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Stepping up to the barre with Olympian Lashinda Demus

Posted Dec 06 2012 1:26am
Physique 57

I remember when New York City Ballet workout first came out in 2001 and when New York Sports Club started offering classes based on this workout. I remember my sister and I flipping through the book in Barnes and Noble near Lincoln Center and writing it off as the latest fad workout.

Apparently, I was wrong because ballet-inspired barre classes continue to be all the rage. I finally had a chance to try a class on Saturday at Physique 57 in Soho courtesy of Chobani . Not only that, but I got to take my first class with Olympian Lashinda Demus . Lashinda won the silver medal in the 400 meter hurdles in London this past summer.

I was a little nervous beforehand and had asked a few people for tips and what I should expect from the class. Everyone told me to “embrace the shake.” What in the world does that mean?

Olympian Lashinda Demus

Silver medalist in the 400 meter hurdles – Lashinda Demus

Our instructor was Alex and she’s a firecracker and definitely lit a fire under my ass. The workout was structured around several sets of isometric exercises – concentrated movements that keeps the muscle in a fixed position – that we repeated over and over, or as Alex described as “sprinting,” followed by recovery and stretching in order to create long, lean muscles. It was hard.

Keep an open mind
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the workout. Some of the moves were similar to exercises that I have done in the past but others felt completely foreign and awkward. We used a variety of props from 5-8 lb weights, a resistance band, and a ball which reminded me of the red rubber balls I used to play war and kickball with in elementary school except partially deflated.

Embrace the shake AND the burn
I felt my muscles burn and quake – literally. During each set, I felt like I was right at the edge of what I could handle before my muscles burst. Rather than turning and running from my burning and quaking muscle, I tried to remember embrace it because it was over soon enough.


After our workout, Lashinda shared her inspiring story with us. She shared the challenges she faced when life didn’t go according to plan but how she got herself back on track and won the silver medal at the London games. She talked about the disappointment she felt in not winning the gold because, as she explained, everyone goes to the Olympics with the goal of winning the gold. No matter what. She has also set her sights on the Rio Games in 2016. The drive and dedication of elite athletes never ceases to amaze me.

CY with Lashinda Demus

We then headed over the the Chobani Soho store to refuel with some of their delicious yogurt creations. Lucky for us, Lashinda brought her Olympic medal with her. In between eating bites of yogurt, I got to live out my dream of wearing an Olympic medal around my neck.

Have you taken a barre class? Who has been the most memorable athlete that you’ve met in person?

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. At the event I received a complimentary workout and a gift bag. All views and opinions expressed her are my own.


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