The Pure Barre Experience
Wednesday, Apr 07,2010
Down on 18th Street in Homewood, taut legging-ed bodies trot in to a new workout studio. An hour later, they emerge smiling, maybe a little sweaty for the wear. The Pure Barre craze is taking over Birmingham, and owners Danielle Davis and Lindsay Lancaster couldn't be happier. "It's easy to back up something that works," Lindsay says. "The response from Birmingham has been insane." The nation-wide franchise's barre-based routine with ballet fundamentals welcomes all ages and backgrounds. The 18th street Homewood studio sees women and men from ages 14 to 74, triathalon experts to those just breaking into a workout habit.
Since something's in the water, I decide to give it a go. The challenge? For two weeks, I attend one PureBarre class a day, with 2 days of rest in the mix. Here's the play-by-play of my experience!
Day 1: Aight, I'm an ex-ballerina. Hair flip, hair flip--this shouldn't be too hard, right? Uh, wrong. One 55-minute class later, four muscle groups have quivered faster at speeds to rival a hummingbird's wings. This is better than ballet conditioning class! Lindsay tells me that small, isometric movements encourage muscle--"the smaller the better," she says.
Day 2: Not so sore I can't move, I throw on my leggings for another class. Pure Barre quickly lilts from workout to stretch to workout to stretch, but the fast paced rhythm isn't so foreign this time. I head it said that Pure Barre instructors should be able to teach in a cocktail dress, and class members should be able to take class blindfolded--so true. Pure Barre technique is mental as much as it is physical. I have to concentrate so dilligently, but that's my kind of workout: linking my mind to my body, a relic of ballet days.
Day 4: I come to adore the stretching periods with low lighting as much as the encouragement from the instructors. "Come on girls! The higher the toes, the thinner the thighs" is all they need to say. Sweat dancing on my determined brow, I'll raise you two inches. Done.
Day 6: Okay, I'll be the one to say it. The PureBarre mats smell awesome. Like, better-than-new-tires awesome.
Day 7: I flaunt my tightest pair of Joe's Jeans for the night and am awarded two--count 'em two--"Ash, your butt kinda looks good in those jeans" comments. I mean, as sorority sisters we throw out compliments like we trade nailpolish, but I blame Pure Barre. Minutes of sweat-inducing barre workouts, bridges, and miniscule contractions have their sculpting abilities, I see.
Day 8: Does anyone else adore the Pure Barre music? These instructors rival iTunes Genius as they flick through jam after jam before the song even breaks the top 10.
Day 10: Epic success: I smugly smile after the 90 second plank series--not once did my knees drop for a "breather." A later jaunt to the dressing room with bathing suits in hand has me smiling. Bring it, beach! The abs are back.
Day 12: Another momentous occasion passes as I move up a pound in weights. Pure Barre thrives on minute, tiny contractions and a mental connection, so even though the weights aren't super hefty, we're ready to literally chunk them down after the exhaustive arm series. That said, instructor Meredith Davis tells me to move up a level when I find myself not getting sore. I follow her advice and that new surge of lactic acid feels good.
Day 14: I'm hooked. I love this youthful, energetic crowd. I'm a sucker for the Pure Barre style of tight, chic workout attire. I enjoy quietly challenging myself while in a room with 25 other women. But most addictive is that healthy, I'll-just-have-water-please feeling after class. Well, that coupled with a sidelong glance in the closet mirror while pondering what to wear. Ballerina body, you may not be long-gone after all...