On December 17, I signed up for 1 month of unlimited classes at Pure Barre Rockville. I had gone to barre classes there (and elsewhere in MoCo) for about 2 years — mostly with Class Pass and had gotten great work outs. If you’re not familiar with Pure Barre, from their website: Utilizing the ballet barre to perform small isometric movements set to fantastic music, Pure Barre is a total body workout that lifts your seat, tones your thighs, abs, and arms, and burns fat in record- breaking time.
As part of my #womanup plan in 2016, I want to make strength a hallmark of my training cycles — especially as I go for a big PR in the half marathon in the spring. Going into my unlimited month I wanted to do at least three classes a week and then assess my progress. I’m here to report that progress is major and I’m 10000000% obsessed with Pure Barre.
I like it mostly because I get to drink nuun, wear Oiselle spandex and leg warmers
In the first month I was at class 17 times which averages about 4 classes per week. Mostly because there was a challenge to do 15 classes in December to round out 2015. I knew I wasn’t going to hit the mark for December but I did like the extra push. Around this time, I started to follow the studio on Facebook and Instagram and found that there is a pretty lively and supportive community around the studio and the staff.
I love Pure Barre for a lot of reasons but my #1 is that the classes are predictable — once you know the sequence of the exercises you learn what to expect. So, while the exercises during each sequence are rarely the same I know that after the (really intense and difficult warm up) we’ll do arms, thighs, then seat, then abs, then bridge, then cool down. I like when I know what’s going on and what to expect.
My other observation after a month at the barre is that the method really does work to lift, tone and burn your body — especially if you go often. The PB website recommends 3 classes per week and after attending at least 4 for 4 weeks I can attest to the change in all areas of my body. A lot of them you can’t see but I’m definitely feeling: my arms are way stronger (I recently moved up in free weight during the warm up), my glutes (which I had trouble with in ’14) are tightening up in a good way and my core strength is bananas right now. All of this rolled together has made for a much stronger running LNRB. To whit: I ran the WDW Marathon less than 2 weeks ago with only running 12 miles as my longest run since Richmond almost two months before without major body fatigue and my recovery was about 5 days shorter than normal. I’m also seeing my mile times continue to creep down in the high to mid 9s per mile as my comfortable every day pace.
I also had the forethought to take before and after pics for the month so we can all see the progress together!
I’m also pretty stoked because I had just self-trimmed my bangs.
When I look at these pictures the standout improvement is definitely my core. As a runner, I’m over the moon with this improvement — it’s going to pay huge dividends as I get ready for the Pittsburgh half. the rest of the target areas: arms, back, legs, look pretty much the same to me, but that’s OK. After just a month I didn’t expect to really see any difference and honestly I need to cut down carbs and up protein if I want to see any visible tone. I wish cheese was a lean protein.
So, now I assume you want to run out and try Pure Barre. Obvs. Here’s what I want you to keep in mind:
- Practice makes perfect: Be ready to go a lot to see results. Heck, to be able to figure out what to do. Barre class movements are tiny, isometric exercises that are wildly different from any other strength training I’ve ever done. I’m also NOT very flexible or coordinated so it took me about 2 weeks to feel comfortable in class. But worry not, everyone else is flailing around, too. Don’t assume everyone there is a ex-prima ballerina, OK?
- Find a studio community that fits your vibe: I love my studio and the teachers there. They are all super kind, super fit, super pretty and super into helping everyone at all levels. I never ever feel intimated or weird there. It’s a very comfortable atmosphere. Make sure to try out studios in your area until you find the barre that’s right for you.
- Know when to stay in or get out of the pose: As with anything you have to know your limitations but you also know have to know when to push through. Being a runner really helps when some of the moves (like yesterday’s seat work — YIKES) are hard. I think to myself — “remember how you felt at mile 24? What’s worse? This or that? That? Right. Stay in it. Get stronger for the next mile 24” Sometimes the pose is harder and I stand up, shake it out and reset. And that’s OK. Knowing and testing limitations at the barre has really helped me mentally with running, too. Gritting out a hard track repeat is nothing after doing like 8,000 planks the day before in class.
- Get cute clothes: Man are barre clothes adorable. I’m literally living my ballerina dreams with cute tights, tank tops, and LEG WARMERS. Embrace the style. It makes you feel legit, strong and beautiful. Three of my fav things.
Have you tried barre? What do you think?