Pure Pain | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Pure Pain

Instructor Katherine Fredericks, left, and Heidi Hogrefe, owner of Pure Barre franchises in Jackson and Ridgeland, demonstrate the hottest new trend in the workout world.

Instructor Katherine Fredericks, left, and Heidi Hogrefe, owner of Pure Barre franchises in Jackson and Ridgeland, demonstrate the hottest new trend in the workout world. Photo by Trip Burns.

Walking into the Highland Village studio, I was greeted by a gaggle of svelte, ponytailed women with the lines of ballet dancers. "Thank God I went with the black yoga capris," I thought to myself as I observed their nearly uniform outfits of fitted black pants, black ankle socks and brightly colored exercise tops.

Pure Barre. It's the latest trend in exercise, promising to give you beach abs and Michelle Obama arms—supposedly the workout of choice for all those super-slender Victoria's Secret Angels.

Now I am one of those people who pretty regularly think about working out, but when I get dressed to hit the gym or go for a run, I suddenly find myself waking up from a fugue state pouring a second glass of red wine. But thanks to a good friend who teaches Pure Barre, I finally made plans to see what the hype was about for myself. I'm not going to lie, these women were intimidating. I hoped I wouldn't embarrass myself by not being able to keep up.

We got right down to it. The exercises themselves are not difficult. They are not high-impact or high-energy. Rather, it's all about getting your muscles into a tightened state, holding them tense and then adding tiny movements and continuing until muscle fatigue sets in. At first it almost seems easy, but as you hold for 30 seconds, a minute, more, you realize: This is pretty hardcore.

The instructor focuses on one body part for between five and 10 minutes, with barely a break to relax your muscles in that span of time. As I found myself on the floor in plank position, abs trembling and sweat dripping off my forehead, I swore to myself I wouldn't collapse before anyone else in the class.

The instructor complimented me, "Way to stick with it, Kathleen."

My morale soared. I pushed myself further. Although I wasn't 100 percent sure what muscle I was supposed to be tensing during certain points (they use very chic, but slightly confusing terminology, politely instructing you to "tuck" your "seat"), I was feeling the burn on every move.

As a beginner, I felt pushed to my limit but managed to hang on and finish almost all the reps (except for the push-up section, I've always been a wuss at push-ups). But even my friend, who does the workout nearly every day, said that she still wakes up sore after sessions, so it seems like a workout that won't plateau after a while.

If you thrive off a group setting, this is a great workout to try. I know I worked harder so I could at least appear to keep up with the class. If you have a busy lifestyle, they offer multiple sessions throughout the day (including before work, lunchtime and evening), and each workout is only 55 minutes.

The cost is around $20 per class if you buy individually. But if you keep your eyes peeled, sales pop up fairly often, or you can buy in bulk for a discount as well. After scoring a JFP Deal for five half-price classes and then receiving another five discounted classes as a gift, I'm set to get my sweat on for a couple of months.

To sign up for Pure Barre, visit the Jackson studio (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 235-A 769-251-0486) or the Ridgeland studio (201 Northlake Ave., Suite 107, Ridgeland, 601.707.7410), or visit purebarre.com.

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