I’ve been going to barre class for almost a year now. I usually make 3 to 4 classes a week. It’s not doing anything to help with my gut and double chin, but I’m definitely feeling stronger in my legs and butt, so that’s something. At the end of every class, we sit in a butterfly stretch and are encouraged to work on our pelvic floor, or “lady parts” depending on who the instructor is. I always am amused at these times, because about half of the population of any given class is early 20-somethings. Barre is quite trendy after all. I can only imagine the bemused confusion that they must experience when being instructed to work on their pelvic floor. After all, I’m sure their’s are just fine, thank you very much.
And before I had kids, I didn’t give my lady parts any thought whatsoever either. They were just there, all springy and taught before being forever shredded by childbirth.
After that, suddenly the idea of understanding how to do kegels became very important. I had an abstract notion of what kegels were. After all, I had attended medical school and memorized the musculature of the female pelvic floor. Because that’s all it is, you know. A bunch of muscles that appear to have been cobbled together by someone who usually relies on duct tape and WD-40 for repairs. I’d post a picture, but I don’t want to get flagged. I learned my lesson that time I was studying at the public library and realized that the middle school kids were walking by my open anatomy book with a little too much frequency.
In addition to med school, I’ve attended lady exercise classes of some for or another since I was about 15. I used to go to evening aerobics at the Y with my mother, back when people still wore leotards. And she always kind of laughed at the fact that she couldn’t jump off the ground with both feet or she’d wet her pants. Weird. Before that, mom used to do Jane Fonda at home. She had an LP version with a happy Jane on the front. She also had the word “kegels” spelled out in individual letters on the dashboard, right over the steering column of the old blue van. I suppose that was to remind her to do them when driving. I enjoyed encouraging any friends who were along for a ride to ask my mom about them.
When I went to college, my friend Bobbi Jo and I would go to step aerobics a few nights a week. They weren’t particularly popular classes, but there were always a few upperclassmen there along with Bobbi and me. These young women were all pretty thin and fit, and Bobbi and I comforted ourselves with the knowledge that they may appreciate those narrow hips now, but just wait until childbirth. In retrospect, their hips were all so impossibly narrow that they likely were forced to deliver via C-sections, and now still have relatively intact pelvic floors and can ignore butterfly stretch time too. Little did we know…
I think about those moments now when I’m at barre class sitting in my butterfly stretch, when the the young women in class are probably just meditating or letting their minds wander, while I attempt to will my pelvic floor into some kind of submission, trying not to laugh or sneeze too hard in the meantime.