The new Pure Barre studio opened two weeks ago in Columbus Circle with little fanfare—and yet it’s been hopping, thanks to its national presence.
The franchise-friendly company, which hails from Michigan, has studios in 23 states. That’s a lot like the Bar Method, a West Coast creation that grew into a successful fitness franchise, and finally planted its flag in New York during summer 2010.
“We had an email list of about 200 women, probably transplants to New York like us, who were waiting for us to open,” say 28-year-old owners Leslie Coakley and Kaitlin Vandura. Coakley worked at a Pure Barre studio in Tennessee (which has five Pure Barres) and Vandura at one in North Carolina (it has four). When they heard about the other’s plan to open a New York studio, they decided to join core-focused forces.
The duo could be part of the reason Pure Barre UWS kind of feels like Bar Method’s trendy little sister. The class is set to pumping music. Students are a young, unpretentious combo of the already-fit and barre beginners. And they exhibit cute style galore. I couldn’t help shopping off my classmates in their sassy Splits 59 tops, stretchy workout skirts that hugged over yoga pants, and leggings that went down over the heels. Class felt like a fitness shoot for Teen Vogue.
While all barre classes emphasize core work, arm work, and exhausting the butt and leg muscles before stretching them out, Pure Barre has a few signatures.
One that made a ton of sense? Coakley pointed out teachers in the class to follow, while she provided the instruction and adjustments. Also new: clenching the gathered end of a mat between your thighs. This requires a super zipped-up thigh-to-knee pinch. When things got excruciating, Coakley would say in a soothing DJ voice, “Just go to another place.”
Even with the advantages of Pure Barre corporate behind the new New York studio, you get the feeling someone’s aware of what can be a competitively vicious and super proprietary business. Along with my health waiver, I had to declare that I was not or had never been a fitness professional and I wouldn’t replicate the Pure Barre moves elsewhere for payment.
That shouldn’t be a problem. I’m pretty sure most women who frequent Pure Barre and other boutique fitness studios expect their wallets will be made slimmer for it, along with their tummy and thighs. —Melisse Gelula
Pure Barre, $33 per class (or $150 unlimited monthly; conditions apply), 1841 Broadway at 60th St., Suite 330, Upper West Side, 917-344-9175, www.purebarre.com