Last month I talked with a girlfriend, commiserating about aging and bat flaps on our arms and things popping in the middle like dough freshly baked.
It was a difficult conversation that left me depressed and eschewing food for at least an hour.
She said, “I workout.”
Me: “Me, too.”
She: “I do the Barre Method.”
Me:(Having followed suchly-named videos on YouTube) “Me, too.”
Quick Barre Exercise primer: I don’t have a barre de ballet anchored to any floors within my domicile. Without such equipment, it is recommended to use a kitchen chair — too squirrely; I was chasing it more than bending uncomfortably from it — or countertop. Check! I had one of those and I was quickly grateful to be a terrible housekeeper. The sticky whatever on the granite helps with grip when I’m hanging precariously from the edge to squat and lunge as though I’m going low enough to actually use the muscle. It’s an ignominious position, thankfully without video evidence.)
She perked up, energized by complicity in self-torture.
She: (leaning forward conspiratorially) “Don’t the little ones just kill you?”
Me: (Thinkng, “Little ones, I don’t know what those are…the big ones aren’t so great…” but not wanting to appear to have missed anything) “Yes, they’re awful.”
She: “And doing that for an hour? Isn’t it torture?”
Me: (At last we were on the same wavelength with abuse, but never having pursued a video playlist of any titles over twelve minutes, the “hour” confused me. Resenting 12 whole minutes of activity, I had moved down to ten; regretted that choice immediately, I lowered my standards to four minutes and complain through all four) “An HOUR? Are you CRAZY?”
She blinked, confused.
She: “How long do you exercise?”
Me: (Lying but fingers crossed so the lie didn’t count) “Probably twenty minutes.”
She: (blinking repeatedly, staring blankly, figuring things out) “…and you do the Barre Method?”
Me: (doubting entirely my existence) “Ya-huh.”
She: “And it only lasts twenty minutes?”
I pondered. Each video master I scrolled through had indeed used the word “Barre” in their title, but as for the word “method,” I was less certain. Plus, each of the probably-dozen videos I had used to tweak my intense muscular stature had ended with verbiage like, “After a quick cooldown, start this video over and work through it two more times…”
And I remember laughing, “Duh, why would anyone do THAT??” Then I walked toward the shower on spaghetti legs, breaking my own shoulder patting myself on the back for putting in a good four minutes of “burn.”
NOW I knew why instructors insisted on using the Replay button, because that is part of the METHOD.
Me: (strictly for clarity) “You’re telling me there’s a different video with a more precise name using ‘Barre’ and ‘Method’ in the same tag line, then?”
She: (sensing weakness, using derisive eyebrows) “Uh…yeah.”
Me: (finger pointed to the sky in proclamatory fashion) “I shall find said video and follow it to the letter.”
She: (wrapping the last of her sandwich, checking her watch, readying to scurry) “Great. Let me know how it goes. Dare ya.”
I know she was laughing under her breath; I disliked her scorn. Thus, perhaps I created her flippant ‘So long,’ misinterpreting her words, but I heard NOT the Dare portion, instead I heard: “I challenge you!!!”
Oh, ho, nay nay, my friend. I am not one to take a challenge lightly, unless it involves wild boar or machetes. Those I can discard. YouTube video, though, I got.
After work, I went to the house and immediately changed into a comfy tee over the work pants o’ the day — they’re work pants; who cares? — and sought out the aforementioned, appropriately researched Barre Method video — a startling 39 minutes, the queue read! What the…
A woman with a purpose, I hit Play.
What the what the…
The LITTLE ones?! Holy Scrap Metal, Batman, the LITTLE ones number in the hundreds — literally, one HUNDRED pulses — MORE THAN ONCE, thus equaling nearly a thousand, by my count — of ceaseless down-and-up, clinging to the countertop, ready for a thigh muscle to pop, donedonedone with further torture of already ravaged muscles.
And squats, lunges, butt-clenching was NOT ENOUGH, because she continued with ARM exercises, with WEIGHTS, and then that mean, mean strange lady who ROCKED her own Lycra ensemble forced me to lay on the FLOOR and make my ABS bend, a lot, for an excessive number of reps. EXCESSIVE.
Then she tasked me with flipping over to hover over my elbows, lingering painfully in a PLANK position for FAR TOO LONG.
But I did it. It wasn’t pretty, and form was nonexistent, and though I felt like I did, I didn’t lose blood, only a bit of vision, and that, only momentarily, but I followed that crazy instructor lady for all 39 minutes.
While recovering on the tile floor, wishing I would vacuum more (not really; housework–yuk) my dog investigated the pooling sweat around my head before climbing me like some sort of small mountain in his territory to rest bodily upon my chest. Instinctively, I started to pet him but the sweaty palms and Pekingese hair were a poor blend, thus he abandoned me quickly, though I barely noticed what with fading in and out of consciousness.
After a half hour or so — could have been a day, I don’t know — still recumbent and perfectly happy to never rise, I reconsidered my earlier conversation and THAT was when I recognized the difference between Dare and Challenge. It’s minute. One is flippant; one is downright insulting. Both should be ignored.
I showered to wash away the pain and dog hair, then fell asleep wishing for new friends.
For four days — 4, my friends! — I moaned like a toothless weasel after each breath, each twitch, each movement of any part of my being. And once I’d recovered enough to use the gas pedal without fear of harming other travelers, I drove straight to my “friend’s” office and soundly told her, “Haha! I did it! ‘Tweren’t nothin’!”
(I used those words, in indignant fashion, with a curt nod and quick gloat.)
Then she responded, “Sweet! We should do it together sometime.”
I could not back away from that nonsense quickly enough.
“Look at the time!” I answered, anxious to round out the convo and hit the streets. “I’m late for work, see you soon!”
I haven’t heard from her again.
I’m sticking to four minutes. It’s my sweet spot of time lapsed on exertion.