Pure Barre’s Empower & Reform Brings New Intensity to Isometric Movements

I’ll admit, it has been a while since I’ve been able to get into a Pure Barre studio. But, when I was in high school I was taking classes regularly and LOVING it! If you’re not familiar with Pure Barre workouts, it is essentially a full body workout that uses low-impact movements to “lift, tone and burn” your muscles to fatigue. Basically, if you took ballet technique and blended it with isometric Pilates-style movements and then topped it off with yoga-esque stretches, you’d get barre. 

From an outside perspective, barre may look like a low-intensity workout, given the fact that you’re only ever really moving an inch at a time [yes, you read that right. An inch]. But, if you’ve ever taken a barre or Pilates class, you know those isometric movements are targeting muscles that aren’t typically worked through standard movements like squats and bicep curls. Targeting these muscles is what helps you reach your “shake zone,” otherwise known as the point you reach after challenging yourself so much that your thighs are quivering uncontrollably. Yes, that zone is a real thing and yes, it’s uncomfortable as can be, but it’s also what you’re striving for in a Pure Barre class! It’s how you know your muscles are working and crossing limits they’ve never crossed before, so embrace it! 

As I mentioned before, when I first started taking Pure Barre classes I was finishing up high school and was just getting into a real fitness routine. During that time, the only class offered was Pure Barre Classic, 50 minutes of the aforementioned class style. Just before I left for college, though, Pure Barre Cincinnati West introduced Empower, a 45-minute cardio focused and interval-style plyometric workout. Now, the studio also offers Reform, a 50-minute resistance session that uses sliders and resistance bands in addition to the barre. I took one in-studio Empower class before leaving for school, but have been dying to try out Reform ever since it was launched. So, when PBCW offered a virtual 75-minute Empower & Reform intensive, I jumped at the opportunity!

The class was split evenly between Empower technique and Reform technique, and it was one of the best workout sessions I’ve had in awhile! Since I had never taken a Reform class before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. This particular class used light weights and sliders, and those sliders made all the difference in really burning out my muscles. Most of the moves were classic exercises like lunges and squats, but with a Pure Barre twist. 

Photo from @purebarrecincywest on Instagram

Instead of stepping out into a lunge or wide squat, we used the slider to slide out into that form. So, the sumo squats [which are already a challenging move!] were kicked up a notch by also targeting the inner thighs by sliding your feet back together. The lunges were also kicked up a level and added a small, isometric sliding pulse that left my glutes incredibly fatigued. 

After each resistance section, the Empower section challenged us to get our heart rates up. The best part? These cardio sections were completely void of burpees 😉 Instead, the Empower technique focuses on moves like fast squats and jump lunges. The squats and lunges were then again taken up a level by pulling your knee into your chest or up to meet your elbow. By the end of each section, I was incredibly sweaty and short of breath in the best possible way! 

Despite the different styles between Empower and Reform, each class stays true to the Pure Barre Classic technique and leaves your muscles burning. What I love about the Pure Barre style of training is that no matter how many classes you take or how consistent you’ve been with your workouts, you will ALWAYS be challenged!

New to Pure Barre? Check out the Pure Foundations class at a studio near you!

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As a senior studying magazine journalism at Ohio University and a passionate feminist, I created Freely Femme as a way to use my love for storytelling to highlight some of the most inspirational women in my personal life and beyond.

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