The first time I went to a Pure Barre class, I was a young 20-something teacher in fairly good shape. I worked out, I walked around my school and classroom all day amassing thousands of steps, and I ate decently. Maintaining my weight was still easy (oh, how I long for those days) and I didn’t have any serious health issues yet. Being fairly athletic, I had tried all sorts of exercises and sports over the years and always could hold my own.
So, imagine my surprise when I went to a Pure Barre class and it kicked my ass. Luckily, my embarrassment was shrouded in the dark environment and the loud music hid my groans and load breathing as those ballet inspired barre moves made my legs shake and burn like nothing else will.
Now, many (many, many) years later, I am older, definitely have some health issues, still work out regularly (hello Club Pilates), try to walk as many steps a day as I can, and Pure Barre still pushes my limits. The classes just use your muscle groups differently than other activities and workouts, making it difficult to really build strength with them unless you’re doing them regularly. However, doing them regularly, without rotating other types of workouts, presents other challenges. This begs the question: are Pure Barre classes worth it?
Let’s talk more about what Pure Barre is, so you can decide if it’s worth it to you.
What is Pure Barre?
Pure Barre classes are a full-body, low impact, high intensity workout that combines moves from ballet, pilates, yoga and some basic strength training with low weights. Classes might also incorporate bands, exercises balls, and other equipment that is available there for you to use. Movements are slow, controlled, and sometimes done in a small range of motion to really isolate and target certain areas, such as the glutes.
What do you need to bring or wear to Pure Barre classes?
- Stretchy leggings. When dressing for a PB class, you want to make sure you have a full range of motion. Not all workout leggings are created equal, in fact, the ones designed for running will be difficult to do barre or pilates in. You want a really stretchy, breathable legging that is going to allow you to have maximum movement, without restricting anything. I also find that leggings that have zippers for keys or other items (such as you might need if running) can be uncomfortable in these classes when you have to do certain moves or lay down on your back. So, go for as simple a design as possible. These leggings are so soft and stretchy and have been called a Lululemon dupe.
- Sticky socks. If you don’t have a pair, they offer them at the studio and the Pure Barre branded ones are really good and well made. Or, you can buy them for cheaper on Amazon. I’ve bought this affordable pack of grippy socks multiple times.
- Water bottle. An obvious one, but I’ve seen people come to class expecting water to be given to them. So, some places might have water for you. BYOB of water here. I really love this brand of tumblers.
- Hand towel. May or may not be necessary. I don’t sweat a ton in these classes, because they are low impact, but you might. Prepare however it makes you feel most comfortable.
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How is Pure Barre compared to Pilates?
While there are similarities and cross over between these two types of classes, there are some key differences. Since I’ve been doing both for many years, I feel like the main difference is that you perform most of the exercises in Pure Barre standing up and your body weight factors in to the difficulty of the workout, whereas in pilates, you are laying or sitting on a reformer machine and doing the exercises with less gravity. This allows you to isolate the muscle group and really focus in, but it also means that you get a more full body workout with Pure Barre.
I find that I can do pilates more days per week, because it is less intense for me and the recovery time is short. Pure Barre does make me work harder and the soreness/recovery time takes longer.
Some of the similarities between Pure Barre and Club Pilates is the nature of the moves. They are designed to be performed slower, working with your breath, like you would with ballet or yoga movements. Slow and controlled is the goal. You use lighter weights in larger movements than typical strength training and you use full body engagement a lot more than you might in more isolated weight training exercises. They both strengthen and tone the body by lengthening the muscles, giving your body a longer and leaner experience over time. I’ve actually grown an inch since starting pilates years ago, because it has lengthened my body a bit.
Is Pure Barre good for weight loss?
Ah, the million dollar question! Here’s the thing I have noticed about both Pure Barre and Pilates. They are incredible for strengthening, toning, building core strength, helping with rotation and flexibility and overall well-being and health. They will not help you lose weight as quickly as workouts like rowing, cycling or high intensity exercises classes. But, remember that weight loss happens most in the kitchen and not the gym. You can eat your way out of any workout that you do. So, it’s a choice, really. You can work out less intensely, with less strain on the body, and see results, if you can eat clean and have more control over your diet. Or, you can work out a lot harder and have more freedom with your diet. Or, once you reach my age, your metabolism has left the building and you have to do both. That’s when life gets really fun 🙂
How much is Pure Barre?
Depending on which club you live near, the membership fees are going to be similar in price to a place like Club Pilates, which is about $20 a class. Pure Barre does offer good deals and reduced rate for new members. I’ve also seen blocks of classes on sites like Groupon for great deals. If you fall in love with the workout and want to do that all the time, you can save money by going with the unlimited membership and go as often as you like.
The unlimited membership without any coupons or deals is usually around $200 a month. This is going to be your best deal. Otherwise, a 20 class pack is around $340. 15 classes is around $270. 10 classes is around $190. 5 classes is around $100. 1 class is $22. Your first class is free.
You can also try out the workouts through one of their DVDs. You can use the back of a couch or chair as your barre and get a sense for the workouts before investing in a membership.
Is Pure Barre good for beginners?
I definitely think you’ll get a good workout from Pure Barre if you’re a beginner, but you may need to take some breaks and modify some exercises until you build strength. Because it’s a unique workout, it’ll take awhile to build up your strength unless you are going 2-3x a week. It makes for a great compliment to your workout regimen if you do other things or you can do PB exclusively and gain proficiency faster. Plus, you can choose which type of class you take, which might also help your body adjust to the new workout.
The 4 Types of Pure Barre classes:
If you’re looking at that schedule and wondering what the difference between those 4 type of Pure Barre classes is, let’s break it down:
- Pure Barre Classic: This is the original class that they say is the fastest, most effective full-body workout. For 50 minutes, you will be guided through a series of low-impact, small movements designed to improve your flexibility while strengthening and toning your entire body.
- Pure Barre Align: Align combines the strength-building barre technique with a unique emphasis on flexibility and balance training for a full body workout. In 50 minutes, you will focus on various flows of stretching to increase your joint mobility, while building muscular strength and stability.
- Pure Barre Empower: Empower is a fusion workout and high-intensity interval training designed to elevate your heart rate, build strength, and increase your metabolism. For 45 minutes, you’ll use dynamic movements with ankle weights and a plyometric platform to target different muscle groups simultaneously. This class is the most difficult, in my opinion.
- Pure Barre Reform: Reform targets and reshapes all your major muscle groups through resistance-based strength training. This 50‐minute full-body workout blends resistance-based movements using resistance bands, sliders, and the barre to build your strength, coordination, and balance. This one is also difficult if you’re not used to resistance training (light weights, bands, etc.).
While some certainly burn more than others, I don’t think there is a tremendous difference in the class or levels. Starting with the classic and align classes will give your body time to adapt, but if a certain class fits your schedule best, go for it. Plus, the teacher also makes a big difference in how difficult the workout is. All classes include stretching at the end and it is one of the best stretching routines ever. I love the way Pure Barre cools down the body and the instructor often comes around and helps deepen your stretches.
Is Pure Barre good if you have an autoimmune disease?
I’ve talked a lot about how transformative pilates has been for me with my chronic pain from two autoimmune diseases. For where my chronic pain usually likes to hang out, I find Pure Barre more difficult to do multiple times a week, so it’s something that I do less often than pilates. A lot of the movements are done up on the balls of your feet, which also takes a toll on my feet. However, I really enjoy the classes and like to go, it’s just not something I can do every day. Your chronic pain is unique to you, so I say try it if you’re interested. Any movement is better than no movement and modifications still strengthen the body.
Is Pure Barre Worth the Price?
My opinion: yes, it is. They are fun, engaging, high intensity workouts that tone and strengthen my body in a way that other workouts, even similar ones, do not. I don’t have the stamina to do them more than a few times a month but I do enjoy them when I get a chance to go. I’ve known people who have the unlimited memberships and their enviable physiques are proof of what the workout can do for your physical fitness. Check it out if you’re interested and see if it’s a good fit for your body and fitness goals.
About Pure Barre:
If you’re interested in knowing more about Pure Barre, as a business, here’s a little background. With more than 300 studios, Pure Barre is the largest, most established barre franchise in North America. They utilize a unique franchise business model which has supported many barre enthusiasts in pursuing their dreams of owning their own fitness studio. Pure Barre also offers an extensive series of at-home DVDs as well as exercise equipment and apparel. Visit www.purebarre.com to learn more.
Have you tried Pure Barre? What did you think? For my review on Club Pilates, check out this post. Or, to read about my favorite at-home workout programs that I used during shutdowns, head to this post.
Or, if you want a full-body workout that is even more cardio, check out my recent review on Row House rowing workout classes here.
Have a fabulous day,