The last time I did pliés on a ballet bar I was five years old and wearing a pink tutu. Today, I am doing them again (not gracefully, at that), but have swapped the pink tutu for a pair of black leggings. It’s my first Pure Barre class, one of four that I agreed to go to with a friend, and I’m already failing at something a five year old could do.
But pliés in Pure Barre are a lot more complicated than in an amatuer ballet class. The technique, according to Pure Barre’s website, is “a full-body workout concentrating on the areas women struggle with the most: hips, thighs, seat, abdominals and arms.” In a Pure Barre class, you can expect to be doing mostly small movements that pull these areas in and up, and the ‘gravity-defying,’ low-impact workout promises results in as few as 10 sessions.
Where did this fitness phenomenon come from? In 2001, Carrie Rezabak Dorr, a fitness trainer and former dancer, founded Pure Barre in a basement studio in Birmingham, MI. Now, her philosophy is a growing franchise with more than 200 studios nationwide. Three of those studios are in my hometown of Austin, TX, which made it convenient when choosing times and locations for each of my four classes.
Heading into my first class, I was pretty skeptical of Pure Barre. I’m not a huge fan of group exercise classes (peppy instructors in tights and power beats don’t do much for me), but I wanted to make the most of my $22 session, so I promised myself I would give this pseudo-ballet lesson my all. Unfortunately, I was the girl that the instructor had to keep coming over to and correcting every five minutes, and that didn’t change too much over the course of four classes. (There’s a reason my ballet career didn’t last long).
Despite my lack of talent, Pure Barre still worked for me. About 24 hours after each class I felt sore all over, and I believe that if I were to continue with Pure Barre, I would indeed have tighter abs and arms after 10 classes.
Unfortunately Pure Barre just wasn’t for me. I prefer to work out alone, I’d rather be outdoors than in a studio, and I just couldn’t help but laugh every time my Lululemon-clad instructor yelled “Lift your seat, ladies!” (Seriously, just call it a “butt.”) I do think however, that Pure Barre is a great substitution for lifting weights as it helps women tone areas that cardio alone cannot.
If you want to check out a Pure Barre class in your area, there are always specials for first-timers, so grab a friend and try something new. Just don’t bring your tutu.