Zibby Mag

The Webby Award-winning literary lifestyle destination.

My Less-Than-Triumphant Return to the Barre

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

By Kelly I. Hitchcock

This week, I hit two milestones. First: I achieved full immunity being two weeks since my second vaccine dose. Second: I went back to my first in-person barre class since March 2020.

My pre-pandemic studio instructor had been holding outdoor classes for a while, but only twice weekly at 8:15 in the morning — during which you can typically find me trying to coax my reluctant preschoolers out of bed and off to daycare before my morning meetings start.

Needless to say, I usually opted for the virtual classes instead. I was sufficiently self-motivated, though admittedly, I’d pick the shortest possible class available. I didn’t like hearing the same royalty-free music, using my bedroom treadmill as a barre, or having my children barge in to play London Bridge while mommy was pulsing it out in booty-burning bridge. I looked at my watch every five minutes wondering how only five minutes had passed.

Moreover, it had done virtually nothing for my “mother figure” (to be fair, I had spent much of lockdown pairing barre with my kids’ Halloween candy, peanut butter spoons, and occasional glasses of cardboardeaux). The only upside to doing barre in my house was the flatulency freedom.

Like every other aspect of self-care as a mom, if you want it to happen, you have to establish it as a priority. If I’d somehow made the 5:15 a.m. barre class work before the pandemic (sweet Jesus, how did I ever do that?) then I could make the 8:15 class work, too.

This meant getting my husband to take the girls to school in the morning. It meant writing down the conference number for my first meeting, knowing there was a better chance of my daughters letting me brush their hair without complaint than being back at my home office in time.

It meant putting my mat and other barre accouterments in the car before going to bed the night before, where I would lie half-awake in the same catatonic twilight I have the night before an ass o’clock flight. It meant leaving early enough to accommodate getting lost in my instructor’s giant neighborhood.

Like every other aspect of self-care as a mom, if you want it to happen, you have to establish it as a priority.

I arrived at the class and was greeted by my instructor amid insanely loud leaf blowers, weed-eaters, and gale-force winds. I shouted a greeting back and acknowledged how long it had been since we’d seen each other. I attempted to set up my mat and gear, only to have a gust of wind blow my mat back against me like an ill-fitting romper and send my inflatable inner thigh ball sailing down the hill in front of me.

Gravity sent me down after the fitness orb, my naked feet getting needled by the fresh cedar mulch blanketing the hill. I climbed back up, out of breath before class had even started. The instructor cranked up the Britney Spears. I hadn’t heard it in over a year, and I found it oddly comforting, like a breathy “Welcome Home.”

I did my pliés, poorly. I did my squats, poorly. I did my planks, poorly. But at least I did my pulsing bridges without anyone singing and playing London Bridge under me — albeit poorly. By the time the hour passed and we finished our last cool-down stretch, my legs were quivering so badly I worried I wouldn’t be able to waddle back to my car.

I gathered my gear, not bothering to roll up my mat for fear the wind would carry it away like Elsa’s cape during Let It Go, said my goodbyes (trying not to let on how out of breath and shaky I was), got back in my car, and cried. I wasn’t mortified at my less-than-triumphant return to the barre — I felt overjoyed

I wasn’t checking my watch every five minutes. I was actually talking to people in person, people who didn’t live in my house. Even though I managed to get lost trying to make it out of the labyrinthine neighborhood — and had to dial a fifty-digit conference pin so I could take my work meeting in the car — I still felt so much joy.

Because I’d gotten the extra resistance workout from the Arendelle winds, I wasn’t drenched in sweat like I usually am after my on-demand bedroom workouts. For his part, my husband got the kids off to school, on time, with brushed hair and clean teeth (even if one of them had non-regulation footwear). Certainly not the end of the world, but definitely the end of on-demand bedroom barre class for me.


Kelly I. Hitchcock is a literary fiction writer and poet from Austin, Texas. She has published several poems, short stories, and creative non-fiction works in literary journals. Hitchcock is the author of the coming-of-age novel The Redheaded Stepchild, a semi-finalist in the literary category for The Kindle Book Review’s “Best Indie Books of 2011,” and Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook. Her latest novel, Community Klepto, will be released in June 2022, courtesy of She Writes Press.