On a fortuitously mild-weathered December day, I drove my pregger self down to check out a new Pure Barre studio in NE Portland.
Upon entering the studio, who’s door is near the McMinneman’s entrance, I was promptly greeted from the front desk by Owen, husband of studio owner Stephanie Richen, and Liz Jones, our instructor. Both were very welcoming and personable; something I appreciate when checking out a new space. We talked about my experience with barre, how I would be enjoying my Sunday after class, and our mutual lack of parallel parking skills.
The space is bright and pretty, with a small retail area, changing room, a nice bathroom with a thoughtful supplies like extra hair ties and nice lotion, and of course the workout space. Outside the workout space there were cubbies with baskets for our shoes and things.
Before class started the instructor handed me a packet and reviewed the modifications I may need to accommodate my pregnant belly and to ensure a safe workout. I am making a point to strengthen my transverse abdominals and not overuse my rectus abdominis in order to prevent and avoid diastasis. The instructor seemed knowledgeable of the necessity of these modifications. Another thing that I appreciate. I have been to too many other classes that just advise me to do “what I can”, vs what I should — making me glad that I have my own physical fitness background to keep my body safe. I felt well taken care of here.
According to Fitness Magazine, “‘…barre-based classes use a combination of postures inspired by ballet and other disciplines like yoga and Pilates. The barre is used as a prop to balance while doing exercises that focus on isometric strength training (holding your body still while you contract a specific set of muscles) combined with high reps of small range-of-motion movements.’ Also, don’t be surprised if your class incorporates light handheld weights to bring the burn during all those reps, as well as mats for targeted core work.”
Class began with an easy warm up of knee lifts and light weighted arm movements to warm up our bodies. We then moved to the barre for leg work using a small red grippy ball — not unlike a tiny wallball. We placed it between our thighs and used it as resistance for inner thigh squeezes and general activation of the hips and thighs, and seat. We moved between the barre for seat-focused work (which I love), the floor for more seat/glutes. Then to the wall for some killer abs work (For the rest of the class. Unfortunately, pregnancy ab modifications are inherently boring, no matter where they’re done.) When we had completed all the exercises we moved back to the center to stretch out one last time.
Between each set of exercises we stretched the muscles we had just used. Ensuring that our muscles not only grew strong, but they stayed long and flexible.
I thoroughly enjoyed this class. It was challenging and intense but appropriate for any fitness level. The instructor was positive and upbeat and very helpful — cueing with words first, then gently adjusting with a gentle touch when necessary. I especially appreciated the assisted stretching at the end. I’m not flexible to begin with and stretching around a soccer ball can prove to be extra challenging.
I have been to most (if not all) of the barre-format classes available in Portland, and this one ranks towards the top for me. I will definitely come back for another class in the future. The moves were interesting and I that could tell that I wouldn’t get bored — and they were definitely focused and intense! I am told that all the moves change out every few months so you’re always getting something new and fresh. That is actually fairly unique among some barre classes.
Pure Barre is a barre-based class which uses small, isometric movements to highly target and tone specific areas. You will definitely feel the burn!
You will work everything from your toes to your shoulders and everything in between.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls…
Pure Barre is for men and women, though the classes tend to be mostly female.
This class is intense but very low impact. Let your instructor know if you have any injuries to work around.
You should wear pants, leggings or capris that you are comfortable in (no shorts) and a top that covers your midriff. You will also want to wear sticky socks to retain your body’s heat as well as prevent your feet from sliding (you’ll thank us later). You’ll want to remove your shoes and put on your socks before you walk through the studio (you’ll be lying down on the carpet during class, so this is just an effort to keep the floors as tidy as possible).
Get into it:
Here is a page of resources to get your ready for your first class.
Looking for a studio closer to you? Find a Pure Barre near you.