Hard Lesson #1 was taught to me at AIR Fitness on Thursday night. For years, I have been a huge Cirque du Soleil fan, watching breathlessly as the performers continuously defied all known laws of physics and human limitations in the most gorgeous ways possible. Most beautiful to me were the aerial silk performances - the seemingly effortless, weightless gliding and twisting was stunning. When I found out we have an aerial silk fitness class across the street from my work building, I simply HAD to register.
They make it look so easy.
I walked in to a forest of beautiful silks hanging from the ceiling, and a young lady ten feet off the floor spinning and wrapping herself gracefully in the soft fabric. Intimidating opening scene - she must be the instructor, I thought. I checked in and found a silk at my height, then turned to find pro-skills gal was setting up right next to me as a student! Oh boy, what did I get myself into?
Class started and I immediately realized I was not ready for this kind of activity. It had little to do with fitness levels, though: that soft-to-the-touch silk doesn't stay side and loose, it rolls up into a thick rope that cuts through your sides like it's trying to squeeze you in half. I've had a lot of injuries and sore days, but I have never hurt so intensely like I did with that silk slicing into my sides/back/stomach. We'd flip into a position, the silk would cut off my circulation, and the instructor would say "okay let's just relax into this position for a few deep breaths..." Nope, couldn't breathe, couldn't relax. Meanwhile, pro-skills next to me is pulling herself up higher and tighter with a huge smile on her face, all the while encouraging me to keep going!
It hurt, but I still did it!
Somehow I managed to muscle into every position, but I couldn't hold any of them very long. I also quickly realized that the flipping and swaying were prime sources of horrible nausea and dizzyness. I managed to stay alert and didn't throw up, but even the next day I was still woozy. Before leaving, I made friends with pro-skills Emily, who told me her first time was pretty rough too, but that sticking with it has made it so much easier. She talked me into another class or two (since I can do up to three with my ClassPass this month) so I'll be going back for more torture - and I'll let y'all know if it really does get easier as you adapt...
And now for an entirely different kind of butt-kicking...
Hard Lesson #2 was learned this morning at my first Pure Barre class. I've taken barre classes a few times before, but at a different studio with a different instructor, and today's class was a very different animal. I learned today just how much of an affect an instructor can have on my class experience: whereas John at Exhale (my previous barre studio) was excellent at describing and demonstration each motion and modification, the woman teaching at Pure Barre this morning was clearly used to having repeat students who already knew her routines. It was so hard to follow along; half the time I didn't know what I should be doing! Her favorite instruction was simply "tuck." Tuck what?! She also offered no modifications for the many exercises that my low level of flexibility clearly prevented me from doing properly. I struggled quite a bit and didn't feel as though I got much out of the class, but I did talk to the instructor after, and found that she is still a very new instructor who hasn't really had to consider injury or inflexibility adjustments in her classes yet. With her promise to look into better ways to adapt for student limitations, I may be convinced to give Pure Barre another try.
Despite my struggles with both classes, I'm not one to quit when faced with a new challenge. I'm going to give AIR and Pure Barre another chance or two, because if I can get more acclimated to the different types of training, there is so much potential for growth and strength-building. I can run all I want, but it's challenges like these classes that will help me truly blossom as an all-around athlete. Already I can see huge gains in my arm and core strength, and though I dread the shaking pain of some of these classes, I am enticed by the progress I know I can make if I keep pushing!
How do you cross-train? Have you ever had a class that you thought you'd never manage, only to find that a couple classes later you were almost a pro?