pure hell at Pure Barre

This post has been two weeks in the making. And now, due to a self-imposed deadline, I find myself writing it after an over-indulgent margarita-featured happy hour.

Forgive the typos, won’t you?

Five weeks ago I decided it was a good idea to buy another Groupon. We all know what happened the last time I did that.

This Groupon offered a 5 class pass for Pure Barre.

For the uninitiated, Pure Barre is the ballet-inspired Pilates-style workout that promises to re-sculpt your body, lengthen your muscles, and tone and lift all those troublesome spots: butt, hips, thighs, abs and arms.

Those who have experienced Pure Barre commonly refer to it as “that fucking torture session.”

Or maybe that’s just me.

I didn’t know much about Pure Barre, other than the fact that it was a craze among the Hollywood types. Which meant that I clearly had to try it. I am nothing if not completely and utterly pop-culture obsessed.

I worried, though, about how much actual ballet might be involved, given the class featured an actual ballet barre. As a lifetime ‘curvy girl’, ballet wasn’t in my repertoire.

I secretly hoped that I would show up at class and see attendees dressed like this:

Source: usmagazine.com

Source: usmagazine.com

Or, preferably, like this:

Source: usmagazine.com

Source: usmagazine.com

Unfortunately my YouTube research showed me that this wasn’t to be the case.

While the video disappointed me from a costuming perspective, it did serve to ease my mind about the difficulty of the workout.

“Phew! There’s no dancing involved. Shit, they’re barely moving. I got this.”, I told myself.

Sweet baby jeezus, was I ever wrong.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Blame it on the tequila.

I purchased the Groupon 5 weeks ago, but it took me over 3 weeks to strike up the necessary nerve to attend my first class. Despite the YouTube videos that made the class look, dare I say… easy, I kept hearing the dire warnings of friends:

  • Oooh… Pure Barre is HARD.
  • You will be sooooo SORE.
  • Just wait until a day or two after, that’s when the REAL pain will set in.

How could that shit not scare you?

So I used every excuse in the book to delay kicking off my Pure Barre experience.

  • I think my period will be starting tomorrow.
  • Nope, must be the day after.
  • Oops, guess it’s the day after that.
  • Oh now I’m heading out on a business trip.

Eventually I consulted my calendar and realized that with the kids’ visit, I needed to get my classes started, or I would run the risk of not being able to attend all 5 before leaving Las Vegas at the end of the month.

I hate wasting money, so that motivated me to hit my first class on Tuesday Feb 11th. I had given birth to a 9lb 4oz baby 21 years, to the day, prior. And if I could handle passing that giant head through my birth canal, without the aid of drugs, then surely I could handle a silly Pure Barre class. Right?

But I’m getting ahead of myself again. Farking tequila.

In preparation for this first class I made sure to consult the Pure Barre website, to ensure I had all the necessary equipment.

As it turns out, other than requiring capri-length or full-length pants (no shorts) and tops that cover your midriff (seriously, AS IF I’d show up in just a sports bra…), the only other thing that I needed to concern myself with was a pair of “sticky socks”.

Sticky socks are the ones that have some rubber bits on the sole to prevent you from slip siding away on a slick floor. They are often referred to as yoga socks.

I set out in search of these sticky socks – but despite numerous trips to a variety of stores, the only kind I could find were the ones with the separated toes.

God I hate toe socks.

I also hate toe shoes.

But I was running out of time, so I bought a pair.

I didn’t try them on until I arrived at Pure Barre for my inaugural class.

And I was horrified at the result.

I had Fred Flintstone feet.


These are not pretty feet.

I obsessed over my caveman toes for about 2 minutes, and then I looked around at the women in the class.

Let’s just say you feel like you’re in reasonably good shape, after a year of working out every day, and then you hit a Pure Barre class, and realize you are actually a beached whale.

A pregnant beached whale.

And then the instructor walked into the room.

I could see her muscle definition THROUGH HER CLOTHING.

Hers was a body that made me want to cry. Strong, curvalicious, sexy.

And that ass. I wanted to touch that ass. Cup it. Marvel at it’s high, round, full perfection.

Oh. My. God. Becky. Look at her butt.

If Pure Barre gave those women those rockin’ bodies, I was game to get going.

My enthusiasm lasted 5 minutes.

This low impact class delivered high impact pain.


The small isometric movements, done for hours on end a couple of minutes at a time, serve to tone your muscles in a way that I’m not sure heavy lifting or aerobic training can do.

I’ve certainly not felt this level of muscle fatigue during a workout in a long time, if ever.

I winced my way through the class, often closing my eyes and wishing that the angel of death would come and provide sweet relief, until I finally found myself in the final cool down and stretch.

Making my way home, I marvelled at how it’s physically possible that such subtle and tiny movements could cause that much pain.

I gingerly climbed the stairs to my second floor condo, feeling areas in my gluteal region that I didn’t know existed.

When Mr. Enthusiasm asked how the class went, my response was, “I won’t be walking tomorrow. Or having sex again. Ever.” And I believed both statements to be true.

That was the first session of five.

For my second session, I momentarily considered paying homage to the bat-shit crazy Black Swan character, but I wasn’t sure my genetically gifted co-attendees would appreciate the sentiment.


I survived sessions 2 and 3, without further incident.

Session 4 nearly killed me on Monday.

Ten minutes in, I either pinched a nerve in my neck or suffered a brain aneurism. Whatever happened, I am still in pain as of the writing of this post late Tuesday night.

My fifth and final session is Wednesday morning, likely around the time you’ll be reading this post. Wish me luck. Or send the grim reaper to come grant me salvation. One or the other.

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy

112 thoughts on “pure hell at Pure Barre

  1. Pingback: 2014 in review, wordpress style | my year[s] of sweat!

  2. Pingback: goop is trying to kill me | my year[s] of sweat!

  3. Tequila is your friend! Well, pure barre does sound like pure hell. I don’t like those sticky socks. I like to slide all over the hardwood floors in my house. I feel like I’m a figure skater at times. 😀

  4. I just did a free Pure Barre class at the suggestion of a wellness coach. I know “wellness coach” sounds fancy, but she is free. My husband works for a major hospital in the Houston area and spouses are able to take advantage of wellness coach sessons. By attending we lower our health insurance rates. So, my wonderful coach had suggested I try Pure Barre. She said I need to challenge myself. I have a history of bad low back, so I am a little scared to try things. Crazy class. Not sure what to make of it. It was tough! I think I can do it….my neck is sore now…so we shall see. I was looking for something like physical therapy…but long term. Not sure why the classes have to be so pricey. It was hard to follow the instructor. I would hear her voice coming from different parts of the room as she moved around. Why can’t she just stay in one spot! Not a super friendly crowd. I guess they are all in pain!? I bought the sticky socks there. Twelve bucks. I did not like the part about us wiping down our mats, balls, bands (the red things). A little tacky (as we say down south), if you ask me. As much as the classes cost, they should have an employee do all that. May try it again. I am intrigued. Really enjoyed your blog. Hope you are doing well!!!!!!!! I appreciate you talking about working up the nerve to take the class. It is all about mind set, isn’t it. To hell with all those snooty pattooties. The lights were dim and I think I did an okay job for my first time. As I looked around, it seemed like nobody really knew what they were doing. Maybe not such a good thing??!! How does everyone else feel about this place? The other place I go to is called “Nifty After Fifty.” To their credit, lots of the folks are well over 60, and 70. They have a great attitude. Maybe that is more my speed. Well, one day, someone fell asleep on the equipment….so I may need the challenge after all!

  5. hey nancy, great write up on this! i was feeling the same pain after barre class! but i think feeling pain/sore in areas that you dont know exist is an amazing things, minus the climbing stairs part. Keep it going!

    • God no! I finished up that 5 class Groupon and never looked back. 🙂

      Actually, I’ve found a few good Barre online videos that I keep in my rotation. Free and effective. 🙂

  6. Too funny!! And SO true. My exact thoughts STILL after 26 classes since June 1st. Everytime I do a class I’m shocked that I lived through another one!!

  7. I just did my first one last night and had to google to see if i was alone in thinking that was the HARDEST WORKOUT CLASS EVER. I think I googled something like “WTF ballet barre death sore” and your blog came up. Thanks for the laughs.

    • Other Google terms that would have worked:
      “Am I the only one who shakes uncontrollably in barre”
      “Am I the only one who died in barre”
      “Am I the only one who cried like a baby in barre”

      That class is the devil’s work!

  8. I’m a ballet/dance teacher, yoga instructor, across/tumbling instructor who’s degree is in kinesiology and I fucking HATE barre. Why in gods name would I want to put my muscle in a shortened position and pulse? The few times I have tried a barre class all I could think was “when is this over” “I’m going to punch someone”. All the years of mindfulness, meditation and kindness I have practiced goes out the door as I judge the women in their $150 lulu clothes who have a little dog and and a $6_latte and hope that mother nature takes out the whole room. Ya…you’re not alone.

  9. I realize that I’m a bit late on the uptake here, but omg I love this!!! Particularly your pregnant beached whale analogy – *raises my hand* yep that’s me, right here! I am cheap, so I don’t go to or pay for classes, I prefer to torture myself in the privacy of my own home, in a room where my wonderful, loving husband has learned to ignore my existence if that door is closed (if he wants to keep his head firmly attached to his body and his skin intact). I tried a barre “beginner” video on Sunday morning (Merry Christmas to me! – not ). I managed 15 min out of 45 – with plenty of periodic few-seconds breaks intermixed (where I seriously had to just laugh and/or at how painful this could be when it looks super do-able) before accepting defeat. Here I am 2 days later, and I think my legs may just be functional again…until I stand up and try to walk. But, I THINK I liked it in a weird, possibly masochistic, way…and am questioning if I’m going insane because I’m considering doing it again tonight after work….

    • Gurl. You need to seek medical attention immediately. You must have had a stroke. That’s the only explanation for you thinking you liked it.

      Seriously, good on ya! It’s a super awesome workout for lengthening and toning muscles. Good job, you!

  10. I just came across this through a random strand of Pinterest likes and man is this hilarious and accurate. My apartment complex offers classes and barre is one of them. I grew up dancing and after having surgery on both knees last year, I had to quit heavy lifting and decided to give it a try. I’ve been going twice a week (and now 3 because they added an extra day) since September and I. am. In. Love. With. Barre. I must be some sort of sadomasochist because I leave practically crawling and there’s been times where I’ve literally shed a few tears but I keep going back for more.

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