When I was approached by Pure Barre to try out their patented "Lift. Tone. Burn." method at their newest studio in Haddonfield N.J., I thought I was totally prepared for this workout. I wasn't — at all!
I'm an avid exerciser. I workout six times a week. (Crazy I know, since I'm the health and fitness producer here at Philly.com!) But never, have I ever, seen my muscles shake the way they did at that barre.
Based on ballet principles, Pure Barre utilizes a ballet barre to perform a series of small isometric movements that tighten and strengthen your muscles, creating that lean physique that most women strive for.
"While men are more than welcome to take our classes, we really target the areas that women struggle with the most, to tone, lift and tighten the hips, thighs, seat, abdominals and arms," said owner Noelle Zane, who brought the Pure Barre franchise to the East Coast in 2010 when she opened her first location at 17th and Walnut Streets.
Adding weights, an exercise ball and resistance bands, you'll blast away the fat while barely moving a muscle! (You're sold, aren't you?)
Each movement is so small, that in the beginning of our 55-minute class, I briefly wondered if I was going to get anything out of this at all. However, the keyword there was briefly, because not long after the thigh segment began, my muscles were shaking with a vengeance.
The class, set to great tunes, is fast paced, but that's actually a good thing — because Pure Barre moves so quickly, you don't have time to focus on the never-ending burn deep in your muscles.
"We find smaller movements are more effective, so you're dragging your heel a tiny bit or lifting your leg only an inch or two to make sure you're targeting the right muscles," said Zane.
Correct form is key to the effectiveness of these small movements. Fortunately, Zane doesn't expect you to master excellent form on the first try. Until you can demonstrate the perfect relevé (the dancer's equivalent of being up on your toes), Zane and her crew are there to constantly readjust and guide you to help you get the most out of your workout.
"Pure Barre is almost more of a personal training session than it is a group class. Our instructors are all very hands on," said Zane.
Make no mistake, barre is a tough workout — but don't let that discourage you because this method truly is perfect for all fitness levels! "The Pure Barre technique is low-impact, protecting your joints by avoiding any bouncing or jumping," said Zane, who offers a ton of modifications throughout the class.
The ultimate goal of Pure Barre is to bring the muscle group you are targeting to fatigue. If your muscles are shaking with every new sequence, then you know you're definitely doing it right! Each move is a full body workout and for a full 55 minutes you're lifting and toning everything!
So if it's the enviable physique of a dancer that you're striving for, you'll definitely want to join one of 20 daily Pure Barre classes held at three different studios in Center City, South Jersey, and on the Main Line in Wayne. Your muscles will thank you later!
Individual classes are priced at $23, while monthly/yearly bundles, as well as special unlimited packages are also offered. Visit purebarre.com/locations to sign up.