As any New York City fitness aficionado knows, barre workouts have gone from popular to white hot in the last year. Core Fusion and Physique 57 have been joined by the Bar Method and gym classes with barre in the name. Not to be left behind, Pure Yoga—the Equinox-owned mega-studio that uses a gym-membership model—knew they needed a barre workout in the stable. (YogaWorks has Bar Works.) Plus, they felt it complemented the core and alignment work happening in yoga classes. So Pure turned to Rupa Mehta, the 31-year-old spark plug who created the Nalini Method.
After a year of negotiating, Pure succeeded in woo-ing the Virginia-native from her own seven-year-old Upper West Side fitness studio, and her Hamptons partnership with Yoga Shanti. This September it gave Mehta and her dedicated group of students a new home at Pure West.
Mehta came out of the Upper East Side Lotte Berk studio, just like Fred Devito and Elizabeth Halfpapp, the creators of Core Fusion; Physique 57 creator Tanya Becker; and Burr Leonard of the Bar Method. “Lotte Berk was this charming townhouse on 67th and Madison, filled with fabulous ladies in leotards,” she recalls. The tony fitness institute turned out to be an incubator for a whole wave of barre workouts, an exercise regimen responsible for creating a long, lean, flexible physique, based in a studio culture that prizes personalized attention.
Pure liked the Nalini Method for its indie cred and Mehta’s East-West approach. And Mehta’s own yoga education includes teacher training at YogaWorks and with Baron Baptiste. The result is a fast-paced hour rotating between matwork and barwork, using weights, resistance bands, exercise balls, and ankle weights. It’s a less dancer-y workout than Physique 57 and Bar Works, and one that feels more rooted in gym culture.
You can tell a “Nalinian” by her thin, sculpted arms and high, toned butt—and Mehta puts a lot into transforming New Yorkers into these walking advertisements for the method. The workout begins with ten minutes of grueling arm lifts, and plank poses and push-ups are incorporated throughout class. Student’s quads tremble and quake at the barre, per the Lotte Berk mandate, and loads of Pilates-like legwork exhaust and strengthen muscles.
Student numbers are capped at 17 and all the classes are taught by either Mehta or Meghan Lee, the only other certified Nalini teacher. Mehta’s preparing to roll out a formal teacher training program this winter.
Right now only the Pure West location offers the Nalini Method, but Pure clearly wants to go global with this to its locations in Hong Kong, et al. And Mehta’s live-wire personality and method will undoubtedly help them do so. —Alexia Brue