Focus On: Pure Barre

Hi! How’s the morning going?? Hope you’re having a great day so far. A special thank you to all of our veterans out there. <3

There hasn’t been much fitness going on the past couple of weeks as I’m healing and relaxing -I surprisingly feel totally normal, but am taking it easy besides short daily walks to get outside- but I’m going to feel refreshed and ready to get back into it when the midwife gives me the “ok.” In the meantime, I’ll still be posting the usual workouts and fun fitness-y things. It will help me live vicariously until I’m back in the game. 😉

I’m excited for today’s Focus On post, because it’s a workout I’ve been able to try a few times and really enjoy: Pure Barre! 

Pure barre

What is it?

Pure Barre is a barre-based fitness class, with franchises all over the US. Similar to many other barre styles, Pure Barre is low-impact and includes isometric holds and small pulsing movements to fully fatigue the muscles without having to lift heavy weights. The classes focus on muscular endurance, as they’re very high rep, and segmented into warm-up, upper body, quads, glutes, and core. In between each segment, you’ll stretch the muscles to relieve some tension. 

What to wear/bring:

For any barre class, I highly recommend wearing pants with a comfy shirt. Pants are key since you’ll be doing plie movements and exercises on the floor, and you don’t want to worry about flashing your goodies. Julie has a great post about what to wear to Pure Barre here. 

20110927 barre

Photo source

What to expect:

TO SHAKE. My favorite thing about barre is that it’s challenging every.single.time and you can modify it to push yourself as much as you feel comfortable. The exercises also tend to be very pregnancy-friendly and simple to modify as needed. 

How is it different than other barre classes?

One of the main things I noticed about Pure Barre is that they use some different terminology. For example, “glutes” or “booty” is referred to as your “Pure Barre ledge.” I like the image of being able to balance things on my booty haha. Also, they also use some different movements variations, such as drags, and tucks, which can be a little confusing if you’re not familiar. If you’re new, just like with any class, I definitely recommend letting the instructor know so they can give you the extra assistance you need. 

The types of tools used during class vary across barre studios, too. Pure Barre uses a small ball (much smaller than a playground ball that you might see at Physique57 or barre3), light weights, a mat, and resistance bands (a regular band, and a band with two loops). The instructor will let you know what tools you need for that particular workout.


Like I mentioned before, I love that barre is always challenging, and is truly a total-body workout. By training all of the muscles in your lower body, it helps to prevent injury. Many times the inner or outer thigh can become weak, which can lead to knee to IT band pain, so barre is great for preventing imbalances. 

Music! I feel like Pure Barre in particular pays close attention to their playlists. They use a different track for each segment, and the music always seem to fit the exercises perfectly. They also play a lot of top 40 remixes, which I enjoy for classes like this.

Pure barre 1 of 1


I wish it included more upper body and cardio, which is similar to how I feel about most barre classes. I would love to see a barre class that was 1/3 upper body, 1/3 legs and 1/3 core and cardio. The upper body sections are short, and while they burn, I would like a little more. Also, I noticed in a couple of classes that I took that we neglected some upper body muscles entirely (rear delts and lats). 

Some exercises can be tricky to understand. Some of the ab work still confuses me (Mostly the ab work at the barre: “I tuck what? I’m dragging what? I don’t feel it”), but I think if I were to ask an instructor next time I’m confused they’d be happy to explain. 

Varies from studio to studio. With any franchised fitness studio, it’s going to vary depending on where you go. I took a Pure Barre class when it was still in La Jolla, years ago, and it was terrible. The instructor seemed like she didn’t want to be there and basically counted in a monotone voice the entire time. When I took two classes in Richmond, I was blown away by how kind and friendly the girls were, and also how well-done the classes were with attention to proper form and great motivational cues. I also love the classes from my friends Vanessa and Briana in Tucson! So, if you take a Pure Barre class and it isn’t your fave, try another instructor or studio.

Have you taken a Pure Barre class before? What did you think??

For some barre workouts you can do at home, check out this one, this one and this one.



More barre Focus On posts: 

Physique 57

Barre Workouts

Core Fusion

Also, I have to link to this post. Strong language, but I laughed so hard I cried a little.

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  1. I’ve been LOVING barre classes throughout my pregnancy (“regular” classes, not pure barre) because they make me feel strong without feeling exhausted. I also imagine it’s got to be helping with getting everything strong for “the big day”. 😉 The only Pure Barre studio I’ve seen in my state was in one of the very wealthy towns and was in the same shopping plaza as a granola store, soul cycle, massage envy, organic market, and upscale kids tutoring center…i had to laugh. lol.

  2. Hi Gina!
    I’m a big fan of your blog and have been following for years, but I think this is my first time posting!

    I have a question: I’m going to be in Tucson for a week, and I was wondering if you’ve done a post on the best places to work out there.

    Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

    • Fitnessista says:

      yay, have so much fun!!
      eat: prep and pastry, cafe poca cosa, blue willow, blanco, and you have to try an eegee!
      work out: barre3 (take kate’s class!), breakout (todd’s dance cardio class) and session yoga (take chelsea and kristin’s class)

  3. I take private Pilates lessons and I always wonder how Pilates differs from Barre? I keep meaning to ask my instructor because I am fascinated by both!

  4. Loved this focus on post! I’ve been so curious to try pure barre but I’ve been hesitant because it’s SO expensive where I live.

  5. Good info here! It’s nice to have some more background on this type of workout.

    I wonder if I can convince my GoodLife location that they should bring in a barre class… 🙂

    It looks like so much fun. I would love to give barre a try!

  6. Hi Gina! I know this up and coming studio isn’t everywhere yet but if you’re ever in a city with a studio you must try it! It’s a women’s only studio focusing on cardio, strength, and restoration- so they have regular barre classes, HIIT classes with barre, and a yoga/strength class. It’s my fave barre stuido!

  7. Girl you have GOT to try The Barre Code. I used to do Pure Barre and loved it and then I found TBC. They have a HIIT Barre class… I mean really? In LOVE. So much so that I became an instructor!! My favorite format though is Barre Brawl (kickboxing meets barre). If you ever come to Indianapolis (no idea why you would but IF you do lol… ) I’d love to have you in my class. THere are lots of other locations around the nation too! None in CA just yet though!

  8. Barre classes are one of my favorites. It’s amazing that such small movements can burn so much!

  9. I absolutely love Pure Barre! I mainly do their online workouts and DVD’s but was at the studio the other day for a class. They are coming out with a cardio pure bare class which I look forward to trying!

  10. They just opened a Pure Barre in Williamsburg! I haven’t been since my hot yoga studio also offers barre classes. I can’t always make the times they have, but when I do I’m always sore the next day!

  11. I’ve done Barre3 and Pure Barre and they are just not for me. I felt like I did nothing the whole time :/ Way to “low impact” for me, but I do love real Pilates and maybe since I was a dance for 13 years, I feel to about this. Haha! I don’t 😛

  12. I tok a Pure Barre in NYC and liked it but there are so many other options, I found some of the other studios were a tougher workout. I agree with you that more upper body and cardio would be great in this workout!

  13. I feel like barre is a little rough on the knees b/c of the repetitive movements, so I usually avoid it. Any tips for making it more comfortable?

    • Fitnessista says:

      make sure that if you’re supposed to be on your toes, that you go as high up as possible. also try to decrease the range of motion to see if that helps.

  14. Hi Gina! Oh heeyyyy, we took Pure Barre together. 🙂 I totally agree with you on the upper-body portion. I’m always left wanting more. I also have trouble with the core section of Pure Barre, when we sit under the bar. I just don’t like it. Overall, Pure Barre is more challenging than some other barre classes though. It’s a good burn, and LOVE that it’s low-impact. Great review!

  15. I love Pure Barre!! The class always goes by so fast! (yet each move feels like forever) I too wish they had a few more moves for arms! Although my arms wouldn’t be able to last very long… Pure Barre just released a new class to the rest of the country, while I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s called Pure Barre Platform. From what I hear, you will leave the class dripping and is focused on adding more cardio!

    • Fitnessista says:

      haha that is so true. during each set, i’m like “MAKE IT END”
      i’ve been wanting to try out the platform! it looks amazing

  16. I wanted to like Pure Barre, but I have this problem where I need to be out of breath and sweating for me to feel like I got a good workout. I know that’s not true, being a personal trainer and all, but I still always end up going to strength work and HIIT classes all the time. Love that sweat!

    • Fitnessista says:

      i used to feel like that, too, but finally realized that i feel better (and notice better physical results) when i switch it up!

  17. Ha ha love Dude’s Digest!

  18. I love Pure Barre. I’m one of those who’s battled ITB pain for quite a while, and even in high school, my hips were weak. I could never find an exercise that targeted them and my first Pure Barre class had me cramping. It’s working 🙂

  19. I’ve never taken Pure Barre, but I’m sure I’d probably enjoy it. I always love doing the barre workouts that you’ve posted previously, Gina! The barre videos you’ve done are great.

    My main hesitation with trying Pure Barre it is that classes seem so expensive! It might still be fun to do a walk-in class occasionally, though.

    • Fitnessista says:

      thank you- i’m so happy you like them!! i’ll definitely post more once i can work out again. classes are expensive, but they usually do a first time deal, and many studios offer groupons

  20. Julie and her blog is what introduced me to Pure Barre in the firs place, but I am not sure if it is well known enough around here. I would love to try it, but I just don’t know where to go! Maybe the gym at SDSU will offer something soon. I’d love to try it!

  21. I really enjoy barre although I don’t go as often as I’d like. Xtend Barre has been my studio for a while and I like it…they are worldwide too which is nice. They try to add in cardio (although it doesn’t seem like cardio to me) and I find they have a good balance. As with any studio…some instructors are better than others.

  22. Thank you so much for this extensive review! While I learned that I’m partial to barre3, after taking quite a few classes (and after a not-so-perfect instructor experience at Pure Barre), Pure Barre is still an awesome workout – oh those shakes! Hurt so good 🙂

  23. I do Pure Barre in Tucson and I LOVE the classes. I just wish it were a little less expensive. It took some getting used to & I think the instructors make or break the class. If you have a good instructor they give helpful hints to help you feel it.

  24. I’ve heard really great things about it from a friend who does it but I’m hesitant to try because it can get really expensive!

  25. I have been to Pure Barre in Chicago a few times and really like it! My body isn’t really up for that intense of a workout anymore but I can’t wait to return to it! I do wish there were more cardio and upper body as well!

  26. Gina, you should create a barre workout that is 1/3,upper body, lower body, and core….you know, in your spare time!! Great post…I’ve never tried barre at a studio only some you tubes at home, but I’d like to some time.

  27. I have never done pure barre, but I discovered The Bar Method this year and it is a great workout! I totally agree with the people who say barre classes are expensive though. I did one month of The Bar Method at the studio for their introductory rate, and then I started using their online classes for only $35/month. I am not usually an at-home exerciser, but these online videos keep me motivated for the whole 60 minutes! I would highly recommend any lovers of barre check out this option.

  28. I loved barre when I tried it! I did the first month deal, but I just couldn’t justify the price after that. I wish it were less expensive!

  29. I have taken a few Pure Barre classes and I really enjoyed them. I also like Booty Barre, they do a lot more upper body work as well Barre Fusion.

    Have a great weekend!

  30. For some reason, I thought you taught at a barre studio, like Pure Barre. Where do you teach your barre classes? I teach at a gym and we call it Barefoot Power and do a fusion of barre/yoga/Pilates/strength/cardio. I really love teaching it and I wonder if I would ever go to a specific studio because I like the freedom to do my own thing. Love your barre vids, by the way.

    • Fitnessista says:

      i do- i teach at one of the barre studios here in SD 🙂 the nice thing about our studio is that while the gluten series and the stretching sequences are choreographed, we have the freedom to pick our own exercises for quads, strength and core
      thank you so much! i’ll definitely do more when i can work out again.

  31. Didn’t have time to read through all the comments but 2 things:
    –LOVE Pure Barre. Am going to hit my 250th class at my home studio tomorrow actually! I love the low impact balance and strength that it brings to my usually-default high impact cardio/running routine.

    –They are actually beginning to debut a new format called “Pure Barre Platform” which brings an additional cardio element to it. Much like the standard tube, double tubes, and velcro tubes, the platform will be a new certification for instructors and studios, so keep an eye out. (It won’t be coming to my studio until Spring 2016 but I am eagerly looking forward to trying it!)

  32. I am hooked on Pure Barre. I have taken approximately 80 classes since July. It has changed my body. The technique takes time to learn and I advise to take classes from a variety of Teachers at the studio. Somw teachers incorporate more arm work into the thigh, seat, and ab section of class throigh the use of the strap resistance bands (super hard). Each class is different and challenging. I am always feeling new muscles. Each teacher has her own wording/phrases when of describing form and what you should be feeling during the work. Some teachers do a much more precise job of explaining than others (I have thought oh well now I get it, why doesn’t every teacher explain it that way), and definately don’t be afraid to ask for help before or after class.

    Good news, they are coming out with pure pulse- a cardio barre class in January!

  33. Hi Gina! I currently attend barre classes at a local yoga studio 3-4x/week, and I love it. What type of workouts or exercises would you recommend to supplement barre? Thank you!

    • Fitnessista says:

      i’d make sure to do barre on non-consecutive days. add in some cardio here and there if you like, and one day of traditional hypertrophy training (heavier weights, 3 sets of 10-12 reps for each exercise)
      something like:
      long cardio
      barre + HIIT
      easy cardio
      strength workout + short cardio

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