Morning friends! Today’s blog post will be the first in a series of Pure Barre posts. As a Pure Barre instructor, it goes without saying, Pure Barre is a major part of my life and I love sharing my PB passion with others. This particular post is intended for clients just starting out, or those of you who are considering taking your first Pure Barre class.
Although I had a plethora of my own advice to give to new clients, I decided to reach out to some of my fellow PB teachers to share their tips and wisdom as well, to give you several different perspectives. I started with my own tips, as they are more basic, logistics so to speak..but, below mine, you will find more advice and motivating words from my fabulous, fellow instructors.
WEAR (STICKY) SOCKS AND PANTS THAT COVER THE KNEE (FULL LENGTH IS EVEN BETTER)
I am starting with the most basic tips, but they’re important. Socks are a must for Pure Barre, for two reasons: first, to keep our studios clean and fresh, we must avoid bare feet like the plague (sounds dramatic, but imagine hundreds of clients each week working out with bare feet, not pleasant, correct?) Second, we recommend sticky socks so your feet grip the floor in certain positions where you might otherwise slip n’ slide (think planks). In my opinion, pants that go all the way down to the ankle are a great idea for your comfort; there are some exercises where you will put a tube around your ankles, and it can be uncomfortable against bare skin.
FIND A SPOT UP FRONT, CLOSE TO THE TEACHER (AT LEAST IN THE BEGINNING)
Instructors will always demo the first few reps of any exercise, and it’s helpful to see the correct form before you get into it. Don’t be afraid to watch the teacher setup and start the exercise before getting into position yourself.
LISTEN FOR THE MUSCLES BEING WORKED AND HELPFUL CUES
Pure Barre teachers will always tell you which muscle or muscles you’re working, even during warm-up and weight work. You will hear your teacher say things such as “working the base of your seat, strengthening the inner thighs, burning out the shoulder blades,” etc.) Really zone in on the muscle you should be working, and if you’re not feeling it, make sure to ask your teacher after class how you can execute the exercise properly.
Pay attention to cues, you will hear many, but they’re important … “shoulders stacked over the hips, back should be flat, C curve through your spine, no bend through the elbows” and so on and so forth…once you hear a cue, check yourself. Look in the mirror- is your back flat? Are your arms straight? Use the mirror to check your form constantly.
EMBRACE THE SHAKE
When you first start Pure Barre, and you experience shaking muscles the first few times, it might feel strange. Shaking is a good thing- that’s the goal. Your muscles are working to the point of fatigue and that shake means they’re changing. Stay in it, close your eyes, keep breathing, and know a stretch awaits you at the end of the section.
LET YOURSELF BE A NEWBIE
I speak from experience on this one. Pure Barre was absolutely foreign to me when I began…I’d done plenty of group fitness classes, but I’d never felt like a fish out of water in any of those classes I’d taken before. So when Pure Barre didn’t come easy to me, I felt frustrated, confused. I was in shape, so why was this “ballet” class so hard for me? Stay with it, and LEARN. Don’t be afraid of something that doesn’t come easy to you…if we always stick to what we’re comfortable with and what feels natural and easy, we likely will never grow and our bodies will never change.
IT’S OKAY TO MODIFY
Pure Barre is tough…do not be afraid to modify if it means you will be in better form. If you’re in a plank, and you feel your pelvis dropping, or your shoulders start to shrug up, it’s perfectly fine to take that plank to your knees. Same goes for push-ups. It’s better to be in a modified good form than a botched unmodified form. If you need some ideas for modifications, ask your teacher before or after class. (Having said this, do still challenge yourself, don’t just do a modification just because you’re tired.)
ATTEND BREAKING DOWN THE BARRE
Studios offer a free workshop at least every few months, dedicated to breaking down each section of class. I cannot recommend signing up for this workshop enough, you will get so many helpful tips, in addition to gaining a deeper understanding of the Pure Barre technique.
ADDITIONAL TIPS AND ENCOURAGEMENT FROM PURE BARRE TEACHERS
Come early and stay late. Come early to get familiar with the studio, fill out paperwork (if necessary), and get the lowdown on Pure Barre terms from your teacher. Stay late to ask questions. Instructors are always happy to go over terms or parts of class that didn’t make sense. – Rhiannon
Never compare yourself to anyone. Each class, focus on reaching your own personal goals and you will find that you really are stronger than you think. – Jamie
Work through the transitions. When you know a change is coming, stay in it, work through that change – Autumn (example, if you’re pulled off the bar in a chair position -see photo above- and your teacher cues to go from flat feet to tip toes, don’t stand up and come out of the position, stay low, and lift the heels.)
There are so many terms and things to think about during class, just focus on yourself and eventually everything will start to click. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! – Amanda J.
Be patient with yourself. You need time to get used to the movements. Honestly, you’ll be amazed at how transformed you’ll feel. I still learn a little each time I teach or take class. Have FUN- it’s your hour to yourself. – Lucas
Don’t give up after the first class! Give it a week to get into the swing of things (and get past the soreness). – Amanda W.
Give yourself a break after the first few classes. The technique takes time…learning how to isolate and work the different muscle groups. Let yourself have fun with the learning process. – Ashley
Let yourself be a beginner. Group fitness can be intimidating, no matter how welcoming the studio, the instructors, or other clients – you are walking into a new environment and probably wondering, “Am I going to be the worst person in the room?” Pure Barre isn’t about anyone else in the room, it’s all about you and finding your strength and pushing your limits. So if you can’t do all of the moves – that’s ok! If you can’t keep up with what the instructor is saying – that’s ok! If you’re like me when I took my first class and are struggling through the warm-up, that’s ok! Keep going back and I promise all of that will come with time. – Lindsay N.
I hope you find these tips helpful as you begin your Pure Barre journey. If you’ve never taken a class, give it a try! Many studios are offering a First Week Free promotion, so it’s an awesome opportunity to try a few classes before making any commitment. Reach out to your local studio to find out if they offer a free week and get ready to Lift. Tone. Burn.
Question of the day: For those of you who have already taken Pure Barre, what is your favorite part of class?