A little over a month ago my friend and colleague Monique dragged me to my very first Physique 57 class. Over dinner earlier that week, a group of industry contacts and friends were noshing on petit filets paired with truffle fries or creamy parmesan polenta, green beans doused in butter, several glasses of wine, and the obligatory gourmet donuts. I don’t want to name names, but this downtown hot spot is not exactly where you want to be when trying to downsize in the denim department. That said, the food was delicious. While we munched, we talked about all of the obvious items of interest from men to business, but we circled back several times to the obligatory topic–how fat we all are.
**Now, let me step back for a moment to confirm that indeed, not a single one of us actually “fat.” Let me take one step further to say I don’t reallybelieve in that word anyway. I genuinely do look around and find such a plethora of attractive shapes in this city. In every city. I don’t believe in size 0 or bust. In fact some of the sexiest women I’ve ever seen (or heard men talk about) are of the thicker, “more womanly” variety. But when I talk about it now–and rest assured, it might come up again in the future–my definition of “fat” as it applies to my own life is that I am up a size for me. That the frame I know and am comfortable with at my healthiest weight is currently distorted in the direction I’d rather it not be. **
Back to the point, rambler. It was a big, caloric dinner and we were all feeling guilty. Someone at the table brought up their favorite way to forgive themselves a dinner of this caliber–one more thing this eager New York chick had yet to discover–the inimitable Physique 57. This ballet-based workout includes a bar, a playground ball, a black cloth band, an hour, some awesome music, and a chic little creature clad in spandex who barks orders at you through a miked headset. In short, I was told, it was the place where Hell meets Heaven. And it burns a lot of calories. I was intrigued. I’ve been running with my boyfriend for several months now–which got me started on running solo–and I love it. But I needed a change. I needed to sweat to the point of tears. I was oddly excited.
Monique and I signed up for an open class at the Spring Street location for my first time. Admittedly, I was nervous going in, but relieved I wasn’t going in alone. The class was hard. It leaves you sweating and panting and reaching for your water bottle, yet at the end the feeling of health and adrenaline surging throughout your body is enough to make you sign up online right away to go through the pain all over again as soon as your schedule (and wallet–class costs $35 a pop) will allow.
|Cheer practice 2006, Pookie is far left &
I’m in the yellow shorts
I don’t have enough wonderful things to say about this class that has changed my understanding of group, synchronized workouts forever. But there is one little thing that really bothered me that first day, and that continued to nag at me the next few times I went. Shape and size notwithstanding, every single chick in the studio is decked out in the cutest little workout outfits. A former cheerleader myself, I get the desire to look good while working up a sweat, but we always donned little pink pleated skorts or Victoria’s Secret mini shorts with our fitted Midd t-shirts, throwing our boyfriends’ oversized athletic gear on to walk from the dorm to the gym. I’m not gonna lie–there were hair bows involved as well. While the look worked at 19… and even at 22… it’s over. Time to grow up and look like a woman in a class.
|It was even easier when we dressed in uniform!|
So I threw on my little Gap athletic sweats and a boring t-shirt I didn’t care about and headed to the gym. As I looked around the room and saw the ladies around me geared up in Lululemon yoga pants that fit like a glove, little tanks with built-in bras, and perfect half-zip fleeces that actually fit, I felt like a total loser. But here is the worst part. No one told me ahead of time that Physique class is a socks-only experience. As in, no shoes or bare feet allowed in the studio. As in, within moments everyone in the room knew that I was wearing one faded pink Puma sock and one white Polo sock that had (yes, Lord, strike me down) a hole in it. Everyone around me was wearing cute little black ankle socks that literally had the words “Phsyique 57″ inscribed in sweet white writing on the soles. I. Wanted. To. Die.
Now, I must admit, since I finally drank the Kool Aid and purchased a few Lululemon duds myself, I have realized that they are a lot more than attractive. In the store they explain all of this to you while leading you around and helping you select the proper gear based on your preferred exercise routine. Yesterday I picked up a great little tie dyed tank with a built-in bra and the Run Dash Tight pants in black that are great for class but will work wonders on runs as well. The technology involved helps you keep warm outdoors, cool indoors, prevents sweat from soaking you through, and maybe most importantly for me, makes you feel like a real athlete.
The price tags are staggering, but sometimes, isn’t it worth it to feel great? It’s not only about not being the frumpiest girl at Physique. It’s about knowing that even if you aren’t the most traditional athlete in the room, even if you took a year off after cheerleading before figuring out that size 2 (or, ahem, even 4) was a memory not a right, sometimes it only takes some stretch lycra and a proper pair of socks to get you back in the groove. And when you feel like you look the part, you have only success to greet you when you walk through the door of whatever daunting gym looms ahead. Girls, gear up. And when you try Physique, tell them I sent you