eleanor roosevelt once challenged us all to “do one thing every day that scares you.” in fact, i could probably bet money that you have that quote pinned on your pinterest board titled “inspirational quotes.” i probably have it pinned, too.
but like so many motivating quips, everything is much better in theory rather than in practice. so when i was presented with the opportunity to audition as a barre instructor for my beloved studio, while part of me (a very small part of me) remembered roosevelt’s charge, the rest of me was like, “yeah how ’bout not?”
so i didn’t.
at least initially.
you see, in very exciting news, our la costa studio is getting some siblings! two new locations of studio barre are opening in the carmel valley and the mission hills neighborhoods. so in an effort to staff said studios, the studio barre family held open try-outs on wednesday, june 18th. but rather than confidently filing in amongst the sea of spandex-clad hopefuls that evening, i made up some excuse as to why i wasn’t qualified to accept the challenge at this point in time. but of course promised myself that the next time the opportunity arose, i would definitely take advantage of it (right).
the next evening, shannon, the owner of the studio, was one of the first people to greet me as i stumbled into the studio, still in my work clothes, en route to the bathroom to perform a quick wardrobe change before class. she stood between me and the doorway, looked me straight in the eyes and sincerely inquired why i hadn’t been at try-outs the night before. i immediately averted my gaze downward, sheepish and a little embarrassed by her recognition of my clear cowardice. “seriously, we were all a little surprised you weren’t there,” she went on to explain, assuring me that in terms of skill-level at least, i was as good as anyone else vying for an open instructor position.
i thanked her for her vote of confidence. despite the fact that i had missed my window of opportunity, it was still nice to know i could have been considered for the role. but as i turned to slide past her to change, my missed window of opportunity was suddenly reopened.
“why don’t you try-out tonight?” she offered. “we have a handful of girls coming for their second call-back anyway, so you can just join them in learning the choreography.”
i stared at her in bewilderment. here it was, a second chance to do something scary. a second opportunity at pursuing a personal dream i had held for a few years (at least since i had begun taking barre) and a second chance at finally seeing it come to fruition.
i gathered my thoughts and tried to formulate a response. sensing the turmoil transpiring within me, she spoke again before i could manage words. “only if you want to, i don’t want to pressure you at all. i just think you’d be really great. go ahead and take class and i’ll come pull you out at 6:30 p.m.”
i nodded in agreement. it was a fair compromise. i had exactly twelve minutes to decide whether i wanted to seize this opportunity or not. twelve minutes was not enough time. it took me four times that amount of time deciding what color to choose for my pedicure. clearly, i was not prepared to make such a big decision in such a narrow time frame. but i took the moments i did have and shot up a few quick but firm prayers to the Big Guy Upstairs. feeling a little more settled, i walked into the other studio to take my spot on my mat for class. in the shuffle, nancy, one of my barre buddies, had caught wind of my chance at spontaneity. “you should do it! you’d be so great,” she assured me.
okay, okay, i thought.
i could not not do it. i would kick myself for days, weeks, months, years to come. even if my audition was a complete disaster, i owed it to myself to have the courage to try. plus i would get to wear a britney mic and that in and of itself would be a dream realized, so really, what did i have to lose?
i ran back into the boutique of the studio to tell shannon that i would take her up on offer. she smiled and told me she’d come and get me when they were ready to start. i returned to my spot in the other studio and began class, just like any other normal thursday night. i managed to make it through the warm-up and thigh portion before i saw shannon’s tall silhouette in the doorway.
“it’s game time,” i whispered to myself.
i walked into the other studio, a bit flushed from just having completed half of a normal workout routine. shannon thanked us all for coming back (or in my case, for showing up), and went over the evening’s agenda. we would learn (and memorize) a piece of simple choreography, complete with cues for client set-up and then take turns on the mic teaching it back to our fellow instructor hopefuls. she went over the seat exercise, line by line, so we could transcribe the cues onto a piece of paper and commit them to memory. after she finished, she did a quick demonstration, and then allocated the next 20 minutes or so for our mastery.
never one to be all katniss-like
and go first, i politely waited my turn, taking notes from my fellow hopefuls’ performances as how to enhance my own. once half of the group had gone (everyone was really good, by the way, which of course didn’t help my confidence), shannon scanned the room for her next
victim performer. her eyes met mine and i knew there was no escape. she brought me over the mic and i slipped it up over my earlobe, positioning it comfortably around my head.
welp, here goes nothing.
i’m fairly certain i didn’t quite adhere to the 16-count choreography in that minute and a half i had the floor, but instead tried to focus more on letting my personality shine through with my overall energy levels and interjected commentary. i added in phrases like “shaking is good” and “looking great, ladies” and “if your hip bones had headlights they would be shining right down at the floor.” (for those who have never taken a barre class, this all might sound ludicrous. except for the “looking great ladies” part. that’s pretty universal). and just like that the choreography was over and i was aggressively counting down from the final ten to signify the end of the particular exercise. i received my round of applause and handed back the mic to shannon. the best way i could describe my time on center stage was that it was an out of body experience. it was like i blacked out as civilian shawna and took on the role of “studio barre shawna,” who, let me tell you, seems to be a heck of a lot more sassy (i know, i didn’t know that was possible either). in all honesty, taking on an alternative persona was the only way i knew i could get through being in the lime light. if i could detach my regular self from the woman with that headset, i think i could survive, and dare i say it, have a lot of fun in the process.
after everyone had taken their turn teaching the choreography, we were also interviewed separately. i was asked the usual fare -where are you from?, what do you do for a “real job”?, are you single (YES, very!)? they also asked me my availability during the week and which class times i could realistically commit to teaching should i be selected. after they had gathered all of the information they needed, shannon ended our time together with a few closing remarks and they told us they’d follow-up via email in the next day or so.
i immediately rushed to the car and called mom (duh). i told her to sit down because she’d want to brace herself for the information i had to tell her. “guess what your daughter just did?” (somehow referring to myself in the third person made it better for dramatic effect).
“what?” she inquired.
“i just tried out to be a barre instructor!!!!”
“ohmygoodness!” she cried. and then she may have actually cried. i love her.
i went on to explain how it had all transpired and how what had started out like any other thursday evening had resulted in me being pretty darn YOLO-y. i know it’s kind of weird to say, but i felt really proud of myself. i don’t think i would have had the self-confidence to try out even a year ago. but ever since australia, i had embraced a greater appreciation for the spontaneous. and more importantly, i had embraced the gift of the unexpected opportunity. that they don’t come along too often and if you allow fear to stand in your way, you’ll only end up gypping yourself.
i probably checked my email about 239057257239067 times that evening. refreshing the screen as i finished dinner and watched tv. i hadn’t heard a thing by the time i fell asleep at 10 p.m. but figured there was no use fretting about something that was out of my hands. whatever was supposed to happen would (jeremiah 29:11) and i told myself i would be content with either outcome. because let’s be honest, all i had ever really cared about was getting to wear the britney mic. and with that dream realized, i could die a happy woman.
the next morning i awoke to an email from the studio. !!!!!!!. i clicked it open and read on. they wanted me to come in for a second call-back. that was a good thing, right? i must have impressed them enough to warrant a second look. i emailed back that i would be available the following monday for a second try-out. and then i went out of town and kind of forgot about it. which now that i think about it, was probably a good thing. because i had no time to psyche myself out before i arrived at 5:30 p.m. that evening for round two.
i was joined by four other girls -one who was on her third call-back, another on her second, and two who were trying-out for their first time. i felt a little more settled than i had the first time in the room, but still a little nervous as to what i would be facing over the course of the next hour. we started class with the warm-up and were taught another condensed version of choreography (a thigh track called “water ski”) which we were then required to teach back to the class while mic’ed. again, having already faced the dreaded center stage the week before, i felt a lot more comfortable projecting my minnie mouse voice over the speakers this go around. plus this class was much smaller than it had been the prior thursday which helped my nerves a bit, too. i finished to a round of applause, as did all of my fellow instructors-in-training. and while i think my performance was fairly well-received, top honors went to the girl from charleston, south carolina who, in the middle of her choreography, interjected in her southern drawl “pop up to those high heels ladies, no one looks good in flats.” nailed it.
after we had finished the “business” portion of the evening (technique), we each got a turn to tell a little bit about ourselves -something that someone might not know by simply looking at us. i took this to mean “tell me your entire life story.” just kidding. i mostly just plugged my blog, touted my expertise of all things pop culture, and reminded everyone that i was indeed single (and ready to mingle) because why ever miss an opportunity? and because i’m a glutton for punishment, i then proceeded to take the 6:35 p.m. class. i mean, i was already there.
i drove home feeling content. to be honest, i actually started to talk myself out of the whole idea in general. maybe it was a defense mechanism or something but by the time i turned onto my street, i had basically chalked up the whole thing to “a great experience” -the kind of thing you tell yourself when you’re certain that the road ends here. i guess if i already assumed it wasn’t my time to take on this new role, it wouldn’t hurt as much when i finally received the bad news.
the ladies had mentioned that they would be making calls that evening, so when i hadn’t received a call (or an email or carrier pigeon) by the time i went to bed at 11 p.m., i was glad i had prepared my heart for the twang of slight disappointment i felt as i drifted off to dreamland.
the next morning, in the midst of discussing the whole situation with my momma (who still hadn’t given up hope, God bless her), my phone vibrated -signifying that, in the words of old-school AOL, “you’ve got mail” (also, a fine meg ryan/tom hanks flick). i opened my inbox to find an email from the studio barre crew. and there it was. my answer. gulp.
i hesitantly opened the message, flinching and with one eye open as i scanned the paragraph to discover my plight. but where i expected to read “we regret to inform you” at the top of the page, i found a different phrase instead. “congratulations” followed by a “we’re so excited to have you in the studio barre family.” holy moly, y’all. was this real life?
turns out it was. as evidenced by the physical pain and strain experienced by a three-straight day training session i completed this past weekend to make everything official. but i can honestly say that sore muscles and all, i cherished every minute of my time at the studio. i think that means i found my second calling, right?
and also, advil is my best friend.
anyway, all this is to say that my one scary thing for the day has turned into one exciting thing for my life. mrs. roosevelt, i hope i made you proud.
so allow me to introduce myself. i’m shawna nadelman, director of membership for la jolla country club, part-time blogger, darling magazine contributor, tim riggins-lover, AND now also, studio barre instructor.
gah, you guys, it feels so good to say that!
so when i’m off and running and officially teaching classes of my own, i’ll let you know. i’d love to have you join me for a class in la costa! don’t be shy gentlemen, you’re more than welcome, too.
p.s. i’ve also taken my new position to mean that it’s okay for me to get a whole new workout wardrobe. you agree? fabulous.