I push through the glass doors and sprint to the Pure Barre receptionist. I made it.
“I didn’t sign up online,” I gasp. I never sign up online because I never know whether I am going to make it. Every Tuesday I drop my daughter at preschool and drive as fast as I can to Pure Barre.
“You made it,” she says. “Can you sign this waiver? We are filming the class today and you need to sign a release.”
Are you kidding me, I think, filming. I glance around the waiting area. Everyone is looking exceptionally perfect today – foundation, eyeliner, and mascara. I wish I had gotten the memo.
The Sesame Street song “One of these things is not like the other one” jumps into my mind. I sign the release anyway.
Class begins and the cameraman circles the room. Mirrored walls, today I am too aware of how not put together I am. I haven’t showered. I am not wearing any makeup and I have a large hormonal pimple on my chin.
“Tuck Under. Tuck Freeze.” The Pure Barre instructor calls out instructions through her megaphone.
I silently wonder – Am I tucking? What is a tuck? Should my abs burn more?
A couple of weeks ago, I asked the twenty-something instructor about tucking. She was visibly taken a back. Clearly, I was a novice amongst bar experts. She awkwardly placed her hand on my stomach and pushed a little bit. I don’t think I understood the demonstration, but I was too embarrassed to inquire any further.
“My post-baby abs may not be physically able to tuck anymore,” I joked.
She smiled awkwardly, “Keep trying.”
The music thumps. I “tuck” my abs and push my legs to the beat of the music.
“Like this,” my instructor tweaks my leg in a new direction. “Better,” she says.
I bought a 20 pack of Pure Barre classes. I attempt to go once a week. I make it haphazardly. Each week I surround myself with women who know whether they are tucking. The Pure Barre ladies (ballerinas) dress impeccably in the perfect Lululemon outfits, leggings, drapey tops that show just enough shoulder, and their hair tucked back in stylish buns. There is not a trace of unwanted hair on their legs, armpits, or god forbid their face. The regulars have perfect ballerina posture (some of them are ex-professional dancers). Their rings sparkle and they have gelac manicures. They gather together before and after class, chatting about their jobs, their kids and their summers.
I like to eavesdrop. It’s a favorite past time. Secretly, I hope their put togetherness sinks in through osmosis.
Once a week I stand on the outskirts of these groups. Not because they are cliquey, but because these ballerinas are tight and have been coming here regularly for a long time. I smile shyly when a ballerina glances in my direction.
There are a few of us outliers in any given class. You can always pick us out. The ones wearing boot cut yoga pants (a complete no-no), t-shirts, sweat pants, senior citizens and all the newbies with less than 20 classes under their belts.
Today, the outliers are giving each others the eyes (i.e. mental high fives). We signed the waiver to be filmed, despite our outlier status.
The cameraman circles the studio. His camera zooms in on one of the ballerina’s perfect tiptoe squat.
“Tuck under. Tuck Freeze. One arm up ladies.” The instructor shouts.
I look in the mirror and realize that I forgot to shave my armpits. There is a smudge of baby food on my right leg. Dog hair covers the entire left side of my body. In the rush to make it to Pure Barre class, I forgot deodorant. I smell.
But, I am wearing my Lululemon Wunder Under leggings. It’s not a complete loss. Luckily, you wear socks in Pure Barre, so no one notices my need for a pedicure.
I stare in the mirror, wondering …
How do I make my ponytail appear as stylishly effortless as the women beside me?
Is my black top with black leggings a fashion faux pas?
From a conversational distance can you tell I need to pluck my eyebrows?
The mirror is a distraction.
I glance around the studio and one of the ballerinas is wearing a black top with black pants too. I am not completely hopeless.
The instructor passes by and tweaks my leg again.
Does she think I’m Pure Barre incompetent? She teaches every Tuesday morning, does she think I come here multiple times a week and still can’t learn the moves?
We grab the bar. On our toes, we push, we squat, we tuck.
How come the leg I’m pressing back with isn’t fatigued, yet my standing leg is jelly? I must be doing it wrong.
My leg is shaking, but it’s the wrong leg. My resting leg is about to collapse. Yet, my working leg feels as fit as a fiddle.
After an intense squatting session, I lean forward, and rest my head on the bar. “FUCK,” I say. The older woman next to me smiles.
I smile back. I like to say “FUCK” loudly and as often as possible when I am away from the kids. It is amazingly therapeutic.
Fuck, I love Pure Barre.