Test Drive: Platform, Pure Barre’s new cardio-intensive workout

Sweating at the barre
Pure Barre Platform
Photograph courtesy of Pure Barre

Let me start with an admission: I’m not really a “barre girl.” They tend to be long, lithe and limber as they mimic plies and releves at a ballet barre. To me it seems like they tuck and pulse their abs so politely that the effort is almost imperceptible. There’s rarely a drop of perspiration in sight.

I, on the other hand, am short, strong, and sweaty. And I favor boot camps that bring you pretty close to the point of puking.

So I thought maybe Pure Barre’s new format, Platform, would be a better fit for me. The $23 class was created this year as a way to give barre girls (and guys, of course, though they’re a rarity) a more cardio-focused workout that could complement the muscle-lengthening and -toning work done in a traditional (and low-cardio) barre class.

I tried it at the chain’s Inman Park location. The swanlike instructor, Susie Kelly, told us to pick up a metal footstool and a pair of two-pound weights, and then find a spot along the barre that wraps around the t-shaped studio. There are mirrors on three sides of the room, which means you often have to turn around and look at the instructor to figure out what leg she’s starting on.

The format has some commonalities with traditional barre: there is tucking (described as keeping your upper body still while you fire from the top of your thigh and let your tailbone drop toward the floor—it sometimes looks like a pelvic muscle spasm). There are light weights, pointed toes, and structured stretch breaks after periods of effort. But otherwise, this class seems more like old-school step aerobics than ballet dancing.

Many of the sequences involve stepping one foot onto the footstool while kicking up the other—first at tempo and then at an almost frenetic, rapid-fire pace—or drawing the knee of the free leg up toward your chest again and again.

“If your legs are flailing, you’re doing it right!” Kelly called out over the low-volume techno music.

After the standing sequences at the barre, we sat on mats and did abdominal exercises, picking up speed as we went. At one point, reaching my arms out and tucking as I quickly crunched, I looked like Kermit when he yells “Yay!” on The Muppet Show.

In the end, Pure Barre Platform was enough to get my shirt sweaty and my abs burning, but not enough to get my heart rate up to pulse-pounding level.

But for a barre girl—like the enviably lissome one in legwarmers who, after class, said, “I’ve never been this sweaty before”—it just might be the perfect thing.