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Scene in South Bend: Pure Barre

| Thursday, September 14, 2017

scene in south bend banner web (1)Cristina Interiano | The Observer

Eddy Street Common’s newest fitness studio, Pure Barre, offers a low-intensity, low-impact workout that targets all parts of the body. Like most people, I didn’t know what barre was or had ever “done” barre before making a trip to Pure Barre — the “largest, most established barre franchise in the nation.” But I learned in my first class — on Monday morning at 6 a.m. — that anyone capable of holding onto a ballet bar and “pulsing” can do barre and work out at Pure Barre. Young moms, women in their 60s and Notre Dame college girls filled my morning class instructed by Leslie Pinson — an energetic and friendly Pure Barre enthusiast. Throughout class, Leslie challenged us with isometric exercises that worked specific muscle groups. The kind of workout that really makes you  “feel the burn” everywhere in your body by its finish.  Although I ended the class fatigued, Pure Barre is not for anyone looking to sweat-it-out in a cardio-intensive workout. The class emphasizes strength and proper form through simple, repetitive movements. However, if you are looking for a friendly workout environment with a focus in strength and toning, a 55-minute Pure Barre class will surely leave you feeling refreshed and one with your body.

As for the actual format of class, elements of dance, strength and yoga are incorporated into all exercises. You begin with a light warm-up consisting of stretches to get loose and activate muscles. Then, you move into a flow of exercises that target multiple muscle groups individually — the arms, quads, thighs, glutes and abs. Throughout class, you use four pieces of equipment that are provided for you — a set of weights (two, three or five pounds), a small bouncy ball, a stretchy tube and a yoga mat. Starting with the arms, the weights are used in repetitive movements that work your biceps, triceps and shoulders. For toning your thighs and glutes, the ball goes in between your legs as you dip, pulse and clench. The elastic tube serves as either a resistance band looped around the ballet bar or a tool for stretching during class.  Each workout is done in sets, with reps lasting for counts of 10 seconds. The flow of class is fast-paced, but the exercises themselves are not hard in the cardiovascular sense, only in the muscular sense. In between each set, you are rewarded with time to stretch and relax the muscles you just worked. The class ends with a final stretch on the mat, which serves as both a mental and physical cool down.

For me, the best aspect of Pure Barre had to be the class environment. Upon walking in, the studio feels welcoming and looks clean.  A large section of cute workout apparel and accessories that are available to buy line the side of the store. Your instructor signs you in, walks you through the studio and then explains the basics of the class. Before we began, many of the women, who had met through Pure Barre, caught up with one another and introduced themselves to me. Once class started, the room became focused and determined — each woman pushing herself for one more rep. My instructor, Leslie, played both relaxing music and pop music depending on the tempo of the exercises, and offered words of encouragement or hands-on help when needed. Before leaving, a few of the women congratulated me on completing my first class, and Leslie was open to hearing any opinions on improving my Pure Barre experience.

For opening just this June, Eddy Street’s Pure Barre seems to be doing well in attracting Notre Dame students and the South Bend fitness community. Many class times are available during the week and weekend for us students with busy schedules, and you don’t need to bring anything to class except a water bottle. While no prior knowledge of barre is required, leggings and socks are a must. So, sign up online for your first class (only $15) if you want to “lift, tone and burn” at Pure Barre.

South Bend’s Pure Barre is located at 1130 E. Angela Blvd on Eddy Street Commons, right next to McAlister’s Deli. Weekly class hours, special weekend hours and more information are available online at purebarre.com.

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