Most of what I know about ballet comes from the movie "Black Swan," starring Natalie Portman. If you've seen the movie, you know that things can get ugly when it comes to ballerinas... And yet, despite having this knowledge, I stupidly agreed to try a barre class at the request of an editor at TODAY.
While I had some idea of what ballet is, I knew a lot less about barre. Like, how do you actually pronounce it? (It's bar, like the one I needed a drink in after realized what I had committed to.) And what is the actual workout like? (It mixes elements of Pilates, yoga and ballet training.)
The good news is that I had two NBC colleagues, Matt Murray and Parminder Deo, joining me in flopping around the carpet at a class at a Pure Barre studio in Manhattan.
Any expectations that this might not be that hard were dispelled by watching the women in the class right before ours. They put their bodies in positions that would make Simone Biles wince.
When it was our turn to enter the room, we were each given special socks, a resistance band, light weights and a rubber ball, that's used for stretching and ensuring that all of your leg muscles will be sore for days.
Most of the exercises involve isometric training, which is essentially holding your body still, often in a half-squat position, while doing high repetitions of short movements — and praying your organs don't explode out of your abdomen.
I have the flexibility of a medieval knight wearing a full suit of armor, so the poses were a challenge, to say the least. The hour-long class showed us how hard moving your body only an inch or two, up or down, can actually be.
Thankfully our great instructor, Abby Horrell, was constantly encouraging us and correctly positioning our bodies, rather than openly bursting into laughter.
For the next three days, I had soreness in areas I didn't even know I had muscles, particularly in the upper abdominal area. While I'd be game to try it again, I think I'll stick to the actual bar for now.