Monday, November 14, 2011

My latest workout: Pure Barre

Recently, I went to my very first Pure Barre class (and then again last Tuesday). I was pretty nervous. This was a class different from what I usually do. I expected it to be a little like Power Yoga, but then I heard the Britney Spears music coming from inside the studio. I had heard that it was inspired by ballet. I am not a dancer and am actually a bit of a spaz. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I am a running and fitness coach, for crying out loud…how bad would it be if I couldn’t hang?
*photo courtesy of

Pure Barre doesn’t use cardio or any impact whatsoever. It uses isometric holds and very small movements.  It turned out to be awesome. It was definitely a challenge, but I was able to keep up and do all the exercises. At one point my leg was shaking quite a bit. Apparently, this is a good thing.  A woman next to me was shaking so much, the bar was shaking.  She must have been doing really well.

When I went on Tuesday, I had the bright idea to run to class. The studio is a little less than two miles from my house. I had blown off running with my friends in the morning and wanted to get a few miles in before last weekend’s race. It wasn’t a particularly difficult run (it is mostly downhill), but I ran it pretty quickly in order to get to the class early enough to cool down, change my socks etc. So I started that class with warmed up, but somewhat tired, muscles. My leg shook a lot more. Let's just say that the run back home, uphill, wasn't nearly as easy.

The website said that they limit the class size so that they are small enough for individual attention.
“we keep our classes small to ensure each clients receives personal attention and hands-on corrections.”
The first class didn’t seem very limited to me. As soon as the preceding class let out, women streamed into the studio. I got into the room and it was nearly full. I am sure there were at least 20 women. By the time everyone was in, I doubt there was much room left at all.  However, we all seemed to have enough room—we weren’t kicking each other. Tuesday’s class was much smaller, which I preferred. The instructor was able to come around and correct form, posture etc. At first, I was self-conscious. The first instructor came over to me once to gently position my body to the proper place.  However, during the second class, it seemed like Kelsey adjusted my form nearly every exercise. I thought maybe I was doing it completely wrong.  However, I looked around and noticed that she went to just about everyone and tweaked and adjusted their positions. To get the most out of Pure Barre, your hips need to be tucked in just right to engage the muscles properly.

The class starts with a warm up, but it didn’t take long for the exercises to feel pretty difficult.  For example, we did a plank. As I started to fatigue, we were instructed to go from forearms to our hands in pushup position and begin pushups.  Thank goodness she told us to do them on our knees; full pushups would have probably wiped me out right there. After regular pushups, we also did pushups targeting different parts of the arm (such as triceps and shoulders). That was all in the first few minutes.

The class was well organized. We went from upper body to thighs to seat to abs and back. The class kept moving and the music was upbeat. This is a consistent format, no matter where you take the class. When I went to my second class, it was nice knowing what to expect.

Pure Barre is a nice contrast to the heavy impact exercising that I do on a regular basis. I truly believe that the strength I will build with this class will enhance my running.  I have been struggling for a couple of years with recurring IT Band issues. I have been told that these issues stem from my hips. Specifically, I have been overusing my TFL (tensor fasciae latae). Pure Barre strengthens the muscles of the hip and seat. I can feel my glute muscles getting stronger, which will help balance the TFL, putting less pressure on my IT Band.

Pure Barre costs a bit more than I like to pay. I tried it out due to a Living Social deal which made it more affordable for me.  At our local studio, a single class is $25. An unlimited one month membership is $225 and a ten-class pass is $210. It is on the high end of fitness classes for this area. I will take advantage of various specials that they offer from time to time. In fact, they have a great special going on now for $165 for one month unlimited or ten classes.

Thinking about trying out Pure Barre? The only thing you need is a pair of socks. pure barre socksThey recommend the yoga/Pilates socks with traction on the bottom. I really like the ones that leave my toes open. All the other equipment (weights, bands, balls and mats) is provided. I bring water or Nuun because I like to stay hydrated, but not everyone brings a drink. You should also wear pants or capris. It is important to keep your legs and muscles warm.  In addition, you often hold a rubber ball between your legs, which might not be so comfy on your skin.

Overall, I give Pure Barre a thumbs up.  I will continue to take the classes as long as I can afford it. I probably won’t take it four or five times a week, like they recommend. I still need room in my schedule for teaching my own classes, running and taking care of my kids. I am hoping I can get results by going once or twice a week.

I hope you out there moving your body and loving it.

Coming soon… Santa Barbara Half Marathon race report.


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