A far cry from the ultra stuffy barre classes on the UES, Pop Physique’s MO is to give the barre scene in Manhattan a little sex appeal. From their street signs that say “nice butt” to their insane pump up playlists, to the mildly sexual innuendo in the phrases they splash across tank tops and barre socks, Pop Physique oozes a cool packaged in a wrapper of nothing but LA style “good vibes”. Their approach to barre is less about perfected tucks and lifts in your lululemon outfit and more about saying F#*K you to love handles in a powerful but graceful way to a Beyoncé chart topper. The workout here packs all the punch of any other barre workout in the city with a truly zero judgment, be who you want to be, vibe.
Look, as much as I want to spin this and tell that you that this hip studio has turned the barre experience on it’s head AND made an actual workout more enjoyable, I can’t. Kind of a tall order there guys…. At the end of the day, barre classes are painful a hell. There really isn’t a ton of way around that because it gets results.
That said, Pop does an amazing job of making you feel comfortable (hey its cool, we all can’t lift our leg that high when we first start) or to crack a smile with a dirty joke. It is the most fun that we’ve ever had in a barre class, but we still prayed for mercy at the end of each series.
The workout itself targets all of those tiny muscle groups that don’t typically get attention with sustained small movements. The core moves – the lift, the tuck, the heels up, and the squat (lower and lower) – are all designed to carve out each section of your body. And many times, even holding up your own body weight can be painful enough. So before you look at the 2lbs, 3lbs, and 4lbs weights and scoff, consider yourself warned.
Here is the good news! Each class follows pretty much the exact same pattern so you can start to anticipate about what to expect each time. The pattern? Triceps, biceps, shoulders, inner thighs, outer thighs, butt, and finish off with the core. What sick person finishes with the core? The equipment used to torture you? The resistance ball, hand weights, yoga strap, and of of course – the ballet bar. All of which comes together in moves such as one hand on the bar, ball between your thighs, turned out lifted heels and then lift and hold one leg behind you. Sound tough? You don’t know the half of it! And the truly insane part? You leave the room having barely broken a sweat.
Adara is the type of instructor who should be incredibly intimidating. Tall, thin, blonde, incredibly flexible and just so damn graceful in her movements…. I mean next to her we couldn’t help feeling like Sandra Bullock from Miss Congeniality, pre-makeover (we are gliding here damn it!). But, as mom told us, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. There is something in her personality that put us at ease immediately. It probably helped that her adjustments were actually helpful and given discretely, instead of being called out in front of the entire class *white knuckles*. As well, there wasn’t a single moment where we felt judged for anything we couldn’t do perfectly or for falling out of a move when our legs were gonna give out. She certainly wasn’t the toughest Pop instructor we’ve taken, but we think that we got WAY more out of her class than others. Our form was better, we were given enough energy to push through, and we didn’t want to completely pass out after the ab portion – so there’s that. Her pacing is on point, she provides the right amount of count downs, and is just really fun to take class from.
If the barre studios in the city were all television sets, Pop would be in full color HD as compared with the black and white of Exhale or, dare we even say, Phyqiue57??! This place is filled with “pop’s of whimsy” that have started to become the standard of NYC studios – neon signs, saucy/funny/motivating mural, colorful equipment. You’ll start off your journey at the Bowery location by being directed to the banana (no windows but great light) or cherry studio (windows and natural light) – oh hello sexual innuendo. And honestly there is no better or worse studio room here both are about the same size and pretty spacious. In fact, this whole location is a bit roomier than NoMad with more changing and hallway space.
Amenities wise there are showers at neither studio location. Sure you aren’t going to break a crazy sweat in class. But for the transitions to work or to happy hour, this makes things a tough difficult. And even with 3 individual bathrooms and 2 changing areas, there is still a ton of congestion pre and post class. You’ll have a much better experience if you are already dressed and don’t need to shower. And DON’T FORGET YOUR BARRE SOCKS! You HAVE to wear them and the ones at Pop are super cute with saucy phrases on the bottom but $12+ a pop…. Pun absolutely intended.
270 Bowery, New York, NY 10012 SoHo Barre $$$$
Pop Physique Bowery
SoHo Barre, $$$$
270 Bowery, New York, NY 10012
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On Leah’s nutrition label it would likely say, made of 100% organic, locally sourced sunshine and rainbows She immediately reminded us of that girl in high school we knew who was endlessly nice to everyone. Who manage to juggle being on the debate team and getting straight As and being the committee chair for the homecoming dance. Now don’t take this as us saying that Leah is a big old softy and the her classes are easy, breezy, beautiful… well you know the rest. Her classes are about middle of the road in their intensity. But, they are delivered with a sweet candy coating. Hell, during class you can’t help but pushing through longer than you normally would just to not be the raincloud on her parade. But beware. There are parts of her class that have a tinge of evil like her extra long push up/plank series. Super upbeat instructor or wolf in sheep’s clothing? Hmmmmm… Well Leah, we don’t hate it, girl!
Melinda is incredibly type A but with a ton of pep. So it always seems like she is trying a little harder than she should to make sure everyone is having fun while in class. But hey, that makes for some super fun qualities that have started to disappear a bit from the NYC fitness scene. Like the fact that she gives out little gold star comments like “Nice form, Kelly” and “Looking good Jenna”. And she’s super hands on, making sure that every member of the class is getting just enough attention – almost like she’s hyper aware of it. If we were giving out a “best instructor award,” Melinda checks off all of the technical boxes and gives a damn good class. But, it didn’t feel super natural or easy – so Melinda, we’ll give you a 4.5 out of 5. We are the Russian judge, so sue us.
We had a hard time getting a read on Charlotte. Is she a hard ass? Does she want to be our best friend? Her class style was all over the place in a very Dr. Jekyll/Ms. Hyde sort of way. There were moments in class where her comments were uplifting and a touch saucy. But, when it came to dropping out of a hold or a move, she was not having it. It’s like her eyes were on us and everyone else in the room at all times to be sure there was no cheating going on. One quality we loved? She acknowledged that the work was “hard as shit” or said “this one sucks, doesn’t it?”, giving us the sense that she was in it with us. But her counts seemed to come so late, leaving us to wonder how much longer we actually had and we were unable to portion out our effort properly. By the time she got to 6, 5, 4 we were already ready to drop. Charlotte, darling, you can either be good cop or bad cop, but you can’t have it both ways.