Looking back at my calendar, it turns out I have been going to Ballet Lounge since early November last year, that is, five months now. My calendar also tells me that I went to 10 Level 1 classes before attempting a Level 2 class and that I have attended 23 classes there so far. All but one of my classes have been with the studio founder Suzy Kaitman and my latest class was my first pre-pointe class when I did a Friday evening double-header: an hour of Ballet Fit Level 2 followed by 30 minutes of pre-pointe.
During that intimate pre-pointe class – just four of us – in our warm-up exercises, Suzy offered to stretch my ankles. Sitting with my legs extended, she pushed down on the top of my feet and I let my ankles be stretched while resisted letting my knees pop up off the ground. Suzy said I have really nice feet – very flexible ankles that I could almost touch the ground with my toes in that stretch and a high arch. Years ago, it went a little to my head that a teacher at Harbour Dance remarked as she walked by quickly checking everyone that I have nice/beautiful feet. I finally know why. Yet I have to work hard to do them justice, point them beautifully (no sickle!) and not give in to the hypermobility.
In 22 visits to the Ballet Lounge studio, I couldn’t help but notice that a mini cluster of fitness studios has formed on the one-block stretch of Granville between Drake and Pacific. All three studios are on Class Pass which is the kind of motivation for me to try them all out! Further, my friend Edna lives nearby so she doesn’t need to drive and I have come to know the area and where to get free parking (or metered parking when I’m running that late).
The business that is Ballet Lounge’s right-side neighbour is Spin Society. I never really think about spin classes. I don’t know anything about them other than it seems some people get cultish and one time I was set to go spinning for my first time ever but I bailed on it because I was like six weeks pregnant and didn’t know if it was something I shouldn’t do.
Fast forward two years and Edna and I are fanatical about getting/being in shape and not wasting a class on our Class Passes. She mentioned it would be cool to try one together and I won’t decline an opportunity to hang out with a friend and do something healthy! Spin Society next to Ballet Lounge is really conveniently located for us and we booked an 11:50 a.m. Sunday class with a Janet Jackson remix playlist led by instructor Anil. I would have picked an earlier time slot but it worked out really well.
For starters, I stayed out too late the night before. Ballet Lounge was celebrating its first year anniversary with a party and I dropped by. When Edna and I arrived at Spin Society, the place was a zoo with one class letting out and another class arriving (there are 38 bikes in the room) and we all shared the hallway space because the doors to the spinning room had not yet been opened. The common area is bright with high ceilings and music was blaring. Is this necessary? I wondered to myself but didn’t say aloud for fear of sounding cantankerous. It makes sense to me now. In the relative peace of the studio’s waiting area, you get used to the pounding music so your senses aren’t out of whack when you’re on a bike, in the dark and spinning and hoping not to tip over.
Anil was full of energy and enthusiasm and I was mesmerized by his physique, smile and how otherworldly his fast-spinning legs were going. It almost looks cartoon-like how fast he was spinning with no apparent effort in his upper body.
I hadn’t before paused to think about how you get an upper body workout but that was soon answered with a lot of push-ups against the handlebars. And that very morning – with my sister finally unveiling her choices of bridesmaids dresses – incentive was very strong to not bail on arm and shoulder toning exercises. I mean, I knew that that region had to be a target but to have a picture of the dress made it all the stronger.
Having no other comparison, I find it cool that the class is conducted almost in the dark. It contributes to the intensity in some way and you can concentrate on yourself and not how fast you are spinning compared to your neighbour. I would do it again but not weekly. Monthly might be nice but it probably will not fit into my schedule which is hitting a stride these days. (I started running again and only need to keep it up two months, so there’s an end to that madness.)
Finally, the business that is Ballet Lounge’s left-side neighbour is Urban Fitness. Sounds like a yawn – coming from someone who doesn’t do general fitness clubs. But when I was looking for a late evening yoga class to nip out to after the kid is gone to bed, I learned of their Urban Rock Yoga set to energizing rock music, I knew I could suggest it to Edna who likes yoga and is open to different studios. Also, she lives close by.
Almost every time I’ve been to Ballet Lounge – the exception being the two times I rode a bike – I approached the studio from the north and did not walk by Urban Fitness, its south neighbour. The Urban Fitness chain of sports clubs is known for kickboxing and sign-up sheets at the table indicate their members are training for Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and other obstacle races. In an open room with black mats lain down throughout and lined with black punching bags, the place where we would conduct our practice was a far cry from a yoga studio or quiet studio in some other bigger gym that is dedicated to classes.
I thought the music would be more energizing but it was really a yoga class to give the club’s members a different and complementary activity. I wasn’t really drawn into it until the instructor, Mike, got into great detail about our form for Warriors I and II to really fire up our bodies and how to distribute our body weight when we are in plank (or push-ups). The latter was huge for me because my wrists tend to hurt before I’m tired from planking or push-ups. I’m not great at yoga but didn’t need much tweaking in Warrior I/II so I appreciated when we were in some kind of lying down dancer pose to stretch, when Mike came over and really pushed me to my limit.
It doesn’t often occur to me but the three fitness studios are the ground floor for a new-ish condo. Aren’t those residents really lucky to have these fitness options?? Ground-level options in the vicinity of my condo include a nail bar, boutique kind of sushi, a barber shop and nutritional supplements store. Boooo!