Both kids are back in school! I feel like that sentence deserves an exclamation mark and maybe some of those Facebook confetti animations, although my feelings on summer coming to an end are decidedly mixed. I’m not looking forward to the days getting shorter and I am fairly neutral on the growing presence of pumpkin spice flavored whatevers and I am for SURE a little anxious about what middle school has in store for Dylan but hey, both kids are back in school! I can now get my work done without a constant backdrop of CS:GO and/or sibling squabbling, plus our daytime grocery budget can take a much-needed breather. Hooray.

I’m a little shocked and a lot pleased they both allowed me to take their first-day photo, although Riley’s “smile” reveals how much he enjoyed that process:

I do not remember giving Riley permission to turn FOURTEEN (I mean …) but he went ahead and did just that on August 31st.

Fourteen! He has, and I am not making this up, an actual mustache of sorts these days. Not like a luxurious Magnum P.I. lip-pelt or anything, but enough of a scrungy-looking shadow of fuzz that I nag him into — I am STILL not making this up — shaving. I have a giant teenager who shaves, you guys.

That right there is probably more than he would like me to share on the Internet, but I hope I will be forgiven if I also tell you that he is, at fourteen, a very smart and surprisingly responsible human who will teensplain you to death on the reg but will also hold the door for you and laugh appreciatively at your lame jokes.

He likes gaming, music, memes, cats, anything that results in him earning a bit of cash, arguing (if this kid doesn’t eventually become a lawyer or at least join a debate team in high school I think he will have missed a higher calling), crafting various weapons out of wood, staining things with permanent markers (ask me why he’s forbidden to touch a Sharpie ever again until he’s in his thirties, oh wait don’t because it is TOO SOON), Hamburger Helper, frappuccinos, and going to the movies.

It’s hard to believe he’s on the verge of high school, driving, and of course leaving us behind as he starts his own life. I try and remember that, how even the hard stuff is so fleeting. It all just goes so damned fast.

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If I had a way to search the archives of this blog for all the fitness or diet-related content published over the years, I’d probably have a small book on my hands. A profoundly useless book, that is, which cycles endlessly through self-dissatisfaction-fueled bursts of LET’S DO THIS THING! followed by predictable descents to the bottom of the nearest Frito bag. How to Become Briefly Obsessed with Posting Your Stupid Gym Check-In So Everyone Knows You’re Seriously Committed This Time Before Succumbing to Full-Fledged Lethargy and Gaining, Like, Seven Pounds in the Process. Perhaps it could be displayed next to tomes of equal value, such as The Art of the Deal.

I have tried so, SO many fitness endeavors. I ran a marathon (!), I tried Tae Bo, I suffered through Crossfit, I did all sorts of home workouts, I even did a mini triathlon before deciding I’m a firm HELL NO on anything involving an open water swim ever again.

I just never really found my thing, you know? The thing I genuinely enjoy, rather than the thing that I endure in the hopes of having a different body.

That is, until now. Here in my mid-forties, I truly do have an exercise routine that I love, and it’s mostly thanks to Barre3.

If you don’t know anything about Barre3, it’s a group fitness class that’s sort of a fusion of ballet barre, pilates, and yoga. It’s an hourlong class that’s low impact but deeply challenging, with lots of micromovements and holds that seem SO easy but ha ha ha definitely are not.

Here’s what I love about it:

It’s replenishing, rather than draining. I switched to Barre3 right after trying Orange Theory and I can tell you I just really prefer a class that doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to barf.

Its messaging is super positive. The instructors clearly go through some rigorous training around how to talk about exercise, and the message is consistently healthy and supportive. No one’s yelling at you to crush one more rep, they’re always talking about modifications and finding what works best for you.

It’s low impact. It’s amazing how difficult a workout can be without a single plyo movement. I’m often dripping with sweat during a Barre3 workout but it’s not about being in that high-intensity, can’t-catch-your-breath zone.

It’s kind of woo-woo, but in a good way. Aside from the nourish-your-soul commentary throughout, every class ends like a yoga class does, where you lie on a mat and the instructor murmurs various meditative things while you drift on a pleasant cloud of endorphins. I feel so amazing afterwards, re-centered and de-stressed.

It’s got great music. YMMV, of course, but I dig the eletronica/dance vibe.

The downsides:

It’s expensive. No way around it, it’s not a cheap workout. On the plus side, you can buy class packages so you don’t get stuck in a monthly contract. Sometimes Groupon has some great deals.

It’s kind of … bougie. But who fucking cares, this is about finding fitness you enjoy, not competing for the coolest most urban woke-ass workout.

I’ve been going pretty regularly for a couple years now, and I honestly love it. I love the movements, I love the experience, I love the results. I’m leaner, more flexible, and I have better posture. I find myself doing Barre3 exercises on my own all the time (emptying the dishwasher? Why not drop into carousel horse for a few pulses?), and I feel like I’m seeing continual strength improvements and muscle definition.

Barre3 isn’t the only exercise I do — I go to the gym a couple times a week, I ride my bike, I go for walks. But it’s probably made the biggest difference in terms of changing my relationship with fitness. I finally, FINALLY found the right fitness thing, the thing that feels like self-care rather than self-flagellation.

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