Don’t Be Fooled, This Ain’t No Ballet Class

It’s Saturday morning. 8:30am. There are no less than 20 women, impeccably dressed in chic workout clothes relaxing on the floor surrounding me.

The clothing choices are by design. Tight, form fitted leggings and tops are recommended so that the instructor can more easily correct your form.

You can also self-correct using the floor to ceiling mirrors on two of the four walls during the workout.

I’ve never seen so many lycra racerback tank tops and capris in one room before. I start thinking about how I should expand my workout wardrobe (all t-shirts) to include one.

The instructor introduces herself to me, after the front desk receptionist checks me in and discovers that this will be my first ever Pure Barre class. To be honest, at this point, I don’t even know what I don’t know about Pure Barre. I’m about to have my mind blown…and my butt handed to me in the next 60 minutes.

To be honest, at this point, I don’t even know what I don’t know about Pure Barre. I’m about to have my mind blown…

Two words I will hear repeatedly in the class are pulse and tuck. More on that in a bit. The entire workout is based on small muscle movements.

There is a prescriptive formula to the workouts. They always start with some stretching, then upper body exercises, lower body exercises, ab work and a cool down. I know that because I watched the latest Pure Barre video for newbies like myself.

Class moves FAST. There was no scheduled break time to ‘grab a sip of water.’ You’re on your own to keep yourself hydrated.

Muscle movements are small. Again, by design. The philosophy behind the Pure Barre workout is that small muscle movements – an inch is all you need – builds strength.

The instructor moves you from the floor to the bar and back to the floor, all the while taking care to make sure the equipment you need for the next segment is ready and waiting for you.

With the help of the front desk receptionist, who occasionally would assist in the replacement and removal of equipment between our bar and floor exercises, the entire workout was a choreographed masterpiece and an incredibly efficient use of space.

The lights were on and the music was fast paced and upbeat. The studio I worked out in had two large mirrors to watch your form in and steal glances at other people when you forget what exercise you are supposed to be doing. It’s also wise to continually check out other people’s form, not to compare who is better, but as in a check to see if you’re doing it right.

Sometimes what you hear the instructor say is not what they are actually asking you to do. I find the regulars in group classes are the best guide to correcting and catching up…because there is nothing worse than falling behind and working one muscle on one side of your body to the point of failure without getting an equal workout on the other side. Or maybe that’s just me?

If you need any indication if I’ll take another Pure Barre class, here was my conversation with a customer service representative shortly after class:


CSR: Yes, I can help you take care of that. While I’m working on that, how is your day going?

Me: Have you ever heard of Pure Barre?

CSR: No, I haven’t.

Me: It’s this super intense workout where you do small muscle movements. It’s a total body workout. 60 minutes. It kicked my butt this morning. I’d never done it before, but it was so much fun.

CSR: Tell me what the name of it was again? I’m going to write this down.


The workout was so intense that I booked myself a massage for the next morning because I knew my muscles were going to need to be worked on.

Pure Barre lingo and equipment

The equipment you’ll need for class is all provided for you with the cost of admission:

  • Red ball
  • Exercise mat
  • Double resistance bands/tubing
  • Light weights (2 lbs and 3 lbs are good for newbies)

The only piece of gear/clothing item that is not inclusive in the class are sticky socks. I had no idea what sticky socks were and had to look it up. They are socks with traction on the soles of the feet. (Scroll down to see an image of them on the video thumbnail.)

Words you’ll hear a lot:

Pulse: Tiny movements. An inch down and an inch up. Literally. Over and over and over….

Tuck: A small hip movement where you keep your back straight and gently roll your hips under, as though you were folding them up. If you feel like your abs are gently assisting with this slight, vertically executed crunch up and in, you’re doing it right. Click here for more details…

For a more detailed video explanation of what to expect during your first Pure Barre class check out the clip below. It shows examples of sticky socks (visible in the cover image below), equipment used and how to perform a tuck.

Pure Barre recently released a newer version of the above video, so I’m including that one as well. It’s just under 3 minutes, in case you’re short on time.

Interested in trying Pure Barre? Got questions? Hit me up on my contact form.