Labarre is a very special place for me. It has shaped me physically, in ways I never thought possible. I went from a student in the underground days, to an instructor shortly thereafter, and now serve as the Wellness Development Coordinator and Master Trainer. I used to teach doubles and triples when I could. It was thrilling to be in class or in front of the class; both brought me joy.
I get that joy in everything I do at the studio, no task too big or small, but in the past year, I have struggled more with my Lupus and Fibromyalgia, even though I’ve lived with both for many years. They seem to be taking a bigger toll on my body when one of them decides to flare up, reminding me of all they are capable of doing to my muscles and joints, to the strange brain fog that can descend strangely and lingers, only to leave just as quickly. These diseases take a toll on my body, often in ways no one can see, and that I don’t like to talk about, except with my closest loved ones. But here is why I share this with you: because even when my body is rebelling against me, when I am teaching or taking a barre or HIIT class, I can still move my body, giving me a sense of control when everything is misfiring inside. Even on particularly bad days, I can still make it to, and through, class. I’m thinking of this in particular today, when my body seems determined to take over and remind me of my limitations— I didn’t grab the heaviest weights, and I had to dial back my energy, but I did it. And I can’t wait to go back again tomorrow morning and the morning after that to move, however much I can, so that my body knows I’m still in charge.
That’s the physical shape (and save) Labarre has given me. But just as important (if not more so) is the emotional way Labarre has shaped me. It has given me a “happy space” for the past 5 years. If you’ve been in the studio, you know what I’m talking about. There is an energy, a brightness that welcomes you the minute you walk through the doors. You know you are there for your wellbeing, you know are welcomed, and you know that you are among friends.
Labarre helps me be creative and silly and joyful by being with “my people”. Everyone who walks into the studio is one of “my people”. If you are reading this, you are “my people”, and I’m so grateful for you. Labarre shaped me, but it’s also saved me. It keeps those little voices in my head quiet. You know the ones: Your thighs look a little dimply. Your belly seems a little big. Those voices that get even louder when you don’t feel well, and your body doesn’t want to work for you the way it used to or the way it “should”. Those dumb voices that you know aren’t real but sometimes just pop up when you least expect them and decided to rent some space for a while.
I struggled for years to love my body. I was a dieter, a compulsive exerciser, emotional eater, and my weight reflected my emotional states throughout my early adult years. I didn’t even begin to start making peace with my body until I was nearly 36 years old. Even now, nearly ten years later, those dumb voices still rise up. They’ve been loud recently, even though they aren’t saying anything truthful. When my physical body rebels, those voices jump in too. But in the midst of hearing those voices, I walk into Labarre and I see “my people” and my people see me. We share our 45 minutes or 60 minutes with each other, offering loving kindness, grace, and encouragement to one another. The voices get quiet after that, for a while, and I am centered. I can see and feel my muscles doing what I want them to do, and I am peaceful. I can feel my strength, and I feel confident. I know that the voices will be evicted soon, and my body will find its way back to balance, even if it takes a while. And through it all, I will have Labarre.
Photo work and imagery provided by Adam Hays Photography