The Silver Lining: Or, The Time I Sweated Out My Frustration at Physique 57

True story: On Wednesday night, after a long first half of the work week, I:

  • Enjoyed one glass of white wine (presumably Pinot Grigio, but really, whatever Noah ordered for me; just never chardonnay) at my local watering hole.
  • Ate an entire bag of Skittles, red, orange and purple only (obviously).
  • Then ate 1 1/2 pink or red (the bar was dark) Laffy Taffys.
  • Politely passed on dinner with one of Noah’s friends, Dave, who is in town — someone I would have really liked to see had I not been exhausted from the previous day’s fever.

(This is Dave eating a Pez with his head out the window. I pretty much like anyone who will go to such lengths for candy.)

  • Went home, did a little work.
  • Ate brown rice crackers with peanut butter and jelly.
  • Inhaled half a pint of Ralph’s ices (rainbow and watermelon).
  • Soaked the massive, rock-like pimple under my skin, and then put loads of product on it.
  • Went to bed, for the third time in a row, before 9:30.

Really, it was a glorious evening.

I would have loved to stay out longer on Wednesday night. For one, I could really use the drink if only to mask my stress. And yet another reason is that Noah and Dave were headed to one of my favorite eateries in Manhattan — a small restaurant called Upstate that specializes in craft beers (yum!), raw oysters (yuck!) and delicious seafood dishes like soft shell crab and scallops on wholesome beds of brown rice risotto, all at a somewhat reasonable price.

But I had bigger fish to fry. Actually, that makes me sound violent. Really, I just wanted another solid night of sleep for my immune system’s sake and to wake up feeling 110 percent in preparation for — drum roll please — my first ever go at Physique 57 (that is, at the actual studio, not from my living room floor like most of my other workouts).

After forgetting to pack a bra and having to turn around and go back to my apartment (rookie mistake), I finally made it downtown to Soho — with 45 minutes to spare at that. To pass the time, I wandered, I sat, I reveled in the quiet streets and soaked in all I could of the shady, surprisingly crisp summer air. Part of me felt this tremendous, gaping void at the thought of being unable to run in this perfect weather, but then again, another part of me didn’t want to feel a void at all. I wanted to feel full of energy and life, and so I would force myself to, even if it wasn’t exactly the case.

20 minutes after wandering down random side streets, I found myself a stoop on Sullivan to call my own and plopped down onto it. The streets were empty. The air was dry. It was generally still, Manhattanly speaking (go with it), all around me. For the first time in about a week or so, I found my silver lining. I found a dose of perspective. I found a peace of mind.

With 15 minutes until the start of my much-anticipated class, I made my way over to 6th Avenue and Spring Street, just under the building where I worked for a year and a half after graduating from the University of Michigan. It’s amazing how life really does come full circle at times.

From the moment you walk into the pristine space that houses the carpeted floors of Physique 57, you feel both at ease an energized. One of my first thoughts was that, despite the studio’s high prices, I could actually understand why its devoted followers pay such a hefty fee to frequent the facility; for those who are addicted to Physique’s small, relentless movements, this place could easily become a home away from home.

The workout itself, much like the first time I tried it while standing in front of my brother’s living room TV, was still incredibly challenging from start to finish. Some things never change, although I imagine that consistently going to the classes could result in serious strength and muscle tone.

First up were the arms and a warm-up, which I felt I mastered pretty easily; maybe my push-ups are paying off after all. From there, we incorporated a burst of cardio before heading over to the barre. We lifted and pulsed, placing a slightly deflated playground ball between our legs and behind our knees (not at the same time) as we were instructed to squat, lift, sit, extend, circle and raise.

(Photo courtesy of FitBottomedGirls)

One of the most notable parts of the class was definitely the instructor. On Thursday, I met Brigitte, who took note of my name and “beginner” status at the start of the class, and I could tell made a conscious effort to help me out along the way. Her instructions, while abundant, were not at all condescending. She offered small tips and adjustments, telling me to move closer or further from the barre, to use an underhand as opposed to overhand grip at times (though I’m pretty sure this made everything harder), and to lean back more deeply during the core segment of the class.

Another memorable element was definitely the music. I have no idea what Brigitte had blasting through the speakers, but it kept me from giving up during those moments of desperation.

That’s not to say I didn’t give up. I did. Several times. In fact, for as often as I haven’t stopped during a race, I did stop during this 1-hour period. As a runner and yogi, these kind of barre based classes tend to activate muscles in my legs and arms that haven’t been targeted in quite some time. After only a few minutes of the leg and thigh work, for example, I found myself shaking incessantly — so much so that I literally couldn’t complete the movement without falling over. And so, I stood up, stretched, took a 3-second break, and got back to it.

Ouch.

My morning at Physique 57 was as much an eye-opening experience as it was a wonderful way to distract myself from the fact that I couldn’t (can’t?) run. While, like I’ve said, running will always be my Number 1, maybe there’s room for a few other forms of fitness that I’d been closed off to before.

While, no, I will not be joining a gym anytime soon, I’d like to at least keep my options open. Because, although I plan on testing my leg with 1/4 of a measly mile on Friday morning, there’s no telling whether I’ll be showering in confetti or officially throwing in the towel afterward.

Here’s to a happy weekend of running (probably not me, but you get the picture), cocktails and yes, pinatas.

  • Have you ever done Physique 57 or another barre-based class?
  • What’s your Number 2 favorite way to workout?
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7 thoughts on “The Silver Lining: Or, The Time I Sweated Out My Frustration at Physique 57

  1. So glad you liked your first Physique class! The shaking gets a little better… eventually. 🙂 Brigitte is a great instructor, too. Cassie, Lindi, Alexander and Chanelle are my other favorites- ya know, for next time.

    • I had the same problem with Figure 4 – it did get better, but I definitely don’t go enough to get it to stop completely!

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