Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What I Learned From Spying on Cassie

We're home now after a whirlwind trip to New York City where I spent some quality time at my HAPPY PLACE!!!
Gateway to happiness!!!

I promise I'll stop blogging about Physique 57 soon, but I can't move on to other topics without telling about my latest two classes. I loved them. Dearly. Really, if Physique 57 were a person, I'd marry it.

Speaking of being married, yes--I already am, and must pause for a moment to give a big shout out to the Darling Husband, who dealt with our small people while I hung out with my other lover. A squirrely six-year-old + two-year-old who has not yet learned to heel + stroller + Rockefeller Center + gigantic Christmas tree + tourists + subway = one harried husband. The look on his face once I returned from my classes was harrowing. (It must be what I look like everyday when he comes home from work.)

We flew into the City on two wheels Friday afternoon and I hurried up to Spring Street to take a mixed level with Emily. Oh, these Physique instructors... they're so engaging, you feel like you're besties after just one class.
This is Emily. Her dog likes giraffes. FYI.

Awesome. It was awesome, unsurprisingly. Emily is energetic and cute as a button, as per usual with Physique instructors. I didn't pull out all my Olympic-style-live-class-badassness for this one because the following day I was scheduled for Formula 57, one of Physique's specialty classes. I'm taking a wild guess that Formula is pretty hard considering they "recommend clients take 20 Mixed or Intermediate classes as well as several Mat 57 classes beforehand." So I decided I should pace myself and took 8 pounders as my 'heavy' weights instead of 10s. Then Emily praised someone else for using 10 pounders and I wanted to shout out (like the nerdy tool that I am), "Teacher! I can do 10 pounds, too!" It's ok, though, because a few minutes later she patted me on the head and gave me a cookie for my nice, deep, wide second-position plié, so that was good. Woof.

However, I ended up having one of my bad sleep nights, clocking barely five hours. That is not good when you're performing in the Olympics, people, so at the last minute I switched from Formula to Mat 57. Not that I expected Mat to be easy. Nothing at Physique is easy, but I figured in Mat I'd at least get to be on the floor a little bit more often. This turned out to be a most serendipitous decision!

The instructor for Mat was Kim, who was the beginner modifier in the Classic Vol. 2 DVD. This means she is like a member of my family because I LOVE that one and have done it 500,000 times. Kim was.... oh my goodness.... awesome. (You knew I was going to say that.) She had another class immediately before that backed right up against ours. That would leave me exhausted and wanting to climb under a rock for having to be so perky and sweet for two hours, but Kim's enthusiasm never let up. She was warm, engaging, energetic--all without being annoying. If I were that perky, you'd want to smack me. I don't know how she did it. I'll have whatever she's having.
This is Kim. She smiles more in real life.

The really fun part of Mat was that Cassie, the beginner modifier from the Classic Vol. 1 DVD was taking the class, too! (Again, love it. Done it 500,000 times, Cassie-like-member-of-family, etc.)
I had never taken a class with a Physique instructor as a fellow student and wow, it was awesome. She was just behind me to the left and I kept watching her in the mirror and craning my neck to see her. Here are a few things I learned:

  • Cassie's movements were very controlled. There was no flailing around to get into position, as I am inclined to do when a class moves as quickly as Mat. Cassie flowed from one move to the next.
  • Barre is famous for small movements--in any barre class, they'll get you into some about-to-be-insanely-painful position and then tell you to move 'up an inch, down an inch.' One of the things I love about Physique is that there are also some gross motor moves thrown into the mix, but you'll still hear a fair bit of 'up an inch, down an inch.' When Kim called out this command, Cassie moved quite literally an inch. It can be tempting to think 'I'll be a badass and move more than an inch, because if one inch is good, two must be better.' No. It isn't.
  • Cassie fully extended her limbs on every move. It was beautiful to watch and it's really the way to get into some of those deeper muscles. I tend to have very tight hamstrings, so I struggle with fully extending my legs on certain exercises. However, I really feel the difference when I try.
  • Cassie is a dancer and watching her do Mat was like watching a dance. I've always wondered why barre studios have this thing about hiring instructors with a background in dance. You really don't need to be a dancer to do barre, but if you kind of treat it like a dance, you get more out of it. I am NOT a dancer. I have never taken a dance class in my life (and it shows) so at first, I felt kind of silly acting like one in a live class, but I'm learning to get over it. This is one of the nice things about getting older--I don't care as much what people think. Just leave me to my pretend Alvin Ailey performance, thank you very much.

I had a lovely little chat with Kim after class (you know, the one who might as well be my sister,) and would have loved to have accosted my other sister Cassie, but she was talking with other people. I'm really kicking myself for not having taken a picture with the two of them (you know, to put in next year's Christmas card) but I was honestly a little disoriented after Mat. Post-barre lalalas + lack of sleep + starstruckness = very foggy brain. I was concentrating mostly on remembering to gather up my belongings (don'tforgetyourshoes, don'tforgetyourshoes, dontforgetyourshoes.) What a missed opportunity. Mom would have loved to see a picture of the kids she never knew she had.

Cassie might read this one day and be really freaked out that someone studied her in class and then blogged about it... I'm sorry, Cassie. Sometimes sisters have complicated relationships. We'll work it out in therapy one day. I'm sure Kim will serve as a great mediator. (She seems like she'd be good at that. I bet she's a middle child.)

The only problem with Physique is that the closest studio is three hours from my home, which is good news for my faithful readers who are done with my studio crush on Physique 57. Next time I'll talk about something else. Maybe I'll finally get to the post about the evils of sitting, which I know I promised you weeks ago, but I had to pause my exhaustive research because I got sucked in to a fascinating book on the Wars of the Roses. Lord, if there were ever people who needed a good marriage and family therapist, it was those Yorks and Lancasters.... maybe they should have called Kim?

PS--if you're interested in Kim's Mat 57 class, there's a great, funny review on Rate Your Burn, which I think is spot-on (love the bit about thinking Kim had been raised on a candy farm in the mid-west. hahaha! Great joke. Wish I'd thought of that.) Mat 57 is similar in format to Physique's Strong and Lean online workout, if like me, you regrettably live three + hours away from a studio.


  1. For the record, I think you could've done the Formula class. And I wish you'd posted a pic of your DH's harried look! The class sounds fun, and I'm going to make a conscious effort to do just up and down an inch for my next barre workout (probably later this week). Focusing less on the movement seems like it might make it easier to focus instead on position, which is probably more important anyway.

    1. I'm not sure DH would have wanted his picture taken at that moment! And yes, I think you're absolutely right about movement v. position.

    2. Coming back to say I did Arms and Abs and Bun and Thigh this week. I focused on limiting movement (mostly with B&T) and it made a HUGE difference. By realizing I shouldn't move much, I forced myself to really get my form down. I'm literally already feeling the workout I did this morning, and I WAS shaking, just like you said.

      I'm one of those people that always has my phone handy to take pictures of people at inopportune moments...;)

    3. Excellent! It's so counter-intuitive that smaller movements are better, but it's true.

  2. I haven't tried Mat or Formula yet but Formula scares me. I should try it though, maybe one of these days. Emily Z. is one of my favorite instructors. Love her!

    1. Oh PLEEEEEASE take Formula and review it for us!! I love your class reviews. I laugh and laugh and laugh.... It's like an ab workout.

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