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Pure Barre – Kendra Ratliff


I grew up dancing most of my life–ballet, tap, jazz, modern, etc. I even participated in competitions, wearing fake eyelashes and glitter in my hair. I often miss dancing and am always up to try a workout inspired by dance. While it wasn’t an actual ballet class, I took my first Pure Barre class this week. The website claims:

Pure Barre is the fastest, most effective way to change the shape of your body. Using small isometric movements at the ballet barre set to motivating music, Pure Barre lifts your seat, tones your thighs, abs and arms and burns fat in record breaking time. Clients see results in just 10 classes, lose inches in weeks and have fun doing it!

Since franchising in 2009, Pure Barre has developed a reputation for high quality. It has been featured on TV shows, in magazines, and on many other blogs. Interested to see how it went?

What Others Said
“Kendra has intensity. Her class has intensity. She is one of the most challenging teachers at Pure Barre, and I comb the schedule looking for her name. I know I will have the most productive 55 minutes of my week if I am lucky enough to get into one of her packed classes.” – Burner7194

“Kendra just WORKS it so hard. She has amazing command, like she is pumping up a crowd of 500 on New Year’s Eve, performing a concert, or hosting SNL. She walks around the room with FIERCE power and confidence. I could see her teaching a kick-ass Barry’s class.”SweatPump

What I Thought
Sigh. Based on reviews and reputation, I had high expectations for this class. I wanted to really like it, but it didn’t quite measure up. I liked performing modified versions of some ballet movements I did growing up (plies, relieves, arabesques in attitude). These were mixed with light upper body weights and some pilates both in the center of the room and at the barre. We used a small ball and two linked bands as props. All movements were performed in tiny pulses with the stomach lifted, hips tucked, and back flat. I could feel my muscles being toned, just like in a ballet class.

Although I’m familiar with ballet movements and understand that barre is only inspired by ballet, I had a difficult time following along. For someone who constantly takes different types of fitness classes at new studios, this surprised me. I imagine that many would have a difficult first few classes at Pure Barre. Only about half the time did Instructor Kendra Ratliff physically demonstrate the next exercise. Even then, she demonstrated one or two repetitions and was difficult to spot among other students. She also spoke quickly, which made me feel as though the repetitions were almost too fast. Even when corrected, I had a difficult time positioning my body the right way. I’m not sure if all Pure Barre classes are the same as Kendra’s, but I can say that I enjoyed Yoga Works barre classes more than this one. Maybe I need to give Pure Barre a second chance.

Have you tried Pure Barre before? What did you think?

Locations: In over 35 States
Price Per Class: $33 per class in NYC
Free barre tips from Pure Barre’s Vimeo library.

You can take Pure Barre classes with ClassPass, the month-to-month offering from Classtivity.ClasstivityButton

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  • Reply Rose

    I’ve never taken a Pure Barre class, or really any barre class, but I’ve considered it-good to know it might not be worth it! I’d rather take an adult ballet class (BAE has some fantastic classes!) instead :)

    Blonde in this City

    August 29, 2013 at 10:41 am
    • Reply evannclingan

      Hi, Rose! Thanks for reading. Pure Barre might be worth trying with a different instructor. I know many people really like it. Surprisingly, I’ve yet to take a dance class in the city. Perhaps I need some real ballet back in my life.

      August 29, 2013 at 10:51 am
  • Reply Carolyn

    Good to hear your review! I’ve actually been looking into Barre classes to mix it up once my half marathon training is over, and my main concern is keeping up. I am terrible with fast-paced choreography (even kickboxing is a challenge). Found a studio here that does first week of classes free, though, so I’m excited to give it a try!

    August 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm
    • Reply evannclingan

      Thanks, Carolyn! Barre classes in general are fabulous. They aren’t very cardio intensive, but they work your muscles (and make them shake) with small, strategic movements. I say go for the free week! Hope all is well.

      August 31, 2013 at 9:22 am
  • Reply 50by25laura

    I bought a ten class pack on Gilt City to Pure Barre and gave up after 3 classes. I don’t remember which instructors’ classes I took, but they were all exactly like you describe – I couldn’t follow them, despite having taken ballet for 18 years! There are lots of little nuances that were just really confusing, and the class had about 40 women in it so corrections were few and far between. i much preferred the VBarre classes I tried at NYSC (bonus: they’re way cheaper and the classes usually only have 6-12 people in them!).

    September 6, 2013 at 5:13 pm
    • Reply evannclingan

      Thank goodness I’m not crazy! Everyone seems to love Pure Barre, so I thought I was missing something. At least another former dancer agrees with me. I just tried FlyBarre (at Flywheel) tonight and absolutely LOVED it. Review to come soon. Thank you for reading!

      September 9, 2013 at 11:13 pm
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