An Out-of-Shape Celiac vs. Pure Barre

Update: I’ve taken over 600 classes at Pure Barre since 2012, and if I can do it – with ehlers danlos, hypermobility, endometriosis, a hysterectomy recovery – and more – then YOU can do it! – 2019 Erica

To read more about Pure Barre, be sure to read my Pure Barre 101 blog post!

If you’ve been watching my Instagram lately, you’ve been seeing a lot about Pure Barre. Since many of you have been asking about it, I decided to deviate from my usual celiac posts to talk about a new routine in my life that’s helping me rebuild my very broken body (from not only celiac, but multiple surgeries that have left me at my heaviest weight and the most weak I’ve ever been). As you have probably seen, I’m consistently the worst person in class, and I’ve decided that I’m okay with it. I feel like every class helps me get stronger and will hopefully set me on the right path to healing my body and giving me the strength back I once had.

Pure Barre Tips and Tricks

Here’s my scoop on my last 3 months (and about 35 classes) with Pure Barre.

Pure Barre

Pure Barre Logo Courtesy of

Yes, It’s Expensive
Let’s be honest here – Pure Barre is expensive. Now, I’m not saying it’s a waste of money, I think it’s a really awesome thing, or else I’d be spending money on another Marc Jacobs purse. My gym costs me about $25 a month, and I have endless access to spin classes, yoga classes, etc. Pure Barre costs me $175 a month and I have endless access to the studio (they offer about 6-7 classes a day, 4 on weekends). This is quite a bit of monetary difference. But let’s look at it this way – if I go every day (my goal), I’ll spend about $6 a class. Seems reasonable, right? But the less often you go to class, the more costly each class will be – total motivation for me to go as much as I can. You can also purchase each class individually, or just a set of classes (ex. 20 classes for $340 – about $17 a class). I realize that I’ll be spending about $2,000 this year in Pure Barre classes alone. When I think about it this way, it seems like a very expensive hobby. However, when I look at the potential of how Pure Barre will change what I see in the mirror, it’s worth it.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone In Class

Yes, There’s a Lot of Beautiful Blondes
Looking at the Pure Barre website, their Facebook page, and actual classes (especially in my part of town), you’ll see one thing. Beautiful and in-shape ladies. It’s so easy to be intimidated based on this. Everyone in the marketing looking so tone and so svelt and they look like they walked out of a Lululemon catalog. I kept thinking, “ugh, I don’t want to walk in there all out-of-shape with my non-Lulu pants.” Well, I’ll tell you something. There is truth to this. Because it’s so expensive to train at Pure Barre, you are going to get those girls that have a lot of money. I’m so shocked at some of the diamond rings and handbags these girls wear into studio. Yes, there are girls decked head-to-toe in Lululemon that I’m sure cost them well over $300 for the outfit. But there are also normal people in class. Normal women (and men) that don’t wear make-up to class, that are an average shape and size, that wear non-name-brand apparel. They’re there to work-out too – there to burn calories in a fun way, build long, lean muscles, and to kick ass and taken names. It’s very easy to compare yourself to the beautiful people of Pure Barre – the ones that look like they walked straight out of Sports Illustrated. Hell, I think I’m really pretty and I’m still intimidated when I walk into class. But I have to remember that we’re all there to do the same thing – they just might have had a head start on me on getting fit.

Pure Barre 500 Clubs

Wear the Proper Clothes

By this, I don’t mean Lululemon. I mean, feel free to wear expensive workout attire. In fact, I’ve recently spent a small fortune (and an entire paycheck) on expensive Athleta attire. After wearing one pair of their pants, I actually understand why it’s so expensive – it feels amazing. However, I still have pants and tops from Marshall’s that cost $5, and I even wear my “I believe in the Blerch” shirt from The Oatmeal too. The most important thing about clothing is to buy the right kind of clothes. You must wear at least capri pants, with long leggings preferred. Not only is this for warming up and keeping your leg muscles warm while you work them, but it’s probably more sanitary too. We use small balls to train our inner thighs – and yes, it goes right up there, hanging out in your crotch. No part of me wants to put a rubber ball near my crotch if it’s been near someone else’s sweaty, non-covered crotch. Please, no shorts. Tops are a free-for-all, but most wear tank tops. While you may not need a sports bra because we won’t be running anywhere, there’s still some bouncing happening, so you might want to keep the girls tamed. Sometimes I wear long-sleeved running zip-ups because I think they hide my muffin top better. However, half way through class, when my cheeks are bright red and I’m sweating my ass off, I regret it. Just please, keep your beautiful ta-tas covered somewhat and out of my face – I already feel insecure! Most importantly, tight fitting clothes help the instructor evaluate your form with Pure Barre’s small movements. Wearing sweat pants and your boyfriend’s shirt will not get you anywhere, plus you’ll probably sweat up a storm and overheat in all that cotton. Wicking material is your friend – I promise.

Find the Right Instructor

Some people can take a class with any instructor and still love it. Since I typically hate instructor-led classes, I have to be a bit more picky on what type of personality I choose. I think so much of Pure Barre is connecting with an instructor. I think this is especially true for me because there are three instructors that I’ve informed in-depth about my knee injury, and therefore feel safe that they won’t push me to the point of re-injury or intense pain during class (although they do push me an appropriate amount). If you’re new to the barre, you’ll have to find out what regular instructor you like. You’ll be able to find out who teaches what class on their very awesome online booking system. When I renew each month, I swiftly book my classes with my favorite instructor so I don’t have to go on a waiting list.

Summer Snacks 2015: Pure Barre

Pure Barre Classic Class Tips

Let ‘Em Shake
Pure Barre is not easy. In fact, after the first class, you might want to never come back. It burns, it works every muscle, even the ones you didn’t know you had. But, after a few classes you start to notice a difference and you’ll start to become addicted. The “Pure Barre Shake” is infamous. When you’re targeting very specific muscles, and doing very small movements repeatedly, you’re going to start shaking. Your muscles start to fatigue very quickly, but that’s the point at how quick you’ll start to build those muscles. You might feel like you’re dying at first. However, if you look around the room, you’ll see that everyone else is shaking too. That, and I’m pretty sure Pure Barre instructors don’t want you to die in class – only feel like you’re dying. But you’ll see those lean muscles soon enough, and you’re going to want to come back over and over again.

Small Movements Mean Small
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people in class try to out-lift and out-do the women around them to achieve a higher lift or a bigger movement. However, as an instructor will tell you, Pure Barre is a game of inches. The small movements mean small. You might be able to feel the exercise more than you’ll see it. I see people come into class thinking it’s a cross-fit class, trying to out-do everyone by making the movements bigger (to the point of it being comical), when in reality, it should be much smaller. If you are doing small movements and can’t feel it, ask for help on your form.

Stretch Stretch Stretch

I am not a dancer by trade, and if you’ve seen me, you know why. So at the end of the routine, it’s important to stretch. Yes, there is a dedicated portion at the end of the class (about 3-5 minutes) for stretching, and there are stretches throughout the routine after each big section (thighs, seats, etc.). But I hyperextend things way too easily (thanks hypermobility syndrome) to not stretch more than provided. While classes are typically back-to-back, no one will judge you for staying after a few extra minutes on your mat stretching.

#SetTheBarre Pure Barre

Modifying Pure Barre Classic

Don’t Be Afraid to Modify
I stayed with Pure Barre because my instructors are awesome and totally help me modify anything I need to for my injuries. My past knee surgery killed my knee – and there are certain moves that the rest of the class does that kill me all over again. But all I have to do is ask the instructor ahead of time what they’ll be doing that day that I can modify, or ask them during the routine how to modify it (or just look helpless during an exercise like I do and they’ll come up to you and ask how they can help you). Modification does sometimes make the exercise easier, but it’s all about how I can go through class while getting the most out of it – for me.

But Still Push Yourself
The basics of Pure Barre really don’t change much. There are warm-up exercises, arm exercises, thigh exercises, seat exercises, abdominal exercises, and then a stretch. But every class they’ll switch up how they do it so everything is still exciting if you take class every day (like a lot of people do). You can easily get into a routine and say “oh, I know what’s next” and just kind of fake your way through it without mindfulness and passion for each movement – especially if you’re modifying to make it easier. The strongest person and the weakest person in the class are doing the same exercise – think about that. So be mindful of putting your all through each small movement you produce and kick ass and take names. Maybe one day you’ll be the strongest person in the class. Maybe one day you’ll be that person that I aspire to every day I walk into the studio. Hell, maybe one day it will be me!

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Comments: 9

  1. Rachelle King January 5, 2014 at 5:21 pm Reply

    Love love love this post! One I’m in the same boat after multiple surgeries due to spinal issues. I’ve just joined KOR180 here in Austin, a Pilates and cycling studio. It’s not inexpensive like you mentioned (an unlimited monthly pass is $169.00) but it’s an investment in my health and well being. We’ve all spend countless dollars on eating out and in an unhealthy manner but we balk at spending this to get healthy.

    I’m in and love readin your post. It’s a personal journey and I liken it to yoga – everyone is at different levels (yes we’d love to look like the woman who’s in the advertisement video for Equinox Gym – at least I would…here’s a link: but I’m not so I’m going to take it day-by-day.

    Thanks lady for sharing this & helping to ensure us in our journies!

  2. mary fran | frannycakes January 5, 2014 at 7:03 pm Reply

    If only there was one closer to me…because I think that is just fine to pay. I pay $100/mo for my regular gym with nothing nearly as awesome as barre classes.

    I love that you have found a workout that is making a positive difference for you! I think I might try Barre3’s app with 10 minute videos to see if this body can hack it…

  3. Emily January 8, 2014 at 3:23 pm Reply

    Great post!!!! I love pure barre because you can make it your own! I’m glad to hear the instructors help with accommodations for your knee. I recently tore my acl and am literally counting down the days until I can go back to pure barre!!!!!

  4. chris April 27, 2014 at 6:52 pm Reply

    thank you thank you thank you! your post was just what i needed.
    i just started. 2 classes in so far. i can barely walk at the moment, which I’m ok with. but i felt awful after my first class and went back anyway. I was by far the worst in class, couldn’t do many exercise due to former injuries, felt frustrated, weak, inflexible. i know it will get better, i really do. i just needed a boost and a reminder and a laugh. thank you.

  5. Kathleen August 7, 2014 at 11:23 am Reply

    Love that I connected with you and your blog. I have a daughter who just introduced me to Barre3, and is becoming a teacher. I love the fact that it’s getting to places that my regular gym workouts just didn’t get. It’s challenging, but just enough…and good sore afterwards…Good for you going everyday…extraordinary! I feel that this work supports my body’s need for strength to support my back particularly since I have also had some surgeries. I will check back to through your posts since I deal with many who are celiac.. I know I can learn from you! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Pat F August 18, 2014 at 11:41 am Reply

    Thanks for your review–I just discovered that there is a Pure Barre 5 minutes from my house and am debating whether to try it. My biggest worry is that I am too old (almost 64), overweight (30 pounds), and out of shape to be able to do the class. Aside from 20-30 minute walks a few times a week, I haven’t been able to take a fitness class for more than a year due to foot and knee injuries, but I used to do Zumba and other aerobic classes. Unfortunately, there are no convenient low-impact classes nearby, which is why I’m considering Pure Barre. The PB promo material says it is for all ages and fitness levels, but I have a hard time believing that applies to me!

    • ruby wade August 23, 2016 at 10:50 am Reply

      just wondering if you ever tried it. I just read about this in the newspaper and trying to decide on whether I should give it the one month try. I am 57 and about 20 lbs overweight. but if you did it then I know I can too.

  7. Tawny October 23, 2014 at 10:16 pm Reply

    I love this post! I used to attend Bar Method classes when I could afford them. They are pricey, but SO worth it in terms of the results you get. I never got such rapid results from just going to the gym. I used to spin twice a week and my body never looked as good as it did once I started barre. Even though I can’t afford the classes any longer, I do barre DVDs at home, which really has been a very suitable replacement. I’ve gotten awesome results and I continue to make progress!

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