Class Review

A First-Timer’s Guide to Barre

When the promise of building lean muscle finally proves irresistible.

There are some fitness trends so trendy that you almost don’t want to like them. Soulcycle might seem intimidatingly culty. Hot yoga — a bit too sweaty. And with the word “barre” tacked onto the end of countless studios, it can be difficult to know what the term even means.

But the promise of building lean muscle had proven irresistible, and — with a sigh of resignation — I found myself booking my first session at Pure Barre in University Park right after my Wednesday classes at SMU.

When the afternoon arrived, I was running behind (per usual) and stumbled through the front door of the Greenville Avenue studio, borrowed barre socks in hand. Luckily, before I was able to do something idiotic in front of my classmates, the instructor, Katherine, swooped in to offer a quick tour of the boutique facility. Though her presence in the room was unmistakable, Katherine was approachable and incredibly patient in answering all my blatantly uninformed questions.

As class began, we all grabbed a couple of resistance tubes and a medicine ball (small weights were optional) and took our place at the barre. The music for our warm up began blaring over the speakers with no buildup, and the Pure Barre veterans instinctively  stepped into formation in the center of the room for a series of exercises which soon had me gasping to reclaim my breath. If not for Katherine’s motivation I would have collapsed onto the mat, but I somehow managed to keep up the grueling ritual of contracting my muscles in a convoluted squat.

At the barre, my legs almost instantly began shaking, protesting against my wannabe-ballerina, tip-toe stance. As I continued to struggle through the movements, Katherine reappeared next to me regularly, constructively critiquing my stance and praising us for our work ethic. It takes a special kind of person to convert a class’ collective begrudging energy into motivation with phrases such as “Only you can change your body,” and “What you put in is what you get out!”, but Katherine is that kind of instructor.

By the end of class, I was beyond glistening in sweat, water droplets falling off of my chin. My legs were unsteady, my shoulders fatigued, and my core sore, but I was experiencing a sense of accomplishment no other workout had ever afforded me. As the music cut off, my neighbors and I exchanged knowing, exhausted smiles and a sort of wordless “thank you” after copying each others form for the previous hour. Pure Barre provided me with the most intense, focused workout I’ve experienced to date in a surprisingly non-judgey and supportive group setting.

The morning after, I rolled over in bed to grab my phone and audibly groaned. Muscles were sore that I didn’t previously know had existed. Crawling out from under my blankets, there was only one thing on my mind: when can I do my next class?


Reese Bobo is a D Magazine editorial intern.