For some time, now I’ve been shopping the chic workout gear at Pure Barre Sarasota, ducking and running when co-owners Sara Ferguson and Melissa DeMore offer a free class. But the offers also came from a few of my favorite friends who’ve attended for years, saying I should try it. However, I’ve just never been that girl who joins in a group class, aside from my must-have yoga, mainly because I consider myself uncoordinated that way. The last time I took a group class was in the '90s, when Jane Fonda’s Step workout was hot. I was so embarrassed that I swore to Buddha I’d never attempt a class like that again.
Here’s the sea change: I was up for taking my fitness to a new level; challenging myself to stretch my exercise limits. Then, I learned my good friend Lisa Marx (who’s like-minded in exercise interest) had joined Pure Barre. Curses! Now I had to go.
This class is my toughest workout ever, barre none. I liken it to ballet boot camp. Here’s the kicker, though: I saw results in 3 classes! I’m actually going to put this out on the Internet: My butt was different. Seriously. I wouldn’t believe this unless it was my own gluteus maximus. And it’s not just me - ask anyone of those in the cult following.
“Pure Barre gives me an incredible sense of accomplishment. Afterwards, I feel stronger, more focused and...happy!” --Lisa Marx
So, where did my aversion to group classes go? Well, funny thing is that Pure Barre-ists are too busy monitoring their form and getting it right to notice what anyone else is doing, including me. And you get unspoken points just for showing up, which in my opinion is the hardest part. To be frank, I mentally curse myself, frequently, while doing the 55-minute class. I have a love/hate relationship with it, but I’m addicted to the results, no doubt.
And while I’m telling the truth, on my drive home from class I find a sense of pride and accomplishment, thinking, "Did I actually just do that?!" There’s something to be said for stretching beyond your limits.
During a moment of powering through, I decided to share my experience with you and chat up my instructor for insight. Sarasota native Chaz Glunk is comfortable in a dance studio–and he’s been in one for more than 17 years. Within his first five years of training, he was accepted into the prestigious Ballet school of Harid Conservatory, he danced with Sarasota Ballet for four years, Charleston Ballet Theater for three years and Las Vegas Contemporary Dance for two years, At 34 years old, he’s proving if you do what you love, the rest will follow. Now, Chaz channels his well-rounded dance training and pedigree to his classes at Pure Barre, a perfect fit.
Let’s talk Pure Barre….what got you into it?
Ballet is about more than just movement. A dancer is required to have a strong core for balance and stability. So, when I started hearing rumors about an amazing workout that focuses on these same principles, I was drawn to it like a fish to water. A student of mine asked me to come take a class with her in March of 2012. Honestly, I walked in thinking, “Oh, this is going to be easy. I know my body and these muscles… piece of cake.” Needless to say, after a single class, I was sore for several days. Within my first five classes, I was finding muscles I didn’t even know I had.
How many classes have you taught to this point?
In less than a year, I have taught more than 600 classes. I average about 14-15 classes a week. My earliest class starts at 6 a.m., for my early workout warriors. My latest class, for those who want a great night’s sleep and that sense of accomplishment after a long day of work, starts at 6:35 p.m.
How would you describe a Pure Barre workout?
I would describe it as a fast-paced workout that gets the heart pumping and the blood boiling. It targets the inner and outer thighs, tapers and lifts the seat, sculpts the arms, and strengthens the core. Every moment of the 55-minute workout is engineered to create a streamlined dancer’s body without the wear and tear.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to know – how did I see amazing results so quickly?
You know that “shaking” and “trembling” that you experienced throughout class? Well, that is really key. We drive the muscles for an extended amount of time, focusing on small isometric movements for a few minutes at a time. This complete muscle fatigue ensures that they are pressed to the limit. Adding a stretch after every major working point of class allows increased blood flow to heal the muscles faster. This also helps eliminate the bulking that can occur in other workouts. It’s a balance that comes down to muscle confusion, constant exertion, and taking proper care of your body.
Pure Barre reminds me of yoga in the way that students of varying levels can co-exist in a class–how is that effective?
I’ve heard it said by many in the Pure Barre community that if you can hold onto a barre, you can do Pure Barre. People of all ages, shapes, and sizes are welcome in every class. You work at your own level. As teachers, it’s our job to help guide Pure Barre clients into that “shaking” zone. I have had people in their 70s working out next to people in their 20s. Each person can take the workout to their own fatigue point.
What advice would you give a new student?
Hang in there! It really is a process. It’s going to be a challenge. The lingo and the flow of class will eventually become second nature, but I have yet to find anyone who “gets” Pure Barre in their first class. It is a technique that has to be honed over time. Athletes of all levels still have something to learn. As you get better, you learn to push yourself harder.
Another really important tip is to listen carefully. Not all exercises are the same. Furthermore, each instructor can offer unique, insightful pieces of information. Keep an open mind and you'll be on the fast track to change.
Regarding those who have injuries, is Pure Barre a safe bet?
Pure Barre is designed to accommodate almost all types of injuries. Each exercise is designed to offer proper joint support. Form is the most important aspect to safety. Also, there is a modification for everything. If one doesn’t already exist, we will invent one for you. We have many clients who end up at Pure Barre because they can no longer do their other workouts because improper form and lack of guidance has led to injuries. Pure Barre is a better solution because we work with you, focusing on what you have to build up and balancing the muscles around the injury.
What’s a Pure Barre misperception?
The most common misperception is that Pure Barre is a ballet class. There is almost no dancing involved. While it involves all the coordination and stability that is required for beautiful movement, there really isn’t a performance element. It is muscle-building and conditioning. We work to enhance the client’s awareness of the body and all of the body’s working parts. Don’t walk into a Pure Barre class expecting classical music and tutus.
Anythinge else you’d like to share?
I can honestly say that even through the rigorous process of training and dancing professionally, I didn’t see the same results that I am seeing now. Teaching Pure Barre allows me share my background of classical ballet and modern dance through a workout technique that is easily grasped by anyone who is willing dedicate him or herself. I can reach and change the lives and bodies of many more individuals who would be intimidated by the ballet environment.
Also, our clients build not only better bodies, but stronger minds as well. There is a great deal of mental discipline required to focus on a single muscle group and get to the shaking zone that is required for change. Quite frankly, the results speak for themselves. Our clients walk in one way and begin to change as they embrace the Pure Barre experience.
And, some insight from dedicated Pure Barre-ists:
How long at Pure Barre: Since October 2011
How many times/week: Four times a week ,if possible.
Why Pure Barre? It’s a great workout for every single muscle in your body. It defines your body like nothing else, and it is fun.
How long at Pure Barre: I have been a Pure Barre addict since July of 2011
How many times/week: I attend three classes a week and make no excuses, because it's one hour for me where I know I'm going to lift, tone and burn my body to a healthier version after each class.
Why Pure Barre? A long lean toned physique is what I was always after, and am happy to have that now thanks to Pure Barre and healthy eating. This workout is so enjoyable because of the camaraderie, confidence, and results it offers that makes this hard class fun.
How long at Pure Barre: 18 months
How many times/week: Ideally, four classes per week; however, some weeks I may only make 2 or 3 classes.
Why Pure Barre? For many years, I participated in high intensity cardio workouts including circuit training, running, kick boxing and TRX; now I have injuries as a consequence. I get a great workout at Pure Barre without the pain. I am toning and lengthening muscles in a way that I never dreamed was possible! The principles surrounding the Pure Barre method are timeless; anyone can find success with this workout.