Pure Barre: A Detailed Account of What to Expect

I’m not really one for fitness crazes. Mostly because they’re expensive, and I figure between the elliptical and lifting cases of wine the occasional weight, I look decent enough to land a few dates and am healthy enough to keep my primary care physician satisfied. Shoot for the stars.

Inspiring body transformations referencing CrossFit, Pilates, Bikram Yoga, and the like have flooded my newsfeeds for years, always tempting me to give them a try, but I can never justify the couple hundred bucks a month. Plus I keep the full length mirror in my bedroom at a slight tilt so that I look roughly 5-10lbs skinnier than I actually am. Mind tricks are the best. Anyway, I never thought the day would come when I’d sign up for a particular fitness regimen, but lo and behold, that day was December 1, 2014! Thanks to a well-advertised holiday discount and disgust with my post-Thanksgiving Pillsbury Doughboy body, you’re looking at reading the blog of the newest member of the Pure Barre family. LTB, girls! [Lift, Tone, Burn. Just clarifying.]

Pure Barre aims to give women (or men, if you’re into it) long, lean dancer muscles. They use a ballet bar, among other things, to help you perform isometric movements aimed at fatiguing your muscles in a low-impact, high-results kind of way. The goal is to end up looking like Misty Copeland:

misty copeland

Shouldn’t be a problem.

So I signed up. Step one. The real test was attending my very first class. Let me tell you about it.

I walked into the small studio in the heart of Clarendon, the neighborhood in Arlington, VA where all good-looking, young professionals gather to eat, drink, and/or reside. Not much to my surprise, the lobby was full of teeny, toned girls in athletic leggings and racer back tops, casually stuffing their UGG boots into cubbies (the class is socks-only) before entering the workout room. Ignoring the voice in my head telling me to run far, far away, I told the girl behind the front desk that this was my first class. She had me sign a waiver and deposit my belongings and UGGs (I got one thing right!) in a cubby, then led me into the studio. She handed me exactly one little red bouncy ball, one resistance band, and two 2lb weights, then offered a few words of instruction and well-wishes before setting me free to find a seat on the floor among the Blake Lively and Audrina Patridge lookalikes. Fun!

The first three hours two minutes of class were a blur, but I think they involved a lot of miniature pelvic thrusts, leg lifts, and an Ellie Golding song. I was already sweating more than the time I made it three whole feet off the ground during rope climb in fourth grade, but the tiny blonde instructor wearing a backless top and perfectly-executed half up messy bun proceeded to announce that it was time for the “first real challenge of class.” Oh, this should be good. And then came the planks. I’m still not ready to talk about it.

Next, we were instructed to take the little red bouncy ball and put it between our upper thighs. That part, I actually really liked, primarily because scanning a room full of beautiful young women who each look like they just laid an oversized egg is top notch entertainment. I also pictured a guy accidentally walking into the room at that very moment and almost giggled out loud. The things women do for a respectable thigh gap.

My entertainment was short-lived, however, because soon we were lining the walls of the room at the ballet bars, on our tip toes with our legs bent and our butts squeezed. This looks as funny as it sounds and hurts even worse. It wasn’t long before I started shaking so uncontrollably that I undoubtedly made the girl behind me immensely uncomfortable. Would she definitely notice, you ask? Yes. We were one foot apart in a single file line, and as we squeezed our little butt cheeks together while making baby circles with our hips, I had nowhere to look besides at the derriere of the young lady directly in front of me. I never thought you could become numb to watching another person’s butt clench repeatedly, but somehow, it stopped feeling like a violation of her privacy after a minute or two. This is how I knew that the girl behind me had a front and center view of all things happening to my twitching, clenching, and shaking body. Sorry ‘bout that.

Then we got to stretch in the center of the room. Oh! It feels so good! Wait, why is it already over? That was literally two seconds. No, I don’t want to go back to the bar. Please? Fine, but only because I want my butt to look amazing.

Round two at the bar included something quite similar to this move:

PureBarre leg

Looks easy, right? Wrong. If you think my right leg was anywhere near straight or lifted even remotely close to the bar, you are wildly overestimating my core strength and flexibility. And the left leg pointed in front of me? You think that sucker was easily hovering an inch off the ground? Not happening. I looked around the room and saw one girl who resembled the above picture. You. You are the reason I don’t have a boyfriend.

I noticed that the instructor- we’ll call her Quinn because I like that name and she looked like a Quinn- dimmed the lights a notch lower every 15 minutes or so. I wasn’t sure about the point of that, but I was strongly in favor of anything that detracted from my shaking limbs. The darker the better. Like my men. HAH! I’m kidding you guys…or am I? [Sorry, I’m pretty hyped up on holiday chocolates right now.]

Back to regularly scheduled programming: Pure Barre. By the end of class, we were doing an ab workout in complete darkness. It was unconventional, freeing, and strangely motivating. I could make as many ridiculous faces as I wanted while crunching with my hands outstretched in front of me and my legs in a contorted V above me. Frankly, I would’ve been just fine if the whole class was done in pitch black, but Quinn didn’t pass around any suggestion cards as we filed back into the lobby to retrieve our UGGs.

As I made my way to Trader Joe’s, where I left my car because they validate my parking stub if I buy something (a $5 bottle of wine is a much better use of my money than $8 for random garage parking…my life doesn’t revolve around wine, I swear), I decided that despite the feeling that I’d never be able to walk normally again, I’m going to go three times a week for this entire month. Truth be told, I’m pretty excited to see the progress, because there’s really nowhere to go but up. And who knows? Maybe I’ll become friends with some of the hottie patotties in class! They all actually seemed super normal and nice. I even saw one other girl from class buying a bottle of wine at Trader Joe’s afterwards, so she has serious potential.

Between Pure Barre starting now and No Drink January right around the corner, I’m thinking this may be the best February bod I’ve ever had! Which is obviously a great month to have a rockin’ body. Since we’ll be completely bundled in jackets and all.

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