Jeremy Papasso / Colorado Daily
Jeremy Papasso / Colorado Daily
Jeremy Papasso / Colorado Daily
The Workout: Pure Barre, 1750 29th St., Boulder, 303-443-3054, purebarre.com/co-boulder
Instructor: Shalisa Pouw, of Denver, who co-owns the Boulder franchise with Mish Metz, of Denver. Both women have a background in dance and met dancing for the Denver Nuggets. They are both master teacher trainers in Pure Barre.
Pouw taught my class. She has been teaching Pure Barre since 2009 and opened Boulder’s studio December of 2010.
I reviewed a Pure Barre class shortly after they opened. Pouw reached out to me again recently, insisting enough had changed in the past three years that it was worth another visit. Unsure what to expect, I agreed.
In 2010, there were only 32 other Pure Barre studios nationwide. Today, there are more than 200, with nine in Colorado.
What is the workout? A fast-paced, energetic group exercise class that uses isometric, no-impact, small toning movements on and off a ballet barre to strengthen your full body. You burn out specific muscle groups (you’ll notice the trademark shaking) and follow it with stretching, to help you get long, lean muscles.
No dance background required. There is no dancing here.
What’s different? In the past few years, Pure Barre has incorporated new equipment with different moves — many of which strengthen different muscles at the same time. For example, instead of just raising on your toes and lowering your glutes toward the floor, in a sort of standing chair, my class did this same move, but away from the barre, holding on to stretchy tubing as our only stability.
To hold the pose, you must keep a specific tension on the tubing with your arms, deeply engage your core for balance and, at the same time, use your calves (because you’re on your toes) and upper thighs to support the chair posture.
I have done every barre class I’ve ever found in Boulder County, and none incorporated this much multi-muscular strengthening into each move. The result: If you do the moves properly, you get major bang for your buck, in terms of efficiency.
Pure Barre spends a lot more time off the barre, working your balance, than other ballet-inspired classes. It also seemed to have more core and abs work. We focused on our abs three different times.
Plus, Pouw calls the class musically driven. The music is loud and energetic — much louder than most group exercise classes, and it complements the exercises.
I was surprised by how many times the instructors corrected my legs from turning out (ballet-style) to being straight and my toes from pointing to flexing or relaxing. This is definitely not a traditional ballet class.
Cost: A one-time drop-in is $23 — yikes. But there’s hope: Go on Friday and new students can try any class for free. If you like it, the best deal is the new-client special: $100 for 30 days.
Tip: Although some of the Pure Barre packages are super pricey, if you sign up for auto-renew unlimited packages (like yearly for $160 per month) and attend class five times a week, you can get the price down to $8 per class.
Level: Instructors say all fitness levels, from beginner to advanced, because moves can be modified. Some participants use Pure Barre in conjunction with physical therapy after an injury, because it is no impact. You can also take the free, monthly “technique” classes: 75-minute, slower classes that break down the techniques to make the regular classes easier to follow.
But this class is so intense — an eight or nine on a 10-point scale. Every move brought me right up to my shaky edge, and just when I thought I was going to scream or give up, it was over and we were stretching and I was thinking, “Hmm, let’s do that again.”
I’ve often heard that Pure Barre is mostly for college students, but my class had participants ranging in age from 18 to their 60s, and men, too. You can do it when you’re pregnant. It seemed most participants were in their 30s.
When: Sign up in advance. My class had a seven-person wait, and that’s normal. Classes are capped at 25 participants. Check website for class schedule.
What to prepare: Wear long exercise pants or capris, a shirt that covers your stomach and socks, preferably grippy socks (you can buy some in the lobby). No shoes. Bring water. All equipment (tubing, balls, mats, light hand weights) provided.
Muscles worked: Full body with an emphasis on the areas that women struggle with: abs, hips, glutes, thighs and arms.
So. Much. Core. Just when I thought my abs were destroyed, we came back for more, two more times. The core exercises were extremely challenging — but did not have any potentially dangerous jerking or neck cranking. We used tension and bands to help ease into challenging poses, making those poses even harder — and safer.
What I loved: The longevity of barre-based classes; with no impact, you can do them for many years without risk of injury or joint pain. The loud music pushed me hard and helped me get out of my brain.
The studio was joyful and upbeat. It’s obvious the owners used to be professional cheerleaders because they know how to excite a crowd and create a full “production” experience, complete with lights, coordinating music and great pace. I felt welcomed and had a lot of fun.
What I didn’t like: One of my main concerns about Pure Barre in the past was how quickly the class moved, which could lead to the potential to injury. This class was still fast-paced, but it seemed slower than the previous class I attended.
Most important, although there was only one instructor in the front of the room, multiple instructors were in the class, offering corrections and help. With a class this big and exercises this challenging, I think Pure Barre should always have multiple instructors in each class. That is not standard (although Boulder’s team says it’s common here), but it would be beneficial for all Pure Barres to require.
How I felt after the class: This is one of those classes where you walk out and instantly feel sexy and confident and energized and strong. It’s not my fault it’s across the street from Anthropologie and I succumbed to riding further on that sexy train, right to the sale room where I bought multiple dresses. I just felt too good to spend any more time in sweat pants. Barre-ers, beware. This could happen to you, too.
Bottom line: Yes, Pure Barre has changed a lot since it first opened in Boulder, enough that it’s worth a second visit. The roots are the same — they guarantee you will see body improvements in 10 days — but they’ve fine-tuned their technique and added enough off-the-barre moves to almost warrant a name change — or at least a shift in what you think you know about Pure Barre.