Happy new year! Adrienne here….as you know by now, I like to test things out before suggesting them to you. I’ll share with you my personal review as well as others’ so you get a well-rounded idea of the Pure Barre experience.
It seemed like Pure Barre was composed of easy, delicate, pretty dance-like movements in front of a mirror. A place where people go to appear to work out than actually doing so. How very wrong these initial thoughts were.
Having partnered with the studio to provide nutrition information and inspiration, I decided to join the challenge of finishing 20 classes or more during the month of October.
Here’s how it went:
I couldn’t even complete the first class. I did not expect the extent to which this was truly a total-body, strength-training, fatiguing-little-muscles-you-didn’t-know-you-had workout. The class felt designed to break the image I had of myself as a fit person.
During the second class I realized the first one wasn’t an anomaly; this is how it was going to be. A feeling of dread, followed by determination, set in. The word ‘hazing’ came to mind as I realized mental toughness would be a key component to attending any future classes.
We were each given key tags to track the classes we had taken. Every time we finished a class, our cards were hole-punched. For someone who identifies as what Gretchen Rubin’s would call an ‘obliger’, this was incredibly gratifying. Like getting a gold sticker on a chart in 2nd grade.
I wish I could tell you that the first week was the hardest and that you’ll get used to it, but I cannot lie to you. They were all hard because there is no ‘getting used to’ this exercise. Every time you think you’ve got it, the instructors push you to drop your tailbone a little lower while doing ballet plies, grab a heavier set of weights, or to fully get your chest to the ground during a push-up. This is part of the beauty of Pure Barre…you never ‘arrive’ at some mystical apex of fitness…..it’s always going to be a workout where you are striving for a new level of mastery.
Through this process there is an intense amount of focus. Unlike other workouts where it’s possible to get on the treadmill and read a book or to mentally plan a grocery list while boxing, there’s a meditative quality that keeps you in the moment, focused on breathing through the intense movements.
If you’ve been conditioned to think that women never pass gas, you may find yourself frighteningly startled as you stand less than 2 feet away from someone who does.
Finding the ‘Unicorns’
Somewhere around the 16th class attendance, feeling like a rock star for showing up for yet another class, I saw a writing on the mirror: “Congratulations on your 1000th class, Sarah!”
Not having any semblance of a poker face, my jaw dropped and some choice ‘French’ words sprinkled into thoughts of disbelief: “Is this even possible? Perhaps they mistakenly added another ‘0’. Who does 1000 classes? Is this person even real?”
So after class I went up to the desk to inquire about these ‘unicorns’ and asked to be put into contact with them for an interview where I would be able to discern the truth. Here, two of them – Catherine K. and Geri M. – real people, share their results and what motivates them to come back for more.
1. What prompted you to come to your first Pure Barre class? What was your experience like?
Catherine had turned to running for exercise in the past, but with more knee pain and stiffness, she knew she needed a long-term plan. She started going to Pure Barre the summer of 2011, inspired by a friend who loved it and looked great.
“First, I went to a class or so a week. It felt alien at first. I couldn’t quite understand what muscle I was trying to isolate, and I couldn’t help but stifle giggles with all the thrusting going on around me.” During that October’s challenge, she started going everyday and then kept at it 5-6 times per week. “It wasn’t long before I noticed my strength improve and my muscles looking more toned. My husband, of course, noticed my ‘seat’ first.”
2. Have you tried other exercises or exercise programs (i.e. boxing, zumba, etc); what makes Pure Barre different?
Geri M. shares, “I had done Pilates for years and really enjoyed that but always wanted to challenge my legs even more and I heard barre was really tough. So I actually started out only going 3x a week but within 2 months I started noticing my clothes getting bigger and so I just added more days of barre and less of other things (Pilates, body pump, elliptical).”
3. How long has it taken to reach this 1000 class milestone? How do you make this class a habit?
Catherine: “I reached my 1000-class mark the fall of 2016. With the way life ebbs and flows…I [still] shoot to make it to four or five classes a week. I still find that the diet is an integral part of feeling and looking the way that I want, but Pure Barre delivers on providing the toned muscles, strength and flexibility. “
Geri: “Honestly Pure Barre became my routine because it is the most effective exercise I have ever done! The emphasis on the core is so very important especially for those of us with back problems! I find it to be smart exercise, repetition to exhaustion to build strength and endurance. It is a total body workout and I love the music and how fast the class goes!”
4. What changes have you noticed in your body and your life since taking Pure Barre?
The following spring after starting Pure Barre, Catherine focused on cleaning up her diet and dropped weight. “It was then that I could really see the results from Pure Barre. I could see the muscles in my abs, and my arms were defined like they hadn’t been since I was in high school on the rowing team.”
5. What is your favorite part of class? Your least favorite?
Catherine: “At Pure Barre, I can go into a zone with the music and the repetitive small movements. It feels a little like a yoga/pilates class in that way. But it is invigorating, and I always leave feeling energized and strong and proud of myself. I am not naturally a flexible person, but with Pure Barre, I am able to bend and stretch in ways I couldn’t even when I was a child.”
Geri echoes the sentiment: “I love how upbeat Pure Barre is. I’ve been there long enough to see newer clients and even teachers change before my eyes: fitter, stronger, thinner, and teachers also change from being shy and timid to strong confident instructors encouraging us each and every class to pulse a little deeper, stand a little taller, raise our leg a little straighter!”
She continues,”I think the feeling of community sets Pure Barre apart from all other exercises I have tried. There’s something about enduring the pain of barre that fosters that sense of community!”
6. Is there any advice you’d like to offer to a Pure Barre beginner or someone thinking of starting?
Geri: “No one is too fat, too old, too out of shape or too fit to start!! Pure Barre is humbling for all of us. The more fit you are, the more muscle fibers you recruit so in essence the harder you can make the exercises!”
Catherine: “For anyone new to Pure Barre, I would suggest going three times a week for a month or two to give yourself time to understand how to isolate the muscles and to see the results start to show. The first couple of classes might seem foreign, but once it clicks, you will feel the difference right away.”
Each class had a variety of challenging moves which were alternately interesting and exhausting. After every class, I walked out feeling invigorated and accomplished for having worked every muscle in my body to its fullest.
My hunger levels increased and I was much more fatigued at the end of the day. I found myself eating like a teenage boy and feeling like I had run through an Army boot camp; it’s no wonder my body craved more sleep.
Despite my larger appetite and indulgences, I noticed a definite strength and toning in my body. Even though I didn’t lose more than 1-2 lbs, people in my life were commenting on how my shape had changed. Being into ‘the numbers’, I had also taken my measurements and found a 1.25″ loss from my waist, 0.5″ from hips, and 1.5″ from my thighs.
My endurance improved too; I hiked mountains in Arizona with greater ease and completed the hardest 4-hour physical martial arts test I’ve ever done.
Want to give Pure Barre a try? Contact the studio nearest to you (Dublin, Grandview or New Albany) and get a free trial week.