I have this habit of falling off of machines. I’ve never been graceful or coordinated (the only exception is yoga, and even that’s a consistent, devoted practice toward an inner calm, an outward quiet). I was once booted out of step class because I couldn’t keep pace with the moves and the rhythm. So you can imagine how I felt when I took my first Brooklyn BodyBurn class last year. I was apoplectic, on the verge of frenzy. I wore my beat-up yoga pants frayed at the edgings while everyone else sported fancy leggings. I heard the rumors that this workout was the hardest in New York (one of the hardest), and that there are no breaks (oh, friends, this woman takes breaks. this woman comes down on her knees if she has to)–perhaps curiosity (read: masochism) lured me in. After I signed in, I remembered that everyone had this sheen, the women were practically phosphorescent with their hair dipped in gold and skin that never seemed to sweat.
And wouldn’t you know, right on cue, as soon as the music swelled and the class started I fell off the side of the machine. The teacher rushed over to me, the newbie, concerned, and I assured her that I was alive and this sort of thing (me falling off machines) is fairly routine.
After, I bought a class pack because I was optimistic that over time the class would somehow get easier or I’d no longer fear impalement by megaformer. While the workout has yet to deliver my untimely demise, let me tell you this woeful piece of information: IT HAS NOT GOTTEN EASIER. I’ve been doing Brooklyn BodyBurn for a year now, and if anything, it’s gotten HARDER. Think of BBB as Pilates riding high on an 8-ball (my review here). You’re working your entire body on a machine that moves constantly. You’re juggling balance, endurance, muscle strength and cardio in a series of slow, isometric moves that will sometimes make you cry instead of sweat. Luckily, everyone’s sweating (that sheen, the women who never sweat? OBVIOUSLY they’d been crying the whole time during mega-plank to pike) and holding on for dear life so no one will notice your own minor tragedy on your moving carriage.
You’re probably wondering why I continue to return to a workout that gets harder with the passage of each day. Why not just sit on a spin bike and rock out? I love it because there is no defined end–once you master a shape there’s always another place you can take it. Like yoga, no two practices are ever alike, and the work is about turning inward, feeling the depth and movement of our bodies. Because the way you get around pain and stress and sorrow is by breathing through it, and I often find that 55 minutes on the megaformer or 90 minutes in a yoga class take my body and mind places that no other workout can go. On a physical level I have muscles on my arms and back I never knew existed.
Honestly, I feel strong.
I also love the community. From newbies to people like me who’ve been going for a while, we all share the common refrain: let’s just survive the class. People actually smile and talk to one another in the studio. I’m SO INSANELY SHY AROUND NEW PEOPLE (hence I’m always in the corner against the wall) and I’ve managed to make a few friends and more importantly, really admire the strength and the kindness of the teachers. If I want tough love, I know I’ll go to Abby. If I want more of a yogic flow I’ll go to Andrea or Luke. If I want a teddy bear cheerleader I’ll hit up Marcus or Eileen. There’s a teacher for every vibe, and all of them are passionate, experienced and really, really kind.
So…for the folks who have been following my mindful health journey, which is really about eating food that nourishes me and focuses on getting fit and strong, I’m taking on some challenges in 2015 that will keep me stimulated, inspired and challenged. For the next month, I plan to do the unthinkable: I’m taking FOUR Brooklyn BodyBurn classes for a week for a month. I normally take 1-2, so this should end me or inspire me, whichever comes first. I’ll be balancing the intense training with 90 minutes of yoga 1-2 a week, and noting my progress each week with a wrap post and before/after snaps and #s to see how I’m doing when it comes to muscle and health.
Pray for me. Send orange kittens, etc. Actually, wait. I plan on staring at this snap of Felix while I’m doing MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS.