Thrive: Raise the Barre

Now I understand why there’s a poster encouraging you to hashtag the phrase: isurvivedpurebarre.

An inkling that my class at Pure Barre in Wexford is going to be something … intense … is driven by the booming, techno-esque beats wafting from the studio. I was expecting soothing jungle sounds or reassuring gurgles from a babbling brook.

“It’s not really yoga — it’s more Pilates than anything,” my instructor Maura says with a smile as I take off my shoes. “I’ve had people who run marathons take a class and almost pass out after five minutes.”

She's kidding, of course. No one actually passes out. But I get her drift: Girl, prepare yourself.

Still, I think: Five minutes? Heh. Pathetic. I hit the gym hard at least three times a week. This should be easy.

Eight of us enter the carpeted studio and grab a ball, hand weights and a resistance band. Mirrors line the walls, as does a ballet barre. On the wall is a sign: You’re stronger than you think: Lift, tone, burn.  

I am in total agreement until approximately three minutes into our “warm-up,” which is the precise moment when my thighs begin to feel like a blazing inferno.

You’re stronger than you think!

I glance up at the clock again. Four minutes have passed. Fifty-six to go.

Shut up, sign, I think, holding a position that punishes my glutes. Now I understand why there’s a poster encouraging you to hashtag the phrase: isurvivedpurebarre. The girl in front of me, who is at least 10 years my junior, is wincing. There’s a lot of heavy breathing in the room as we run through arm, thigh, seat and ab exercises either on the floor or using the bar for balance — all quick, precise and deceivingly “simple” until each leaves you lifted, toned and burned in places you didn’t even realize you had. The sets are efficient and flow effortlessly into the next as we tuck, hold and pulse a few more inches while Maura guides us and eventually counts to 10 — which is my new favorite number, because 10 means stop.

Twenty minutes in, and I’m wondering how many Advils I’ll have to pop before I can get out of bed tomorrow. But by the time we cool down, I’m tight in places I didn’t even realize were loose.   

Verdict: Whether beginner or fanatic, Pure Barre will make you sweat in a really good way. All levels are welcome, although you must be at least 18 to join. A new-client special is $99 for one month of unlimited classes, and they can be taken at either the Shadyside or Wexford location. (

Eat This Month

Consider drop-kicking foods prone to causing inflammation. “If I have pizza or burgers a couple days in a row, my knees start to feel it for sure,” says recently-retired Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller.

In his “Anti-Inflammatory” diet pyramid, Dr. Andrew Weil, Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, recommends fruits, veggies, whole soy foods, fatty fish, beans, lean meats, hemp and flax seeds. “If I could summarize everything that I know about nutrition it would be: stop eating refined, processed and manufactured foods,” he says. 


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