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.
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.