I have to give Pure Barre some props because this is the studio that got me into barre – I did the intro month when I lived in the DC area, saw changes in my body, and got hooked. Pure Barre is the most prevalent barre studio in the United States–they’re constantly encouraging people to join and franchise a new studio. There are hundreds at this point. Seriously, if you go to their website, they’re in most states. There’s a Pure Barre in Idaho. Idaho basically doesn’t even have people and they have a Pure Barre. Case closed.
As a chain, Pure Barre’s studios all look exactly the same–they have a red color scheme, a carpeted classroom, a hard-to-resist boutique, and even the same photos of Pure Barre models working out in unison. Pure Barre studios don’t have a ton of frills compared to other fitness studios in the area, but over the past few years I’ve seen some of the studios step it up. A number of the newer locations (Tribeca, West Village) have towels and locking lockers (vs. some older studios that just have cubbies). Studios don’t have showers, though, so keep that in mind if you come before work.
Pure Barre’s classes follow the same format every class (which can be good or bad, depending on what you like). You’ll warm up with a fairly extensive abs series that includes a 90-second plank. This is the hardest part of class, in my opinion, and I found myself wondering what I’d signed up for during my first class. After that, you’ll move into triceps and arm work, then thighs (three sets) and a thigh stretch, glute (aka “seat”) work (two sets on each side), abs under the barre (round back), followed by more ab work in the center of the room. Class ends with “back dancing” (aka pelvic tilts with the lights off–partayyyy!) and a long stretch.You’ll stay alert throughout class with background music that ranges from Katy Perry remixes to Beyonce remixes.
I’ve taken a ton of barre classes around the city and I always have a sense of comfort at Pure Barre because I know exactly what I’m going to get, but I also know I’ll be challenged. Compared to its peer set, I personally think Pure Barre has the hardest and most extensive abs series, and I definitely noticed changes in my body after a full month. I do wish the thigh exercises were a bit more challenging, though–other studios in the area seem to have longer thigh series; these ones end fairly quickly, in my opinion. That said, if PB decides to extend each thigh set, I’ll find myself regretting these words (and will probably get lots of angry glares from other clients!).
I’ve been to almost all of the Pure Barre studios in NYC (Columbus Circle, UES, FiDi, West Village, Tribeca, Williamsburg, 2nd Avenue, Union Square), and all of the instructors have been super friendly, especially during my first time at each studio. The quality of instruction at Pure Barre’s NYC locations seems much higher than that of the DC area studios, in my opinion. My only qualm with Pure Barre instruction as a whole is that it seems a bit robotic, as instructors are required to follow a script from their corporate headquarters. Of course, teachers throw in a bit of their personality, which is great, but you’ll definitely hear some of the exact same cues in all of your classes. My personal favorite scripted cue is at the end of class during the pelvic tuck section when the instructor tells you to “have some fun with it!” Because nothing screams “fun” like pelvic thrusts in the dark for 2 minutes and hoping you don’t make awkward eye contact with the girl next to you.
The aforementioned script also seems to encourage instructors to explain moves fairly quickly and to use verbal cues more than demonstration. This is fine for a barre regular, but it’s not the best for those totally new to barre. That said, if you come to a few classes and talk to your teacher after class, they are always more than willing to help you. The studio also offers “breaking down the barre” classes for newbies who feel lost in a sea of tucks and pulses.
Pure Barre clients are generally women in their 20’s and 30’s, but the vibe does vary by studio and I’ve definitely seen some 55+ year old women in class in the Upper East Side (rock on, ladies!). Each studio has a slightly different vibe; some seem a bit homier than others. The regular clients seem pretty friendly with each other, but if you’re dropping in via Classpass, the pre-class vibe from other students might seem a bit cold. This probably has more to do with studio hopping than Pure Barre, though. The front desk team and instructors are generally bubbly and friendly.
Overall, I’m a fan of Pure Barre in that it’s faster-paced than many of its competitors (Bar Method, Pop Physique), they have a large variety of exercises, it’s effective, and the workout is consistent so I always know what I’m in for. Definitely give it a shot. There’s probably a studio within 50 feet of you right now.
Cost varies by location. In Manhattan, a drop-in is $34, but new students can get their first month unlimited for $149 (a steal for barre!).