Saturday, September 6, 2014

5:13 PM

I am sore.  Not the big I can't move kind of sore, but a smaller, more subtle kind where I am aware of every muscle in my body, especially my core.  This feels kind of good actually - there is a certain lightness to this lingering effort, a subtlety that is unfamiliar and in contrast to the pounding I typically subject my body to.

This month of my Fitness Project I am focusing on a series of workouts that are all about strengthening and lengthening the body. Generally, these workouts that are composed of small, precise, isometric movements that target the small and big muscle groups and purportedly pull everything back in. Uniquely, these are also all workouts that you typically do dressed as if you just stepped out of an Athleta catalog and without breaking a sweat. It really is so civilized.

The specific workouts/methods that I am pursuing this month are as follows:

Pure Barre: Held in a super-sleek and modern studio, this bar-based workout is an hour long "dance" class that combines ballet moves with core conditioning, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Throughout the Pure Barre classes you alternate high-intensity movements, deep stretches, and isometric muscle-strengthening exercises that are designed to tone and shape your abs, arms, butt, and thighs. I have been working to the point of muscle-quivering failure in these classes which has some appeal and even generates a little sheen of perspiration. I have also enjoyed the quiet moments dedicated to stretching out my stiff and shortened body. It is definitely a different workout than I am used to and one that seems to be targeted primarily towards women (women that can pay a lot to work out, that is; each class costs about $23). Overall it does seems to be a low-impact and fun way to do some full body strengthening and toning (just with 3 pound weights instead of 15) and I am curious to see how I will feel in a class once the initial "shock" to my body has worn off.

The Dailey Method:  Similar in nature to other bar-based workouts, the Dailey Method is a combination of ballet barre work, core conditioning, muscle strengthening, yoga, and orthopedic exercises designed to build long and lean muscles.  While the movements, pace, and structure of the Dailey Method classes are similar to the Pure Barre classes, I have found there to be a much bigger focus on proper alignment in the Dailey Method classes, which I see as a key to injury prevention and overall program effectiveness.  As a newby to this kind of workout I got several postural and structural corrections from the Dailey Method instructor, as compared to the minimal attention and guidance I got in the Pure Barre class. The Dailey Method classes are also slightly more reasonable ($20 per session) and the particular studio I can go to also offers child care.

Tracy Anderson Method:  Because at $20-$23 per class, these barre-based classes add up, I have also invested in the Tracy Anderson DVD that takes you through a mat- and back-of-chair-instead-of-barre-based workout that you can do at home, again with nothing more than a 3 pound weight. The series and exercises that Tracy takes you through are dance-based and target small muscle groups and are theoretically designed to target and tone typical problem areas. The video is an hour-long commitment and the moves are certainly a little out-of--the box, but for a workout DVD, I find it to be a solid effort and investment.

Pilates: Pilates is a physical fitness system was developed based on several key principles, including concentration, alignment, control, centering, precision and breath. Often practiced as an alternative to yoga, Pilates has gained a widespread following based on the results practitioners see in terms of improved flexibility, strength, control and endurance. Classes are typically of two kinds - a mat-based class that uses several props and reformer-type classes where movements are performed on a convertible apparatus. So far, I have only done the mat versions of the class offered at my gym, although they do offer reformer-based classes for a fee. I have never loved the mat-based Pilates the way that others seem to, but I will certainly be partaking of these this month as they are free.

So how is that for a plan? I have really had to step up my game in terms of how cute I look for a work out as mirrors and well-coiffed women abound in these types of classes. I have also been humbled by how weak some portions of my body are when tested at the limits of my range of motion and during small-motion, light weight, and long duration intervals. Regardless, the next time you hear me say I'll see you at the bar, I will be meaning something different than usual.

To learn more about my Fitness Project, please contact me at,, or connect with me on Facebook.


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