“When we go to a museum, we’re encouraged to only bring our heads, not our bodies.” Those are the words of Limer Tomer, General Manager of MetLiveArts, which is the performance branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. That sentiment is the impetus behind the Met’s newest public class: the Museum Workout.
The Museum Workout is an aerobic exercise class that takes place in the mornings before the museum opens to the public. Each day, 15 guests will be guided along a 2-mile loop through 36 of the museum’s many galleries by choreographers Monica Barnes and Anna Bass. For 45 minutes in motion, they will do lunges, squats, jumping jacks, and other rather entry-level exercise among the art.
Barnes and Bass, who do their workout in sequined cocktail dresses and tennis shoes, guide the workout while a recorded tour by author Maira Kalman mixes anecdotes about art and the Met with high-energy ’70s music by Elton John and others. Stretching happens in the Arms and Armor Department. High knees carry one through the European Paintings. Lunges happen under the gaze of a bust of Benjamin Franklin, who probably does not approve.
“I love the museum, but I don’t always know what to do physically when I’m there,” said Barnes. “The workout was a way for me to bring myself as I am accustomed to moving in a space I want to know better.”
This quote reflects something that is currently being used by some teachers to revolutionize schools—many people learn better while moving. While the workout tour is not a specifically educational one, it is still exposure.
The workout ends on the cool marble tiles of the American Wing, with participants lying on the floor while Kalman talks about the relationship between art and hallucinations, putting a dreamlike cap on the experience.
Participation in the Museum Workout costs $35 per class, with limited space, and runs from January 19th to February 12th.