What it is: Pure Barre
Who tried it: Kara Warner, PEOPLE staff writer
Level of difficulty: A 6 out of 10 for me, but it totally depends on the effort you put into it. If you’ve never done a barre workout or class, I’d put it more as a 7 or 8 out of 10. (I was in a ballet company in my teen years and am familiar with the pain of pliés (ballet-style squats) and how sore/toned you can get from small but precise movements).
Recently I was invited to participate in a special Pure Barre class in Woodland Hills, CA with Maria Menounos, pegged to the launch of the company’s June Challenge — a month-long initiative which encourages current students to bring Pure Barre newbies with them to try classes throughout the month and the studio with the most visits in June wins a prize.
The 50-minute low-impact barre workout revolves around targeted movements for specific muscle groups like: arms, abs, butt, and legs, although in Pure Barre-speak those groups are: “hips, thighs, seat, abdominals and arms.” Menounos, who is less than a year out from undergoing complex, life-changing brain surgery, says she’s a fan of the total body workout because it centers on small movements that garner big results. “When you leave this class you feel like Hercules afterward,” she says. “You’re like, ‘I worked out every strand in my body in a major way.'”
For our special bring-a-friend-to-class class, the host of SiriusXM’s “Conversations with Maria Menounos” enlisted her longtime friend Vicky Vlachonis, a Pure Barre newbie who is a celebrated osteopath and author of wellness book The Body Doesn’t Lie, with celebrity clients (Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry, Chris Martin). In short, Vlachonis is well-versed in mind and body health, but was surprised by the intensity and immediate results she felt from the workout.
“I like it because it was very specific and small movements,” says Vlachonis. “You feel like you’re using your muscles and you’re strengthening, you’re lengthening, this is slower specific movements and then you tone up straight away.”
Adds Menounos: “You feel like you already look better when you leave.”
The Verdict: I can attest to all of what Menounos and Vlachonis say above — the small movements do a lot in very little time. I’ve taken other barre-type classes, but really enjoyed the targeted intensity and exercises for muscles we all want to tone — my personal faves were the movements that focused on toning the butt, legs and arms, even if I was pretty sore in the two days after the class. The soreness is totally worth it and I would definitely like to do more Pure Barre. Ballet body, here I come.