Class Review – January 2018

This year, one of the things I wanted to do is try new things in the fitness world.  I am always reading and researching and learning from the other therapists and trainers at my studio.  I also try to soak up as much knowledge as I can when talking to the great practitioners in my network, but I haven’t actually been out there to try what the other guys are doing in a while.

So I have committed to trying something new each month and to write a review about it.  By no means do I pretend that these are objective reviews.  Think of this as more my opinion as a fitness expert (it does say opinionated fitness guru in the title).  Also, there may be things I don’t like that you do.  I am not here to debate, just stating my thoughts because my name is in the url.

Pure Barre®

Prior to entering the Pure Barre studio in Boulder, my only experience with a barre class had been at a conference a couple years back (not a Pure Barre class).  At that time, I felt it was pilates on steroids.  After taking this class, my opinion has not changed much, but my enjoyment has swayed a bit.

First things first, the Boulder studio is adorable and super girly, which I love.  It is stocked with cute leggings, headbands, tanks, and other girly stuff.  There are empowering quotes on the walls along with an impressive display of the media in which Pure Barre has been featured.  It’s clean, easy to check in, and they took care of me as a new person, explaining the layout and the class routine.

Now let’s start class.  The instructor could not have been nicer.  She gathered the equipment I would need and set up a spot for me.  She explained the class moved quickly and gave me the run down of the different parts.  The music started and we were off to the races!

To say class “moved quickly” might be an understatement.  We started flying through complex pilate-ish and yoga-ish moves at rapid speed.  I felt as if I was flailing a bit and not really in control of my body as we moved through the first core routine.  Although the cues that were coming through the mic were spot on, there is no way at that speed and with little instruction, many people could do those moves with the proper form needed to protect their backs and necks.

As we moved into the upper body portions, I started to feel a bitt better.  Still moving at a fast pace, these moves were a lot less complex and could be done at a quicker pace.  Its was nice to get my arms working this way – low weights and massive reps to burnout.  There is no way I would do that on my own and it was a nice change of pace from my usual lifting sessions.

We approached the bar to start working on the lower body.  Barre classes are famous for their “tuck”.  Basically a scoop under of the tailbone or a posterior pelvic tilt.  I could write another blog on why I don’t love the “tuck”, but we will leave it for another day.  For me, it really boils down to the fact that we don’t walk around all day with a “tuck”, so why would I want to strengthen myself into a non-functional position?  I understand it helps some people recruit their butts a bit more, but I just can’t get around it.  That being said, if you do the exercises without a tuck, listen closely to the cues the instructor is saying, and just keep yourself in a safe range of motion, the exercises really do burn your booty.  I was definitely feeling the sides of my butt (glute medius) and my obliques.

There was one more round of core work at the same speedy pace before the class was over.  During this round, I did see a few ladies modifying some of the exercises and it was obvious they learned them from one of the instructors.  It was good to see that there were options to keep the exercises safer.   To go one step further, I would love to see Pure Barre offer an intro class to their clients and go through the moves with a bit more explanation on where to focus their attention and on proper form.


Cons: I am just not a barre fan.  It’s just not for me.  I am so particular about form.  The speed at which the barre class moves, it is impossible to do the exercises correctly and work the intended muscles.  Maybe, sometimes they are getting it right, but for the most part it is just too fast…and double leg raises on your back are not something to be doing quickly.  At that speed it is more likely to cause back pain then strengthen your core.  In all seriousness, if you have injuries or have had back or neck pain in the past, this is not the place for you.

Pros: The place is clean and friendly.  The instructor encouraged me by name at least 3 times during class and came over to adjust my position a few times.  She gave great instructions prior to class starting and checked in with me after class to see how I felt.  I could not imagine a more professional instructor.

Getting Started – High Intensity Interval Training

If you work out, know people who work out, or ever read anything on the internet about working out, you have probably heard of High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. I know, it sounds “Intense” for lack of a better word.  Sounds like something crazy bootcamp people would do, or a high school football team, or celebrities.  But I am here to tell you ANYONE can do HIIT and EVERYONE can benefit from it.

The basic application of HIIT is to push yourself into an uncomfortable range during your cardio exercises and then fully recover, and then repeat for a certain amount of time.  That’s it.  That’s the magic equation.

Of course if you really start to dive into it, there is research on heart zones and RPE’s, and on time on vs. time off, and which intervals are better for weight loss and which ones are better to build endurance.  There is so much info on HIIT, that it can be overwhelming and keep you from just trying it and reaping the benefits.  Read below for the great benefits of HIIT and some “starter” workouts to get you going and on your way.


  • You’ll Burn More Calories – Not only do you burn calories while you are performing your HIIT workout, but that burn will stay with you for up to 2 hours after your finish your workout.  That means you can do your workout, shower, and head to work and still be getting a high calorie burn.
  • Great for your Heart – Due to its high demand on your blood vessels, HIIT can increase the flexibility and the elasticity of your arteries and veins.
  • Adaptable – You can do an HIIT workout on the treadmill, during a hike, in the middle of a bike ride, in a pool, everywhere and any movement can be turned into an HIIT session.
  • Reduces Blood Sugar Levels – After just 2 weeks of HIIT, one study found that there was an increase of glucose metabolism in the muscles, bringing sugar levels back to normal.
  • Saves You Time – Because you are working harder, you don’t have to work for very long.  You can get most of the same benefits in 15 minutes of HIIT session that you can get in 1 hour of jogging according to a 2013 study.
  • More Weight Loss – According to one study of persons with Type 2 diabetes, HIIT training has a bigger affect on weight loss than steady cardio.
  • Increased VO2 max – This means your body can utilize oxygen better during intense exercise.  You will be able to work harder and harder, but it will start to feel easier.
  • Increased Endurance and Stamina – Just 1 minute of high intensity work can improve your endurance.  The benefits of your quick HIIT workout will carry over to your next big hike, bike ride, run.
  • Reduces Liver Fat – According to a 2015 study, HIIT can help reduce the fat surrounding your liver by up to 16% in just 12 weeks of training.

The bottom line is…If you are not doing HIIT…START.

Here are a 3 HIIT workouts for the beginner/intermediate athlete (and by athlete, I mean you, not Tom Brady).

Walker’s Delight Routine

  • 0-5 Minutes – Walk at Regular Pace.
  • 30 seconds High Intensity – Uphill walking, quicker pace, skipping, big arm swings, anything that gets you heart pumping really nice.
  • 1.5 minutes Low Intensity – Regular walking pace or slower, dynamic stretching, backwards walking.  Just don’t stop moving.
  • Repeat Step 2 and 3 for a minimum of 10 minutes or a maximum of 20 minutes.
  • Last 5 minutes – Walk slow or stop and stretch to cool down.

Rainy Day Treadmill Routine

  • 0-5 minutes – Warm up with brisk walking or slow jog.
  • 45 seconds High Intensity – Increase the incline or speed to get your heart pumping.
  • 2 minutes Low Intensity – Back to your brisk walking or slower jog.
  • Repeat Step 2 and 3 for 6 circuits.
  • Walk slow for the last 3-5 minutes.

New Runner Neighborhood Blitz

  • 0-5 minutes – Warm up by walking a 2×1 block circle around a neighborhood (2 block straightaway to a right turn to a 1 block straightaway to a right turn to another 2 blocks, followed by a right turn to  1 block to bring you back to the beginning of your circle.)
  • 5-10 minutes – Walk the 2 block straightaway, run the 1 block straightaway.
  • 10-15 minutes – Run the 2 block straightaway, walk the 1 block straightaway.
  • 15-16 minutes – walk
  • 16-18 minutes – run
  • 18 – 20 minutes – walk
  • End at 20 minutes or repeat steps 2 and 3 to make it a full 30-minute workout.

Apply to Intern with Brenna Backe

Brenna Backe is the Owner of Koa Fit Personal Training Studio in Boulder, CO and has been in the field of personal training and coaching for the last 20 years.   Koa Fit just celebrated 5 successful years in business and Brenna is looking for an intern. Brenna’s unique training method has helped hundreds of clients who struggle with chronic aches and pains or had simply “given up”, get back in shape. She helps her clients build strength, lose weight, develop better body awareness and coordination, while decreasing the wear and tear on their bodies.

The current fitness arena is filled with Cross Fits, bootcamps, and high intensity interval training. There is a need for a more balanced workout. Brenna has been creating this missing link in fitness for the past 9 years at her 2 studios (previously sold her first studio, Active Fitness Solutions in NJ) and has been so successful she is looking for someone to train with her and help her at her studio.

If you are looking to develop a more specific and targeted form of training, Brenna would be interested in hearing from you.   She is looking for someone to start as an intern and then move into a personal trainer role at Koa Fit. Internship benefits are listed below.

This is the pilot of Brenna’s internship program. Due to that, she is not charging. Instead, she is exchanging 2 hours per week of admin/gym time at Koa Fit for the 8 weeks during the internship program.

Internship Includes:

  • Education Material
  • Assessment Tools and Guidelines
  • Exercise Protocols for special populations from Elite Athletes to Older Adults
  • One-on-One Trainings with Brenna
  • Opportunity to Shadow Brenna with Clients
  • Opportunity to take on paid training sessions

For more information or to apply, please fill out the information below.

Application Deadline is January 31, 2018