My ‘oh-so-needed’ workout

Being a Ph.D. student can signify a lot of stress, lots of hours sitting at a desk and staring at a computer, I mean working.  Sooner or later, your body stars to complain about all this mishandling… it is just unavoidable.

This is why, as I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I have done my own experiments on time managing so that I could add my hour of work out at least 5-6 days a week (the body also needs some rest from working out).  Now I have become much more consistent about this goal and, unless there is some unavoidable change of plans, I hold on to my workout schedule.

Part of my commitment comes from the fact that I finally found the workout that works best for me, to the point that I have been obsessing over it since June 2014.  The workout I am talking about is Pure Barre (A little disclaimer here: This post is by no means sponsored by Pure Barre, this is truly how I feel about this workout).

Over the past years, I have tried several types of exercise, ranging from Yoga to Crossfit. All of them had different impacts in my life, very fulfilling at the time. Nevertheless, for one reason or another, I ended up dropping out. In some cases, I reached a point in which, throughout the day, I would find excuses to stay at home/school and skip the gym/studio. “Tomorrow” always seemed a better day to make up for my missed classes.

Then came Pure Barre…

I had heard about barre classes and one day, I passed by a Pure Barre studio in Pittsburgh that looked nice. I went home, did my research on it, and decided to give it a try.

During that first class everything seemed extremely confusing. I could hardly understand the cues of the instructor and I could not understand what exactly I was supposed to be contracting  and why my legs were shaking! I must admit that was one of those days in which I felt the clumsiest person on earth.  The following day came accompanied by pain all over my body. However, this was not a “bad” pain, it was the type of pain that makes you feel that you actually worked out.

The class format:

The class starts with a warm up, followed by thigh work, which actually is the toughest part for me. Then comes seat work and ab work. Between each set of exercises you get to stretch, which actually feels really good after all the shaking your muscles experience in each workout section.

The weirdest part of the PB workout is that even if I am shaking, my muscles are burning and I can’t wait anymore for the final final FINAL stretch, when it is all over I always feel like: well this was hard! I am definitely coming  back tomorrow.

And the process repeats every single class…

So, why do I keep coming back, again?

I have thought about what it is that makes me come back and I have several theories:

  1. The environment is so cozy that it hardly looks like a gym.
  2. The instructors do a wonderful job in encouraging you throughout the class and in noticing how you make your effort to improve. A “nice, Marcela” in the middle of a challenging exercise is always a good motivation to push even harder!
  3. The music they choose is perfect for setting the pace at which you make each of the moves, but also for distracting you from that pain that makes you want to quit in the middle of an exercise.
  4. It’s my hour of the day in which I can wear my oh-so-comfortable leggings and tanks.
  5. I need to focus so much on the movements I make that it takes away all my thoughts about the work I need to do and all the what-ifs of my research.
  6. You will not take two identical classes. Even if the workout format is always the same (warmup – thighs – seat – abs – stretch), I have not been to two classes in which the exercises were exactly the same, in the same order.
  7. They organize fun challenges that encourage me to keep coming in the middle of a freezing winter or right after the holidays/summer. At the end of these challenges I always realize that I am definitely stronger than I think 🙂

I could point out many other little things, but I think I have made my point. I find beauty in the diversity of the exercise, but I think that what makes me happiest is the fact that I have seen wonderful results. I have gained a lot more confidence and I feel stronger than ever.

An example of this is that it has pushed me beyond my exercise boundaries and I am also willing to combine PB with other types of training. For instance, I used to feel like I would never be good at running because I just didn’t have the physical strength to run long distances. I would sometimes run in the treadmill, but running outdoors was simply beyond my willpower. However, after being consistent in my barre workout, I felt like giving outdoors running a try. I was surprised by the results of my first attempt and kept going. With some friends, I signed up for the 2015 Pittsburgh marathon-relay, in which I ran a 4.5 mile leg. I felt so good and accomplished with my speed and how I felt throughout the race, that I decided to keep training and to sign up for the 2016 Pittsburgh half-marathon. We’ll see how this turns out, but I am confident that with my running training combined with my Pure Barre exercises, I will be able to make it.

I give a lot of credit for this discipline in my workouts to Pure Barre. I think that as everything in life, you need to find the appropriate motivation. In this case, I found multiple sources of motivation from this workout , from the encouraging words of my instructors to the way in which my body started to change.  This is what has made me appreciate and respect the time that I invest in myself.

You can check out Pure Barre’s Website in case you want to learn a bit more about it!


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