For the third part in my series on trends in fitness, I take a look at Pure Barre for a totally different kind of workout. I first tried Pure Barre about a year ago and immediately knew it was not like just another group exercise class. I can’t really say I enjoyed it (until later). Actually, that first class was like an introduction to a foreign language…all I could really do was observe and attempt to imitate the instructor’s moves…they were unlike any kind of fitness exercises I had ever done. Although I would never describe myself as a graceful person, I have always been intrigued by dancers…the way they carry themselves with poise, and the way their posture seems to reveal a kind of femininity and grace. Maybe that is what drew me to Pure Barre…I was hoping to get some of that poise and grace!!!
Actually Pure Barre is not a dance class at all although it does utilize a ballet barre and I would have to assume that dancers probably have an easier time assimilating the moves. Unlike P90X and CrossFit, Pure Barre uses weights no heavier than 5 pounds. Part of what I like about Pure Barre is that it is totally unique and focuses on the parts of the body that many women “fight” with… abs, hips, seat, and arms. The Pure Barre website says,”The workout launches a full blown attack on the areas of the body all women struggle with… It defies gravity by tapering everything in and lifting it up…” I can’t necessarily say that I have more of that gracefulness I was looking for, but surprisingly, I have a lot more core strength. Most of the workout also seems to benefit the deep core, including the pelvic floor muscles (although there is a portion of the workout when I wonder if the exercise might be counter productive to those muscles).
Using a small ball, a ballet barre, and 2-5 lb. weights, Pure Barre incorporates tiny isometric movements to target those previously mentioned “problem” areas. Unlike the kinds of moves more typical of P90X or CrossFit, the exercises done in Pure Barre are very small (micro-movements) and isolated. I have to seriously concentrate on what I’m doing and I basically block out everything in my mind to focus on the exercises (another reason I like the classes) .
Pure Barre was founded by dancer, choreographer and fitness guru, Carrie Rezabek Dorr. Carrie opened her first studio in the basement of an office building in Birmingham, MI in 2001. With no initial clients, staff, signage or even a bathroom, Carrie has grown Pure Barre in to the company it is today. In July of 2009 Pure Barre became a franchise and has locations nationwide. There are many other “barre fitness” programs out there. For a look at some of the others and to see how they differ from each another, see this link for “barre headquarters”. While there are lots of these kinds of workouts to choose from, a few people are skeptical about some of them. Professional ballerina, Nicole Klein is one of those people. She recently wrote an article about it on her blog (you can find it here) and said that many barre exercise classes send false messages about their methods being “ballet” oriented, when many are not. Regardless of any skeptics, however, I am sold based on the results and how the workout makes me feel.
I asked Pure Barre instructor, Beth Hoerr (Ballantyne, North Carolina) about the Pure Barre technique and how she compares it to other kinds of exercise (like yoga or pilates). Beth is not just an instructor; she believes in the effectiveness of the Pure Barre method, and used it as her primary source of exercise while pregnant with her second child, Xavier (pictured below).
1. How would you describe a Pure Barre class?
Beth: Pure Barre is a 55 minute total body workout that focuses on your arms, thighs, seat and abs. Small isometric movements are performed to motivating music. The goal is to fatigue the muscle, then by stretching after each section you work to create lean muscle.
7. I don’t usually sweat that much in Pure Barre…but I know that some people do, is Pure Barre considered cardio? Or is it really more of an intense core workout?
Beth: The results!! It really works. And it works for woman of all ages and backgrounds, whether you’ve been working out your entire life or just getting started.
Oh, and it’s not just for ladies…I’ve seen a few men at Pure Barre too! How about you…have you tried Pure Barre? What did you think?