By MADOLINE MARKHAM
When our publisher talked to me about trying Pure Barre and writing about it, I was excited. I’d heard about how the classes combined elements of pilates, ballet and weights into a total body workout that people raved about. When I talked to Deanna Adams, the co-owner of the 280 location, she told me stories of women losing inches of their waistline and tightening and shaping lean muscles like they’d never been before, all within a few classes. Sounds good, right?
But then I started thinking about how I had never been limber, had never been a dancer and had always thought ballet and pilates seemed boring. After my first class, I learned these things were completely irrelevant, and I understood how the class was worth the time and financial investment to uniquely tone a woman’s seat (rear end), arms, thighs and abs.
As I slipped my shoes into a cubby that first night, class members warned me that it would be intense my first time. Their dedication to coming back time after time told me any pain on first trial must be worth it. We entered the main room, which looks like a ballet studio, picked up our balls, mat, and light weights, and began.
The first thing I noticed is that the class is anchored in working your core. You start with ab work and end with ab work. While you are working most other muscle groups, you are also focusing on contracting your core with a ball squeezed between your thighs. When the instructor told me after class that her abs were the first area of changed she noticed in her body, I had no doubt she was right. You also do many movements called a “tuck,” where you pulse your lift in toward your core throughout the class.
Even in the first class, it’s easy to pick up on most of the moves as the instructor talks you through them. Part of what makes Pure Barre unique is the small classes and individual attention that makes it more like a personal training session. A second instructor is always around to help correct your form to make sure you do it right.
I always assumed you had to jump, dance or run to burn calories and stay entertained in a workout class. Not true. Just a few minutes into the Pure Barre class, the two-pound weights we used felt heavier than I thought they ever could. My heart rate was up, and I was eager to take a sip of water.
Each segment of the class targets a muscle group just until you think you can’t work it any harder. Plus, you have to be fully concentrated on each movement, leaving behind any thoughts of your to-do list at home or work. The fast-paced dance and pop music kept my momentum going for the entire 55 minutes, which went by quite quickly.
Some exercises are similar to arm movements in aerobics classes or abs classes; others are completely foreign. For instance, the ballet bar. I hadn’t touched one since kindergarten ballet class (my first and last), but that didn’t matter as the instructor led us to work our thighs and then our seats (or rear ends). The exercises had my legs burning and shaking like they never had before.
At times, you point your toes, stretch your legs and set your feet in a “high-heeled” position on your toes. It feels like ballet moves, but there aren’t any you can’t pick up on by watching and listening.
The hardest technique of the class is the flat back and round back exercises, also unique to Pure Barre. The second instructor in the class explained the movements targeting your abs more carefully to me, but even Adams agreed that they take closer to ten classes to get just right.
The day after my first class my abs reminded me of just how hard we’d worked our core. They reminded me the day after that too, and the day after that, and the day after that before I came back for class number two.
The second time was easier—I was familiar with the format of the class: abs, arms, thighs, seat, more abs and back work. My legs shook a little less. The two-pound weights felt a tad bit lighter. But it was still a challenge in a good way.
By the third class, I was anticipating what segment was next in the lineup and, thanks to advice from other instructors participating in the class, I was actually working my muscles in the flat back and round back segments.
The instructors recommend that you come three to four times a week, and if you’re like me and most women who try it, you’ll easily make the time for the challenge and for the results you find in their classes.
Pure Barre’s 280 location is 5426 Highway 280 East, Suite 6 in The Terrace at Greystone shopping center near Chuck’s Fish and Grey Bar. Call their office at 991-5224 or visit www.purebarre.com to register for classes. They offer a one-month new client special with unlimited access to morning, afternoon and evening classes.