Monday, January 9, 2017

Barre Class: What you (really) need to know

As promised in my first post of the new year, I have some fitness tips from the experts for you attempting-a-resolution-ers (though you've probably given up by now, similar to how I gave up on sober January).

I asked certified barre (the ballet barre, not a fancy French bar serving up cocktails as I first assumed) instructor, Stephanie, to share her tips for first time barre students. Then I adjusted it to make it truthful reflect my first experience with barre. Important to note, I grew up a ballerina and that didn't gain me any points (except with my mother for the first and last time).

What can I expect when trying barre for the first time?
Barre is a ballet-inspired workout, invented by ISIS, that combines elements of dance, yoga, and pilates, and torture. Barre is typically low-impact and involves small repetitive motions that wear out (and strengthen! and sodomize!) your muscles. People often say barre gets harder the more with each passing minute you do it because it takes a few only one classes to find proper form, technique, and body alignment realize you are willingly and idiotically subjecting yourself to suffering and misery, you sadist. Most classes consist of a warm up, an arm series, leg and glute work at the barre, a core series, and a cool down, and burial.

What are the common myths about barre? 
I hear a lot of people are intimidated to try barre because they think they need to have a strong ballet background in order to be successful, and that's completely true. Growing up in a dance studio may make barre more enjoyable for you likely to stir a PTSD flare-up, but at its core, it’s a workout torment, and it really is something anyone can do if you're into pain (and not the fun pain S&M promises). That being said, I have never had a man take my class… so a “myth” with some substance behind it may be that it’s only for girls who enjoy watching other girls in shared pain - as though we won't get enough of that in Trump's America.

Do I need to have an athletic background to try barre?
Nope! Yep, because if you don't, you'll look like an uncoordinated failure among others, further supporting your rank in society. I’ve never done a sport in my life, but I love abusing my body and getting paid to abuse others. Like with any workout, if you’re just starting out with your exercise regimen (hoping it sticks this time), you may find yourself taking breaks and/or hobbling for the door during class more than other students, but with practice/continued self-harm, you will build your strength and endurance over time. Just remember, you'll never be Misty Copeland.

Does barre help me lose weight quickly?
Any form of exercise can help with weight loss when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle tapeworm and starvation. Barre is great for toning and is recommended in conjunction with cardio (running, spin, sex, etc) for clients whose goal is weight loss. As such, for quick weight loss, I would recommend forgoing the pain and remaining sedentary for optimal comfort - just nix the food!

If I decide to try barre, when can I expect to look like you? 
Well I’ve been doing barre 3x/week for about two years now…so maybe try that? Essentially, no shot.

I hope Stephanie's insights (and my necessary edits) have adequately prepared you to attempt (or completely avoid) a barre class in the new year. New Year, New YOU!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year, New You People

If my recent trip home for the holidays taught me anything, it's that I should never go home for the holidays people need to change. If my therapist taught me anything, it's that I need to change (as though that's suddenly going to make my liver function at full capacity). Seeing as I no longer have regular appointments with my therapist, I will focus on the former lesson learned.

Second only to the midnight countdown, the saying "New Year, New Me" is uttered incessantly during the welcoming of a fresh year. Seeing as I have already established my unwillingness to change the irrelevance of me changing, I humbly request that you please work on yourself which would fix my issues (apart from the daddy ones). New Year, New YOU, is all I'm asking. To help get you started, I've come up with a few suggestions:
  1. Do only what I say - no questions asked (though, I shouldn't need to specify this).
  2. Do not stand within three feet of me unless permission is granted or mandated (e.g. a police lineup).
  3. Should you be seated next to me on a flight (and I happen to be in a dreaded middle or aisle seat):
    1. Find a new seat.
    2. If A is an impossibility, do you really need to be on the flight?
    3. If the answer to B is "yes," the following apply:
      1. If I am asleep (and this should be obvious as I am a mouth breather during sleep), do not shake me awake (I'm under a blanket - makeshift or otherwise - you can't be effectively certain that you will hit my arm and not grope my breast).
      2. Do not make me get up from my seat four separate times on the flight to relieve either yourself or your dog.
      3. Do not repeatedly hit said dog (unless it attacks me or looks at me funny).
      4. Do not take your time when heading to the lavatory (e.g. do not sit in my seat while you collect yourself on departure or return).
      5. Armrests are off limits. 
  4. Do not cut me off in traffic (vehicular or pedestrian). If pedestrian, do not suddenly stop in the middle of a sidewalk or hold hands with one or more people the width of the sidewalk, blocking my passage - I will Red Rover the shit out of you and not think twice.
  5. Do not hold the train door from closing in protest of the MTA consistently causing you to be late for work (you should undoubtedly see the irony here).
  6. Do not decide to start showing up to my regularly attended fitness classes in the month of January only (see number 2).
  7. The toilet paper roll does not go under - it is ALWAYS over. Always. 
  8. Do not tell me I'm crazy - even if I'm committed.
  9. Do not talk to me (like you're my) mom.
  10. Do not look at me.
These are merely ten(ish) recommendations. I can only provide so much guidance for how you need to change for me. The rest you'll need to figure out on your own, and I hope you do so quickly. I already have to deal with enough personal anxieties and anguish, do not add to my sleepless nights.

If, for some reason, you find yourself wholly bent on changing in the New Year for yourself (*eye roll*), I will be posting some workout tips from various fitness instructors and/or athletes in the coming weeks. Their knowledge will be provided to you free of charge, but not free of my redline edits. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Home for the Holidays. Help!

Figuring out the logistics of Christmas travel when you’re in a relationship (one that has reached the level of shared holidays, that is) is something I wish I were better prepared for. One would assume I’d have a great handle on shuffling around to different houses having come from a broken home (referred to lovingly), but I didn’t grow up as one of those privileged kids of divorce. The kids that could leverage the guilt of one parent against the other with multiple birthday celebrations, those who learned the art of negotiation early in life – they were the real victors of divorce (as are the trap queens). My doting dad made a clean exit when he left us, and I was never afforded the learned values of effectively politicking multiple familial gatherings because of it. So, for Christmas this year, I'm made keenly aware of one more daddy issue in my wheelhouse. Thanks, Santa.

This is the first Christmas in a long while that I’m going “home” to Las Vegas. The past three Christmases as a couple, Steven has had to work. So, we stayed in New York and spent the holidays with some of his local extended family. Before we started dating, I used other excuses (e.g. I’m washing my hair) to avoid a Vegas Christmas. Though, more often than not, I simply didn’t want to couldn’t afford it. This year, Steven and I are both off from work and decided to take the full week between Christmas and New Years to visit family. Joy.

Steven absolutely loves spending time with his family. It’s one of the things I love most about him. I absolutely love spending time with myself. It’s one of the things I love most about me. I am also a fan of predictability when it comes to potentially stressful situations. I prefer to drink away the stress have a detailed plan and exit strategy. For this trip, I have been unsuccessful in pinning my family to a specific agenda, which means I am not in possession of a detailed plan or an exit strategy (other than locking down a hotel room for the length of our trip and grabbing a rental car for quick getaways – let’s just hope my mother doesn’t come across one of her many clubs while I’m there.)

As I mentioned in my welcome back post, I no longer have a therapist on retainer, and, as such, bring all complaints about my inadequacies (inadequacies that I can blame on others especially) here. Similar to my inability to suppress the urge to tell complete strangers personal details of my life, I have tried and failed at an effortless bringing together of family traditions in my relationship. I can’t say it’s my first or final failure in my relationship, but I hate losing. I hoped my many years spent as an indentured servant assistant to busy executives would have better prepared me for these scheduling crises. However, I’ve been quickly reminded that you learn much faster as a kid with their stupid spongy brains. So not only could I have been multilingual, I might have avoided unnecessary arguments with my soon-to-be husband had I learned from my parents early on. Thanks for nothing, Santa you fat fictitious motherfucker.

I realize that almost every other couple in existence has had to coordinate the holidays at multiple houses, most of them in different states or continents. I get it. I’m no saint for scheduling two family get-togethers in the same city (though, I would like to point out our families are on opposite sides of town). However, I am coordinating timelines with people I don’t typically deal with in this capacity. I’m very particular about my calendar and knowing when and where I need to be at any given point. My family does not operate like this. They are habitually late and timeline free – fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of people. However, they’re my people, and we’re going to drink more than is required do our best to make this one of the first of many joyous combined family Christmases, Klonopin at the ready.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Adopt. Don't Shop

I had wanted to get a dog for a long time, and decided that once I got my own place in the City I would do just that. That's the worst best part about being an adult - you can do what you want (but really, someone please help, tell me what to do!). I found the perfect studio - enough space to live comfortably and a part-time doorman to judge me keep me honest. I hurriedly signed the lease to triumph over the many people next in line to sign, and completely disregarded my puppy plan. I finally inquired about the canine rules of the building upon move-in and found that they hate dogs had a strict no dog policy. As an extremely indecisive person, I have to appreciate when decisions are made on my behalf, and in this case the verdict was in - no dog for me for the two-year lease term.

Within those two years, I began dating Steven.* After those two years, I moved in with Steven. We were too busy figuring out how life works as a couple to think about additions to our home. However, a puppy was still in the back of my mind.

After a year in our first apartment as a newly affianced couple, we moved (for the first time since my Manhattan residence began) away from the east 200s block to a perfect one bedroom near the river. As soon as we signed the lease, I knew this would be my chance at puppy parenthood - the apartment came with a large private backyard!

We settled into the apartment for the next year, and then, early last summer we began discussing dog adoption. We incessantly scoured Petfinder, sending each other pictures of our favorites. Like most decisions that include more than one person's opinion, finding a dog we both liked was a challenge. Steven prefers gypsy looking dogs - the longer their dog goatee the better, while I appreciate pretty dogs because I don't live in Brooklyn I'm not confident enough to make up for their shortcomings.

Finally, we found a dog we both loved - a hound mix ready for a home - for our home. I mean, look at that face. That's a dog I can take to the dog park with my head held high (unless I'm nursing a hangover - that's why the backyard is key).

We applied immediately, and I provided the contact information of the people I knew would lie about me best for their three required references. Once they all replied with glowing reviews (in the spirit of full disclosure - one which I wrote myself), the adoption agency called us to schedule a home visit. That's right, a home visit. I can go buy six great danes from a dog store right now, and no one is coming by my place to confirm it's not a closet. However, if a home visit was the final box to check before Elvis came home to us, come on over after I put away the sex swing.

[You may have noticed the puppy acquired a name - good catch. I named him Elvis for two reasons, (1) he's part hound (ahem: ♫ you ain't nothing but a hound dog ♫), and (2) Steven and I are both from Vegas. It was too perfect, and soon, we would all be one big happy multiracial family.]

I joked with Steven about the home visit because we both thought it was ridiculous. "Do you think it's just to make sure we're not operating a meth den?" I asked him. "Well, if it is, we better hide the meth." Steven's a forward thinker, it's one of the reasons I love him. After we cleaned up the meth apartment, we made an appointment and the next day, an adoption rep, with her pit-mix in tow, dropped by to sniff out the drugs.

She was a big fan of our apartment, and upon touring she joked "these visits are just to make sure you don't have a meth den." (We clearly employ the same writers.) We saved the backyard tour for last, and, after suggesting we adopt more than one dog with this type of space, she told us we passed the final test.

"Great! When can we pick up Elvis?" I eagerly inquired.

She then ruined my life explained their adoption process, which goes as such: step one - submit an application, step two - references, step three - home visit, step four - disappointment. Essentially, we were now officially approved to adopt one of their animals, and we could go to any of their events and leave with a new family member. And then I got punch in the fucking face - ELVIS WASN'T EVEN AVAILABLE ANYMORE. She had little to nothing to say in regard to the relevance of applying for a specific dog on their site. "Get out of my house," I screamed (in my head).

Since losing Elvis, I've been in mourning and our dog search has been dispassionate at best. Like being driven to drink, I've been persuaded to BUY BUY BUY. No dog shop or puppy farm is going to get my hopes up - If I pay, I play. Sure, Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" taunts my thoughts, but as an adult with abandonment issues, I can't survive another doggy disappointment. Does it count as shopping if someone else buys it for me? I didn't think so.

As such, I would like to ask Santa for only one thing this year - Elvis. Find whichever unworthy, meth-concealing family got him and pull a Grinch. Bring him to me. Or, if Steven's reading this - I'll take a dog (a good looking one) instead of all of those gifts under the tree. If you didn't keep the receipts, I'll take both.

*When I decided to start blogging again, I had a talk with my fiancé about what name he would prefer I use for the blog since I figured I would complain about mention him often. He offered the following suggestions: Mitch, Eucalyptus, Wiley, Sylvester, Reginald, Mohammad, Lars, or Simon ("as in 'Simon Says,' get it?"). As with most things, his opinions went ignored.