My Trip to the Barre

If you remember, last month I set some goals regarding trying new things and making the most of every day. Several of those goals had to with finding new ways of adding more movement into my day. I love walking and yoga, and have loved working out with the 8fit app on my phone. I’ve also done a few strength training videos here and there, with mixed results. But I haven’t attended an actual exercise class in forever. So I started wondering where and how I might make that happen. And then, just like that, I got the chance to try out a new (to me) fitness class at local studio. Have you heard of Pure Barre? 

I’ve driven past my town’s Pure Barre studio at least once a week for over three years now, but I’d never checked it out to see what happens inside there. Coincident with my #AllInAugust challenge, I was offered the opportunity to take a class there through the Wilmington Port City Young Professionals networking group. The timing couldn’t have been better, so I happily accepted.

Being the master Googler that I am, before I showed up to the class I spent a bit of time on their website reading the FAQs and About section. I had surmised from the name that their workouts utilized a ballet barre…but that’s where the resemblance to my childhood ballet classes ended. Aside from a few references to Pliés and Turning Out at the hip, this was far different from the barre work I had experienced at my old dance studio. 

If you’re not familiar with these studios, here’s a quick synopsis of the concept. Pure Barre is a workout system which incorporates pilates style movements, along with light dumbbell work, resistance bands, and lots and lots of ab/core work. The focus in the class is less about traditional cardio, and much more about small muscle isolations to the point of exhaustion. Have you ever experienced ‘sewing machine leg’ ? That’s when your legs begin shaking violently from holding a particular position long enough to really stress the muscles. Go to a Pure Barre class and you’ll be well versed in it after the first 10 minutes. 

Our class opened with a quick warm up and some stretching to get us ready for the full workout. We moved on from warming up to some pretty serious Core work using both light weights and resistance bands. Our instructor was very encouraging, and gave great feedback and helpful corrections when we needed it. 

We then moved to the barres attached to all four walls of the studio. The barre work consisted of a ton of leg and glute exercises, using those tiny movements that really work your muscles, while also requiring us to keep our core muscles engaged for stability and balance. Whew. To anyone walking by we may have looked like we weren’t moving at all, but we were certainly working hard. I was dripping with sweat just from the warm-ups, and kept sweating through the entire class. I’m a little foggy on all the exact movements we did (I was busy trying to pep-talk myself to keep going!) but I know that I was completely and pleasantly exhausted by the time our cool-down arrived. 

Most of the class that night were also there as part of the PCYP group, but there were a few regular Barre ladies as well, and I have to say those regulars had lovely sculpted, lithe muscles. So clearly this stuff works. 

Now the big question: Would I go again? Yes, I think I would. I love a challenging workout and Pure Barre definitely is that. However, I think this is a workout you really have to commit to. It’s not like dropping in on a Zumba class occasionally, or mixing in a long bike ride here and there. Because of how these classes are designed, focusing on such specific movements and muscle control, you need to consistently attend the classes to get the results.  So if my schedule allows me to commit to a regular class schedule I would be delighted to add Barre into my weekly movement mix. 

If you’re thinking about checking these classes out, there are few things to know:
1. Wear socks, preferably sticky socks….you know, the kind with little non-skid dots on the bottoms. Pure Barre sells their own branded socks, but I wore a pair I had from going to a trampoline gym. You can also  buy non-skid socks in any big box retailer that sells slippers and socks. 
2. Wear full length leggings if possible. You’ll be spending a lot of time on the floor and the carpet gets a little irritating to your sweaty, bare skin. Do NOT wear shorts. 
3. Wear a top that covers your midriff. Again, carpet and sweaty skin are a bad combo. 
4. Bring water! You are going to sweat like you’ve rarely sweated before and you need to replace that moisture. Passing out is bad, don’t do it. 
5. Don’t eat for at least 2 hours before class. Just like yoga, all those tiny muscle contractions can have an enormous and unpleasant effect on your digestion. Puking, like passing out, is frowned on. 
6. Finally, keep an open mind and have fun. That’s good advice for any new endeavor, but I like to remind everyone. Truthfully, everyone is so focused on what their own bodies are doing they aren’t even noticing anyone else. So don’t be self conscious or worried that you’re being judged—because you aren’t. 

To see if there’s a studio near you, you can visit http://purebarre.com and search under the locations tab. You can also read the whole company story and learn more about the workouts. 

If you go to a class, let me know! I’d love to hear your take on it.