I heard about Pure Barre and immediately chalked it up to another fitness fad that would probably die off eventually. Plus it was super expensive… So what made barre classes different? What was all the hype about? I really wasn’t interested in finding out until I saw a girl in Target with like five kids, a Pure Barre tank top on and ripped arms… I did some simple math in my head (Pure Barre = ripped arms) and decided that I was going to give it a try. Here’s what I’ve learned;
Barre class is essentially a group fitness class that uses isometric movements to isolate and tone your muscles. It is based off of the workout routine portion of ballet, but you do not have to have any dance experience (or gracefulness for that matter). Most barre studio websites claim that you can be any age and in any shape to benefit from a barre class, however, I being in pretty good shape, really struggled at first.
But here’s why…
Barre class is different from any workout you’ve done.
When you think workout, you think compound movements like squats and movements like bicep curls. Both of which stretch, break down and tear your muscles so that they can be rebuilt in recovery (to ideally a larger size than before).
Barre uses isometric movements (small, one inch movements) that aren’t big enough to tear your muscles, but big enough to get them warmed up (burning, actually… a lot of burning). Think of yourself flexing your bicep and then relaxing and re-flexing your muscle. Almost like creating an imaginary resistance.
The idea of barre is not to build muscle necessarily, but to tone your muscle.
With that being said, in my opinion, barre is a great supplemental workout to your exercise routine but not a full-time gig if you are looking to build strength and muscle. I love the results that I’m already seeing from barre class, but they are different from the results that I get from the gym.
If you are looking to just tone the muscles that you already have and have fun while doing it, then barre may be a perfect exercise outlet for you. But if you have worked hard for the muscle mass that you have or are currently trying to get there, barre may not be the best full time outlet to maintain/build muscle mass. Barre is also not a great form of cardio… It is not like Zumba or a dance class. While you are moving to up beat music, you are focusing more on tiny movements than ones that get your heart pumping.
Barre will however…
Help to build your endurance and improve your flexibility. You are holding isolated movements for long periods of time while fatiguing your muscles in a different way, so it definitely increases your endurance. You are also stretching and performing movements that you are more than likely not used to doing, so you will definitely improve your flexibility.
How to prepare for your first class:
You’ll need to bring yourself wearing yoga pants, a lose tank top and grippy socks (you can purchase them at the studio for about $18). The grips on the socks help you to stick to the carpet while performing some of the movements. You should also bring water.
You should arrive about 15 minutes early to get everything you need and to get a good spot. The receptionist will show you around and tell you a little bit about what you can expect. They will also help you to get a band, a ball and weights.
Pure Barre offers your first week of unlimited classes for free, so definitely take advantage of that to give it a try!