What Is Pure Barre?

2 Months of Pure Hell Barre ;-D

OK, let’s get the disclaimers out of the way: although my little cousin is an instructor, I am not contracted in any way by Pure Barre as an instructor, employee or owner. I also have a background in dance and dance education. Read on….

I discovered Pure Barre around the beginning of this year, when word of a location opening on Magazine Street came to my attention. I figured, great! I’ve been dancing all of my life and am in reasonably fair shape, so this so be a good way to get toned up like I was in my glory days. Had an opportunity to try a class for free, so I went in expecting to get a good cardio boost and decent muscle workout.

Yeah….apparently in my case the PB stood for Punk….well, I’m sure you can figure it out. Pure Barre is 55 minutes of balletic positions, Pilates, yoga, isometrics and stretches in repetition to the point of muscle fatigue, which comes in the guise of visible shaking while trying to properly execute the movements. I have never in my memory quivered so badly and felt so wholly inadequate in doing an exercise regimen–particularly something involved with or inspired by dance. Follow that with me feebly crawling out of bed the next morning and it seemed a safe assumption that Pure Barre was just not gonna happen for me. And then….my 21 year old nephew decides to get married in September. Which means a dress. Which means I have seven months to tone and slim so that I don’t look like a fatty next to my uberskinny mother and sister. *sigh* I’m still not ready to try Pure Barre again, so thanks to my husband’s PS3 I have a few months of EA Active 2 and Zumba to help build my stamina and strength to survive another round. Along comes the 2-month Bikini-Ready special, and after weeks of contemplation and a drive over I register before I can talk myself out of it.

This class is no walk in the park. Naturally, I don’t expect to skate through it since that would have no positive effect on improving my fitness level. But this is WORK. Sweaty, grit your teeth, gasp for air WORK. Looking at it, the moves are deceptively simple and usually very small. But they get to muscles you don’t realize you had–until you see them start shaking (and you generally see them shake before you feel it). Then after a few sessions you start to see your muscles lengthen out and build. After a month (about 20 classes in my case) I looked down and my thighs and saw…well, less of them than there was a few weeks ago. There’s long, lean, rock-hard muscle there without the bodybuilder bulk. I haven’t stopped touching them since, for fear that they might be a figment of my imagination. Then there are the clothes that took an act of Congress to get into and a while to break in enough to be able to move….that just slip on with the first try. The dumbbell-pumping portion of class when you catch a glimpse of an Angela-Bassett worthy bicep, or when you look in the mirror and see actual back MUSCLES instead of back fat. Hard as it is to get through a class (and at almost two months it has not gotten any easier to do the exercises), this stuff works.

Pure Barre’s mantra is “lift.tone.burn”. All are perfectly accurate, because you will definitely feel that deep burn as your work to lift and tone those muscles while you mentally curse the cheerfully helpful sadists running your class. (I say that with completely affection…at least while I’m at the keyboard and not in the studio at the barre or on the mats). I do have to say that aside for a healthy appreciation for the number 10 (the usual default number of reps before the end of a set), I am truly digging the Barre. I have to figure out the best and most economical way to keep it up–there are home products in the form of DVDs, podcasts and the signature equipment but you also need to make a few modifications AND have the staying power to push through on your own. Knowing that I am notoriously lazy, this will be a great challenge. But as I revisit high school skinny (or at the very least, college fine), even though it’s tough I believe I can strap on my war gear and do battle with the Barre.

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