UPDATE: I made it into the Pure Barre 100 Club! Here’s a blog post I wrote up with tips. Hope they’re helpful! Tips from a Pure Barre 100 Club Member
I’ve been meaning to do a blog post about my experience with Pure Barre for about a year now, but never taken the time to do it. So, let’s do it.
As per their website, Pure Barre is “a total body workout that lifts your seat, tones your thighs and burns fat in record-breaking time.” Their motto is “Lift. Tone. Burn.” To achieve this goal, the strategy behind Pure Barre is to perform small, isometric movements utilizing props such as free weights, stretchy tubing, a small ball filled with sand, and of course, the ballet barre. You have to remember that when it comes to Pure Barre, less is more. The focus is on all the “hot spots” that women hate on themselves: arms, abs, butt, and hips. Pure Barre was founded in 2001 by dancer/fitness buff Carrie Rezabek Dorr in a basement studio in Michigan.
Classes follow the same basic format: You begin with a warm-up, then go into a 90-second plank, which leads to push-ups and the use of hand weights. After the floor exercises are completed, you go to the bar and do exercises called “sprints,” which are the series of isometric movements that target the seat, abs, and thighs. You do three different sprints for each body part. Whereas the warm-up through arm work portion tends to be uniform each class (I believe they change it up monthly), the sprints vary. I’m not sure if that’s also pre-planned or if it’s up to the instructor’s discretion. You finish up class with more ab work on the mat, some back extension work like “swimming,” and some final seat work in a bridge position.
I took my first class on July 7, 2011, as a part of a 4-class package offered at a discount through Living Social. I had been curious for a while, but the price had always deterred me from trying it. Well, the price, and the intimidation factor that I’d never taken classes at an actual studio like Pure Barre is. Despite my initial reservations, I’m really glad that I made the decision to try it. Isn’t life all about taking leaps and trying new things? The girl at the front desk helped me register and the instructor was very nice. My first class was difficult. There were definitely parts that I held my own on though, mainly all of the Pilates-influenced exercises (planks, the hundred, teasers, and some other ab work). It was nice to have that shaky muscle feeling again because it felt like I was getting something out of it. After I took the class, I woke up in the middle of the night with muscle cramps up the wazoo – it was like I’d never exercised before, haha. I definitely worked muscles that were not used to being worked. I took this class after months of working out for my wedding, so I was not out of shape by any means. That first Pure Barre class definitely kicked my ass, but I was ready for more.
For me, there are some downsides that I think I should mention. First, it’s pricy. Maybe it’s not expensive for other women with more “established” salaries, but it is a lot of money for me to spend. I only buy the class packages when they’re on sale or there’s a Living Social type deal. I wish that they’d have those offers more often! Second, for a while I felt inadequate taking classes there because not only am I inflexible and only half-good at it, there were occasions where I was literally the only girl in there not wearing lululemon or some really expensive brand. It’s why I checked out lulu, actually. Though on the flip side, I’m now in love with all things lululemon, so that may have enhanced my joy of working out, haha. Honestly, that was my own insecurity and doesn’t at all reflect the actual Pure Barre workout.
Pure Barre claims that you’ll see results within 10 classes. I bought a 10 class package this past summer and I did see results after about 6 classes, though it was probably a combination of Pure Barre and all of the walking I do during the summertime, and just finally losing the weight I gained from taking night classes from August 2011-May 2012. Right now, I am taking advantage of a sale they had on one month unlimited classes. My goal is to take three classes a week, or 12 for the month. I started on Sept. 10, so tonight, I’ll have taken 6 classes. I’ve noticed my butt is reaping the benefits and my abs are getting there, but my poor, sore arms are having trouble keeping up. They’re looking bulky, not lean and muscular, so I probably need to stretch more. If you’re like me and you get bulky looking when you lift weights without mixing it with cardio, my recommendation is to still supplement the classes with some form of cardio. I’m not a fitness expert by any means; that is just what works for me.
Bottom line: Pure Barre is a great workout, especially if you’re looking for a change-up in your normal workout routine. I used to get embarrassed when the instructor would correct my form all class long. I counted once and it was 17 times. I was totally psyching myself out at that point, haha. Now, I embrace it because I’ve began to really “get” how you’re supposed to do the movements. I still get corrected during class, but I appreciate it and learn from it instead of turning bright red. My advice is to keep at it because once you figure out just “how” you’re supposed to do Pure Barre, it clicks. If you’re considering looking for a new workout, then definitely give Pure Barre a shot. You won’t regret it. Just remember: Less is more! I’ll give an update at the end of my month!