Pure Barre: a pure workout

By Gina Lopez

(Chandler Thompson/ Flickr)
(Chandler Thompson/ Flickr)

As a prelude, I consider myself both moderately active and averagely healthy. I am most definitely not a dancer, and by no means a yogi. My rules regarding living a balanced lifestyle go as followed: Nothing too green and the less frequent the ab workout the better. Yet somehow, I survived my first Pure Barre class.

Pure Barre is a specific franchise in the rising fitness industry of barre workouts that is gaining attention as it expands throughout the United States. Pure Barre combines elements of ballet, yoga and pilates in a strengthening, total body workout that is guaranteed to make muscles sore that you did not even know existed. The only equipment utilized in the class is a resistance band, a small rubber ball and a yoga mat.

Numerous other barre classes exist outside the brand, ranging in title from things like “barre conditioning” to simply “barre.” The main differences between these types of classes are the brand names and the licensing process. Pure Barre is specifically affiliated with the Pure Barre organization itself and their regulations.

A nearby location to experience a class (the place that I took a class) is Pure Barre in Northampton, located on 63 King Street near Hotel Northampton and the Calvin Theatre.

All things considered, going into the studio I was a stew of uneasiness, especially regarding my athletic abilities to last throughout the duration of an entire 55 minute class, but I was also excited to awaken an inkling of my childhood dream of becoming a ballerina. This is the first and only activity I have ever done with a ballet bar in the room.

The outer part of the studio, where the sign-up area is, resembles a Zen garden. This area includes a shoe-storing rock bed that runs parallel to the wall with clean, simplistic light wood detailing on structures around the room. Once on the inside, the room looked like a traditional dance studio, complete with three walls of mirror and endless photographs of dancing, active and happy girls.

It would be a lie to say that the class flew by without me realizing every painful millisecond of exercise. I can, however, honestly say that in Pure Barre class I struggled through intense core, arm and glute exercises. The exercises included intense, isometric routines using nothing but a ballet bar, a resistance band, a yoga mat and a small bouncy ball. All of these moves were extremely challenging, and all actions that I would never have the will power to do on my own. The dynamic of the group effort, the appearance and structure of the class room motivated me to keep going. It also helped that the class made me feel as though I was preparing for a performance or a recital

It is important to credit a good deal of my resilience to the instructor, whose voice echoed that of an ’80’s aerobics instructor, both in its enthusiastic tone and positive pitch. Her patience in reining in the weaklings – like myself – of the class by offering some much needed modifications was nothing short of admirable. She had a way of knowing the right things to say at the right times to keep the class going and to improve our workouts.

Something else worth mentioning is the impressively chic and impossibly priced attire sold right in the studio. The clothing style looked like a cross between Athletica and Free People, and seemed to say “I can be casual, easy going and active”, all at the same time. I applaud Pure Barr for its smart marketing tactics, putting the merchandise front and center of the store. Rather than relying on online shoppers to recognize its brand and buy the clothing, Pure Barre sells its products right in the same place it runs the business. That way, people can sign up and take classes in the same place they can buy merchandise from those and vice versa.

My final consensus of the experience was that it was trendy enough to make me get out of bed at 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday, while also being a legitimate workout that made me feel revitalized. It even made me want to possibly reconsider my policy on ab workouts.

Gina Lopez can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @gina_lopezz.