For some time now, I've been curious about the Pure Barre studio at Highland Village (4450 I-55 North, Suite 235-A, 769-251-0486). I was intrigued by magazine and Internet articles about the popularity of barre-based workouts, with their promise of long, lean limbs and tight tushes, and since I grew up taking ballet, I thought it might be something I would enjoy. Plus, it seemed to be an interesting alternative to the exercises I'd previously done, like cardio-heavy spin classes or running. And the outfits are cute.
When a couple of friends took advantage of a summer membership special the studio offered, I decided to tag along with them to try a class out. (If you're afraid of committing to buying a package, drop in for a single class for $23.)
Before class, my friend Sarah, who had attended before, advised that you must wear capris or long pants and that special socks with rubber grips on the bottom are required and available for purchase. She also warned that after her first class, she could barely make it downstairs to the parking lot.
What had I agreed to do? With trepidation, I arrived early on our chosen night for whatever torture the 55-minute class held, propelled and motivated by the promise of cocktails afterward—a plus of the studio's location being its proximity to BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 Frontage Road, Suite 244,601-982-811) Char (4500 Interstate 55 Frontage Road, Suite 142, 601-956-9562) and Julep (4500 Interstate Road, 601-362-1411).
Before class, our instructor Kathryn gave me a sheet to read over explaining some of the terms used during class, namely "tucking" (contracting your abdominal muscles, dropping and rolling your tailbone, and tightening your seat and thighs) and "pulsing" (making concentrated squeezes) and helped those of us new to Pure Barre get set up. The class uses the barre, along with a small exercise ball, very light hand weights, a tube and a mat to concentrate on toning hips, thighs, seat, abs and arms through very small isometric movements.
One thing that surprised me is that the movements are so small that there's not much explanation, demonstration or way to look at other people in the class to see what exactly it is you're supposed to be doing. This being my first time, I wasn't always clear on what the instructor meant when she called out certain combinations or movements, but she moved around the room, gently correcting and adjusting our form and offering encouragement. The instructors make an effort to learn your name and use it to give you positive feedback. I'm fairly certain that with time, you figure it out and gain confidence in learning the Pure Barre vocabulary. While each class varies in the exact exercises, the format and order of the body parts worked out remains the same, so to a certain extent, you always know what you're in for.
As for the workout, if you don't believe that doing such small movements in a no-impact situation would be intense, you're wrong. It really takes a lot of concentration; my friend Maggie commented that she liked how she truly had to block out everything else on her mind to be present and think about what she was doing. This also keeps you from feeling silly or paranoid; everyone is so focused on their own movements that they can't possibly be looking at you.
As I write this, I'm two days out from the workout, and my booty and hamstrings still feel the burn. I also still feel the effects in my back, triceps and abs—you pretty much work your core the entire time, in addition to a section purely dedicated to ab work at the end. Pure Barre's website promises that you can see results after 10 classes, with the best outcomes from attending three or four classes a week. I definitely think over time, it would be a great way to achieve major toning of the areas the classes concentrate on, in addition to increased flexibility from the stretches at the end.
The Jackson studio offers classes seven days a week, so it's easy to find ones that fit your schedule. If you think you might want to try it for the first time, a new-client special offers you a chance to purchase one month of unlimited classes for $100—a nice way to give it a try for long enough to see if you really like it and start to see the results. For more information, visit purebarre.com.