The Barre Bro Goes 1v1 Against Molly Misery

The day job’s been busy lately so I haven’t had much time to work out, but work finally slowed down this week so I could take real lunch breaks again. At the same time, this bro somehow managed to gain 8 lbs. between Saturday and Tuesday, which means it’s time to get back at it. I knew it would be a mistake to jump right back into barre because, in a cruel twist of irony, barre uses a lot of body weight exercises, meaning that extra 8 lbs. would make any barre class I went to much harder than it was 8 lbs. ago.

I did manage to go low carb on some free sandwiches at work yesterday, but that didn’t move the needle on the scale that night so I decided to do a double yoga day, with Callie’s 6am in the morning, and Molly’s 11:45am yoga sculpt. First, let me say that I hate the word combination “yoga sculpt.” At best, it’s a shitty fusion – yoga, something that in my mind should be a nice, relaxing, non-challenging, non-sweating stretching affair, combined with sculpting, which is something that happens in sweaty weight rooms. At worst, it’s an oxymoron, kind of like “salad buffet” or “clean coal.” But hey, at least it’s not barre, right?

I go to class, and to my dismay I discover that I’m the only one signed up! Now, there are plenty of situations where it’s great to be the only person there. All-you-can-eat buffet on crab leg night? Hell yeah. The Costco sample stand when mini corn dogs are on sample? I’ll take five, thank you. Buying a large McDonald’s fries without the threat of spousal french fry theft? What a relief to be alone in that situation.

There are other situations where being the only one there is the worst. The first 45 minutes of a horror movie as a minority? Dead. Applying sunscreen? Not a one-player game. Taking a dump in a public restroom and realizing you didn’t check to make sure there’s toilet paper? Is there even a way out of that? (Yes, but it’s not pretty…)

Yoga sculpt falls into that second category – it’s great if you can hide out in a class of 12, but awful if you’re the Only. One. There. It’s even worse when you know that Molly’s been itching to have me come to her class just so she could torture me, that little sadist. Now that I think about it, most of our teachers are little sadists, and I’m like a crash test barre dummy that they like to experiment on. This is not the face of someone who’s about to teach a chill yoga class.

The worst part about this class? Molly totally set me up to think that this was going to be an awesome, relaxing, no-sweat yoga class when we began the class with this:

And then this:

Basically, all the good shit that happens at the end of most yoga classes came at the beginning, kind of like starting a meal with dessert.. But soon thereafter, the sadist came out.

First, she made me do FUCKING ABS. I hate abs. Remember, abs are supposed to be a supple container, not a muscle.

Meanwhile Molly’s in front of me perched up on a bolster like Pai Mei from Kill Bill –

The rest of the class was a painful blur, and it seemed like I spent most of it in some sort of plank situation with three or fewer limbs in contact with the ground. It really sucked, but it made me respect the hell out of tripods. I hope my enemies are reincarnated into inanimate tripods, just sitting there holding up heavy cameras for indefinite periods of time. Also, three-legged dog is kind of a sad name for a yoga pose, isn’t it? Why not peeing dog so the dog isn’t permanently disabled?

I usually have one goal during morning/lunch yoga classes – don’t sweat, because you have to go back to work. By that standard, I failed miserably – I can’t remember the last time I sweat this much in a yoga class. If barre is like taking a blowtorch to your muscles, Molly’s yoga class was like being a wet towel being twisted until moisture just drips off.

I don’t think this next one is even a real yoga pose – I’m pretty sure Molly was just fucking with me at this point. She didn’t even bother making up a Sanskrit name for it, she was just like, “Hands behind your head, now pull your elbows back, yup, stand on one foot, now stick the other one out to the side. Yup, that’s the pose, slinky-warrior-descending-staircase.” If Molly ever gets tired of teaching barre/yoga, she has a bright future designing field sobriety tests.

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Core Barre with Cassie

I woke up naturally this morning at 5:25am – I tried to watch The Mummy on Netflix, but Callie grumbled something about turning the sound down, and The Mummy is just not a low-volume subtitle type of movie. So, I decided to go to Cassie’s barre class instead. Cassmagrass is a tuck OG – she was with us from almost the moment we opened, and she was part of the very first class of clients that took barre teacher training and then started teaching for us.

Here she is rocking out, wearing some Pure Barre gear ironically, kind of the way Netflix employees wear Blockbuster Video t-shirts as a joke. Since taking her barre workouts to a new level at tuck, she hasn’t been back to Pure Barre. At this point, she could be in a coma and still make it through a Pure Barre workout.

So I walk into class and take a quick look at the class/schedule, and I realize my first mistake. This isn’t a barre class, it’s a goddamn core barre class. I HATE core. I am philosophically against having a strong core. I consider my core a sacred vessel to be filled, sometimes overfilled, with delicious food. A strong core i.e. a rigid container, does not allow for this overfilling. What I’m looking to develop is a flexible, elastic, pliable core capable of expanding to envelop whatever I consume. My personal hero is Wing Bowl champion Molly Schuyler who has, at different times, eaten 37 corndogs, three 72-oz. steak dinners, and a Wing-Bowl-record 501 wings. I don’t know Molly personally, but I doubt she does a lot of core exercises.

Cassie is the opposite of Molly. She recently had some kind of surgery, and the surgeon had to abandon his original plan to cut through her abs because her abs/core were so strong. “I ruined two scalpels before I gave up trying to cut through that titanium barrier,” the surgeon was overheard saying, “Forget concrete or steel, if Trump wants to build a wall, he should build it out of Cassie’s abs.” (True story – quotes may have been dramatized)

So there I am at 6:15am at our Point Breeze studio, trapped in a class with Core Colossus Cass. I haven’t taken Cassie’s class in almost a year so I’m not sure what to expect, but what I didn’t expect was a scene that looked like something out of a daycare at 2pm.

Turns out, those green things are ankle weights. The light blue thing is… I don’t even know how to describe it, it’s like a scarf made out of super thin rubber. The black band goes around your thighs. The purple weights are actually 75 lb. hand weights, because I’m a beast like that. And the little black thing is just the remote that controls the music.

Here I am curling 75 lbs. in each hand!

I don’t remember what was going on here, but it sucked. In my head, I’m already mourning the loss of stomach capacity.

Worst scarf ever.

In the background, you can see someone doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Point Breeze was our first studio, and it’ll always have a special place in my heart. But one thing that sucks about it is that it’s smaller, meaning there is NOWHERE TO HIDE. See, barre helps you develop a multitude of skills, the most important of which is room awareness. You must, at all times, be aware of the instructor’s line of sight. When you’re outside the instructor’s field of vision, that’s what I call the “safety zone.” That’s when you can drop your weights/form/whatever, shake it out, and get a quick recovery. The larger classes at our West Philly location are great because you can hide behind rows of people. But at Point Breeze? Everyone is basically in one staggered row, so you’re pretty much always in your instructor’s field of vision. Every time I tried to take a break, I was met with a “What the fuck Hagana, get back in it!”

And now, my legs are dead. Thanks for ruining stairs for me for the next two days, Cassie.

Oh yeah, Cassie is Bunny’s #1 fan. She gets ridiculously excited to see him. You can see more on Cassie’s instagram here

Here are some pigs cuddling from last Saturday’s pig yoga. Next one is on March 23rd!

Spying on Teacher Training, Thai Yoga Massage Workshop

It snowed last week. Outside tuck 2, we usually have a sidewalk sign with some sale advertised, or just “barre & yoga” written on it. It was cold and I thought I was being clever, but Callie didn’t like my pun.

A few weekends ago, I got the chance to spy on a barre teacher training while waiting to go to a Sixers game. What I witnessed confirmed what I had always suspected – the lies spewing from the mouths of barre teachers are planned, intentional, and entirely pre-meditated. Here are some things I overheard:

 

  • “You have to lie to them to get them through the exercises – otherwise, they would never make it.”
  • “Never count down from the real number of reps they’re going to do – if you start counting down from 18 or 24, they’ll try to conserve their energy, or they’ll just be daunted and discouraged.”
  • “Teaching exercise isn’t just about demonstrating the exercises, you have to push them, motivate them – be their cheerleader, be their coach in the fourth quarter – say whatever you have to say to get the most effort out of them!”
  • “Remember – don’t just count down all the way, distract them with motivational encouragement in between counts.”
  • “You’red wired to a microphone, not a lie detector test. Even if they’re fading, tell them how strong they look! It’ll encourage them to push harder.”

I haven’t been to a Sixers game in a while, but I knew I’d 1) be hungry and 2) unable to resist hot dogs no matter the price, so I tried to be frugal and prepare by treating myself to a 7/11 chili cheese hot dog right before we went to the game.

The hot dog, chili and cheese were great, but unfortunately the bun was stale, so all it did was remind me how good hot dogs are when on a great bun. So I ended up getting a hot dog and crab fries anyway (Callie got popcorn and a pretzel). The Sixers also DESTROYED Lebron and the Lakers by about 30 points – this was the second game with the new line up – Tobias Harris is the real deal! Joel Embiid had a crazy game too. I bet those guys could crush barre – Sixers players, any time you want to come to tuck, classes are on me!

Fast forward to this past weekend – Callie put on another thai yoga massage workshop. For the uninitiated, thai yoga massage is… pretty much the best thing ever. I actually don’t even like massages because I’m ticklish and kind of a little bitch when being massaged (last time I got a deep tissue massage, I desperately needed a safeword) but thai yoga massages are just fantastic. Think about how good food is, then think about how much better thai food is. That’s how much better a thai yoga massage is than a normal massage.

Some of the stuff you need to do in thai yoga massage, you just can’t verbalize without being silly. So Callie ends up saying a lot of things like “Yeah, thumb that butt good!” or “Place your hands on their pelvis and find their pulse… yeah, it’s pretty intimate” (pictured above).

By the way, the butt thumbing part is NOT what it sounds like, you find some muscle (I think it’s a muscle) called the pyra formus or something (I couldn’t even spell it close enough to get proper Google results), and press with your thumb.

Philadelphia has the weirdest culture of rudeness/politeness. It’s pretty much 99% rudeness, 1% politeness. Trying to use the proper (back) bus door to exit? You have to yell “BACK DOOR!!!!” at the SEPTA driver while he’s busy rolling out the red carpet for people to exit by the front door (dumbest thing ever). But accidentally make the same mistake on a trolley? Everyone yells “STEP DOWN YOU FUCKING IDIOT!” Accidentally slip on the snow on a busy rush hour sidewalk? “Watch where you’re going, asshole!” Accidentally bump into someone on the street? “Fuck YOU!!”

But then there’s also the 1% of politeness, which happens in exactly one circumstance. Going into a Wawa? Stranger: “Oh, good morning ma’am! Please, let me get that door for you! Have a blessed day!”

Speaking of Wawa, the 2 for $3.33 sizzlis are crushing my hopes of dieting. I decided to take off half of the upper croissant to go “low carb.”

Then I ate it anyway.

The barre bro goes to Cartagena!

Working full-time while owning small businesses means that vacations are few and far between, but when you can multitask attending a good friend’s wedding with exploring a new country, you gotta do it, right?!?

I always get excited to travel… only to remember that 90% of travelling is waiting in a series of lines. Luckily, it’s also a great excuse to order wine at 8am with breakfast.

breakfast airport
fear not, I ate the sausage not Callie

I have trouble thinking more than a day ahead, so we never got around to googling Cartagena or doing any kind of research at all. Turns out, Cartagena is a party spot known for prostitutes and cocaine! We had no idea about Cartagena’s reputation until the last leg of our flight, when we found ourselves on a plane with at least three groups of 20 dudes each going there for bachelor’s parties.

My friend Johnny who was getting married is half-Colombian and I thought that was why the wedding was in Colombia –  and the only city I had heard of in Colombia was Bogota, so I honestly thought Cartagena was, like, his mother’s quaint South American village or something. In my head, I was expecting something like this –

Image result for colombian farm

Instead we did this –

Image may contain: 14 people, including Brittany Spano, people smiling, people standing and crowd

And this –

boat

Vacations are supposed to be simple affairs, but things quickly took a turn towards the gluttonous when I discovered that our hotel had an all-you-can-eat (AYCE) breakfast buffet every morning. The barre bro has historically had a troubled relationship with AYCE establishments, and it was only in recent years that, through years of yoga and meditation, I had the enlightened realization that AYCE experiences don’t necessarily have to be an adversarial affair of me vs. the restaurant. I used to be of the mind that, since restaurant food is typically marked up 3x, I would need to eat at least $30 worth of food at a $10 buffet to “beat” the restaurant. I like to think that my therapist was pretty proud of me when I stopped thinking this way.

breakfast battle
AYCE hotel breakfast

It’s never hard to tell which side belongs to Callie and which side belongs to the barre bro.

arepa

That deep-fried thing was something called an arepa – basically deep-fried chewy crunchy bread/dumpling with some meat and an egg inside.

monkey-tree.jpg

Highlight of the trip was this cool ass monkey that we met on an island.

monkey 1
“Hmmm mouth doesn’t fit”

The tour leader told us explicitly not to feed the monkey.

monkey 2
“Maybe my right hand?”

So naturally, here are pictures of Callie gleefully feeding the monkey.

monkey 3
“Let’s try the left hand…”

Random lunch for the barre bro, including a salad!

steak

Callie’s stupid lunch.

caprese

Tyra I took this picture for you –

fries mayo

Freshly rejuvenated from the vacation, I took 6am yoga on Wednesday morning. Callie had us start in this position.

hagana yoga palms up

One of the reasons I like Callie’s yoga class is that she doesn’t do much of that spiritual hippie stuff like chanting in ancient tongues, but occasionally she says some stuff that makes the ol’ eyes roll back a bit. This morning, she was telling us to face our palms to the sky to receive energy. What? There’s only one way the body receives energy, and that’s through FOOD, so I imagined that I had a breakfast sandwich in each hand.

Today’s class was about 60% crappy core exercises and 40% feel good yoga. I took more of a Marie Kondo approach to the class – during the crappy core exercises, I closed my eyes, put my hands together and bowed, saying “thank you exercise for existing for other people, but you don’t spark joy in me so I will let you go.”

As usual, some ridiculous claims were made in class. At one point Callie said, “Now fold yourself over into pyramids pose. Mmm… there’s nothing that feels as good as a pyramids pose.” Really, Callie? How about a slice of pizza, which is essentially just a two-dimensional pyramid.

Image result for slice of pizza food porn

Even after 12 years of attending Callie’s classes, I pick up on new tricks she uses. When she has us do particularly tough poses, she likes to take a deep breath as if she was exerting herself with us… but if you actually look over at her, she’s just sitting there with her eyes closed. No exertion whatsoever.

In the end, I got my energy… from a real breakfast sandwich.

breakfast sandwich

4:10 AM

Where am I allowed to draw the line? I mean, I understand I should have known this kind of stuff was coming when I married my 6am yoga teacher, but waking up at 4:10am on a weekday before work?

Let’s rewind a bit. “Come be on local TV!” they said. “It’ll be great publicity!” they said. “We’ll do three separate segments!” they said.

“Okay!” Callie said, before even asking when this was happening. And certainly before asking the barre bro if that was a cool bro thing for us to do.

Do you have any idea how awful a time 4:10am is in January in Philadelphia? Not only is it cold, the night/morning isn’t even done getting colder by 4:10am. It’s so early that when I woke up and burped, I could still taste last night’s dinner. It’s so early that the Netflix show I fall asleep to every night hadn’t even asked me yet if I was still there watching.

So yeah, we woke up at the pig crack of dawn, drove to the West Philly studio, and hosted FairyTales The Rescue and PHL17.

Believe it or not, that’s Franklin!! Look how much bigger he is now than last time!!

Franklin in July

 

This is my favorite picture of him ever –

Franklin in November
Franklin in January 2019

 

Franklin keeps getting cuter as he gets bigger – one thing we have in common.

11:30am edit: Speaking of getting bigger, the other problem with waking up at 4:10am is that you get hungry for lunch way before lunch time. Now, I had every intention of getting a salad for lunch today – I had it all planned out. I would walk to Axis where they have a salad bar, load up on lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and red cabbage, top it with grilled chicken and caesar dressing, and eat a super healthy lunch for about six bucks. The problem is, today is Tuesday… and the flashing sign below the Axis sign displayed “Today’s special – $2 off any platter!”

So what’s a platter? You pick a “main” (cheesesteak, chicken wings, or chicken fingers), and you get a soup or salad AND two sides, all for $8.25. So now I’m in a pickle – do I pay $6 for just a salad, or for $2 more, do I get the salad, two sides, and an entire cheesesteak?

oops I did it again

Now at first glance, it looks as though my dietary plan for lunch was completely thrown off. But what’s not pictured here are my accomplishments – I ordered the salad instead of the soup, which is tough to do on a cold day when you had to wake up at 4:00am, AND, while I had the option of getting double fries as my sides, I ordered broccoli as one of my sides! But wait, the accomplishments aren’t over…

Not only did I save half the cheesesteak for another time, I ate almost as much of the broccoli as I did of the fries! Unfortunately, this amount of fries falls into a category I call the “it’s not going to be as good later” – meaning that those fries will never again be as beautiful and hot and crispy as they are in this moment. So I finished them off like a Mortal Kombat fatality.

P.S. – Raw peppers in salads suck, as do cucumbers.

The Barre Bro Bounces

One thing they don’t tell you about being a small business owner is the amount of time you’ll be spending doing Ikea-style assembly of things. For instance, my wife bought a dozen fitness trampolines without telling me, scheduled a trampoline class without telling me, and then told me all those things about three hours before our first trampoline barre class. So much of my Saturday morning was spent assembling a dozen fitness trampolines while she danced around to music, “supervising.”

I took class and… I didn’t hate it? It was actually really fun, reminds you of being a little kid! In fact, I think the best trampoline barre teachers are probably 12-year olds who haven’t been disillusioned by the real world yet.

You could definitely spend the entire 45 minutes bouncing around like a little kid, but the “workout” portion of it is actually ridiculously hard – you mostly want to keep your head level, and then pound down on the trampoline as if you were a superhero making a superhero landing. Over, and over, and over again.

Let’s zoom in on that Callie face –

close up face

Friday night was one of the greatest nights of my life. About once a year, Callie gets a craving for fast food. Sometimes it’s McDonald’s fries, other times (usually) it’s Sonic, and on Friday night, she saw this article and started craving taco bell!! She got a nachos supreme, no beef, and a cheese quesadilla. I got, like, a taco or something.

We crushed it.

For some reason, I had a nightmare Friday night. Not the type of nightmare you’re thinking of, it was way worse.

Everyone knows that the best dreams are the dreams where you wake up and you’re suddenly at the world’s largest all-you-can-eat buffet, you polish off six or seven plates of chinese, sushi, ribs, mongolian bbq, and some french fries, and then you wake up and you’ve consumed zero calories!

So what nightmare did I have that was worse than anything you could possibly imagine? I dreamt that I worked out. Like, a full hour of hitting a heavy bag. And then I woke up, and I had burned exactly zero extra calories. Worst dream ever.

6am yoga/nap, 7:15am breakfast

Wednesday means Callie’s 6am yoga at Point Breeze – easily my favorite class of the week. Yoga is everything that barre is not – it’s pleasant, relaxing, and nice things come out of Callie’s mouth. Wonderful things, like “Listen to your body,” and “just stay on your knees if that seems inaccessible” and “only do as much as feels good for you.” My early interactions with Callie happened exclusively in her yoga class, which is probably how she fooled me into thinking she was this wonderful, angelic being.

Unfortunately, it was really cold this morning and as my body temperature kept dropping, drowsiness set in. I don’t remember falling asleep, but the next thing I knew, she was cueing shivasana. I can’t recommend napping in yoga class enough – there’s something about drifting away while the people around you are stretching and the teacher is saying pleasant things that makes it 100 times better than any other sleep you’ll ever get.

Since barre was starting right after yoga, I excused myself into the waiting area and made myself a little napping station.

Last night I had every intention of taking barre too, but this morning I woke up and remembered how important rest days are. God does it, The Rock does it, and so should you and I.

Unfortunately, after 20 minutes of vigorous battling pigeon poses, hunger set in. Thankfully, there’s a corner store across the street. One of my favorite things about Philly is that every corner store has solid breakfast sandwiches on some of the best rolls in the country. I mean, look at this beaut!

It was really cold this morning, so it was impressive that everyone who signed up for barre actually showed up! Everyone except for… our own teachers. Nice going, Kate and Ann.

lazy teachers

This portrait is my favorite part of our studio –

As I laid down for my second set of napping, I could hear Callie teaching her class and lying her ass off.

The most annoying thing Callie says in class? “I know it burns!” Oh yeah, you do? So why don’t you do something about it? Don’t tell me my legs are on fire, stop the exercise so they stop being on fire. Callie would be a terrible fireman.

Since I’m annoyed at Callie, allow me to blow up her spot a bit. If you’ve taken barre, you know that she goes around encouraging people by name, calling out people who are resting too much, and checking everyone’s form. But the secret? She only does that because SHE DOESN’T WANT TO DO ALL THE SETS OF THE EXERCISES SHE’S MAKING ALL OF US DO. So next time she says, “I know it burns!” please feel free to retort, “You’re not even doing it Callie!”