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Photos courtesy of Pure Barre Midland
By Rachel M. Esterline

Pure Barre Midland, opened in May 2009, blends various elements of ballet, pilates and weights to offer intense fitness classes. The Pure Barre method classes offered at the studio, located at 957 S. Saginaw Rd. in Midland, are described as the fastest, safest and most effective way to tone your entire body.

Pure Barre Midland is one of more than 25 franchised studios nationwide. The method was created by Carrie Rezabek, who opened the first studio in 2001 in Birmingham, Michigan. In each 55-minute class, participants perform choreographed movements to upbeat music with provided equipment – including a ballet barre, pilates-style mat, ball, weights and tubing.

The exercises are described as isometric, meaning muscles are contracted without an extremely noticeable movement in the joint’s angle, explained Jesseca Elza, Pure Barre Midland franchise owner and teacher.  "The small, isometric moves tone your muscles," Elza said. "We work the arms, thighs, seat and abs – the areas women are most often concerned about – and then stretch after each section to help create a long, lean look without the bulk. It’s a total body workout."

Despite the ballet barre and pilates-based moves, Elza said participants do not need previous experience. "People of all ages, sizes and fitness levels can participate because the exercises can be modified to suit each person’s needs,” she said, adding that clients can typically see and feel results within 10 sessions. Many clients report benefits beyond the physical. For example, she said, "Pure Barre helps clear your mind. The intense workout requires focus. You’ll feel great afterward."

Elza, who purchased the studio in March 2010, is a certified pilates instructor and has been trained in the Pure Barre method. She has worked in the fitness industry for 14 years. The studio currently has four teachers and two teachers-in-training. All teachers are required to go through training, which includes an intensive weekend training session as well as a written and practical examination. Some also have practiced other methods and have certifications in other areas.

At the studio’s fall open house on Oct. 2, Ruth Rynalski tried Pure Barre for the first time. A runner, she said her muscles have become tighter and shorter and she has lost a lot of flexibility. She decided to try Pure Barre at the urging of a friend who had lost six sizes as a result of the workouts. "It was a tough class," she said, "but, I can tell it’s going to work." Rynalski said Pure Barre Midland provides a positive and upbeat atmosphere. "It’s like ballet, yoga and abs," Rynalski said. "It’s one of those things where if you keep going, you’re going to feel better and more confident."

Another regular is Ashley Pike, who started doing Pure Barre in May 2007. She also said Pure Barre has made her more confident, which is great for her personally, but bad for her shopping budget. "I dropped a clothing size and have noticed that my body has taken on a different shape," Pike said. "Since starting Pure Barre I have lost inches in my thighs and noticed the lifted seat Pure Barre is famous for."

Pike said the smaller classes at Pure Barre Midland are a benefit compared to the large classes she has taken at gyms. "More personal attention first helps with your positioning to make sure you are getting the most out of your workout and secondly, the trainers are there to personally motivate and push you," she said.

Getting back in shape after a pregnancy can challenge many new mothers. Kiersten Kemp started attending at least four Pure Barre Midland classes a week about one month after her Cesarean section and was pleased with the results. "Pure Barre allowed me to regain the same shape, if not better, around my waist and hips as I had before I was ever pregnant,” she said. 

Because of Pure Barre, Kemp quickly recovered from her surgery. "Pure Barre is easy to modify to suit individual needs and capabilities and that is why it’s a perfect exercise for post-partum women," Kemp said. She started feeling stronger after just two classes and began seeing results within 10 classes. "After three months or so, the changes were huge,” she said, "but I would say the real results are gradual and continuous. I’m still noticing more definition and tighter muscles more than a year later." 

With a three-and-a-half-year-old and a 15-month-old, Kemp also uses her time at Pure Barre to relieve stress. "One hour of Pure Barre in the morning allows me to be more relaxed about the rest of my day because I have already done something important and wonderful for myself," she said.

Learn more about PureBarreMidland.com, located at 957 S. Saginaw Rd. in Midland, by visiting PureBarreMidland.com or calling (989) 832-8888.

© Rachel M. Esterline, 2010