio are very pricey and the better classes fill up really fast, so I never get into them. I would like to try bootcamp but think I need to get stronger before even attempting. Crossfit scares me because I am small and am afraid someone stronger will just use me as a weight and I don’t want to be pounded onto the floor. I don’t know what Turbokick is but I used to play soccer and like to kick things, so that might be OK. I don’t even know if I have a jam other than running, but I’ll say this – Barre is freaking hard.

  7. hahaha. “et tu, hamstrings” made me literally LOL. i go through phases with cross-training – sometimes i’m all about it and other times i pout and just call it a necessary evil. i got injured bad enough from weak hip muscles this fall that i learned my lesson the hard way about the importance of not skipping strength training, so now i try to go into thinking “injury prevention injury prevention injury prevention!” but i feel you. i’ve been wanting to try barre BECAUSE i hear about how hard it is — i love that “hurts so good” feeling after a really tough workout. but i say this now. perchance i shall regret these words.

    • I actually secretly love how much it hurts. I’d be annoyed if I skipped out of there feeling like I wasted 55 minutes doing nothing. Thank you for posting an reminding me that I should cross-train now to avoid having to learn the hard way that cross-training is necessary to avoid injury. I’m not getting any younger and I have a marathon in a little more than 4 months. I’m going to do my best to keep on the cross-train thing and maybe if I stick with it, I will hate it less, or it will become a habit so I notice it less!

      • Oh, and I really was pissed at my hamstrings because as horrible as the first 15 minutes of my first class were, I was just waiting for the leg workouts so I could show everyone who was runner-girl boss with the strong legs. Except I was shaking so much during the leg portion that I couldn’t. I was barely an unpaid intern, let alone boss. For shame!!!!

  8. I rarely cross trained until I took on triathlons and the dreaded injury. Realized stretching is an essential part of training. Boring, like torture, but must be done, like cutting the lawn and vacuuming. Do it now, grasshopper, stick with it- it will pay off.

  9. Omg, I’m sooooo glad to know that I’m not the only anti-crosstraining runner in this world. I laughed so hard when I read this because its so damn true! Tina, you and I both know that Colby is right, damn it! 100%! We all know this about our beloved sport but who has time for cross training when there are so many miles to be conquered? Of course, that’s just a lame attempt at bravado to cover the real reason that I don’t cross train. As you so accurately stated, it flipping hurts!!! I’m weak. Disgustingly and embarrassingly weak. My idea of cross training is running in huaraches or on the trails. That’s about the extent of it. Btw, what’s this word you use “core”? LOL! But seriously, you ladies are the best! Thank you for always bringing a smile and a good belly laugh to my day. And thank you for affirming that I’m not the only weirdo out there!!! 😉 xoxo

    • No – there is a small but VERY important contingent of us out there! 🙂
      Core. I’m filling my core with cookies from a cookie exchange my friend hosted last night. I couldn’t attend and she was kind enough to drop off a box of them today. THAT is my core training for the day!!!

      • Now there’s a friend worth hanging onto! I’m currently stuffing my core with hummus and wine while convincing myself that yesterday’s 12 mile trail run has earned me the right to do so… Don’t you just love the things we tell ourselves! Hahaha

  10. Tina, I always love your writing but particularly tune in to the sections about your athletic fashion sense and am glad I have a compatriot in that regard! I feel like a fashion emergency at spin class (see, you’re doing much better than I am), so I will stay far away from pure barre. 🙂 That’s why I like my masters’ swim class. Bathing suit, bathing cap, goggles? Check!

    • I don’t swim, but if I did it would certainly be in an outdated racing suit and government issue cap and goggles. I could write an entire post on missing out on the whole workout fashion explosion. I went from soccer team (when we still wore actual “sweats’) to running outside, with no regard for fashion. Other than some leotards for aerobics at the BC plex, I have never had “outfits” to wear. I think it is different if you work out at a gym – you see cool things and are probably shamed into wearing decent clothes because people actually see you. I have not belonged to a gym (other than two separate 3-month stints) since I bought a stairmaster in 1996 (later replaced with a treadmill). I have officially missed the boat and I don’t swim, sot there is little chance of catching up with it. I may have been wearing Hanes tube socks for the first few races I ran with Colby. She’ll tell you.

      • You are a riot! Tube socks, I love it!! You know how fashions come around. I bet somebody will be copying you before long!

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