Sweat Seattle: The Other Kind of Barre-Hopping

Pure Barre Bellevue Tuck-tucking at Pure Barre/Photo via Pure Barre Bellevue

“Are these barre classes like ballet, or something?”

“I don’t know about this, I’ve never done ballet before …”

I hadn’t either but I was thinking it might be closer to a true sweat session than a ballet lesson. Sure, a ballet barre lined three of the mirrored walls of the room but I tried not to think about that minor detail. Plus, barre is all I’ve heard about from my Seattle fitness friends recently so I just had to try it. I packed my shoes into one of the nylon bins in the lobby, grabbed a set of weights, tubes and a Pure Barre ball as instructed, then sat down and watched as other barre-goers filtered in and began stretching … by doing splits.

Pure Barre Bellevue
Tuck-tucking at Pure Barre/Photo via Pure Barre Bellevue

“Uh, what have we gotten into? Are we supposed to be able to do … that?!” My friends were getting just a tad anxious.

I shook it off. There was no way. The lobby-girl didn’t say anything about splits when I told her it was our first time here. Finally, our instructor for the day walked in and flipped the switch to the music. As the beats began to fill the room I started to forget about the flexibility feats I had seen earlier and got into my groove. An hour later and some “tuck, tuck”-ing that promised to “lift, tone, burn” my seat, thighs, abs and arms, I reached for my water bottle and didn’t stop drinking until it was almost empty.

There were probably some ballet elements to the routine we did. After all, the class is based on a mixture of ballet, Pilates and weights; but none of it was so difficult that an everyday never-took-a-ballet-lesson-in-my-life girl like me couldn’t figure it out. There is no doubt that some of the people there were dancers or former dancers – the ones who were never once “adjusted” by the instructor. But that didn’t matter to me. I had tucked at my own pace. I had broken a sweat. And I felt the burn.

Michelle Strub
Grab a set of weights and get ready to lift, tone and burn!

If you haven’t tried a class yet, you’ve probably at least heard of barre. If not from local chatter than certainly from the number of celebrities who’ve been gushing about its effects the past few years, see: Kelly Ripa, Ginnifer Goodwin, Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Madonna. Along with SoulCycle and FlyWheel Sports (another story for another day), barre has been touted (and is all the rage) as the most effective way to change the shape of your body. It’s genuinely meant for all ages and all fitness levels; and is considered low impact with high results.

Using small isometric movements, Pure Barre and its ilk (in the Seattle area: Barre3, The Bar Method and Lab5) are becoming more and more mainstream as an addition to the typical gym scene. “Evening Magazine” even featured it (The Bar Method) last week with local advocates Clint Patterson, a tri-athlete, and “Bachelor” alum, Lindzi Cox.

Pure Barre opened in the Seattle area in 2010 by Sami Sweeney. It expanded to Bellevue in 2012, which is where I chose to try the tuck. Now that I have one class under my soon-to-be-shrinking belt, you’ll be sure to catch me barre-hopping more and often.

Michelle Strub
Tubing adds resistance to tone your muscles.

A Seattleite walks into a barre …

The Whos

Who can participate: The exercise is meant for anyone and every one of all ages and fitness levels. Some studios may have specific age requirements though, so you’ll want to check in advance. If you’re injured or pregnant you should obviously consult with your doctor first.

The Whats

What is it: Typically a 60 minute total body workout that uses a mixture of ballet, Pilates, weights and isometric movements to lift, tone and burn fat, ultimately transforming your body.

What it will cost you: Depends on the studio. For a single class, anywhere from $18 – $35. Some studios, like Pure Barre, offer your first class free. Packages and punch cards are available at discounted rates thereafter.

What to wear: Yoga wear – think Lululemon. Full lower-body coverage is crucial as several poses involve your legs being up in the air so skirts and shorts might expose just a bit too much. Lastly, socks. I prefer ankle socks or you can purchase socks specifically designed for barre.

What to bring: Except for a water bottle, nothing! All equipment is provided at the studio.

The Wheres

Where is it: Locations are scattered about Seattle depending on which barre studio you choose to attend. They’re all about the same with only slight variations in the workout between them. Try one or try them all.

  • Pure Barre – Queen Anne, University Village, Bellevue
  • Barre3 – Capitol Hill, Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Bellingham, Vancouver (offers childcare)
  • The Bar Method – South Lake Union, Redmond, Spokane
  • Lab5 – Capitol Hill

Where you’ll feel the burn the next day: All over. Really. All over. They don’t call it a total body workout for nothing.

The Whens

When can you go: Class schedules vary by studio with some requiring you to reserve your class in advance.

The Whys

Why you should try it: It’s almost the end of January, how’s that New Year’s resolution coming? In all seriousness, the better question is why not? No experience is required and no matter which barre studio you choose you’ll be welcomed without a hint of judgment, which means no reason to feel intimidated to try it at least once.

Why it’s worth it: Fast body shaping results with long term postural benefits. Pure Barre maintains you’ll see a change in only 10 classes. Now that’s efficient.

Pure Barre | 909 112th Avenue NE, Bellevue | (425) 462-7474