Day 24 of Fitness – Bien-Aime Strength and Stretch Studio
Best Self editor Flannery Keck
I’ll admit it: I’m a cheater. It’s one of the reasons I love group fitness classes. I can blend into the group, and when a workout gets “too hard” I can—you guessed it—cheat a little bit. I won’t stretch as far, won’t put as much resistance on my stationary bike, won’t lift as much or won’t run as fast. It’s not because I’m lazy (after all, at least I show up to the class!). It’s more about being afraid to push my own boundaries. If I’m feeling tired or out of breath or tense, I get scared to push further, so I back off a little.
If this sounds like you too, then Bien-Aime Strength & Stretch Studio is the place to go. For day 24 of fitness, Ulrick Bien-Aime, the trainer and owner of this studio, and I worked out for an hour on Saturday, and I quickly discovered the benefits of a one-on-one training session. I couldn’t cheat! With every exercise, Ulrick watched and adjusted my form for maximum benefit, and I worked as hard as I could since I couldn’t hide in the back. This was a fantastic experience for me to push through my own perceived limits and get a better workout than I’ve gotten in months. We did squats, lunges, planks, pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, crunches and more. I see now why these familiar workouts are familiar—they really work. Each exercise targeted and challenged my major muscle groups, and I was wiped out by the end of the hour.
My experience at Bien-Aime was great not just for the active challenges of the workout, but also for the restorative benefits of the season. At the beginning and end of the session, Ulrick and I worked on stretching. It wasn’t like the stretching you do on your own before a run—with this stretching, Ulrick actively helped me push my own boundaries so I could fully relax. For example, I lay on my back while he slowly pushed each leg, one at a time, to stretch my hamstrings, or I lay on my side while he pulled my knee to stretch my quads. This was a great addition to the workout because the depth of each stretch and the resulting relaxation matched the difficulty of the strength challenges. I left feeling equal parts challenged and relaxed, and I could feel the change (particularly in my legs) immediately.
The atmosphere of the studio was enjoyable as well, thanks to Ulrick’s friendly attitude and the face that he lets his clients pick which Pandora station plays through the studio during the session. At least while I was sweating through my sit-ups, I had some familiar tunes to motivate me! Ulrick also brings a sports nutrition degree and strength conditioning specialist certification to the table, so the workout and the dietary counseling he offers are all based on tried-and-true information.
These elements, coupled with the effectiveness of the workout, left me in a cheerful mood and feeling proud of how hard I had worked. I think it’s safe to say this has broken me of my cheating ways! Next time I work out, I’ll be more confident and able to push to my true physical limit rather than any fear-based mental limitations, thanks to what Ulrick showed me I can do.
Details: 663 Memorial Drive, Atlanta, GA, (678) 365-5770, www.bienaimefitness.com