[workout review] pure barre beverly hills.

17 Apr

It seems like every couple of years there is a new workout trend that pops up. When I was in college, it was mat pilates – and now those classes seem few and far between. In the last year or so Crossfit gyms have been the “it” workout trend…and within the last few months I kept hearing people mention “barre” workouts as a must-try. I brushed it off – ballet was never my thing and I’m not flexible so I didn’t think I’d like it. My interest was piqued, however, when SkinnyRunner blogged about trying – and liking – a barre workout called Physique 57. I figured if it was tough enough for her, it was worth a shot.

Jenn, Whitney, and I nabbed a Living Social deal to try a place called Pure Barre in Beverly Hills – the deal was $35 for 2 weeks unlimited. While sorta pricey for someone who pays just a little over that per month for a gym membership, this deal couldn’t be beat to test it out. I went 6 times over two weeks.

Pure Barre doesn’t look like much from the outside…

But the inside of the studio was so pretty – Lululemon-esque and very BH.

(source)

I really didn’t know much about “barre” going into it – other than that it billed itself as a total body workout using small, isometric movements. I envisioned a blend of ballet squats, yoga, and pilates. That would be an accurate assessment – if you throw in a dash of weight lifting (like body pump) and some belly-dancing inspired hip circles.

the studio.

(source)

(I was surprised to see the studio floor was carpeted since they suggest wearing no-skid socks, I had assumed it would have been hardwood, and since ballet floors aren’t carpeted. But I digress).

My first class – bright and early on a Monday morning – left a little bit to be desired. I wasn’t sure what to do when the instructor kept saying to “tuck.” Tuck what, exactly? I did appreciate the up-tempo music and the way we conquered each major muscle group one at a time.

After my second and third classes, I started to get the hang of it. 

Each class would start with a few minutes of a dynamic warm-up – marching in place, high-knees, that sort of thing. I looked like a fool as I stared at myself in the mirror doing some of this stuff. I am so not a dancer and pointing my toes is even a struggle sometimes. The warmup also consisted of ab work and core stabilization exercises using the ball.

weights. ball. band.

Then we would move onto arm work using light and “heavy” weights. I started the first class using 2 pounders but quickly moved up to the threes and fives. The weight program I am following, The New Rules of Lifting for Women, emphasizes heavy weights so it was weird to think of 5 lbs as “heavy.” Even so, I still felt the burn during the arm workout. After each muscle-group, the instructor also led us in stretches using resistance bands.

Next up was thigh work. It was tricky at first to get in the mindset of making tiny movements or “tucks” in order to feel the burn – but by the end of some of the sets I was shaking! It was also cool that each muscle group was set to a track, similar to Body Pump. I think this really made the 55-minute classes whiz by.

After “burning out those thighs” we’d move to seat work, which is either a lay-man’s term for “glutes” or a bougie way of saying we were targeting the booty. A lot of these exercises invovled standing at the bar and making tiny “squeezes” with our “seats.”

The last component of the class involved ab work which I enjoyed. My favorite exercise of the whole class was the last one – bridges – or “back dancing” in Pure Barre lingo.

So what did I think of Pure Barre?

Overall, I liked the workout. Something about it was oddly addicting – not so tough that getting out of bed to make it to the 7 am class seemed daunting, but challenging enough where I broke a sweat and felt a little sore after. (Less “I just ran for 2 hours” sore and more “i did a bunch of chaturangas in yoga today” sore).

I didn’t love the trend/status aspect of Pure Barre. It is REALLY pricey ($225/month). I can’t wrap my head around that price when a gym membership is so much less – even swanky gyms like Equinox. While the clientele seemed pretty normal, it was definitely more a lululemon/looking cute while I workout is important crowd than I see at my big-box gym, but that’s ok. On our first visit there, one “regular” said she “hates when they do Groupon-type deals because it gets so crowded.” That mindset struck me as the antithesis of the running community mindset which is the more the merrier, everyone is welcome, etc. I was impressed with the Pure Barre instructors though and thought they were all friendly, welcoming, and instructive.

The studio is very close to my apartment – a little over a mile – so Jenn and I often chose to ran to and from the class to maximize our workout. I’d consider joining for a month sometime in the future at a discounted rate, or taking advantage of similar Living Social-type deals to competitors like Cardio Barre, The Bar Method, and Pop Physique. If you’re in the LA area and want to check out Pure Barre Beverly Hills, definitely take a class with Katie Zimmer, she was my favorite instructor.

(source)

Pure Barre is definitely more upscale than any gym I’ve belonged to, and that classiness extends into the guest bathrooms as well. I was in awe:

While I am not ditching the gym in favor of Pure Barre, after 6 sessions I began to see what all the fuss is about. The workouts are fun, effective, and quick. I am anxious to try and incorporate more total body workouts into my gym routine – and I should be able to take advantage of my gym’s Body Pump classes to get a similar class vibe.

Anyone have any thoughts on Pure Barre or “barre” classes in general?

What’s your favorite workout trend/fad in recent years?

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13 Responses to “[workout review] pure barre beverly hills.”

  1. Kaley April 17, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    That seems like such a snotty comment from that woman, jeez!

    Since I live in a podunk town, there’s no such thing here, but it does sound interesting.

    • gillian April 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

      Yeah I was caught off guard by that comment, too! Struck me as very unsupportive!

  2. Amy April 17, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    woop woop, expanding the repertoire of dance moves for the clubs i see! miss you, G.

    • gillian April 17, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      Lol…hardly….

      Miss you too 🙂 its been way too long

      Sent from my iPhone

  3. Michelle April 18, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Loved your blog! I’m currently obsessed with The Bar Method out here in SF. Being an active person, I’ve tried pretty much every workout (swimming, spinning, running, strength training etc..) But none has ever left me with the “addicting” feeling that Bar Method leaves me with. I’m currently in my 2nd month of membership and go nearly everyday. Not only has my posture improved significantly but my arm and legs have definitely gotten noticeably toned!

    • gillian April 18, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      Thanks for commenting, Michelle 🙂

      I didn’t think about it from a posture perspective! What’s the vibe like at your studio in SF?

      • Adrienne April 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

        Hi Gillian! Soo Michelle forwarded along your blog for me to read because like her, I’m OBSESSED with bar method (we started it together like you and jen… adorable… LITB!). So I read your post, her comment and your response I asked her, “are you going to respond to Gillian? Because I kind of want to” and she said yeah go for it. So what started as a simple response turned into a comment entry probably longer than all your blogs combined. But I feel like we are very similar in terms of working out (love for running, spin and all things cardio) so hopefully it won’t be too boring for you haha. The point is I love bar method and here’s why…

        Like you, I’ve been a runner for what seems like my whole life and that has always been my exercise of choice. I didn’t really start going to a gym until the end of college, but even then I would only go because it was raining outside and I would just run on the treadmill (which I HATE. Remember the treadmills facing the wall?? SO terrible) and spin (which was way more bearable). When I moved to SF I had to join a gym since the weather is always so terrible and the days I could run outside were limited so I joined Crunch. One day after a lot of nagging and convincing from Michelle, I decided to take my first ever group cardio weight lifting class (and I pretty much only went because I was already there for the spin class right before). It was after that class that I realized that as strong and athletic and in-shape I thought I was from running, I was WEAK. I hated the class (but in a hate/love way). I could barely lift a 3 pound weight, couldn’t balance and stand on the bosu ball for more than like 2 seconds without falling off and could not do a single real sit up (Michelle knows, it was totally embarrassing). But it opened me up to a whole new world of fitness and made me realize that there are other important things besides running that you need to do to be fit and in shape, like strength training.

        So I eventually worked weight lifting into my workout routine (always in a group class setting, I have zero motivation to do it myself, and also have no idea what I’m doing) and then was recently talking and she told me about the bar method. I had heard of it before and briefly looked it up online, but I always imagined it to be this really stupid yuppie workout that rich housewives do to look and feel like they’re working out by hanging around on a bar, but really is completely pointless. I was like how can you do a real workout and be sitting down? not sweat?? Since I was so used to leaving a spin class or coming home from a run looking like I just went swimming. But I actually listened to my coworker because she’s legit and runs and works out like normal people like us. She got so excited about it and highly recommended it and told me I HAD to try it (…I just realized I have now become THAT coworker). She said she had never been so toned and felt so strong before in her life. She told me to specifically do the bar method and not any of the other “knock offs”. I did a bit of research first. Turns out Burr Leonard, the founder of bar method, trained with Lotte Berk (the founder of all things “barre” fitness) and opened a Lotte Berk Studio of her own before branching out and founding The Bar Method right here in San Francisco! I pretty much had an anxiety attack when I looked at the prices, but my coworker told me the first class was free so I figured it couldn’t hurt and decided to try it out.

        I was super impressed with the studio like you were with Pure Barre. I thought the design of it was beautiful and it was very soothing (especially compared to the intensity of Crunch). I was afraid I would look like a total outcast and loser wearing only one piece of lululemon and Hanes pink toe socks from Target, and not an entire matching Lululemon outfit head to toe and grey grippy Bar Method socks. But I went into my first class and was pleasantly surprised with the variety and mix of women. Of course there were the women decked out in lululemon who near blinded me with the giant rocks on their left hand, but the majority of women were wearing your average everyday workout gear. The body types of the women also ranged from those you desperately want to bring to Super Duper Burger and buy a double double, to those who could probably lay off the Super Duper Burgers for a while. The instructor asked if anyone was new and I raised my hand. She asked what my name was, introduced herself and welcomed me. I obviously had no idea what was going on the entire time but the instructor always explained everything to the entire class, and then separately to me in detail because I was new (I’m sure I didn’t even have to raise my hand for her to figure that one out). She would correct me (like physically tuck me under, straighten my back, lift my leg) and explain exactly what the purpose of each exercise was and what I should feel, how I should look, etc. It was a little embarrassing at first but I realized that without proper instruction the entire hour would be pointless. The music was upbeat when doing an exercise, and then would switch to something more low-key while stretching after. It was a perfect mix and was never too loud or intense. The class was a good mix of intensity (the crazy shaking) and stretching and relaxation. I was shocked at how hard the workout was. I took back all the judgments I had about the lulelemon housewives because those women were no joke STRONG and put me to shame for sure.

        Needless to say after my first class, I was addicted and have been going consistently 5-6 times a week for a couple of months now. I go before work (6am), which is a clear testament to how much I love it and how addicted I am because I can’t think of many (if any) other things that could get me up at 5am. While Burr believes that this could serve as the only workout you ever need to do forever for the rest of your life, I just don’t believe that and could never give up running so I still run and spin and cario in the afternoons (I sweat in BM every once and awhile depending on the teacher and what we’re doing, but it’s not nearly enough for me). The occasional times I do end up sleeping through my alarm in the morning or turning it off to get another hour of sleep (mondays…), I always regret it and my day is slightly thrown off and I secretly miss the bar method.I leave every class at 7am feeling strong, refreshed, energized and accomplished. Even though the hour routine is pretty set (arms to legs to seat to abs, etc), the individual exercises are always different so it keeps it interesting. Even after all the classes I’ve done, I will still be in a class where the instructor will throw something in that I’ve never done before. The instructors always explain how to do every exercise to the entire class and correct even the most seasoned bar method veterans if they are doing something wrong, and will also compliment you if you’re working really hard. They always ask who the newbies are and will ask for your name if they don’t recognize you. At first I thought it was fake, and obviously they are told to do that, but they are also so genuinely nice and extremely personable. I even saw one of my instructors outside of class and she recognized me, remembered my name and stopped and said hi. It’s also pretty cool that get to go to the flagship bar method (in the SF Marina) and occasionally end up in a class with Burr Leonard herself. I can only imagine that the teachers here at the best of the best (I mean can you imagine teaching having Burr in your class? Like how intimidating!)

        So the atmosphere, class and teachers are amazing, but the outcome and results are also addicting! Even after just a week or two I realized a change in my body. I was sore in places I’d never been sore before and was working muscles I never even knew existed (I swear they’re not paying me to say this, as much as I wish they were!). Like you said it’s a different sore than running sore, but I like it since I feel like I’m targeting different places than I normally do. I’ve definitely become more toned and muscles that were non-existent before (ie my abs and arms) are suddenly there and I just feel stronger all around. In my first class we did a plank and I was shaking and fell to my knees in about 5 seconds, but now I can hold it for over 40! The instructors are always letting you know ways to make the exercise more challenging, and when the day comes that i feel really strong and I could use more of a challenge, I’ll move on to a level 2 class (there are 3 levels – level 1, mixed, and level 2).

        SF doesn’t have nearly as many barre companies as LA, but recently Pop Physique made an appearance. It was a lot cheaper than Bar Method and its within 4 blocks from my house so I decided to give it a try. I figured if it was the same as bar method I could do the same exact thing and travel half the distance and pay like half the price, which would all be amazing. However NOT THE SAME. It’s much more modern looking than bar method (like you literally feel like you’re in American Apparel store) which wasn’t bad, but just different than what I was used to. The floor was hardwood instead of carpet, so I was just as shocked as you were when you saw carpet. I felt bad wearing my bar method socks so I wore normal socks but I was slipping all over! At bar method I don’t really slip at all when I wear normal socks since its carpeted. I went after work and the class wasn’t very full, probably because it had only been in SF for a month or so. The instructor started the class and introduced herself to the class but didn’t get anyone’s name. The music was a lot louder and while everything was similar to bar method in a lot of ways, it was a bit more upbeat and had some dancing and cario elements (not isometric moving) that bar method doesn’t have. The instructor also moved from one thing to the next and never really explained how to do anything correctly (EXACTLY what you said about the “Tuck!” “Tuck what?!”). Even having consistently taken a bar method class I was confused at times and just kind of stood there trying to figure out what was going on. I don’t know if it’s just because I did Bar Method first or if it really is better, but personally I’d rather wake up earlier, pay more and stick with Bar Method. I’m not knocking Pop Physique at all, I liked it, but I didn’t LOVE it. So if you have the chance to do bar method I would highly recommend it! I’m sure everyone has a different experience and you may not love it as much and Michelle and I but your experience at Pure Barre seems just like mine at Pop Physique, but my experience at Bar Method was completely different.

        Interestingly, before my Pop Physique class started I overheard two ladies talking and one mentioned to the other that she had done bar method for a couple of years but eventually got bored of it. While I’m not remotely there yet, I could kind of see how that might happen after YEARS. But who knows where I’ll be in a matter of years (or where bar method will be…), or what fitness trend i’ll have moved on to, but for right now I love bar method and will continue to rave about it and do it as long as my pocketbook allows! 🙂

      • gillian April 18, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

        Hi Adrienne!

        Thank you so much for the thoughtful response! It’s cool to hear your perspective on the bar method since I think we are really similar athletically. I am a total cardio junkie and strength/resistance training has always been my weakness – and I tend to ignore things I’m not good at (i.e. yoga).

        It’s awesome that you love the bar method – it sounds like it is really great – and maybe a cut above its competitors? I will have to try it out. I did like Pure Barre, but I am with you that it could never be my SOUL form of exercise. While I left feeling refreshed and like I had worked out, my body definitely craves running, spinning, and yoga to some extent. I like the fact the workout isn’t SO intense that you can’t run or spin later – so that aspect was really cool. I definitely think I’ll go back to it or try Bar Method (at least once I am out of school and making money again).

        I am also happy to hear that your studio has a range of body types. When I went to the early morning classes at Pure Barre, the women were definitely more like me and you – normal. The evening classes seemed to be more Beverly Hillsy which I guess makes sense.

        Anyway, thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts and for taking the time to compose such a legit and insightful comment :). I need to come up to SF this summer and work out with you guys!

  4. Katie Zimmer June 19, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    Hi Gillian,

    Totally just seeing your blog for the first time!! Yay! So happy you had a fabulous experience with Pure Barre Beverly Hills and my class! I live in NY now, on Long Island, if you’re ever out on the Island come take my class!! Would love to have you at the barre! From one coast to another, I love the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of your reviews! Love and Light!

    • Gillian @ That's G June 19, 2014 at 7:46 am #

      Thanks so much for finding it, Katie! I loved your class and teaching style — and best of luck in NY! I’ll definitely find you if I’m ever on the Island! xx

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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