Ballet barre workouts gain popularity

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Healthy Hook

Barres are becoming more and more popular across the country as a tool for exercise. Not the drinking kind of bars, but the ballet barre, which is now being used for workout classes that claim to create a more toned and trim physique.

Rashanna Moss-Lowry opened Pure Barre, an exercise studio, in late August off of Bee Caves Road. The classes use a technique that incorporates elements of yoga, Pilates and dance to tighten your thighs, seat, abs and arms using the ballet barre, light weights, a stretch band and a small rubber ball. Moss-Lowry said the “Pure Barre Technique” used in the class is claimed to be “the fastest, most effective, yet safest way to change your body,” and that people who take her classes see results after as few as 10 classes.

Moss-Lowry has been active throughout her life — playing tennis, running, doing boot camps and trying all different activities. About a year ago, a friend of Moss-Lowry’s and co-owner of Pure Barre in Nashville told her to come in and try a class.

“I was skeptical,” Moss-Lowry said. “You know, I don’t do girly work outs, I do boot camps and I go run and I do stuff like that ... I said, whatever, it’s just like any other work out. I’ll get immune to it within like two to three weeks. I stuck with it and it never happened.“

During the class, you use the ballet barre to perform small isometric movements, a contraction where you hold a position for an extended period of time, over the course of an hour. Professor Dixie Stanforth, who teaches kinesiology classes at UT and is a personal trainer, said it is one form of training that has been shown to improve muscular strength and muscular endurance, though it is hard to determine immediate results.

“Because you’re always working against your body weight, it’s a little harder to monitor improvement or to get much feedback about how hard you’re working other than muscles shaking,” Stanforth said.

High-energy music pulses through the room throughout the 55-minute workout, so staying focused on the music keeps the mind off of your shaking arms and legs. Over the span of the class you will target your abs, seat, thighs and arms with no real rests. At first it feels like stretching, but then you start to feel your muscles burning as you hold your body stable in different positions and as you do small movements using the core, back, seat, thigh and/or arm muscles.

The instructors and Pure Barre’s website emphasize the way you will look after doing Pure Barre for a while — dropping inches, burning fat and changing the body. Although it sounds great, some may have unrealistic expectations going into the workout.

“For the person who doesn’t have a body type that’s going to respond well to this particular form of training, they may get discouraged and give up,” Stanforth said. “I feel like the best exercise is the one that you’ll [actually] do. And if you will do it and you enjoy it, it’s wonderful!”

Education senior Marti Baker has taken 12 classes since she started Pure Barre nearly a month ago. She said she expected the class to be more like ballet when she went for the first time but she was pleasantly surprised.
“It was hard,” Baker said. “I didn’t know what to expect so I was kind of nervous. I left feeling really good because it was a hard work out. My legs were shaking and I was exhausted.”

Baker says that after 12 classes, her clothes are feeling looser. She loves going to Pure Barre and wants to continue, but the only problem is the hefty price of each class for a college student. A single class is $23, and a month of unlimited Pure Barre classes is $225.

Moss-Lowry says that she will provide a student special at the beginning of the spring semester.

“Pure Barre is where you really can come in and get serious results,” Moss-Lowry said. “Even if you are a runner or there’s something that you absolutely love to do, coupling it with Pure Barre makes you better in that sport also. It makes you stronger; it makes you more flexible.”