Monday, October 26, 2015

Pure Barre: Post 1 of 2-- The Class!

I wanted to give you all a little background into my workout of choice. I am a Pure Barre enthusiast! This post will be dedicated to the class itself and what to expect. In post 2 of 2 (coming soon!), I will delve into some of the fabulous clothes sold at our PB location!

I am beyond excited and honored to write about Pure Barre (and my specific location, Geneva, Illinois). The atmosphere of the studio, the women who work there, and the class itself are all such highlights of my days. I feel exponentially stronger and leaner since I've taken Pure Barre. Let me enlighten you as to why I am a "Barre Addict".

Above: 4 of my beautiful bridesmaids sweating at the barre with me before my bachelorette party!
Jamie, Mandy, me, Megan and Caitlin!

To begin, you do not have to be a former dancer to take Pure Barre classes! Yes, a ballet barre is involved, but the language used is common. You absolutely will love the class, former dancer or not, and the terminology is simple and straightforward. Yes, you will be pliéing and relevéing during class, but instead of the French terms, you'll hear, "rise up to your highest tip-toes!" or "sink down to knee level!" for a nice grande plié.

Pure Barre Geneva is a few blocks from where we live downtown, and when I found out about this location, I couldn't resist signing up for the trial package. There are always new customer specials: typically there is a $99 unlimited month option for new members. When I hopped on board last year, it was teacher appreciation week, and teachers could take classes for free for a week! What a deal! Side note: there are classes offered 7 days a week! Mornings and evenings, to accommodate every kind of schedule.

I wanted to be in the best shape of my life for our wedding on July 11, 2015. I decided that the best way to do this was by a commitment to Pure Barre classes.  Honestly, the Bridal Bootcamp package transformed my body (3 months unlimited for $375, a class for your bridesmaids, and Bride to Be sticky socks!).  I have always been a dancer and a runner, but this workout was so much less mundane and more exciting than my long runs on treadmills during the winter months. 

The atmosphere: 

I can speak on behalf of my Geneva location (and I am sure the Youngstown, Ohio location and Wicker Park, Chicago locations, as I know some wonderful ladies who work for both of those Pure Barre studios-- heck, I would venture to guess it's this way at every PB studio!) when I say the teachers and employees of PB Geneva are some of the kindest, friendliest, most uplifting and motivating women I have met in my years of living in the Chicago suburbs. 

You'll walk in to your Pure Barre location, and you'll be greeted with warmth from the minute you step in.  Everyone is down to earth and kind; the genuine personalities of the ladies at my location is what has kept me coming back consistently for over a year.  They are truly happy to see you, which makes working out so much more enjoyable. Their enthusiasm is present at 6 am (I have once made it to class at that time! Paige greeted me with a cheer!) all the way to the 7:10 pm class! Paige, Lauren, Amy, Kat, Loren, Caroline, Hilary, Mara and Brynn (the amazing owner) at Pure Barre Geneva are so welcoming to all their customers! They make you feel so glad you came. Besides: "I am so mad I worked out," said no one ever. 

What to expect:

For your first class, you'll be shown exactly what equipment you need to get started. You'll need a red ball:

Small weights (2 or 3 lbs.-- I primarily use 2 lbs-- and it is ALWAYS a challenge!)

...and a rubber tube, either double or regular:

I would definitely recommend your own water bottle (though our studio has some to purchase for $1) and even a hand towel or washcloth because you WILL sweat! Your instructor will get you situated with the appropriate waivers to sign (plan on arriving about 15 minutes early to your first class). You will also want to wear socks-- you can purchase sticky socks at the studio, too! (They are $12 a pair, and they have grips on the bottom for maximum stability on the carpet).

Oh! And do wear workout capris or pants-- shorts won't keep your legs warm enough, and with all the moves you do, you'll feel much more comfortable in capri length or longer bottoms.

The music is always fun and new-- top 40 pop music to get you pumped up!  I am not exaggerating when I tell you this is the best 55 minute workout I have ever done. I have run the Chicago marathon, danced for 25 years, sweat through Bikram yoga classes, and still, Pure Barre is my all-time favorite workout. It is HARD. I can't sugarcoat that. However, you WILL see results in your body.  My arms are stronger than they have ever been. I am hyper aware of my "underarm jiggle" as I write on the board during school, but, it has diminished significantly since I've gotten into Pure Barre! Classroom teachers, rejoice! By taking Pure Barre classes, your posture will improve, your legs with look leaner, your seat will be lifted, your arms will be defined and your stomach will become toned.

Mandy, me and my sister, Anna, the day before our wedding!
Mandy in a Lululemon tank top, similar here. I am also in a Lululemon tank top, similar found here. Anna is wearing the Free to Be tank from Lululemon. 

Class begins on your feet with leg and arm lifts to get your heart rate elevated. You transition into abdominal work on the ground, coupled with a 90-second plank. Do not fret! I could not hold all 90 seconds in the plank to begin; I typically dropped to my knees about halfway through. But now, I can persevere through the 90 seconds! It is not a stoic hold; you are guided to push back through your heels, cross ankles over one another, etc. That's the beauty of Pure Barre: you really are constantly moving and not holding isometric holds for more than 10 seconds at a time. 

One of the most appealing parts of the Pure Barre philosophy is the idea of doing many repetitions of arm exercises with light weights. This slims you down, rather than bulking you up. The movements are all to be within an inch of movement-- the instructors are constantly reminding you to move "just the length of a paperclip" or circle your leg like you're "tracing a dime". Everything is measured in inch movements. Every movement is tiny yet so purposeful.

The instructors are phenomenal. Their energy carries you through every section of class. They learn your name right away when you take your first class in order to encourage and fix you along the way. The personal attention makes you perform each move with precision and accuracy. My class size is typically around 10-13 students, but I have had as many as 20 women! Once, I was in a class with 6 gals, and I don't think I've ever worked harder. The individualized attention was amazing! 

You then move to the ballet barre for thigh work. This is by far the hardest, but most rewarding, portion of the 55 minutes. You'll shake-- and that is good! When I began taking classes, my legs shook so much, I was mortified! But I came to find out that the shaking is where you're making the most changes in your body. Shake=AWESOME! You then stretch out your thighs after the intense exercises at the barre.  You'll work on your flexibility with your thigh stretches; I have even regained my left split (still working on my right!). 

Next is seat work! Time to get that lifted, Pure Barre ledge (AKA, your booty is perky and firm). Seat work often utilizes the barre, your red ball, and the tube.  

After the seat work is complete, you'll move to a slower section of class underneath the barre.  Here you'll warm up your abs (who are we kidding-- your whole body is piping hot at this point!).  You will additionally work on flexibility and strength beneath the ballet barre. 

Finally, you work through about 9 more minutes (but who is counting?) of abdominal work in the center of the room. 

You stretch to slower music, and you clap at the end, for yourself and your incredible effort! What could be better? It is extremely inspirational to see women of all ages and sizes taking (and kicking butt) at class! I have even seen brave men in class! The movements are manageable for men and women, of all ages and backgrounds. What is tantamount to your success in Pure Barre is understanding the idea of tucking your hips under. You want to always think of your belly button being pulled back to your spine and your hips and booty being tucked under (think of rotating your hip flexors forward-- I had to describe it as mini hip-thrusts to help my husband figure it out- haha!). If you arch your back and stick your butt out (like I typically stand, just by bad habit), you will find yourself becoming increasingly sore (ask my husband: he ran into this at the "Bring on the Men" night! Poor guy!).

So, let's recap. You get to hang out with your friends, listen to awesome music, burn about 400 calories in 55 minutes (based on a 140 lb person), gain flexibility and just generally thin out. What is there NOT to adore about Pure Barre? The staff at Pure Barre Geneva is phenomenal. I would highly recommend signing up for your first class today! (Bonus! If you sign up today, there is a $99 unlimited month that adds on the remainder of October! So, basically you'll get 5 weeks for $99!)   I am currently enrolled in the autopay, 9-month, Back to the Barre package. It is an investment I am making in my health and happiness. The nights I can make it to Pure Barre, I feel so great.

Where have you taken Pure Barre? Let me know if you have any questions or hesitations-- I am extremely confident that you will fall in love with Pure Barre.

So what do you say-- meet me at the barre?



  1. With these you can do all the yoga poses your heart desires in these and not have to worry about these leggings riding down in the back. The cut fits bigger booties and hips- and patterns from are even more vibrant and beautiful in person.