Many of my friends (especially those poor souls whom I’ve dragged along with me) know that I have an odd fascination and addiction to Pure Barre, this insane workout that basically combines Pilates, aerobics, stretching, ballet barre work and weights. Two winters ago in India, my Ashtanga teacher basically told me that I was “weak” and he suggested (something he rarely does for most students) that I look outside of Ashtanga for that strength building work. I did, and it has really benefited my yoga practice.
I got hooked on Pure Barre last summer when a new studio opened in Charlottesville and one of my friends was teaching there. They suck you in with the new client special price. At first I was going 3 or 4 times a week. Now I only go once or sometimes twice a week because more than that is just, well, too much for so many reasons (number one being its very high price).
Despite having taken a few breaks from the Barre, I can’t seem to stay away for long. There’s so much to love about it….and to hate.
Why I Hate Pure Barre:
1) The obnxious mainstream music. Although there is an occasional catchy remix of something fun, it’s mostly like nails on a chalkboard to my alternatively conditioned ears.
2) The unncessary repetition of said obnoxious music. If the song finishes before an exercise is complete, the teacher just hits “repeat.” Eeeek! It’s not as if these songs don’t all have the exact same beat. Mix it up ladies! I really do not need to hear J. Lo twice over!
3) How silly painful it can be. Seriously, all that itty bitty “up an inch, down an inch” plié stuff on my “highest-stiletto tippy toes” for 3 minutes straight – yowzers! It hurts!
4) Often I feel like the ugly duckling in the sorority. I fail to fit the uniform of PB enthusiasts. My spandex always has too much lint and hair on it and my ring finger is noticeably missing a massive shiny rock. Plus, I’m the only one there EVER with short hair, which reminds me why I quit ballet when I was in elementary school.
5) When instructors says things that make me cringe like, “Y’all worked hard today! Go ahead and have some fun with it!” while we are in bridge pose for three minutes, pelvic thrusting to techno dance tunes.
Why I Love Pure Barre:
1) I love its transparency. The point of Pure Barre is to lift your butt, tone your thighs and burn some serious calories. There’s no hoopla around spirtuality or mindfulness, other than the focus necessary to get the work done. It’s really not trying to be profound (unlike commercial yoga). You do Pure Barre because you want to look hot naked. The focus is on getting a kickass workout – that’s it. Boom.
2) It is not messing around. Pure Barre is hard and requires that you push yourself. There are some parts that you can sort-of cheat on, but mostly you are forced to be fully engaged muscularly from start to finish. By the end of many of the “sprints”, my legs are shaking uncontrollably. Each class I work my muscles to fatigue in a way that just Pilates or working out at the gym never did.
3) This sh*t has given me abs. Like serious “I work out” abs. I’m naturally small-boned and thin but I am not, and have never been a “hard body.” Despite my genetic predisposition to softness, Pure Barre has given me noticeable muscle definition, and I like it!
4) I like that it’s uber girly. I used to go occasionally to a gym but I always felt awkward and out-of-place. Sometimes I think I’m this Victorian woman who was accidentally born at the wrong time. Honestly, when I was a child and a pre-teen I went for years without ever wearing pants – I only felt like myself in skirts and dresses. So, I love the girl factor of Pure Barre. I like getting a hard workout without being surrounded by machines and jocks.
5) It has really made me strong. In this way, it has been beneficial for my Ashtanga practice. I’m so close to getting the jumpback now and the core strength and upper body work in Pure Barre has helped me progress in my yoga asanas. During my SI pain, the strengthening work in the core, lower back and glutes that Pure Barre provides really helped stabilize my pelvis and help me recover from my injury. Although sometimes my hips get a little tight from PB, it has overall been a great physical addition to my practice. I even think it’s made those elusive bandhas stronger too!
So, my dear readers…have you gotten onto the Barre crazy train yet? Do you love or hate it?