I love my barre DVDs and still do them regularly, but it's great to go to live classes, as I mentioned in my last post. There's an energy to a class that's hard to replicate at home, and performing the exercises with good form is key. A few hands-on tweaks from a trained instructor can make all the difference. You really can't just wing it at the barre. Well, I suppose you could, but at best, you won't get much out of it. At worst, you'll hurt yourself.
So when I discovered I had not one, but two Pure Barre studios within an easy distance of my home, I knew I had to try it.
Pure Barre operates on a franchise system. There are over 160 PB studios throughout the United States, and they are all over the place. There are even two in Montana. This is incredible, because really, hardly anyone lives in Montana.
The other great thing about PB is they have studios in the suburbs. It's lovely to go downtown to Core Fusion, stroll through the Boston Public Garden and press my nose up against the glass of all the posh boutiques on Newbury Street, but it's hardly convenient. And as we all know, working out isn't exactly a one-and-done kind of thing. You need to do it consistently. There are all kinds of people just like me (and maybe, you!) out here in the 'burbs, and PB's accessibility is one of it's finer points.
Over the past week, I've taken several classes. My local studio offered a sweet deal on Halloween--13 classes for $13 each. They don't run these kinds of deals very often, so I ran to get my wallet faster than you can say, 'up and inch, down an inch.' I had a nice class cache and free babysitting, courtesy of my visiting in-laws. Score!
I chatted with a woman after class the other day who was featured on the local PB Facebook page for having taken her 250th class (I bow to her.) She mentioned Hannah's classes have been 'really hard' lately. Well, you know I love me a good thigh-quaking, so armed with this little nugget of information, I scuttled off to sign up for a class with Miss Hannah.
The PB workout is similar to other barre workout formats--warm up, upper body with light weights, thighs, seat, abs and finally--blessed, glorious stretch. Here is the collection of toys you get to play with:
That's two sets of weights (I use 3 & 5lbs.), a ball, a double-linked tube, and they've recently introduced this odd little torture device, seen on the far left. It's basically two tubes with handles that attaches to the barre. They do all kinds of horrible things to you with this contraption. It feels very unstable, which I suppose is the point. Hannah had us doing one legged chair pose while flailing about with the tube in one hand. It was horrible. I loved it.
Really, the class was divine and I had a great little bonding moment with my neighbor. She and I were both dripping with sweat and were so comforted by each other's sweatiness that we just had to talk about it. No one seems to sweat as much in these classes as Sweaty Neighbor and I do. I really don't think of myself as a heavy sweat-er, but I'm always pretty sweaty when I'm done, yet lots of other people just look fresh as a daisy. Maybe they're sweating on the inside?
This brings me to an important point about barre: if it seems easy, you aren't doing it right (I'm not suggesting my fresh-as-daisy classmates aren't working hard... It's probably just my own insecurity. They leave looking cuter than I do.)
Barre is hard. You should be shaking and praying for Almighty God to rain mercy upon your thighs. If you are just cruising through it, something is wrong. Don't pat yourself on the back and assume you're Zena Warrior Princess. You're either not getting it, or you're slacking off. (I say this with Care Bears in my heart.) Talk to the instructor and find out why it's not hard for you. Really, you've paid for the class and schlepped there, you might as well get something out of it.
Don't you love reading my blog? It's so uplifting.
Another great thing about barre is the better you get at it, the harder it gets. This is a strange phenomenon, but it's true. Although there are plenty of ways to make a class harder (like using the torture tubes), a beginner class can still provide a world of challenge. Barre is really a plateau-proof exercise method.
Anyway, Sweaty Neighbor and I were not phoning it in. We were working it, and at the end we both left with that lovely lalala feeling. And that's the last thing I'll tell you (today) about barre--yes, it's hard. I know many of you are wondering why on earth I love it. The lalala feeling, that's why. And the more you put into it, the more 'las' you get in your lalala. I feel so good and chill and limber when it's over. Stress, irritants--they just 'ping' right off me after I leave the barre. Pure bliss...
I didn't leave before taking a picture with Hannah:
If you live anywhere in the continental United States, check out the Pure Barre website. There might be a studio near you. I mean, if there's one in Montana, chances are good.
Sporting my cute PB mittens