Hi! Meet Kate. Kate is one of our barre teachers. She’s also the reigning Tuck Nintendo Just Dance Champion 2019, having vanquished Meg, and Ann in the annual dance-off fourteen straight songs in a row. (Meg’s appeal is still under review).
When we first opened tuck, we had a really hard time finding good barre teachers. We must have auditioned over fifty barre teachers during our first year of operation, and we hired… two. This is a big part of the reason why Callie started doing barre teacher trainings – we had such a shortage of great barre teachers that Callie decided to start training them herself.
So I’ll never forget the day that Callie came home after auditioning Kate. “Oh. My. God.” she said, “Hagana, I literally just hired the best barre teacher in Philly, barre none,” (Okay, I added those last two words, Callie isn’t clever like that). “She’s magic, her class is pure magic.”
Now this was great news and I was happy for Callie, but since I’m now fluent in barre-speak, I knew what Callie was really saying. I knew that a “bad” barre class was those classes where everyone avoids eye contact and small talk before class, no one breaks a sweat, no one makes a sound during class, but you still sort of move around for an hour so you feel accomplished (honestly, this sounds great to me). I knew that a “good” class meant a considerable amount of pain, and that a “great” barre class meant that you would stumble out of class with a blank expression of shock on your face and your body feeling like it had been in a car accident. Clearly I had NO interest in taking class with the “best” barre teacher in Philly.
But after months and months of people raving about Kate’s class, an opportunity arose. Meet Dhima, Kate’s husband.
I think he does something vaguely medical, maybe he’s a chiropractor or something? Anyway, Dhima had never taken Kate’s class. He’s also Russian, so he mostly spends his time doing manly Russian things like Russian slap-contests and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You can see from the picture above, what Dhima thought of barre class. So last Friday, Kate finally convinced Dhima to take her class, and somehow Callie talked me into taking her class as well. Allow me to narrate what happened…
First, Dhima and I got into our barre stances. But it turns out this was not actually something you do in barre class, at least not at tuck.
Then, things went downhill, incredibly fast. Now before we get further, I should explain the logic behind my decision to take Kate’s class that day. Usually when I take barre at our studios, our barre teachers tend to single me out for some extra intense barre-bullying because, well, they’re just like that, and it seems to amuse them. And there’s no way I would typically subject myself to this kind of treatment from Chernobyl Kate. But I knew that this day, the vast majority of her wrath would be directed at her own husband and not me. He would serve as an umbrella, shielding me from the downpour of suffering that Kate was precipitating over the class. He would be my football fullback, my hockey protector, my bodyguard who doesn’t even realize that he’s actually the real target of this barre-ssassination attempt.
Now, I have a confession to make. I should have been looking out for my barre bro Dhima, but I also had to look out for myself. See, under Newton’s lesser-known Law of the Conservation of Suffering, there is a finite amount of suffering inflicted upon each barre class. Which means that if he suffers more, I suffer less. You can see in the picture below that Dhima foolishly chose 3 lb. hand weights. I chose the purple 2 lb. weights off to the left. (This may seem like a small difference, but it’s actually… eh you know what, go try it yourself). I briefly considered warning him against the 3 lb. weights, but hey, some things must be learned first-hand.
Here we are, backs straight, ready to do some bullshit on those fucking sliders. How long would my form hold up?
Oh, exactly zero seconds.
Here’s Kate teaching us more slider shit – this is what it’s supposed to look like.
This is my interpretation of said exercise. As if being next to Kate wasn’t bad enough, even when she leaves the barre, there’s fucking Heather, another tuck alum with perfect form. Meanwhile, Kate’s pacing around the room saying things that don’t even apply to me. “Keep that form! Trust that bar!” she says. Really Kate? It’s not the fucking bar that I don’t trust, it’s the rest of my body, so please, shut the hell up while I hang on for dear life in whatever form I can manage.
Now, all of our barre teachers have perfect form, but when they demonstrate what something is supposed to look like, they at least have the decency to demonstrate the exact version of the exercise that we’ll all be doing. But not Kate. Kate’s more like that former NBA player turned middle-school basketball coach that has to let you know that there are levels to this shit, and she is multiple levels above you.
First, she would demonstrate an exercise the way you’re supposed to do it, while at the bar, with an exercise ball under one foot for support, and hanging on the bar for support. Then, she’d pace around like a drill sergeant/hall monitor making sure everyone’s doing it. And probably laughing at our faces contorted in misery.
Then, she would go to the middle of the fucking room and do the exercise… without the ball, or the bar, like some anti-gravity android asshole from Ex Machina.
Luckily, I was right about Dhima being my umbrella. Kate has a particularly nasty way of psyching you into doing more exercises. Whereas Callie might just lie to you to encourage you with sayings like “You’re so strong! You guys are stronger than me!” Kate made you feel like you were going into battle with her and you better not be the weak link. “Keep fighting! This is NOT where you give up!” No shit, Kate. I gave up fifteen minutes ago. But Kate would save her most devastating comments for her husband – “Dhima don’t bitch out, get lower, smaller pulses!”
That being said, my umbrella was one lanky motherfucker, meaning he didn’t have to work nearly as hard to look like he was doing stuff correctly.
There he goes.
And here i am.
Here’s Kate demoing one-leg-up tricep push-ups.
And here’s my version. This is where I gave up for the 11th time that class.
Here’s Kate at the end of class, looking like she just woke up from a refreshing nap. She’s so fucking cheery and positive she makes Parks and Rec Rob Lowe look like Office Stanley Hudson.