This is the story of How I Went to a Pure Barre Class and Lived to Tell the Tale. I am not athletic. Read more to find out about my first Pure Barre class.
Let me preface this by saying I am 100% not athletic (I think the last time I went to the gym was probably about a year ago for a spin class – that dream died quickly), so when one of my friends had the idea of going to a Pure Barre class, I went through a mental War of the Worlds. Half of me immediately shut the idea down, but the other half entertained it. I have severe FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, for the people in the back), and friends who sweat together stay together (or something along those lines).
Luckily for the health of my very stagnant body, my FOMO-conscious side won. I signed up on the website for my 9:15AM class, which was $28 for a single session (on a SATURDAY! I got out of bed to be somewhere at 9:15 on a SATURDAY! Damn FOMO) and was on my merry way. I watched the helpful/slightly terrifying informational video they so nicely provided about what to expect, which consists of a woman with the most toned arms I’ve ever seen
telling me exactly how I’m going to die explaining what the class entails.
Ok, before I get too ahead of myself and force myself to relive this experience that I’ve so conveniently tried to mentally clamp down, I should probably explain what Pure Barre is. And by explain I mean copy and paste exactly from the website.
According to the “Technique” page on the website (because I don’t think I could explain this as well myself):
In just 55 minutes you will achieve a full-body workout concentrating on the areas women struggle with the most: hips, thighs, seat, abdominals and arms. The Pure Barre technique is low-impact, protecting your joints by avoiding any bouncing or jumping. Each strength section of the workout is followed by a stretching section in order to create long, lean muscles without bulk. The technique works to defy gravity by tapering everything in and lifting it up!
The concentration involved while taking Pure Barre allows you to block “life” out for the hour, creating the mental benefits similarly obtained by the practice of yoga or meditation. A transformed body and a clear head in just one hour—it doesn’t get much better than this.
(Personally, I don’t struggle with my hips, thighs, seat, abdominals and arms, I just struggle. Period.)
Anywho, after watching the video, I read more about what to wear in the class. No shorts are allowed in class – only pants or leggings, along with a top that covers the midriff. The key here apparently is to sweat (I was already sweating just thinking about it). They also say to wear some mystical things called sticky socks (more on this later). Luckily, there’s a section that asks “What if I’m not a teeny tiny ballerina?” (because we were all thinking it), where they gently assure me that no dancing experience is required and as long as I can hold a barre, I can do pure barre. Oh, and for all my male readers – you can totally take this class (if you can handle it).
Luckily, I own all these things, because once upon a time I entertained certain fantasies about getting in shape. And I frequently wear leggings as pants. Now that I’m all informed, I am ready to go!
Saturday morning comes along. I am grouchy and groggy, but get myself out of bed nonetheless. I had to slap my wandering hand, which was reaching for a lipstick, because that wasn’t the look we were going for today. Category is: athletic eleganza.
In my outfit inspired by our Lord and Savior Kanye West (RIP Taylor), I was ready to take the world by storm. But first: breakfast. I figured I had to give my body a fighting chance against passing out in class, so I had some oatmeal because I’m “the healthy bitch” (theme of the day).
We arrived to the class at around 9:00AM – they tell you on the site to be there 10-15 minutes early to check in. We pulled into the lot next to a car with a Pure Barre sticker on it. I immediately felt threatened. Who were these moms using their Saturday to take a breather from the stress of weekly carpools, toting Cindy, Johnny, and McKaeayllynnee around from soccer practice to swim lessons? Would they judge me because I only have regular friends and not “Barre Class Friends” or a mayonnaise casserole recipe memorized and ready to share with the other moms in the class? I don’t even know how to spell mayonnaise!!! (thank you spellcheck)
Despite my inability to spell mayonnaise, we continued to make our way to the front of the studio. But not before taking a parking lot selfie.
When we walked into the studio, I felt like I had just stepped foot into a Lululemon – not sure if this is a bad or a good thing. It was clean, there were some “trendy” workout clothes on a rack to our right, and a front desk to check in at. We were greeted by a very nice woman who gave us some forms to sign with our contact information and an emergency contact (i.e. who to call to ask what to do with my body) and all that jazz, and then we were showed to a room surrounded by cubbies to keep our stuff. It felt like preschool, but more adult. Like some adult classy preschool.
Similar to my Visa experience, I was forced to part with my phone. Like an obedient student, I left my phone in the cubby with my bag and shoes, with the only physical object I had left to maintain some kind of grip on the ever-receding edges of reality being a gold waterbottle with “HOE” engraved on it. Those are not my initials.
After relieving ourselves of material possessions, we met our instructor, who introduced herself and told us what to expect. She was super personable and made me feel surprisingly comfortable before leading us into the abyss, AKA the studio itself. It looked like a carpeted dance studio (no surprise here) with a long wooden barre running around the perimeter and two mirrored walls that reflected my fear just perfectly. We retrieved our supplies – a small ball, a resistance band, and two sets of weight, and found our spots by one of the barres.
One by one, the Barre Moms came into the room, snatched for the Gods in their Lulu, and I could tell Debra (disclaimer: not actually sure what her name was, but I thought Debra was a good guess) didn’t get those arms by stirring her famous boiled chicken, am I right?? But seriously. These moms were toned, and I briefly wondered if I, too, would look like that after one 55-minute session of this class.
Our instructor came in and started us off with some planks and I immediately felt the absence of the fabled Sticky Socks. I’m not great at planks in the first place, but I also had to contend with my Not Sticky Socks sliding back and forth on the carpet. Like the optimist I am, I looked on the bright side of things: this way, maybe would people think I was struggling because of my socks, not because of my Pooh Bear-shaped body.
After the Slip n’ Slide planking incident, we went into some more arm-centric things. This is my chance to get Debra Arms, I thought to myself. Now, before this whole shebang started, we were told we didn’t have to use any weights, and since I’m so tuned into my entire being, I chose to keep them tucked aside for now. Slow and steady wins the race.
Into the arm workouts, I started feeling more confident. I was vibing, I was pumped, and I was only in a moderate amount of pain. I decided to pick up my monstrous 2lb weights and start pumping iron like the beefcake I am. Unfortunately, I learned pretty quickly what happens when you count your eggs before they hatch. My arms were failing me. I silently dashed my weights away again; hubris was my downfall.
To be honest, the rest of a class was a blur after that. We did a bunch of ab work, and as a person who lacks abs, that was difficult for me. When it finally came time to work with the barre itself, I was pretty stoked with the kind of excitement you get when the title of the episode is said by one of the characters in the episode itself. Unfortunately, the barre exercises, like everything else in the class, weren’t easy.
The thing I struggled most with in this class (aside from, well, exercising) was my form. There was a lot of lingo they used that I wasn’t really familiar with, which made getting into form harder. I heard the word “tuck” so many times that I felt like I was in a RuPaul episode.
I tried looking around the room to see what everyone else was doing like the sheep I am, but it was difficult to gauge what the correct position was supposed to be with everyone at different angles. Then, deciding to turn to myself in my hour of need, I looked into the mirror, as if I could take my life into my own hands and fix it, but only confused myself more. I could see my two friends looking at each other in uncertainty as well. We were Three Kings with no star to guide us to our baby Jesus. I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one I have never asked to be apart of.
Not all was lost, though. At various points, the instructor physically fixed my form for me and explained what I should look like, which was nice, but when she kept moving me away from the barre, I felt a piece of me break. That barre was my rock; it kept me grounded in a world where I did not belong, and to be pushed away from it was emotionally overwhelming. Still, I kept my head in the game and my heart in the song, and finally turned the instructor’s reassurance of “You can do it!” into a “Good job!” I had won this battle, but the war was not yet over.
The barre workouts were brutal for me. I was shaking, rattling, and rolling, and I kept taking water breaks, not because I was thirsty, but so I had an excuse to take a break. I could feel judgy vibes from Debra across the way, but took pride in the fact that I wasn’t the one who had to take the dog to get a pedicure today.
All in all, even though I struggled, the class went by fast. When our instructor handed out sanitary wipes to clean off our mats (which she handed out during one of our other exercises), I was a little bit surprised. And kind of stoked. I take my mat sanitation seriously, so whoever gets my mat next is going to be in for the most sterile ride of their lives. Luckily, my lazy ass didn’t even have to bring my equipment back where I got it because a super enthusiastic woman – also with toned arms – told me she’d just take it and use it for herself.
We exited the studio and went back to the cubby room. I covered my Not Sticky Sock-ed feet with my shoes as one does and retrieved my phone, basking in the soothing blue light of the screen. After we said our thank yous and promised to return (*COUGH*), we stepped into the daylight, where the world was waiting.
So where am I now, you ask? Currently shoving potato chips in my mouth while simultaneously trying to preserve my liquid lipstick, as per usual. After a well-earned brunch and a glorious shower, I’m still the same girl with a dream (details TBD). I felt surprisingly good after the class – a little tired, but definitely wide-awake, which is saying a lot for the 4 hours of sleep I got the night before. A few hours later, I can feel the soreness start to seep in, and if I’m able to get out of bed tomorrow it’ll be a miracle.
Despite my trials and tribulations, I actually really enjoyed the class and would definitely voluntarily subject myself to the same torture again. I would 100% recommend it because it was probably one of the best workouts I’ve ever gotten in my life,
although that maybe isn’t saying much considering my sample size is so small. Even though I struggled as a beginner, the instructor was super helpful and did a great job of remembering everyone’s names and being sure to motivate us and give us words of encouragement. I may not get to go the 5-10 times they recommend going in order to see results, but I had fun (could you tell?) and at the end of the day, it was an Experience.
As a first-timer, I do have some tips that might benefit anybody who’s doing Pure Barre for the first time:
- Get a pair of Sticky Socks. They don’t have to be Pure Barre “brand,” but they’re definitely going to help when it comes to planking so you won’t keep sliding around like I did.
- Pace yourself. This seems obvious in a workout, but I definitely reached for the weights too quickly and killed my arms for the rest of the workout.
- Try your best. Another obvious point, but it helped. Even though I did bow out of some parts of the workout, if you keep trying, the instructor will help you if your form is wrong. I wish I tried harder for some of the workouts.
- Don’t be nervous. Jokes about Debra aside, I felt like it was a judgement-free zone and not everybody (even the people you could tell have been doing this for a long time) had 100% perfect form. The instructor basically had to correct every person in the room at one point in time, so you’re definitely not alone.
- Watch the video beforehand. Everything they showed was exactly how they said it would be.
- Read up on the lingo. As stated, my not knowing what a lot of the words meant was a challenge. I wish I treated this like a Vocab quiz and brushed up on my Barre Basics!
- When in doubt, go with a friend. I was lucky to have two friends with me (I’m so popular!!) to struggle with. It was nice being able to share a scared look in the mirror with them to break some of the stress of not being to put my leg in That Exact Position.
…and that completes my story of How I Went to a Pure Barre Class and Lived to Tell the Tale. As always, thanks for reading – has anybody else tried a Pure Barre class before? What are your tips?
Random Sidenote: I am LAUGHING because I created a Fitness category for this post so now I have a Fitness category on my blog… hahahahAHAHA! @Me: stop lying to yourself!!