It’s been more than 8 months since @surgeoninkicks introduced me to Pure Barre. As you may have read, I was both cursing and rejoicing in a new found love. Meanwhile, she had reached the hundred club and I had gone to four, yes only four, classes–all in different zip codes.
As someone who has been working on strengthening my core, improving my posture, and just overall feeling leaner and stronger for a couple of years now, I immediately took to barre. It is a fusion of the music driven aerobic work that first drew me to group exercise classes years ago (yes, back then there were steps and grapevines involved!) and the focused core/seat work and long muscle sculpting of pilates which I started less than two years ago (yes, as gift to myself on the morning of my 38th birthday I tried reformer as an initial foray into being fit by 40).
As you also may have read, I really struggle (and have struggled for years during which school, and work, and a growing family–not to mention lack of any inherent athletic ability– made for easy excuses to neglect myself) to make time to exercise. Getting in a 30-60 min workout is hard enough without lead time. So, I have tried to make it easy–I have a home gym with professional grade cardio equipment and a Stott reformer, I belong to the gym at work with 24 accessibility so I can sneak in exercise while on call, and I am a short 7 min drive from my local pilates studio where, if work cooperates, I can take a variety of group classes ranging from mat pilates to Zumba as well as reformer classes (oh and I own a pair of running shoes). Sadly, I live 35 min away from the nearest dedicated barre studio. And no matter how motivated I am, no matter how I try to finagle the work and life schedule, that >1 round trip plus a 55 min class is just not going to happen.
So, I do what I can with my available resources while at home–cardiovascular fitness with running, cardio equipment, or Zumba and core/seat work/toning with reformer and occasional Barre Fit or Total Barre classes at the studio. Interestingly, as much as a struggle to maintain regular fitness while at home during the my usual work schedule, for years now I have been able to make time to exercise while traveling for work. So, instead of heading to the hotel gym, nowadays I get my Pure Barre fix when I am on the road for work. After all, I was 3000 miles away from home when I first tried barre in San Francisco. Then I took another class in DC. Then Boston. Followed by Naples. Somehow, every conference hotel I have stayed at since that first foray into barre has been within 10 minutes by foot or by car of a Pure Barre studio. And so when I travel, I pack my grippy socks and I try to get into at least one barre class. I think of it as Barre Hopping. I can’t tell you how thoroughly disappointed I was this past March when during trips to both DC and Philly with Pure Barre an easy jaunt from both hotels (and yes even some fairly well known competitors and some further out Pure Barre studios) I was denied. If you haven’t tried it yet, this workout is just that addictive, that popular, that every possible class that I could have taken was sold out and had a wait list 6 deep. Drop in classes are typically $23 per class which, for the workout you get and the fun you have compared to the hotel gym where you might have paid a $10-$15 fee anyway, is totally worth it in my opinion to get a Pure Barre fix.
I learned from the DC and Philly experiences that one must plan ahead to be Barre Hopper so I looked ahead and booked a class for each each day of my two Chicago trips. I signed up for three 6 am classes and one 4pm class. The first trip I was 5 blocks away from the studio. The second just 7 blocks. I was so psyched. With this round of Barre Hopping, I doubled my Pure Barre experience in 8 days compared to what I had been able to snag in the past 8 months. I got to take classes from three different instructors which sort of felt like Barre Hopping within Barre Hopping.
I wish I had had some company as with my first foray into Pure Barre but I got over my stranger anxiety and my fear of looking like an inflexible, jelly-cored, saggy-butted fool and just went all in. It was my first Pure Barre since January and I loved every minute of every class even though the routines were unfamiliar and the hamstrings were unforgiving. The burn still made me curse under my breath but I did it for the entire 55 minutes and felt great when it was over. Just great. Longing for the next time.
So, if you don’t have a local Pure Barre to frequent, I highly recommend Barre Hopping. I only wish they offered a pre-paid passport of sorts to road warriors to use as Barre Hopping Guests at studios nationwide for slightly less than the $23 drop in rate. I would love to get into the hundred club myself one zip code at a time.
On a side note a description of the workout and why I liked the mini Barre Hopping experience in Chicago:
I don’t know what it’s like for the regulars out there who are lucky enough to have a Pure Barre Studio nearby so that they don’t have to Barre Hop. Do they always try to stick with the same instructor or the same time of day? Do they do a class a week or 3-4x a week? So in my most recent experience, I took 4 classes with 3 different instructors. They all basically used the same set of tunes (and they are just awesome poppy remixes that just fire you up) which they would repeat or move through depending on exercise. They also adhered to the same general flow–1) a quick standing arm/leg warm-up, 2) quick “hundred” series with light weights 3) plank 4) back work 5) arm work 6) thigh work 7) seat work 8) abs, and 9) some low back work all with some quick stretching in between. So you got a sense of what was to come but it didn’t seem like same old, same old, since other than #1, #2, #8 I found that the instructors mixed up the other components just a little bit to keep it interesting. For example, they might vary how much thigh work is done at the barre vs on the floor or with the little red ball vs without. So it never felt boring or redundant. Most importantly, the tiny little muscles that I was certain could never do that again were fooled into doing it again because it wasn’t the exact same move.