#GetFitChallenge – Walking into a Barre

Saturday, July 1st 2017: My first ever Barre class, for the 8 week #GetFitChallenge. I’ve written about Core-Barre and their 8 week GetFitChallenge with Freddy SA here. I signed up, and was ready to get that booty fatter and the tummy flatter.

Barre… stability, strength, flexibility, balance and a dash of ballet

I was apprehensive (to say the least). I have NEVER taken a group ballet/dance class, ever. Even as a little girl, I never wanted to be a ballerina or princess. All I wanted was time to play with my Lego or go exploring and experiment. Yes, my mom tried to take me to dance classes when I was about 5, but I refused – I just sat there…not even interested in the dancing…. and we never went back.

Don’t get me wrong: I love to dance – but the kind where I’m in my home, singing along and dancing around… or in the car singing and dancing while driving (yes, I’m THAT person). I find it more freeing to move…by myself and it shows how self-conscious I am. One of my biggest fears is failure and looking like an idiot. But, I need to get over it.

As I’ve grown up and intentionally trying to be more “me”, I am more open to trying different things. In fact, I crave trying new stuff. I’m pretty sure my current Dancing with the Stars and World of Dance OBSESSION has given me new appreciation for dance. I’ve seen dance be “emotion-and-poetry-in-motion”. I’ve shed actual tears watching some of the dances on these hit shows. I never thought I would. And I want to try and express myself that way. Which is one if the reasons I wanted to try out Barre – to see if I can move that way, before I plunge headfirst into something I am USELESS at.

In my previous #GetFitChallenge post, one of the personal goals is to be more comfortable in myself. And love myself. Be confident. So, I went along to my 1st class.

1st Class Ever

7:30 on a Saturday morning is pretty early. However, I had to go into work post-class so I booked into the first class of the day. Due to the limited number of spaces per class, we all need to schedule our classes beforehand. Core-Barre uses an awesome online system of booking, a locally designed program called BookaMat. My only “critique” is that it would really cool to have an app for my phone so if I find some time free on a day, I can log on and see if there are any spots available for a class.

Tyla, a professional dancer, gave us our first class. Koketso – a fellow 8 week #GetFitChallenge victim –  and myself had never done any kind of barre workout before.

Pre-class
Koketso, Tyla and myself before our first class!

We started with a bit of cardio, weights, then to the Barre and concluding with some mat work and stretching. I have very little balance and stability, but I never realised it was THAT bad. No, I did not fall flat on my face (yet) but I did come close! It actually take so much concentration (which I could manage, even with my ADD).

I also need to relax my shoulders…. I keep the majority of stress in my neck and shoulders, with my shoulders most often crunched up to my ears unconsciously. Doing Barre and ballet movements I really needed to concentrate. The movements are very strange to my body… doing a plie, with one arm extended GRACEFULLY with a slight curve is HARD for me. So damn hard. If you know me… I am not the most graceful person in the world!

To be honest, most of the class is still blur. It went by SO quickly! I wanted more (even though my legs thought otherwise). We did a lot of different things in sets of two or three.   Most surprising for me, is that I worked up a sweat. It takes a lot to get me to have that lady-like glow while working out (just ask P) – except in hot yoga when I’m dripping in sweat (not a pretty sight). As with any exercise, I felt great and survived!

On the plus side, for surviving we were graciously rewarded with smoothies when we left! 😛

Post-class
Koketso and I “glowing” with our smoothies after surviving our first class!

After-effects

My body is, um, weird! In a cool way (and I never thought I would say that).

My arms are pretty long and weirdly shaped…I can hyper-extend – which I knew beforehand, but it was never really an issue with traditional training and hot yoga… I need to practice concentration, keeping my shoulders down and being graceful (cue the laughter from from nearest and dearest).

I certainly FELT the effects of the Barre workout on Sunday! Strange muscles in me were “tender”, which is pretty cool. My default setting causes me not to get “stiff/sore” when working out. During training I 100% feel “the burn” in my legs/arms/butt/shoulders yet I’m fine the next day… I may be a but fatigued but I don’t get the “stiff” feeling… even when I skip my protein shake. Regardless, post any workout/training/class I do drink a protein shake with a little L-glutamine (to aid in muscle recovery).

On Sunday morning I managed to make my 90 minute Hot yoga class which did help alleviate the muscle tenderness feeling… I think the heat helped. On Monday I also did a light 30 minute stint on the elliptical. So I’m working my body, and improving my mood 😀

I have not worked out in two days and I’m FEELING it. I need to move. I’m irritable, sad, grumpy…. definitely need to zen out a bit by expending my energy in gym and class. I’m schedule for the 17:30 class at Core-Barre today…. It should be interesting as I am seeing P for 30 minutes an hour and a half before the class. I’m also scheduled for a DOUBLE on Saturday… Barre with Tyla then Pilates!

Let’s see if I survive….

k x

Survival Of The Fittest

I’m a geneticist. A human geneticist. I love biology and pathways and everything that makes sense. I love that there is so much more to learn about the way genes are expressed,  modified and how they fit into the grand scheme of things. Genetics is an abstract term and a subject where I have noticed – people “get” or “don’t get”. I’m lucky I get it. I love that I can take a few known facts and come up with a hypothesis that seems logical (well, in my mind). It keeps my brain stimulated – constantly questioning and learning which is a personal value. I need to always be learning.

Genetic variation has allowed species to adapt to environments; allowing evolution of species by natural selection – survival of the fittest, so to speak. As Homo sapiens we have seemed to have “lost” the basic natural selection thanks to medical technology. But, we are still evolving – perhaps not in great physical strides, but in other ways. I’m going to go a little far out but bear with me…

Why am I going on about genetics, genetic variation and adaption? Well, its not as obvious as you may think. Our brains are amazing – the plasticity of the mind astounds me. We can change the way we think, (Disclaimer: I am NOT a neurobiologist). I’ve learnt that as humans we go through a metamorphosis – in the traditional sense, as well as on the emotional/intellectual level. Hear me out, and you’ll understand why.

I’ve been in a weird place for the past few years. And I’ve been beginning to question everything I know about the world – who am I? What am I here for? You can call it an existential crisis – which started since I was about 25. I’ve been trying new things, reading more laterally and opening my mind to understanding myself better.

For me, 2016 started with me attending regular therapy session with a psychologist. I went at least once a week and we embarked on Cognitive behavioural therapy. This way of thinking is weird for me (I’m a pessimist) YET there was nothing my logical brain could dispute. Example: If I say I just can’t take something anymore – well, I am “just taking it” because it hasn’t killed me yet. True? Yup, true. We – I – put connotations on things, and they are usually negative so I’ve in essence trained my brain to focus on the negative and it keeps me from trying new things, keeps me away from rejection.

After about 10 months of therapy, I felt I needed something a little different. Which is when I met Eliza at a hot yoga class. Apart from being a kick-ass hot yoga instructor Eliza runs an awesome company, Yoga Plus. One of the services she offers are facilitation classes – almost like life coaching.

Eliza does private facilitation sessions using the Demartini method. Now, I’m definitely not an authority figure on the subject and these are completely my views so there is a very good chance I’m horribly wrong. In a nutshell the Demartini method involves the facilitator asking lots of questions – focusing on a certain “block” you are currently experiencing – and you digging deep into yourself trying to answer. The questions may seem simple enough but when you try answering you really need to concentrate and remember… A lot of the process requires you to identify people in your life who have seen you/ witnessed you encompassing certain qualities/traits (and you need to talk about these situations) that you don’t like which is causing you stress.

Ultimately, the process shows you both sides of the coin – so to speak. It reframes the block (connotation: bad thing, bad relationship) so you can see the good and bad… Good as in how the block is “helping” you at this current moment and bad as in how the block is keeping you away from your ultimate goal. The bad is easy to figure out… The good – well, it makes you think a bit.

For example, I am struggling to complete a project, which I need to complete ASAP… It seems as if at every damn stage of the project I was hurled another obstacle – either professionally or personally which required my attention, instead of the project.  The two sides are:

  • Bad: It is keeping me from succeeding professionally, making me feel like a failure.
  • Good: I was made aware of things (e.g. starting my first job and first serious relationship (and the struggles that went along with it), researching alternate therapies for cognitive disorders, reading more about the mind/body connection) that allowed me to grow, research, learn – as a person…not just a scientist.

This did not even hit me before my session with Eliza but before my project I was a judgemental, snobby, know-it-all bitch. For real. It was either my way or no way at all. Everything in my mind was either black or white. If you had a differing opinion to me, you were an idiot. Reflecting on my journey and to the person I am now, I am a lot less judgemental and I acknowledge that there are shades of grey. Every obstacle I faced during the course of the journey allowed me to stop and grow as a person – subconsciously.

It is freaking mind blowing. The last session I had was few weeks ago and I’m still kinda freaked out (in a good way) about it. Everything was so clear… and it still is.

Eliza and the Demartini method has made me realise that all the obstacles in my path during the journey of my project was beneficial to me on an intellectual level – if not a proactive one to complete my project. Had I not experienced any adversity during my project – I would still be the same judgmental snobby bitch, probably very depressed and longing-for-more. Now, I’ve evolved and adapted intellectually to understand that there are other opinions and reasonings apart from my own and while I may still long-for-more I do know and acknowledge that every single person can teach me something…

We need to be intellectually and emotionally adaptable to live – to thrive (ok, I’m FAR from thriving) – in the world. We need to be open to all possibilities, to understand  opposing viewpoints and not get too frustrated by them.. If we do not, we will be desperately unfulfilled and unsatisfied with life – perhaps at the extreme suicidal (and I do go to the extreme).

Ultimately, my passion for genetics – with the help of Eliza (Yoga Plus) – taught me the most valuable lesson of all. Only the fittest “survive”. Talk about a light bulb moment…

Now…to kick my ass into gear and get writing!  Please check out Yoga Plus for an incredible facilitator and amazing hot yoga instructor!