From Cyndi Lauper’s Buns of Steel, to INSANITY and Brazilian Butt workouts, there are many fitness videos that keep you at home, on the couch, or struggling to do tricep dips on a roller desk chair. Especially at college in a new town, going out into the community for a workout can be jarring and overwhelming at times. In this series, I seek to decode the fitness options available in Colorado Springs, providing a review of the fitness classes available.
The Pure Barre Experience
Nylon, curvaceous omegas, the official stamp of Lululemon Athletica, scatter the floor in variations of downward dog. This is no place for the faint-hearted; it’s the land of AVEDA salon braid bars and dollar-off mimosas. It’s the land of the Pure Barre experience.
In honor of its second year in Colorado Springs, Pure Barre held a free class at the Ivywild School this past weekend. Although the workout had some modifications—due to the lack of an actual “bar”—the experience and workout methodology were all the same.
In the Ivywild gymnasium, brimming with soft natural light and the glow of clear twinkle lights, the Pure Barre instructors called class into session. The class consisted of predominantly women—with the exception of three men with positive, “can-do” attitudes—led by female instructors, who were just as eager to teach.
The instructors shared what distinguishes Pure Barre from other group fitness classes and discussed what is integral to its methodology: three distinctive movements. There’s the “pulse,” multiple small targeted muscle contractions that work finite muscle groups; the “stretch,” a repeated extension of the designated body part to work other small-twitch muscles; and the “tuck,” the process of scooping the belly in and engaging the core. The instructors used all movements repeatedly as an exercise and held them to promote good posture.
The Pure Barre methodology rests in these movements, which are also known as isomorphic exercises. These exercises are slight motions that are intended to define and elongate certain muscle groups, build stability, and strengthen these muscles. Benefits of these workouts include reportedly lowering participant blood pressure and toning and defining certain muscles.
After a brief cardio-intensive and full range of motion warm-up, the workout incorporated a combination of the isomorphic exercises. Most of the workout could be performed in a slight squat above the ground with a couple small twitch motions, pulses, stretches, and tucks. The workout had very minimal arm work, but very intensive leg work, specifically engaging the butt and thighs. Although the instructor added the option of light weights to the arm work, the added weight could barely amount to breaking a light sweat.
By the end of the workout, there was no satisfied dripping-with-sweat feeling; arguably, there was little-to-no sweat. These isometric exercises provide no cardio or endurance training, being only for the purpose of strength-building. The Mayo Clinic, however, deems these exercises as ineffective at building strength, saying that they instead primarily help with muscle stabilization. Thus, these exercises contribute to toning, mainly serving muscle stability and body aesthetic purposes, but they do not build new muscle.
The Pure Barre experience is intended not for functionality but for definition. The movements are basic and not overly strenuous, making it an excellent workout to use in conjunction with a normal routine—for cosmetic purposes. Pure Barre is for the athletes, the pseudo-workout enthusiasts, and Lululemon lovers alike.
Sweat Level (Scale 1 to 5): 2
Type of Exercise: Toning
Targets: Beginners, athletes, and those looking for a cosmetic rather than functional workout.