Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: Figure 4 (a.k.a. When I Realized I Could Never Be a Rockette)

Lululemon is smart. Too damn smart.

Let's back-up. I am the person who shops at Modell's. I am the person who wears the free race shirt and an old sports bra to run. (And pants. I usually put on pants.) I am the person who wears a Gap sweatshirt circa 1999 to do my errands. That's me.

And as a thrifty consumer, I want to hate everything about Lululemon. I want -- very much -- to rant against the fact that we are all basically wearing the exact same thing when we shop there, and therefore Lulu is ruining individualism.

I'd like to say that the clothes are too overpriced and the styles aren't even that great. I'd like to say that the shopping experience is super annoying and makes you feel bad about yourself.

But....I can say no such thing.

As I've written about in the past, I have a few pieces of clothing from Lululemon and -- frankly -- they are delightful. In particular, a few pairs of non-chafing running shorts that really are a game-changer for a chafe-prone, classy lady like myself. Yes, it's expensive...but the quality does really render (much) of it worth it. 

Also, their stuff is cute. It just is. 

I want to go to there

And the staff? Well they are simply just gems of human beings. There's no way around that either.

But here's the straw that breaks the camel's back in regards to my Lululemon frenemy situation: Turns out the stores offer free classes. You just sign up and go. No obligation, no purchase, just a great service for you.

[Here's the link to the "community events"at the Madison Avenue Upper East Side store. I'm sure your local branch has awesome calendars like these that you can check out too.]

You clever bastards and your clever Marketing. 

My friend Nicole and I decided to try out a Figure 4 class last Thursday night. 

If you've ever tried Core Fusion or Bar Method, Figure 4 is just Pure Yoga's version of these type of ballet barre format classes. (Remember last time I took a bar class??)

The description from the website:

Created by professional ballet dancer Kate Albarelli, Figure 4 combines elements of classic dance training, yoga, and free weights. This combination is part of a high energy class that works the heart and the limbs in tandem for faster, more effective results, helping to create a long, toned and flexible body.  
Figure 4 derives its name from the well-known ballet stretch where dancers cross the ankle over the other knee and bend forward, creating a “four” with their legs. The number also denotes the four areas of the body that are sculpted within the hour-long class: abs, arms, glutes and thighs.

Considering I can not touch my toes (true story), this seemed toooootally up my alley.


My understanding is that Figure 4 (like all barre format classes) strengthens AND promotes flexibility, which is exactly what I need. Plus it was $0. So...why not!?

Nicole and I arrived at Lulu as they were closing. We were greeted at the door as the floor was cleared and mats were placed out for our use, free of charge. Although we had reserved in advance, the place certainly was NOT packed, so there was plenty of room to spread out (and a walk-in definitely would have been welcome!)

The instructor, Elisabeth, went to the front of the room and was introduced. I think it's best I show you an image of her so you can see...what her deal is.

Yes, yes you are seeing that right. We were being taught by a live, in-person Rockette.

And so at this juncture I thought to myself, "Hey can't touch your toes. And she's a Rockette. Carry on."

Normally Figure 4 classes are taught at the Pure Yoga studios where there is a lot more equipment. At Lululemon we had no actual bars as well as no weights or other doo-dads, so Elisabeth did a great job improvising.

We warmed up with some stretches and then went into some ballet style plies and squats using the wall or clothes-racks for balance. They. Hurt.

In between sets of exercises, we did some stretches to ensure the muscles healed normally and could "carry on." During one of such stretches we bent one knee on the ground and then extended forward the opposite leg to go as deeply as possible into a hamstring stretch. Well, my hammies are basically two bricks attacked to my hips. Not good.

While everyone else was like this:

I was like this:

So then the Rockette just up and goes into a full on split.


I see this in my yoga classes and I'm always like,

Image source
The Rockette then says to us, "You know, splits aren't really that big of a deal."

Oh. No? Well that's coming from someone who does this for a living:

Next up was some push ups and planks for arms and abs. I guess normally there is different arm work using the bar, but as now bar was to be had? We made due.

This was followed by some additional ab work and last up was some lying down side leg lift thing-a-ma-jigs which targeted the thighs, hips and butt.

I found the entire class incredibly challenging, but definitely not completely un-do-able. To Elisabeth's credit, as much as I joked about the split thing, she was very encouraging and I didn't feel at any point that I was making a fool of myself. That said, self-awareness and self-perception are funny things, so I can't promise that this was actually true.

I would definitely try Figure 4 again as well as other bar method classes. They target such different muscle groups than running so -- just like yoga --I imagine this would be a great type of thing to add to my fitness repertoire.

Considering -- again for emphasis -- that I can not do this:

But this old man can....
Image source

Thanks to Lululemon for the free class. But know this, sir. I am on to you.

Yes, I am on to you, Lululemon. Your "free classes" and your "happy employees" and your "responding to me all the time on Twitter and making me super duper excited." I have an MBA in marketing so I get what you're up to. I'm smart like that. I know your end game.

Bravo, sir. Bravo. :::slow clap:::

(Also...I'll see you soon to buy a TON of clothes. And Sunday for free yoga. And your website looks marvelous. SMOOCHES!!!)


  1. hahahaha. This is why I don't do yoga. I'm surprised the class was not packed considering it was free and you live in a city. In France people would be all over that like white on rice.

    1. I know! I feel like maybe their Sunday am Yoga is more widely attended (this class was a one-off and was at 8:30pm on a Thursday...when normal society is out "drinking" and "being fun.")

  2. I have never even been in a lululemon. Is that a sin? unheard of right? I may, just may change that soon.

    I am also the tightest person ever now. once upon a time I was doing splits on balance beams, that is laughable now though. NOT happening. Ever again.

    1. It is not a sin. In fact, I hadn't been to one until last year when I went in DESPERATION because I was having such bad chafing issues from my other running shorts. And then I was hooked. The shorts really are awesome.

  3. Now that you have basically done an ADVERTISEMENT for an anti-marketing campaign-- but FOR Lulumon... are you going to get some... free yoga? ;-)


    1. That's the beauty of it...their Sunday am yoga is ALWAYS free!!!

  4. I love Figure 4! I'm sad I missed the free class. On a side note, I have one more tribeca barry's, so let's go!!!

    1. Yes! Let's email and pick a date in the upcoming weeks!!!

  5. Whoops, now I kind of want to go to a Luluemon class and...

    You had me at no chafing #nowsportingweirdunderarmmarks