The newest overpriced fitness craze for the aesthetically elite that has swept our urban areas, emptied the pockets of wannabes such as myself, and inspired an entirely new level of athletic-wear snobbery, is the Bar Method. For those not satisfied with being merely fit, but also desirous of the satisfaction of being trendy whilst seeking said fitness, behold, this is the place for you. For a monthly membership of upwards of $200, and a single class payment of $30, you can get into a brightly lit and plushy carpeted room with 30+ other women and sweat lightly whilst contorting your body into positions promised to give you long, lean muscles like that of a ballerina.
A typical class begins with some pretty ridiculous standing in place leg lifts. Literally it is like a very slow motion version of the “high knees” drill from high school soccer practice. Even if you run in a few minutes late, clearly sweating from your mile long run there, your instructor, clad head to toe in black spandex will do this incredible thing where she is scowling at you from the nose up, but smiling at you from her mouth, and she will ask you, through smiling teeth, in an incredibly calm but extremely condescending tone to please warm up.
So you stand there, picking your legs up and putting them back down again, and you grab some 2lb weights and lunge forward, “hinging from your hips” and you are commanded to face the mirrored wall, and yet you are most certainly staring directly at the spandex covered bum of the woman/girl/person/wildebeest bent over in front of you. You try to look at the other participants/victims out of the corner of your eye to make sure that you are doing everything the right way. If you aren’t, not only will it be extremely obvious and publicly embarrassing, but also you risk literally causing physical damage to yourself and the well preserved 50 year old who has a better body than you do and is working out in some gigantic jewels. You become painfully aware that the old CYO basketball tshirt you are wearing makes you look like a pauper, and for sure gives you away as one of the people who are only there because they bought a deal on gilt city. You also become aware that the aforementioned well-preserved 50 year old can see you staring at her in the reflection of the mirror and you immediately avert your eyes. You move your arm in tiny little up and down movements obediently following the, “push, push, squeeze” commands that are being whispered into the microphone by the ninja instructor who, between perfectly timed whispered commands manages to call you by name to tell you, and the class, what it is you are doing wrong.
At one point you will actually be seated Indian-style on the floor and you will be told to pick up one foot, and cradle it back and forth like a small child…and then repeat with the other foot. At another point you will be seated with your back against the wall and you will be trying desperately to move your legs together and apart, whilst holding them a mere 2 inches off the ground. As you are doing this while facing someone else across the room, essentially you are both just making faces like you are experiencing painful gas, while opening your legs to each other.
This awkward eye contact is broken by a bit of rolling around on the floor like a beached whale.
Class always ends in the same way. But every time I get duped into thinking that its going to be a more relaxed-yoga type situation…some lying on your back with your eyes closed, a little bit of introspection and calming music, perhaps some “happy baby” pose…I love happy baby pose. But alas, it is never so…for after you are told to lie down, you hear the ominous chant “push push squeeze”…and at that exact moment, 30 women, lying on their backs, thrust their hips into the air in unison and, as though it is not at all weird that they are doing so, push their pelvic bones up towards the sky, and clench their buttocks with all their might, keeping in time with the ever increasing beat of the instructors commands. Push push squeeze, push push squeeze…and then, in some sort of uppity woman yet oddly barbaric tribal ritual, the pace increases, the tempo has a beat that you just cannot keep up, and the synchronization of the class is lost, and its really just a bunch of ladies in spandex desperately humping the air.
And then naturally the class ends with a peaceful Namaste, followed by aggressive elbowing, pushing and other 5th grade power tactics to return weights and mats and get out of there so you can all forget the bizarre-ness of what you just paid for and get on with feeling like a super trendy toned ballerina.