current obsession: biker barre

Spin in the morning. Spin in the evening. Barre at lunch. Spin-barre doubles on the weekends. Anytime of day everyday of the week is a good time for a class at the newly-opened Biker Barre in the Barracks Row district of Capitol Hill.

I won’t ever be able to run again, but a year and a half after my back procedure, I can finally spin. Varoom, just like that, I have found my new favorite cardio.

While I still miss the flexibility of being able to lace up a pair of running shoes regardless of the time of day, in any location, to hit the road for a run of any length, the robust schedule at Biker Barre presents numerous opportunities to get your workout in, whether you are a morning, noon or night worker-outer. And while my runs typically lasted longer than the 45 minutes you spend on a bike in spin class, the instructors (especially co-owner Katie Fouts) are especially diligent at ensuring you don’t leave an ounce of energy untapped. But if you do have something in the reserves at the end of your virtual bike ride, I recommend following spin with a barre class. The perfect combination of pilates and yoga, barre’s emphasis on core strength has been key to alleviating the residual back pain I still get from time-to-time. And it tones you in all the right places.

I truly consider both exercises lifesavers.

But don’t take my word for it. Find your way to the Biker Barre studio. There are several pricing options available, whether you want to buy a one-class pass (with the second class free for newbies) or do what I did and buy the one-month unlimited option (there’s a special on that too).

Come to class. Prepare to sweat. Just don’t take my favorite bike.


doctor, doctor turns out, my doctor knows something about his specialty. A few weeks ago, I had an appointment with him. (I know, I have been holding out on all of you who love the doctor stories.) In advance of this scheduled visit, I prepared a list of all the physical activities I was going to get his clearance to do, as well as tactics for how to get him to say yes. I figured that between my lobbying skills, eyelash batting ability, and very tender emotional state (read: tendency to cry at the drop of a hat) I would walk away getting what I want. Which is essentially to exercise again.

After all the “hi, how you feeling, what is your pain level today on a scale of 1-10?” stuff was out of the way, I went down my list.

Me: Can I take spin classes?

Doctor: No.

Me: Can I do the ballet barre class I was doing before the procedure?

Doctor: No.

Me: Can I swim?

Doctor: No freestyle. No butterfly. And be careful with breaststroke too. Modify it to look more like side-stroke.

Me: Pilates?

Doctor: If you have the instructor call your physical therapist and get a briefing on your procedure and what you can and cannot do, then you can take Pilates.

At this point, my eyes swelled with tears, as if on demand. This menu of options is not exactly going to get me back into all the nice clothes hanging in my closet waiting for the return of my pre-Beatrix figure. But he was not swayed.

Me (batting eyelashes): But doctor…

Doctor: Listen, I gave you Pilates and swimming…

Me: I don’t consider your description of swimming to fit in my definition of real exercise.

Doctor: I don’t want you putting too much pressure on your back and swimming can do just that. And I feel like if I leave an appointment with you having given you less than 50% of what you want, then I have won.

Well this morning, I went to the pool for the first time. There were a few other swimmers. I sized up the competition. I planned on swimming for 30 minutes. I made it for 20. I did manage to “beat” those swimming in adjacent lanes (not that they knew they were racing) and I did not modify my breaststroke. I tried one lap of freestyle, and it was, I hate to admit, uncomfortable.

I guess on this point he wins. But I am going to redouble my efforts for the rematch.