When I first received an email from the lovely folks at the Movemeant Foundation about the NYC Dare to Bare event, I was stoked that such a cool event was happening but bummed that I couldn’t make it. I was meant to run the Hamptons Half the same weekend. As I told ya last week, my sneakers were stolen (custom orthotics included) so I couldn’t even run the 5K. (It takes two weeks to make new ones!)
I was still planning on going to Long Island for the weekend to cheer and hang out. I decided on Wednesday not to travel at all and to stay in town and participate in this awesome event.
The Movemeant Foundation (they put on this event!) offers body-positive, self-confidence building tools, resources and experiences using fitness and physical movement as the gateway to feeling powerful in your own skin. They are driven by the fact that too many woman hate their bodies. They run feel-good programs in public schools to help young women grow up feeling proud, not ashamed of their bodies.
“Dare to Bare” partnered with Sweaty Betty to give all participants a free (and very amazing) sports bra with the idea being you wear it – and no shirt to cover it – to a day of fitness classes in the ever public Union Square. (More on the bra: I’ve never had one that’s so cool and wild in the back yet supportive enough that I’d run in it before this one.)
I looped in my friends Sarah and Stephanie to join me.
Let me take a beat for a second. I work out all of the time. But I always wear a shirt. I don’t hate my body, or think I’m fat, but I’m not comfortable enough to walk around in public in only a bra. I don’t have the mental energy right now to wrestle with the question of how much of that is my own shit and how much of that is the iron cast of society holding me back. But the fact remains: I always wear a top. Even in hot yoga, though maybe that is one place I’ll occasionally disrobe.
Back to the festival. I was signed up for two classes, the first was a Lyons Den Power Yoga class with Bethany Lyons. (Aka the love of Ali Feller’s life, hi, Al.) Bethany is a really magical instructor. In the middle of loud, dirty NYC with the bumping beats of three other fitness classes as background, Bethany ran an oasis of a yoga class. Anyone who has taken a class taught by Bethany knows it’s not going to be a walk in the park. Her class includes an average of 100 push ups and 200 boat poses. But when you’re done, you feel accomplished and very zen.
It was barely 60 degrees. So I started with a tank top (a see-through tank top, but a tank top nonetheless) and eventually warmed up (comfort-level and temperature wise) to just the neon bra. I don’t always love yoga, but I always love Lyons Den.
In short order, it was time for SoulCycle. The class was taught by three instructors, each more wonderful than the next (and you know I’m a tough critic of SoulCycle): Sunny Walters, Emily Turner and Monique Beraducci.
I would take any of their classes again. With the aid of a live DJ, we danced and bopped and woo-ed on the bikes. There were some police officers working the event and I saw a female officer cheer and take out her phone to snap a picture.
I can’t say enough about this experience. I spun my towel in the air. I high fived strangers. And I really didn’t give any shits about not wearing a shirt. I was working hard on the bike, and having a great time. The energy of the experience became more important than my own self consciousness.
I can’t wait to do it again next year.
Do you ever work out in just a sports bra?