You may remember that I attempted a Pure Barre class a little over a month ago, and that it didn’t exactly go as planned. Still, they offered a killer new client special, and my endorphin-fueled brain thought that spending double the cost of my monthly gym membership for one month of barre classes would be a good idea, so I took the bait and decided to jump sock-clad feet first into the world of Pure Barre. I signed up for 6 classes a week with one rest day, bought a ton of kale for smoothies, and got ready to attend my unlimited month of barre classes, confident that with one session already under my belt, I’d be a pro in no time.
I’d attempted a free trial class, so obviously, I knew exactly what I was doing… right? Wrong. What I’d failed to take into account was that every other person in the room was also there for the purpose of attempting a free trial class and wasn’t a regular attendee. Today, that all changed. First, I was immediately struck by just how wrong my attire was for the class. While I had arrived in a bright workout tank top from Target, I was the only individual not wearing what appeared to be the class uniform of solid gray and black from lululemon or the Pure Barre store (which, for the record, is just as expensive).
As I was noticing appearances, another thing jumped out at me immediately: my body fat percentage. Now, my vanity requires me to inform you that I’m not a large person; even though my closet is full of 00 pants and extra-small tops, my body fat percentage was easily double the next largest person in the room. It was more than alarming. If I wasn’t already self-conscious sitting next to other females whose weight more resembled myself in middle school than in current day, I certainly was when the class began. I had done okay in my preview class, but that was with amateurs. Here, I was working out – a term I use loosely here – with self-proclaimed Pure Barre addicts, and I was out of my element. The instructor continually tells us through her microphone to “bend, press, and tuck,” which are instructions that have absolutely no meaning to me. While she publicly congratulates those who apparently are tucking all-stars, the only attention I get from her is when she comes around to correct my form. Still, it’s my first week, so I’m pretty positive I’ll see some rapid improvement over the next few classes.
I tried to even out the appearance factor in the only way my bank account could afford: sticky socks. While socks are required, every serious barre attendee owned socks with grippy bottoms, which apparently helps you not suck at this so much. As I walked out of my class, I grabbed a couple pair of socks to charge to my account. It wasn’t until I got an e-mail receipt that I realized I’d spent my weekly grocery budget of over $50 on 3 pair of socks. Maybe not being able to afford groceries next week will help me on my weight loss journey.
It turns out that the second week of barre class is worse than the first. In the first week, I could justify my poor performance by telling myself that it was new and I just didn’t have the hang of the class yet. In week 2, I realized that while I knew what I was supposed to be doing, it turns out that I was just really bad at it. While I understand that in theory I should be able to do a 90-second plank while holding a medicine ball between my thighs, I have to admit that I’m not failing after the first 6 seconds because this pose is confusing. It’s because I’m horribly out of shape.
This problem was compounded by signing up for a platform class. While all of the other classes I’d signed up for had been categorized as “open barre,” the only class type I was available for was platform. After reading the description of it as a high-cardio class with barre strength training, it didn’t sound any different than any of the classes I’d taken before, so I signed up. This was a terrible mistake.
Apparently platform classes involve doing an hour’s worth of work with a step stool that you use for everything – planks, squats, push-ups, you name it. These are not the elevated steps of your mom’s “Sweating to the Oldies” VHS tapes, but black boxes of torture that exist solely to make you realize just how weak you really are compared to everyone else in the room. I now view the instructors as surreal beings who must take a combination of steroids and Adderall in order to perform multiple workouts a day and still have enough breath to walk around the room and tell you how wrong your form is.
We also need to talk about the carpet. Unlike any other gym, the barre room is carpeted. This doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize that everyone walks around all day in their sweaty sock feet, and your hands and face are touching or near the carpet for at least half the class. Since I’m assuming they don’t shampoo this carpet every day but I’m hoping they at least decide to vacuum before they close, I decided that I would be showing up for 6 A.M. courses from here on out.
As for tucking? As far as I can tell, as long as I do some sort of minor hip thrust, the instructor doesn’t run up to me in concern, so that’s what we’re going with so far.
So showing up for 6 A.M. barre isn’t going so well. I showed up sleep deprived for my first two classes, but on the third day of my alarm going off at 5:30, I decided to hit snooze and trade my tucking for a couple extra hours of sleep. When I woke back up, finally well rested, I opened an e-mail from Pure Barre informing me that since I missed a scheduled class, my credit card would be billed for a $15 missed class fee. At this point, on top of my membership, I had now paid $65 for socks and extra sleep. I called my bank to tell them I had “lost” my credit card and to please send me a new number so I couldn’t lose any more money on this cult.
This week, I signed up for yet another specialty class called “Raising the Barre” which sounded like a Platform class from hell. I arrived ready to die when I learned that this wasn’t a class to elevate your barre experience and heart rate, but instead was an instructional class to teach you what the hell you’re doing. Why they didn’t make me take this class two weeks ago is beyond me, but the relief flooding through my body that I didn’t actually have to work out during this session was unlike any experience I’ve ever had before. Apparently “tucking” is just a resetting of your hips to a neutral spine, so now that I know this, I can apparently stop faking seizures and work out like I’m supposed to.
I used my free guest pass a few days later to bring a friend as a new customer to Pure Barre, and watching me work out alongside a total newbie made me realize that I’ve actually come pretty far in the last few weeks. Even if my execution is off, I at least understand what my workouts SHOULD look like, and by comparison, I think I’m doing okay.
There’s no denying it – Pure Barre works. My waist is slimmer, I eat healthier food, and overall I just feel amazing. However, I’m pretty sure the reason that Pure Barre works isn’t the special method they use or even the strange tuck, hold, freeze pattern I’ve done thousands of times now. Pure Barre works because it’s so expensive that if you skip a class, the guilt of your dissolving bank account will eat you alive. If I did literally any other workout – yoga, cycling, weightlifting, you name it – 6 days a week for an entire month, I’m confident I would see similar, if not better results.
Whether it’s repetition or its elitist nature, I have to admit that I ended up enjoying this month at Pure Barre. I definitely got back into shape, and getting to brag that I take Pure Barre was almost worth the new client trial rate. When faced with whether or not to renew, however, I chose not to update my now-deactivated card on file because while this was fun, it was also an absolute money pit, and I definitely can’t afford the regular rate of nearly $200 a month to workout. It’s definitely been an experience, but it’s one I’m leaving in the past as I get back into my three time a week low-impact cardio at my regular gym. Now I just have to figure out what the hell I’m going to do with all of these sticky socks. .