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How to Do Well in Gym Classes

This 1 Change Will Completely Transform Your Group Fitness Experience

Almost two weeks ago, a friend and I started a "barre buddy challenge" at The Bar Method. The studio invited us to complete 15 classes together within a month's time; I was excited and ready to try a more unfamiliar type of training and get outside my comfort zone. The women at the studio always seemed so lean and slender, but also toned and strong — I was in.

We headed into our first class, and for the first time since I began my fitness journey, I was feeling pretty confident. Despite not having much experience in barre (I'm more of a running, yoga-doing, SoulCycling type), I felt like "Hey, I'm a fitness editor, I'm good at all of this stuff! Bring it on!" WRONG. So, so wrong. I got a nice slice of humble pie that morning.

Even though I'm not good at barre and I don't have perfect form, I wasn't willing to hear it during that 7 a.m. class. For those of you who've been to The Bar Method, you know that its instructors make a point to know everyone's name in class and to give personal corrections, instructions, and adjustments. But to me, every suggestion felt like a personal attack and an assault on my physical skill.

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Excuse me! My push-ups are perfect! I angrily (and arrogantly) said in my head after our (very sweet) instructor called out, "Dominique, drop your hips an inch lower." When did I become a sass machine with such a bad attitude? Two years ago, I could barely jog around a track without feeling like I had lost the use of one of my lungs. Yet here I was, overconfident and self-righteous, and it set the tone for a not-so-great class. I was angry, miserable, and totally had the thought: "Barre just isn't my thing."

About halfway through, I snapped out of it somehow, and I was back to my usual mindset — a little self-deprecating (in a humorous way!), and open to learning and growing. This one shift in my attitude changed everything; I was laughing at my shaking and smiling at the fact that I had absolutely no idea what "tuck your seat, bend at the waist, but keep your chest lifted" meant. They're just trying to help, I thought. I embraced corrections with more smiles and giggles, and warmly appreciated all the help and hands-on adjustments I was so graciously given. My mood soared, and I was having a great time.

I don't know why it took 30 minutes for me to realize that those call-outs are so you feel personally cared for, and so that you get your very best workout and can grow even more in this field of exercise. And who doesn't want to get their best workout?

At the end of my class I thanked (probably excessively) my instructor and laughed with my friend Victor about how much I had been "called out." He reminded me that he also went through the same experience, and that they do that same thing to all beginners to help them learn quickly and get up to speed with form — barre is a world of its own, with very particular form, and that education really helps newer students.

That first day of our challenge ended up challenging me as much mentally as it did physically, and served as a massive reminder to keep myself in check, to always grow and learn, and to be open to any help that might come along the way. With the right attitude, who knows? I might end up a barre pro after all.

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