My Journey by Donna Karan

I have a new addiction, and that addiction is Pure Barre. Pure Barre is a studio that offers amazing workouts across the country with isometric movements centered around the ballet barre.

Part of why I can’t get enough of it is because I’m so incredibly bad at it. I am so used to the typical explosive workout classes, that doing something with isometric holds is a foreign concept to me, and my body fails quickly.

I’m also not super coordinated, and if Pure Barre is Swan Lake, I am more like…Stomp.

Going into class can be intimidating, because everyone looks like they’re a member of The Rockettes, but don’t be scared — they’re also incredibly nice and eager to help you learn the Pure Barre technique.

If it weren’t for the patience of the incredible Pure Barre instructors and their willingness to help me learn (they have actually stayed with me after class to go over things I didn’t quite grasp), then there’s no way I could hang. It’s been a little over a month since I started, and I’m getting the hang of it.

I still can’t do the splits (not going to happen), but my arms are looking better than ever before, and I can even see definition in that region of death called the abdomen. If you’re looking for a workout that will challenge you, strengthen you beyond what you could imagine, and truly change the shape of your body, then go to www.purebarre.com right now and find the nearest studio. You won’t be disappointed.

Marie Spada: How does Pure Barre benefit the body in ways other workouts may not?

Monica Grubin: Pure Barre uses isometric movements to failure, so you’re protecting your joints, whereas a lot of other workouts put a lot of pressure and impact on the joints, causing wear and tear over the years. Also, Pure Barre gives you that mental break during your day. You’re so focused on the burning and everything that’s going on with the body that you tend to be able to block out anything else going on. Your mind is solely focused on your body and not on every day problems during those 55 minutes.

MS: That’s true. I’m usually just thinking about how I feel like I’m about to collapse during class.

MG: Yes, you can’t think during those classes! If you start to think, then your body stops doing what it’s doing.

MS: How does Pure Barre set itself apart from other barre studios in the area?

MG: We’re highly focused on the community, as well as our technique. We really try to do a lot of things together, and create a positive, uplifting environment for women to go into and reach their fitness goals. We also change our routine very often, and then we have the highly effective cardio class that we’ve put in. I haven’t taken many other barre classes in the area. I really just put my blinders on and focus on what we do best in here, but from what I’ve seen, it’s the most effective and safest barre class for your joints. We only do barre here, so we’re solely focused on perfecting the form, always working on the form, and what we can do to make each class different and more effective. We’re always paying attention to things we learn with our own bodies that we can share with the class to help them achieve their fitness goals.

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MS: Do you know how many calories one can burn in class on average?

MG: It’s completely up to how hard you work. I’m sure you’ve been to a class where you aren’t feeling your best, or you have a lot going on, and you just went through the motions. If you really get down and dirty with it, you can burn a good number of calories. Calories per person depends on height and weight, so a 5’ person might work just as hard as 6’ person, but the 6’ person will burn a lot more calories just to maintain, so it depends on the person’s body and how hard they’re working, but you can burn just as much as any other class out there. That’s part of the fun — it’s up to you to push yourself! We always like to say, ‘It’s not my workout, it’s yours! I’m just sitting here talking to you! It’s up to you to push yourself!’

MS: I feel like it’s the type of class where you don’t feel like you’re burning as much just because you’re not moving as much and running or sprinting. But you burn just as many calories because you’re pushing yourself to fatigue. I’m always drenched in sweat after these classes.

MG: When you’re not in the high intensity workout zone from like a cardio class, that’s when you’re burning carbs. In a spinning class or a sprint, your body uses carbs as fuel, but when you’re in that intense hold, you burn off carbs and fat because your body has more time to break down those fat molecules, which has more energy anyway. So, you’re actually burning more fat in that lower zone. When you’re out of breath and running hard, that’s a different calorie burn than what a hold is.

MS: Do you need to have experience in dance to take a Pure Barre class?

MG: No! Not at all. I was a water polo player; I have nothing graceful about me. My parents used to call me a ‘bull in a china shop.’ I’ve never danced. When I started, I had no idea what an 8-count was or anything like that. All of it will come, the flexibility will come. Everything will come. That’s the hardest thing — we all want to be good at something the first time we do it, but if you really sit and think ‘What was I good at the very first time I tried it?’ the answer is usually nothing. It took a few tries to learn how to tie your shoes correctly, or to really learn how to kiss well! It took a few practice runs! But that’s the hardest part as an instructor — you want people to get it as much as possible, and they want to get it the first time, so sometimes they feel that disconnect with the workout because they didn’t get it the first time, when really, there’s a lot to get. I’ve been doing it for 8, almost 9 years, and I learn something new about my body every time I come in here for a class. I learn that if I do a certain turn in a certain way, I can get more into a different muscle group, for example, and that’s with extensive training. So, it never gets old. There are so many things you can learn from your body in this technique, and you can always move forward with it; there’s no plateauing.

MS: Is Pure Barre open to all fitness levels?

MG: Yes! Our oldest client is 75, and she works out with her granddaughter down in Mission Viejo, and it’s just up to you to modify. We’ve had people in here with MS; one lady has a rod in her back from a car accident. It’s just all about finding the right modification for you, which any instructor can provide. We’re here to modify and help you. We have ladies all the way through third trimester pregnancies coming into class. As long as they get here early enough to chat with us and let us know what’s going on, we can alter any type of workout to fit them. We’re trained to a level that it isn’t a problem for us. If there is some kind of confusion or something we’ve never dealt with before, they will check with me (Monica has a degree in Exercise Physiology), and if I can’t figure it out, we have an owner who was a physical therapist before who can. However, we haven’t seen much that we can’t modify.

MS: What changes can one expect from consistent Pure Barre attendance?

MG: You’ll notice changes in your arms, abs, inner hips, inner thighs glutes, booty, love-handle area, legs, everywhere women hold weight. It makes your legs longer; it lengthens you. I just went to the doctor and actually grew a few centimeters! If you’re working hard and taking the classes consistently, you’ll see the changes everywhere a woman wants to see changes. We don’t have many men in class. We of course welcome them, but it’s so effective for women’s bodies, so it tends to be women who want to stay and be consistent members.

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MS: I’ve actually noticed that for me, since I started taking classes consistently, my lower back problems are a lot better. I haven’t even had to go see my chiropractor.

MG: Oh, yeah! We just did an event with a PT office, and they loved that we talked about posture, and stacking shoulders, which is also great for weddings. We remind you to stand tall and pull your tummy in, and all of that plus the lack of impact is great on the joints. All of the intense plyometric stuff, you really only need one time a week. Even our new Platform class, I only recommend one or two times a week. Those big explosive moves in high intensity classes are hard on your body, and you really only need them one or two times per week.

MS: Who is the ideal candidate for Pure Barre?

MG: It’s anyone who wants to see changes in their body and work hard. Anyone who has goals to strengthen, as well as see results. Sometimes, we have girls on the thinner side who want to see more muscle, who want big strong ‘Batman legs,’ and then we have athletic girls who want thinner legs. It’s about feeling stronger and better in your clothes, and more comfortable with yourself.

MS: Is there anyone who shouldn’t do Pure Barre?

MG: No, it’s really open to anyone who wants to listen and try to focus on what we’re telling them to do. If you’re not doing that, then you won’t see the best results with us. It’s like: ‘Simon Says to sink your seat a little lower!’ The positions are effective and basic and it’s how deep you work in them that make the difference. The fact that we don’t have levels of classes is nice, it’s really up to you to sink down one inch lower to make an exercise that much harder.

MS: What can one expect in a Pure Barre class if they haven’t taken one before?

MG: They can expect a 55-minute class that will melt away any daily concerns. It gives them time to focus on them, and it’s set to great music. We have instructors who will plan your whole workout for you, so no need to think about anything other than you and your workout for an hour. You don’t have to think about the kids or work or your husband; it’s all about you. The teacher will set up each exercise, and then circulate the room to help you modify or whatever you need. We stretch after each section, so after the arms, then thighs, then seat, then abs.

MS: What is the philosophy behind the Pure Barre program?

MG: We are a community of women who uplift one another’s fitness goals. Nothing in here is negative. We strive to not use any negative connotations and make it a positive experience. The Pure Barre technique is so diverse that your body is always being challenged. We have different exercises and things that do basically the same part of the body. We do go in a certain order, though, but we change the scenery with different classes. The isometric movements allow you to keep working out for years without joint issues. When I worked in orthopedics before this, so many people had problems with knees, joints, and hips being replaced, even in young people just due to excess use from things like marathons. The human body really isn’t designed to do things like run marathons. We challenge ourselves like that, which is great to do, but we aren’t meant to sustain that type of impact all the time. With Pure Barre, the no impact workout saves your joints for later on in life.

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MS: Is there anything else people should know before coming to class?

MG: Wear Capri’s or leggings long enough to cover the legs, which is more for the equipment. It’s more comfortable. We require socks, which we also sell here. If you’re new, coming 10 minutes early is amazing so you aren’t overwhelmed with your first experience. Know that you’re entering a community that’s there to boost your confidence and self-esteem to get you to your fitness goals!

Monica Grubin is the owner of the Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Mission Viejo Pure Barre locations.

Pure Barre
234 E. 17th St. Suite 116
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
949.230.9131 | www.purebarre.com

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