New Lily

Part 3 of 4: Comparing Some Trends in Fitness: Pure Barre!

Seat work at a Pure Barre class. Believe me, it's harder than it looks!

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).


Pure Barre instructor Beth Hoerr who practiced Pure Barre throughout her second pregnancy

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.

2. How is Pure Barre different than other group exercise classes?
Beth: It’s easy on your joints and will not put pressure or strain on your body. Because of this it is a workout that can be done everyday of the week if you choose.  Also, it’s convenient. You don’t need a lot of space to perform the movements, which makes it a perfect workout to incorporate into your everyday life. Whether your traveling for work, at home with the kids, or just can’t make it into class that day. The DVD series is perfect for that!
3. Do you have to be flexible to do Pure Barre?
Beth: Not at all! The great thing about Pure Barre is that you work to your capacity. As you continue to take class you’ll notice not only are you stronger, but you’ll become more flexible.
4. Pure Barre is not easy; about how many classes do you think it takes for someone to get used to it and really follow along and learn the moves?
Beth: Give yourself 10 classes, by then you’ll start to see result in your body and the movements will begin to feel more natural.
5. Along those same lines, about how many classes do you think it takes someone before they might start to see results?
Beth: We recommend coming to take class at least 3 times a week. And again, by about 10 classes you will start to feel and see the difference in your physique.

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: It’s not considered cardio, but the intense movements will get your heart rate up!
8. Would you compare Pure Barre to yoga, pilates, or any other kind of exercise routine that people might be familiar with? What makes it different?
Beth: Pure Barre gives the mental focus similar to what you would experience in Yoga, the intense 55 minutes allows you to focus on yourself and block out outside distractions. And it lengthens the muscles in a way that is familiar to Pilates. But Pure Barre is very different from any workout I’ve ever done. It incorporates the use of the ballet barre, light weights and a few other small “props”. It flows very quickly and works my body, in my opinion, more effectively.
9. What is your fitness background and what got you interested inPure Barre?
Beth: I’ve been active for as long as I can remember. I started taking dance and tumbling classes at a young age and continued all throughout high school and college. Within that time frame, I also started doing Pilates on my own and even considered getting certified to teach. I first heard of Pure Barre just a little over 2 years ago. It immediately grabbed my interest! I love the constant challenge and how it works my muscles very similar to dance. Even now, I’m stronger than when I was dancing all the time, and more toned (even after having 2 babies)!
10. Are their any warnings that you might give to someone who wants to try Pure Barre (in terms of injuries, etc.)?
Beth: Pure Barre is great because it doesn’t put any pressure on your joints. Of course if someone has limitations because of an injury, there are many modifications that can be done where you are still getting the total effects of the excercise, but your not putting strain on your mucles, joints, etc.
11. As a mother of nine, I am very careful to take care of my pelvic floor muscles. I realize that the pelvic floor is extremely important to the core and so many women my age have issues that even prevent them from activities they would like to do. Are the exercises in Pure Barre at all focused on this area? If so, in what way?
Beth: Having 2 babies myself and doing PB throughout my entire second pregnancy (all the way up to 9 months), I can testify that it kept my body strong while pregnant, helped lower back pain I was having due to pregnancy and even after having my son I could still feel my abdominal muscles!
Post baby, its helped me get in even better shape than I was before and work to flatten those stubborn lower abdominal muscles. Throughout the PB workout, your abdominal muscles are continually working. Even if you are focusing on thighs or seat…you are still working to engage your core.
13. I know some people who would like to do Pure Barre but find it to be too expensive. How do you think it compares in cost to other exercise classes?
Beth: We offer a new client special for $100 unlimited for the first month. This is a great deal and since it is unlimited you are really able to dive right in, come as often as you want and try out the benefits of PB for yourself! We also have special packages and offers throughout the year. Class packages are also available which help lower the cost of each class.
14. What is your favorite thing about Pure Barre?

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?

Speak Your Mind