Pure Barre has joined the scene of ballet-inspired workouts in Toronto. Based out of South Carolina, the company has 300 locations in the States, with Toronto its first on Canadian soil.
Toronto has overall been friendly to boutique fitness studios ( The Extension Room , Barre3 ) and welcomed barre studios like Pure Barre because it fits that mould, and will find the right audience with its Queen Street location.
Studio owner, and instructor for the session, Paige Carper, is the quintessential ballerina-barre type. She's as elegant and fit as you expect from someone who is in the competitive and challenging fitness scene on the crowded Queen street market.
Carper is a two-time Ironman finisher who fell in love with Pure Barre when she was looking for a safe exercise to do while pregnant with her second child. She then went on to become a Pure Barre instructor, and partnered with sisters Katelyn Lippert and Alexandra O'Rourke to open the first studio in Canada.
The Pure Barre workout tones your thighs, abs, and arms. It's a complete workout for your body that gets you sweaty and pumped with adrenaline.
Pure Barre uses light weights (1-3lb dumbbells), ropes, balls and your own body strength as it transitions through a 55-minute workout targeting particular parts of you body. The music is loud, the muscles are burning and the class ends with you on a mat, leaning up against the wall, arms wrapped around the barre stretching your fatigued muscles.
The workouts are low impact, so there's no jumping or bouncing. The studio only has one (carpeted) room, with a spacious front desk and lobby.
I'll admit it, I'm not much of a barre girl. I find the hour goes by slowly and my mind is elsewhere. But there is no doubt that the classes are effective, and I enjoy working my entire body and working it hard. Plus, incorporating ballet moves into your workout is an added bonus.
Carper is either walking around perfecting and correcting your posture (always appreciated, I don't know why more instructors don't do it), or she's at the barre doing the exercise right along with you.
The barre's strength is in its demand from you, not just physically, but mentally, to stay focused and resilient through some intense exercises as you squat and then lift your thigh to places you didn't think it could move to. The goal is to sculpt and move your body like that of a dancer, while tucking along to high-beat music in a class of 25 people.
Pure Barre's mantra is all about 'tucking.' It's basically all we kept hearing throughout the hour-long exercise. 'Tucking' is all about pulling your abs towards your spine while at the same time dropping rolling your tailbone forward. "I always describe it as pulling your hipbones towards your ribcage or imagining you're getting socked in the stomach," says Carper.
Photos by Jesse Milns.