[AD info: this is not a paid-for post. There is an affiliate link marked *. I am a founder of the Colab Dry Shampoo brand. Beauty items here are press samples apart from the dry shampoo.]
Well I do apologise; it has been a while since my last fitness post, Sex Burns and Sanitary Towels. That’s because I haven’t actually done any exercise since then – not purposefully, anyway. I mean there’s always the “rushing around after toddlers” fitness and the “going up and down the stairs” exercise (that old chestnut!), but in terms of actual, put-your-trainers-on-and-wish-you-were-still-in-bed fitness, I have done nothing.
I don’t know what possessed me to book a Barre class at 00.21 in the morning – perhaps I was just overjoyed that I’d managed to successfully change my password for the House Seven app, which is what you use to book cinema tickets and gym classes and events at the various Soho House outposts. I’d been trying to get back in to the bloody thing for about three months and it wouldn’t send me a reset link, so when I finally managed to crack the code, at a quarter past midnight, I was so excited I booked in to do every event for the next year. Flower arranging, artisan gin-making, learning how to forage, discovering bee-keeping. All of it.
But when this morning rolled around and I’d only had three hours of uninterrupted sleep (I was solo night-shifting and I’m sure the sproglings sense my weakness) I regretted my booking immensely. I had work to do. I could have gone back to bed and had an extra hour’s sleep. A bath. A snack. I could have hoovered up the dead ladybirds from underneath my window (constant deaths) or put a wash on. I had to send some image files, edit a video, upload some copy for some brand work, take some still life shots of a load of beauty products. A hundred things to do and not one of them was “exercise”. It just wasn’t on the agenda.
However I had booked the class and so I had to go. Also (and this is terrible), I had treated myself to the Manette bed from Soho Home (see this post) in the wee hours of the morning and it was a highly indulgent purchase and so the warped part of my brain told me that if I went and saw the Barre class through, all would be forgiven on the financial front. (Because we all know that you can cycle off a debt! Put too much on the Amex? Hold that superman pose and pulse, pulse, PULSE that extended leg!)
So off I went to Barre. I knew that Barre was a kind of intense muscle-toning session because my friend, Louisa Drake, told me about it years and years ago before it was even a thing. (She has a highly successful fitness brand now, the Louisa Drake Method – you can find her website here.) I knew that it involved ballet moves, or ballet-esque moves, and that it concentrated on legs, glutes (ugh that word) and abs but that it didn’t involve running or jumping.
“Great,” I thought last night, “an exercise class where I don’t have to worry about weeing myself.”
I text my friend Alice, who is a connoisseur of Babington House fitness classes.
“I’ve booked barre class at Babington. Talk me down. Is it good? It’s at 10.45 and I’ve had about three hours sleep…”
She answered: “It’s brilliant. But you may die. I’ve retched in it.”
Well that put the fear into me! But off I went, in my too-tight leggings, shiny crop top, oversized t-shirt and pinchy trainers (I had twenty seconds to find a gym kit and get out of the door) and made my way into the attic space above the pool which is where they hold indoor classes at Babington. When I say that this room is smaller than a box room I’m barely joking – there was space to swing a cat but only if the other five ladies didn’t mind being walloped in the face by one.
Whatever, you don’t need much room for Barre – just a bar. Barre? Bar. And you hold onto this bar whilst doing excruciatingly tiny and painful leg movements whilst squeezing your bum cheeks and remembering to keep your feet turned out the right way. It’s relatively tortuous, a bit like having your leg muscles set on fire and trying not to scream, all whilst trying to hold in a poo, but I actually really enjoyed it. Yes my face was puce, yes my M&S briefs were an unwise lingerie decision (they runkled up inside the too-small leggings and shuffled their way into my main crevice so that I was basically garrotted at the wrong end) but I didn’t need to do any running, my knees felt nice and supported and the floaty arms made me feel as though I should immediately be casting for a ballerina role in a big budget Hollywood movie. I’d be great.
So it looks as though I’ll be going back. I write this chomping on a Tracker bar (choc chip) and having lost all feeling in my shoulders, legs and torso but at least my fingers still work. I reckon if I can make it to Barre once a week and then maybe boxing (need to report back on that, don’t I – that’s another one I “loved”, but then only managed three sessions of) I’ll basically be superhumanly fit. Ripped. Gisele-like. I’ll be cracking nuts with my thighs and sprinting up the stairs four at a time. God, I’m tired just thinking about it.
By the way, I’m well aware that the photos on this page don’t really reflect the post content; I’d like to supply you with a highly amusing image of me gurning my way through the pain barrier but I was concentrating too much to stop and take a selfie. Also I’d have looked like a pillock.
So instead you have a some (heavily styled, admittedly) pictures of the contents of my gym bag. (I say gym bag, I mean nappy-changing bag because I don’t actually own a gym bag.) I removed the pair of used pants and the cashew nuts that were inexplicably covering the bottom of the bag, I’ve left out the crushed Tampax and the broken biro. What are we left with?
Firstly, my post-exercise smell-buster of choice, the spray-on deodorant – or “shower in a can”. I have these sprays in many different scents, including Tom Ford’s Soleil Blanc (glorious) but the Carven one seems to be my most-used. It has a comforting, clean smell.
The spiky bottle is a BKR glass bottle from the “spiked” collection – you can find them here online.
And the other bits? My Colab Active dry shampoo, which is the hair equivalent of a shower-in-a-can – you can find it at Boots.com here – and a couple of post-workout essentials, including the most cooling foot cream I’ve found (Weleda’s Foot Balm, here) and a new face spritz discovery, the Workout Glow from Pretty Athletic.
I need to do another post on Colab Active, to refresh your memories, but it’s actually quite the lifesaver if you use the gym or run or do any kind of exercise and don’t have time to wash and re-style your hair afterwards. If you spray into your roots before you do your workout – leave, don’t brush out – then you’ll find that it really helps with that awful, sweaty, flat hair that you (I) get. I’m not suggesting you skip on the showering, but if washing and drying your hair takes up half of your lunch break then this stuff is your saviour. It’s currently a third off (£2.33) at Boots here.
The foot balm is an emergency measure because sometimes I do exercise and it feels as though my feet are on fire. On this particular occasion I was glad to have it because we were working in our bare feet, something that gives me shudders despite the fact I’m not particularly germ-phobic. I think it’s memories of verrucas and athlete’s foot and that awful foot bath you had to walk through before getting to the main swimming pool. (Was that just our local baths or what?) So yes, I used the Weleda balm (it’s £8.99 here*, I highly recommend) as a sort of rudimentary disinfectant until I got home and scrubbed my feet with bleach and a brillo pad.
The face spritz? It seemed fitting because it had the word “athletic” written on the bottle but actually, it’s rather lovely – very gentle and soothing and not at all what you’d expect from the jazzy bottle. The packaging colours remind me a bit of eighties shellsuits, but the formula inside is so, so pretty. I thoroughly enjoyed spritzing and shall spritz some more. You can find it online here – there are other exercise-centric beauty products on there too, I will endeavour to try them and report back. With all of the fitness I’m going to be doing…