Pure Barre is a new way to work out in Pittsburgh


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Sick of crunches, calorie counting, no-carb diets and all the other get-fit-quick gimmicks out there?

Pure Barre is a way to work out that combines the barre from ballet class, music fit for a nightclub, yoga-esque stretches and stamina-testing reps for an hour of cardio and toning sure to make muscles shake and bodies sweat without the impact on joints associated with many fitness programs.

"It's the fastest, most effective way to change the shape of your body," says Pure Barre franchisee Laura Dick. Through isometric exercises, muscles are isolated and worked until they're fatigued, followed by stretching. The workout, conceived by Carrie Dorr in 2001, is designed to target common problem areas including thighs, abs, derriere and back of the arms.

"If you can hang onto a bar, you can do the workout," Ms. Dick says.

She opened Pittsburgh's first Pure Barre studio in September at 5986 Penn Circle South, East Liberty, offering sessions seven days a week with classes starting at 6:15 a.m. weekdays. In January, franchisee Melissa Evancic opened another location at 1612 Cochran Road in Mt. Lebanon. There are more than 100 Pure Barre studios across the country.

For those new to barre workouts, arrive a few minutes early to sign a waiver and meet instructors. Teachers are certified after intensive training at the Pure Barre corporate headquarters in Denver. Classes are small so students can receive one-on-one feedback. A single class costs $23, but specials are offered for new clients, students, new moms and brides-to-be.

Athletic apparel is required, and participants must wear socks and clothes that cover the midriff and thighs (no shorts). Classes regularly use light hand weights, resistance bands, mats and balls. All equipment is provided.

No two barre classes are the same but expect to begin with a brief warm-up. The hour typically includes push-up variations, tricep dips, hundreds (from Pilates) and arm exercises incorporating hand weights. At the barre, participants squeeze a ball comparable in size to a softball between the upper thighs while executing moves similar to plie and releve from ballet. A portion of the class also is devoted to abs.

An essential move that reappears throughout Pure Barre is the tuck. It's a lower ab and bottom strengthener that mimics the movement and contractions of a small pelvic thrust. By the end of class, don't be surprised if muscles you never felt before twitch and tingle. Stretching afterward helps combat the shaking the subtle moves induce.

Sound intimidating? Clients are welcome to take breaks and modify steps as needed. A family-feel among the participants is promoted through incentives and workshops. Pure Barre franchises also partner with community charities.

The barre craze has been picking up in Pittsburgh since the fall, Ms. Dick says. Some weeks she sees about 500 people, many of whom are stay-at-home moms and working women. Men are welcome, too. Ms. Dick is holding a special "bring your sweetie" class at 6:45 p.m. on Valentine's Day.

"People walk in the door and they're happy, and they leave happier," Ms. Dick says.

For more information or to register, visit www.purebarre.com or call 412-248-3333 (Shadyside) or 412-248-2424 (Mt. Lebanon).

health - fashion

Sara Bauknecht: sbauknecht@post-gazette.com. Twitter: @SaraB_PG


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