June 2020

Get Fit for Summer, Stay Fit for Life: Pure Barre Bluffton invites you to step out of your comfort zone and into your strongest, most beautiful body

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.KAT Photography

The Pure Barre Bluffton Team
(from left to right): Morgan, Hennie, Maria, Annie G., Annie, Jillian, Kara,and Lindy.

April here in the Lowcountry is a bit like January in that many of us are having a sudden awakening regarding our bodies. When the beach calls and asks us to come out and play, peeling off the winter layers and putting on a swimsuit for the first time can shock us into taking action.

But what if summer didn’t have to begin with that sense of dread? What if you could be confident in your body all year-round? Annie Gould, owner of Pure Barre Bluffton can show you the way.

According to Gould, getting and staying in shape starts with kindness. Like most of her clients, she is quick to recognize her “problem” area—her thighs. “Something I say to my clients, and it’s an echo to myself, is just be kind to your body,” she said. “It’s so easy to focus on the critical. But these legs get me through every single day. My body is here to work for me to achieve my goals. Just remembering that helps.”

What Pure Barre is and isn’t
Chances are you’ve heard about Pure Barre, and there is a good chance you have some misconceptions. Let’s start with what Pure Barre isn’t. It is not a gym in the general sense—nary a treadmill or weight machine in sight. Instead, you’ll see a clean, spacious, mirrored room equipped with ballet barres and a few tools such as small rubber balls, bands, and light hand weights. If you peek in the window while class is in session, you might think the workout looks easy. It’s not. It’s also not a dance class. No special coordination, prior experience, or skills are required.

Pure Barre is a low-impact, full-body workout based on small, isometric movements (think one inch) that put zero pressure on the joints. It’s all about lifting, toning and strengthening by using your own body or light weights (one to three pounds). There’s no running or jumping involved, so if you have joint issues or other limitations, this workout is a good option.

What makes the workout so effective is the core engagement, Gould explained. “Whether you are a triathlete, a long-distance runner, or a mom running around after your kids, everything you do starts with your core, and at Pure Barre, your core is engaged throughout class.”

Pure Barre can be your one-stop shop or it can be a complement to your everyday life, Gould continued, outlining the different kinds of workouts offered: Classic, Empower, and Reform. An additional class format, Foundations, is available for beginners to break down the basic techniques and prepare you for the Classic workout, which is the heart of the program.

“Think of it as a tree. Classic is the root or the base of your tree, and there are two separate branches. Branch one, Empower, is our cardio class. It’s still low-impact, high-intensity, but the movements are bigger. Instead of working an inch, you work three to five. It’s still controlled. Branch two, Reform, is more like Pilates. We use resistance bands and sliders. It’s all open resistance, which is our most intense core workout,” Gould explained.

Taking the first step
Pure Barre will help you get in shape, but the first (and often hardest) step is walking in the door. According to Gould, many people initially feel intimidated by the workout, but what they quickly discover is a warm and welcoming community, which is what sets Pure Barre apart, she said. “Working out is a celebration of the ability of your body—and you get to do it with friends.”

Nevertheless, enrolling in your first Pure Barre class can be a little scary because you’re not quite sure what to expect. “What is the worst thing that could happen?” Gould asks. Looking for a way to shake up her own fitness routine, she remembers asking herself that question four years ago when she began. Glancing around the room, she felt like she wouldn’t fit in, but she couldn’t have been more wrong. “I fell in love with the workout, but the thing that kept me there was the friends I made,” she said.

“At that point in my life, everything good that happened to me was because I got out of my comfort zone,” Gould continued. She has since trained as an instructor and is now the Bluffton franchise owner, a career move she describes as a “hard-left” from her degree in architecture and previous career in graphic design.

She has also taken up body building, using Pure Barre as her base. “I started body building because I wanted to do something that would really scare me. And being judged in a swimsuit is, quite honestly, the biggest fear. But again, every time I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone, it’s taken me to something really incredible.”

No-judgment zone
It does take courage to walk into a new workout, especially one like Pure Barre. “We have a stigma that everybody’s hair is in place, but it truly isn’t like that,” Gould said. “Anyone can walk in here at any fitness level, and you are welcome. You are wanted and you are special. We’re proud of you for making the decision to try it.”
She reminds newbies that everyone struggled in the beginning. “The first day is going to be hard. You’re going to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing,” she said. “But when you meet all the participants, everyone is so kind and supportive.” No need to feel self-conscious, she explained. “Everybody is too busy to pay attention to your struggle. They are struggling too.”

Gould sees her job as an opportunity to change someone’s day or perhaps change their life. “It’s a big responsibility, and my staff and I take that seriously. If you have honored us with an hour of your day, we are going to make you feel empowered, feel stronger and feel like it counted.”

All you need for your first visit is a pair of leggings (or pants that cover your knees), a towel, a water bottle, and a pair of socks. Sticky socks are preferred as they prevent sliding, but first-timers can get by with regular socks. Socks are also available for purchase in the studio.

But the most important thing you can bring is a positive mindset. “Give yourself permission to be a beginner and allow your body to do what it can do for that day,” Gould said. “Grant yourself a little bit of grace and just be kind to yourself.”

Are you willing to step outside your comfort zone and try something new?

Pure Barre Bluffton is located in Belfair Towne Village, 109 Towne Dr., Bluffton. For class schedules and more information, visit https://www.purebarre.com/location/bluffton-sc or call (843) 815-6015.

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