Self Care Vol. 2: What Loving Your Body Really Means
Pure Barre is hard, really hard. It's the kind of challenge that makes you emotionally frustrated and physically sore and mentally exhausted all at the same time. I have clients from age 16 to 67, men and women, and I've never seen someone "get it" the first time. Like any good and worthwhile thing, it takes motivation, commitment, and a whole lot of encouragement. And yet, watching the way others react to something new and difficult has taught me so much about how we, as people, tend to approach challenges. I get a lot of clients in my studio who are looking for something that will help them achieve the changes that have never seemed possible. Yet, after their first class, most people feel the need to explain their lack of perfection in that initial experience. They tell me that they aren't flexible or fit or a dancer, none of which are requirements. I do my best to encourage them that it truly is that difficult for everyone the first time and not to be overwhelmed by the new and unfamiliar. But, no matter what I say, I can't make it easier for them; it's still their choice to engage.
Most do choose to engage, and after a few classes, there is a radical transformation in their perspective. They learn to give themselves a little grace and begin to embrace the shake, literally and figuratively. However, I do see clients go through weeks of classes, their bodies change immensely, and then they bow out. Don't get me wrong, everyone should have the freedom to find an exercise routine that they love, but the psychology behind it is always interesting to me.
You see, people come into the studio with a wish or a goal. They want to lose weight or tone up, and after a month of Pure Barre, they definitely see drastic changes. However, some people still choose to go back to their previous habits, and these habits obviously did not produce the same results, or they wouldn't have been in the market for something new. I've literally heard people say, "Wow, I felt so great when I was coming here all the time," but they gradually fade away because keeping a commitment to be healthy long term is really hard.
Getting started is not the challenge in a change. I always here people say, "Starting is the hardest part," but I don't agree. Staying is the hardest part. Anyone can start a new habit or resolution and remain motivated for a few weeks or even a few months. But choosing what's good for you for a lifetime? That's really tough because you won't always feel inspired and motivated the way you do in the beginning. You won't always see rapid results, and you will hit plateaus. But loving your body and practicing self-care have many parallels with the ways we should practice love in our relationships. We have all been told that love is not just a feeling, and we can't give up on the people that matter the most to us because we no longer feel "in love". We have to commit to the good times and the bad. Self-love and self-care are no different. We have to commit to being healthy even when the alarm feels too early and you'd rather have another glass of wine.
We are told to "love our bodies" and "embrace our curves" as women, but what does that really mean? Most take it as an excuse to stop feeling guilty when they put on the freshman 15 or see airbrushed models on television. And I agree, we do need to be kind to ourselves, but ignoring the need to be active and feed your body the nutrients it craves is not "loving your body", it's abusing your body. Loving ourselves means doing the things that are challenging and not being afraid to be different.
When called to live a better story, we can't keep repeating the old ones.