“Find a workout I love” were the exact words I scribbled down in my planner in early January 2022. While I’m not big into New Year’s Resolutions, I am into goals and checklists and this felt like a big one to check off.
Going into 2022, I had taken a little break from any kind of workout really other than walking. I was experiencing Covid Long-Hauler symptoms and grieving the loss of a parent; the combination of those two things made me absolutely dread any sort of rigorous (or otherwise) workout.
The process wasn’t pretty. Trying something new, especially as an adult, isn’t always the magical experience it’s made out to be. Mark my words, it’s very easy to feel a bit silly when you’re in the back of a high-intensity workout class, music blaring, arms flailing, with absolutely no idea what is coming next. After a few Apple Watch alerts that my heart rate was too high in these situations (thanks, Long-Hauler symptoms!), I decided to look for a more low-impact, but still impactful, workout.
“What about Pure Barre?” was the next thought to pop into my head. Eh. Growing up a ballet dancer, people used to ask me all the time if I enjoyed barre classes. I did not. While I had never done Pure Barre specifically, I had dabbled in other barre classes before and truthfully hated it. The positions are just different enough from traditional ballet techniques to really mess with my brain. But knowing that I had never given Pure Barre a chance, and on a whim, I booked myself into a 6 AM Classic class. No turning back.
When my alarm went off the at 5:15 on a very dark and chilly morning last February, I quickly changed into the attire I had laid out the night before and grabbed a pair of sticky socks that I remembered are required for these types of classes. I drove in the dark just two exits up I-95 to Pure Barre Darien. I remember thinking to myself “I really hope this is it” as I was growing tired of feeling like Goldilocks trying to find the one that was just right.
I was greeted with a smile (yes, even at 5:50 in the morning!) by the instructor, Emily, who knew it was my first class at the studio. She gave me a quick tour and asked if I had ever taken barre before. She gave me the Pure Barre run-down, which I was much appreciative of, especially after previous experiences of going into classes completely blind, not knowing what to expect.
As I walked into the studio, I was glad to hear upbeat music. I figured even if I don’t like this workout, the music is good. The class started out with leg raises while pulling down the arms to get the heart rate going and for anyone who takes the 6am class, wake up. From there: a series of ab exercises, the token 90-second plank, and weighted arm exercises. And that’s just the warm-up before the three main sprints of the class: thigh, seat, and core. Each sprint portion of the class has three exercises to target that area. For example, during seat work, participants do three exercises that target the seat before moving to the next area.
The last portion of the 50-minute Classic class is a series of tucks done on the mat on the floor. The lights were off and the music is bumping. Our instructor, Emily, encourages us to finish strong, “our best and final” and counted out “1…2..3…” all the way to 10. We ended with a guided stretch and while my muscles were totally spent, I felt… good? This was an unfamiliar feeling as the other classes I had tried left me feeling confused and slightly disappointed.
Intrigued, but cautious, I booked myself into the 6 am the next day. Did I just like the teacher, I thought, thinking this was too good to be true. But I showed up again, at 5:50 am the next morning to meet Lea who was equally as lovely and throughout the class, helped me with a few modifications to make sure all the exercises really worked for me.
That was all it took. Two classes in and I thought, “OK, I’ll really give this a go.” It’s not in my nature to take things slow so I immediately signed up for the March Madness challenge, twenty classes in thirty-one days. I figured by the end of the challenge, I’d know if I really liked it or not.
March came and went and by the end of the month, I ended up with twenty-one Pure Barre classes to my name. A sure indicator that I really do love it. On the last day of March, I noticed a fellow barre classmate signing a shiny, silver barre known as the platinum barre. The platinum barre is reserved for members who attend 15 classes a month for one year. Which brings me to now, January 2023. Next month, I will achieve platinum barre status, which is 180 classes over the span of twelve months all because I tried something new to find a workout I love.
Throughout the past months, I’ve been able to take advantage of all four workouts: Foundations, Classic, Reform, and Empower so I never get bored of doing the same thing over and over.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention the warm sense of community within the walls of Pure Barre. From the studio staff, to the instructors, to my fellow barre members, I have been embraced, encouraged, and empowered by each and every one of them. While I hoped to find a workout I could love, I never expected to find such a welcoming space to strengthen my mind and body.
If you’ve thought about signing up for a class, I hope you’re inspired to take the leap; it just might be the workout you love, too.