Crash Course: Pure Barre is a national franchise of studios dedicated to a full-body, no-impact, ballet-inspired workout. Each 55-minute class will target arms, abs, thighs, butt, and hips with moves that are sure to make you shake. Literally. Muscle fatigue to the point of shaking is all part of the magic, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t keep your legs from quaking in the first class. Expect fun music, upbeat instructors, and sore muscles the next day. This isn’t a cardio heavy class and you probably won’t sweat buckets – perfect for sneaking in a few plies during your lunch break. Visit the Pure Barre DC website for a full schedule of classes.
where: 2130 P Street NW/Dupont Circle
bring: grip socks, water bottle
perks: metro friendly
sweat score: 6 out of 10
wear: must wear barre socks
cost: $25 drop in
Pure Barre opened its doors in Dupont Circle last April, making it the seventh barre studio in DC. Their signature 55-minute class has been such a rocking success that another location is popping up on Barracks Row next month. After completing my “DC barre crawl” in December 2012, I knew it was only a matter of time before another barre brand came into my life. DC loves the ballet-inspired workout and current studios are packed solid. So when the ladies at Pure Barre reached out to me about coming to crash their studio, I dusted off my grippy socks (they’re required, you know!) and gracefully sashayed as fast as I could to their front door.
The strip of stores along P Street where Pure Barre is located is really nothing to write home about aesthetically. It’s gray, monotonous, and all of the stores sit hidden from view just below ground level. As soon as you walk in the door, however, everything changes. The reception area is bright and cheerful, with gleaming wood floors and bright red accents popping along steel-grey walls.
There are two changing rooms and a well-appointed bathroom just past the front reception area. The studio also has a boutique stocked to the brim with colorful Pure Barre apparel and other workout gear. The entire space is fun and cheery, which helps when you show up for a 6:15 a.m. class in the dead of winter.
As a new student, I was warmly welcomed and given an overview of the techniques used during class. This was especially helpful to do before things got started in the studio and I appreciated the opportunity to ask questions and dust-off my tucking skills. Before I knew it, the music started cranking and it was time to get moving. I took of my shoes, donned the required sticky-bottomed barre socks, and hopped into the plushly-carpeted studio.
Our instructor Annie was the perfect combination of upbeat and authoritative. She had very clear cues, worked the room like a pro to help with adjustments, and her playlist was pretty darn solid. I’m not typically a fan of Britney Spears before noon, but somehow, when your right quad is burning and you’ve got eight more reps, it works.
We moved seamlessly from the floor to the barre, working on all those tiny muscles that somehow get forgotten in other workouts. I was shaking within minutes. It started in my abs and then radiated out into my arms and legs as we transitioned through each segment. While I know this is all part of the plan, it still makes me laugh when I look in the mirror and see my entire body spastically quaking from a few tiny squats.
And then, there is the ball. It looks like a tiny little dodgeball from your childhood playground. And there were moments I wished I was being hit with them instead of squeezing them between my thighs, because let me tell you folks, the struggle is real. Something about having to constantly put pressure on the ball made my entire body work – as if the moves weren’t challenging enough on their own. I mean, I loved that it kicked things up a notch. But I was unprepared for how sore it would make me the next day.
Mercifully, we also had resistance bands to use for stretching after each segment. I think I let out an audible sigh of relief at one point. Annie turned down the music, lowered her voice, and we all took a minute to refocus and stretch out our screaming muscles.
The class ended with a series of ab exercises that included tiny little movements.No sweeping sit ups here. Like the rest of class, everything was extremely targeted for a surgical strike to those hard-to-reach areas. In my opinion, the hardest one involved pressing on the ball with one hand while doing micro oblique crunches. Yep, definitely going to feel that one in a few hours.
Then Annie turned the lights off and pumped up the music. Wait – what’s going on here? Just as I thought we were finished, things heated back up with a round of bridge pulses. Let’s just say, I was so very thankful the lights were off and we could all get to work without worrying about what we looked like. I’ve done this move in other studios and, while effective, it’s just not the most flattering. So thank you, Pure Barre, for letting us work it with the lights off.
After a final round of stretching, the lights came back on and the class was over. We cleaned and put away our equipment, and I was out the door by 7:20. While I wasn’t a sweaty mess like I am after most workouts, I knew my body had been through the wringer and would be sore in weird places the next day. As a runner, barre always targets those areas in my glutes and thighs that somehow get forgotten on the road. This is great for injury prevention and strengthening problem areas, but not the best news for my soreness level.