Desert Companion

A new workout for getting lean, mean and pretty

The latest fitness trend Pure Barre goes for graceful strength, not frenzied weight loss

Pure Barre

Many of us have tried so many workouts that we aren’t fatigued just from the workouts — we’re exhausted by the workout options. We’ve tried to Zumba, spin, kickbox and Jazzercise our way to better health. We’ve sweated it out in Bikram yoga, tightened our cores in Pilates. What’s next? Ballet?

Actually, yes. The latest fitness phenomenon to hit Las Vegas is Pure Barre, a technique that combines elements of ballet, Pilates and weight training. The method claims that it can help you to achieve the coveted dancer’s body — a sleek, slender silhouette. No worries about bulky muscles as a result of this workout. Instead, the 55-minute sessions at Pure Barre are designed to sculpt lean thighs, toned arms and firm, flat abs.

Created 10 years ago by dancer and choreographer Carrie Rezabek Dorr, Pure Barre opened in Summerlin over a year ago and offers classes seven days a week. Owner of the local studio Lauren O’Nan moved here to open the first Pure Barre location in Las Vegas.

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“I got into Pure Barre through a friend. I thought, ‘I love this technique. I love what it’s doing for my body. I love being with women,’” she says. Her experience led her to venture west to what she describes as “an untapped market” to open her own business.

Don’t know a pirouette from a pas de deux? Doesn’t matter. Pure Barre, despite incorporating balletic elements, aims to be accessible to non-dancers and exercise newbies alike.

“The best thing about Pure Barre is that you’re working at your own level,” says O’Nan. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve been working out for the past five years or if you haven’t worked out in five years. It’s set up to be a personalized workout in a group setting.”

Barred for life

Nevertheless, don’t expect an easy first foray. It is a challenging regimen designed to target the problem areas that plague most women: hips, thighs, butt and abdomen. You’ll be holding onto that barre for dear life as you attempt to squeeze tiny muscles you never knew you had.

Small classes allow instructors to interact with students individually. After demonstrating the exercise, teachers circulate through the studio, offering hands-on corrections to ensure students are employing proper form and exercising the right muscles.

“It’s very similar to a Pilates-type class, but it’s faster and more upbeat,” says O’Nan. And the music that fills the room during classes isn’t what you might expect in a ballet studio. There’s no pianist in the corner tickling away at some Tchaikovsky. Instead, up-tempo tunes pump from an iPod to keep people on their toes and motivated to keep moving. Expect a routine that targets very specific muscle groups along with heart-pumping, calorie-burning cardio. Don’t expect a bouncing, gyrating Jane Fonda aerobics class, but do expect to feel that oft-discussed “burn.”

Each class follows a similar format, including a warm up, stretching, thigh exercises, seat exercises, core exercises and a cool-down, but exercises change from class to class to avoid the development of dreaded “muscle memory.” And the instructors’ resumés certainly don’t hurt. One performs in Le Rêve and one with Nevada Ballet Theatre; other instructors boast strong fitness backgrounds.

Because of the intensity of the Pure Barre method, achieving quick results is actually a realistic expectation. The program also offers a special program for recent mothers, aptly named The Baby Bounce Back. O’Nan says one new mom lost a total of six inches and 30 pounds in three months.

With regular attendance (three to four classes per week), most people start to see results after the first 10 classes. Student Patricia Ochal began taking classes in June.

“When I turned 40, I put on 10 pounds. I tried everything — nothing was working.  I started to come here, and I try to average 6 days a week,” Ochal says. In just less than a month, Ochal says she lost 10 pounds without making any other alteration to her routine or diet. She says, “My clothes fit loosely now, and I feel muscle all over. I feel strong. I feel great.” 


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