Feb 3, 2014

Pure Barre Love

PB Love 9


A little over 1.5 years ago, I walked into my first Pure Barre class at Pure Barre Atlanta and honestly had no idea how much it would affect so many different aspects of my life. At the time I had been logging a lot of running miles during the week (with zero strength exercises, I should add) because running was my only outlet for my stress. I was half way through my masters degree, working a full time job and had not learned the concept of saying no to opportunities or people. When I told a good friend that I was looking for another form of exercise to combine with my running so as not to just run my legs to death, she suggested I check out Pure Barre. I took the advice and taking that first class was one of the best decisions I made for not just my body but also my mind!

For those not familiar with the Pure Barre method, here’s a little info. It’s a 55 minute class that primarily uses your own body weight and isometric movements to target all of your “trouble” or just hard to find muscle groups. You start off with a warm up that gets your heart rate up and wakes up the abs. You then move into arms, which starts on the floor with push-ups and tricep dips and ends with arm conditioning standing up using light weights. I’ve never really focused on my arms and so during my first class, I finished my push-ups and tricep dips and was mentally patting myself on the back thinking that wasn’t too bad. That was until the instructor said to stand up so we could START arms! I no longer have that reaction! After arms, you move to the barre and do three thigh exercises that target both your inner and outer thighs. There’s a short stretch between thighs and then seat. Seat work consists of two combinations that can be either at the barre or in the center; either way your seat will be screaming by the end! The remainder of the class is focused on the abs and all of them! Deep, right, left, center, you name it, you’re going to work it. You finish class with one last blast to your seat (and hammies) and then a much needed and deserved stretch to help elongate all the muscles you just worked to the shaking and burning point. You can learn more about the technique on the Pure Barre website.

I went to a fine arts highschool where I danced about five hours a day for 6 years so I thought that this class might be a challenge but that I’d at least have a leg up. I lived at the ballet barre since I was five so how hard could this really be? Very hard! but in all the best ways! I remember being close to the end of my first class thinking how much easier running 5 miles would have been that morning! But in just a few classes I could already see results and feel the changes!

When in doubt I always turn to lists so I thought that would make for a nice way to further explain what exactly it is about Pure Barre that has me coming back again and again after 1.5 years.

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1. Pure Barre is the best strength training I’ve found to date. A few years back I discovered that I had compartment syndrome in both of my lower legs. This is where the pressure builds up in a muscle and the outer layer of your muscle does not allow it to expand. I had surgery in one leg and continuously work to maintain the other non-surgery leg. Physical therapy was a part of my routine for a while but that was not something I wanted to maintain just to run. Pure Barre has solved that problem for me and has helped condition my legs to the point where they are the strongest they have been in years! It has reminded me of muscles I haven’t used since my long dancing days and it has strengthened the ones I use and need most for running.

Photo Credit: Pure Barre

Photo Credit: Pure Barre

2. Pure Barre has increased my flexibility. I was never the most limber one in my dance classes (I swear the way some people stretch and maneuver their legs is just not human) but I had decent flexibility. Once I started replacing running shoes with pointe shoes I swear I lost all flexibility especially in my hips. Pure Barre has helped me open up my hips, which can help tremendously with my running stride, and it loosens up my hamstrings that can stay super tight after a couple days of hard runs. I’m returning to the days of the splits being just another stretch for my legs.

3. Pure Barre is low impact. This is the best thing to add to my workouts after pounding my muscles and joints for miles on a run. Pure Barre is a break for my joints in terms of pressure but gives my surrounding muscles the workout they need to keep me strong but not overworked. Low impact means you also get to use your own body weight and the moves are completely in your control. You decide how low to sit on relevé (tippy toes), how low to sink into your chair position in thigh work and how much deeper into the wall you want to pulse in water-ski position. Of course you want to push yourself to that burning point where your muscles are starting to shake, a true sign that change is happening. But, all of that is up to you and not some machine forcing you to reach limits you may not be ready for or giving you that bulky muscle look.

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Photo Credit: Pure Barre

4. Pure Barre doesn’t just strengthen your body but it also strengthens your mind. I can guarantee that there are going to be times during class that you just want to let go of that barre, come out of a position, stop “tucking” and “pulsing” and say NO WAY! But after a few classes you will start to notice that your mind will start giving you pep talks during those unbearable moments. You will close your eyes, take yourself somewhere else, and you will let your legs/seat/abs overcome those thoughts of “I Can’t” and after those final ten you will let out a huge breath, glad it’s over but more glad that you pushed through. This translates to so many other things that occur in your life that you think you can’t do but then you tap into that Pure Barre mentality and you remember how strong you really are!

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Photo Credit: Pure Barre

5. Pure Barre gives you 55 minutes to block everything else out. This is 55 minutes of YOU time. You leave all your stress, all your work, to-do lists, and worries at the door. The class has start to finish motivating, loud music but there is something about Pure Barre that allows you to clear your mind of everything and just focus on your workout. Not only does your body feel recharged after class but so does your mind!

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Photo Credit: Pure Barre

6. Pure Barre has helped me become a stronger and faster runner. The 90 second plank in warm up alone will strengthen your core but honestly, every exercise requires you to hold your abs, which helps with balance and makes for a strong core. You can feel it instantly in your runs. Strengthening my  legs with Pure Barre has made my runs easier and more enjoyable. I have less numbness (a result of compartment syndrome) in my lower legs and the strength has allowed me to increase my pace significantly. Since I started Pure Barre I dropped my pace by over 1.5 minute/mile.

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Photo Credit: Pure Barre

7. Pure Barre does Pure GIVE! Not only is Pure Barre giving to its own clients but they are an organization that believes in giving back to others in need. This past fall I completed the Savannah half marathon as a Team in Training member and raised a little over $1600 to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fight blood cancers. It’s an organization that is dear to my heart after the passing of my grandfather and Pure Barre Atlanta joined forces with me for a Pure Give class. They held a class that was donations only and 100% of the money collected went to my fundraising! This is something that all Pure Barres participate in and speaks to the company’s spirit and heart.

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Photo Credit: Pure Barre

8. Pure Barre NEVER gets easy. After 1.5 years, the instructors are still introducing new moves all the time and just when you think you are getting comfortable you are thrown for a loop with something new. You always hear about the plateau in exercising and Pure Barre prevents that from ever happening. I remember asking if the shaking would ever stop and I quickly learned that no it wouldn’t, but you also don’t ever want it to stop! It’s a sign that your body is being challenged but it’s also getting stronger! You will end class with a mixture of emotions. On the one hand your body is so tired but on the other you have this rush of endorphins and a sense of being re-energized and you’ll be thinking in your head, how can I fit in another class tomorrow!

Have you discovered Pure Barre and experienced the amazing results? Find a Pure Barre location near you, and give yourself the best gift by attending your first class! It’s worth every penny! For now, that’s Pure Barre Love…in the shell of a nut!


  • Hi! I have a question: how do you handle pure barre and running? I’m looking to incorporate pure barre into my running program (I run approximately 35-40 mpw) and am worried about overdoing it-I know everyone is different, but what has worked for you?


    • Hi Sarah! I’m running between 30-40 mpw as well and I try to stick to 3 pure barre classes a week. To do this requires some double workout days so I usually pair a pure barre class with an easy pace day and for me, it works best when I separate them. I’m a morning runner so I do my run in the morning and then a late afternoon/evening Pure Barre class, which gives my legs enough time to recover in between and get the most out of each workout. In between training for races, I do increase my Pure Barre days to 4-5 and it helps me keep up my strength while still giving my body some time to recover. Hope you love it as much as I do!!

  • Hi. Thanks for the information. For the past two years I have been dealing with compartment syndrome in both of my calves. Just when I got to the point where I could run 20 minutes with walking broken into it, my calves reinjure themselves. I’ve taken off months, cross train, PT, dry needling, massage, the works. Such a frustrating injury. I just went to my first Pure Barre class. It was very difficult. Were you injured before you started practicing Barre? Were you able to stand on your toes or did you modify by staying flat on your feet? Did you find that Barre classes helped you recover from compartment syndrome? I am trying to avoid surgery. Thanks you for any information.

    • Hey Liz! Glad you found this post helpful. I have spent about 6 years dealing with compartment syndrome so I totally understand the struggle! For me, I had surgery on one leg because the pressure was sky high. The other leg had a high pressure that they could do surgery on but I didn’t have the numbness so for about 5 years now I’ve just managed it. It has taken LOTS of patience and LOTS of strength training but it has all paid off. I started Pure Barre after my surgery and after knowing I needed to manage the non-surgery leg but I have found it very helpful. I am able to stand on my toes but to give full disclosure, I danced for 11 years and 6 of those were for 5+ hours a day so I think my legs might be a little more used to it than the average. Plus, I can totally feel the shake and burn when I’m on my flat feet rather than toes, so you can still benefit tons with modifications! And I ran my first marathon last year, a marathon I thought I’d never be able to do without surgery, and I credit lots of TLC and Pure Barre for getting me to the finish! Can’t say enough good things about it! Let me know if you have more questions!

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