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.
Rachel is a drill sergeant. A super fit, super flawless, head cheerleader or dance captain type of drill sergeant. Oh and there’s one other thing….. we couldn’t place her at the time but after class we realized she looked and acted JUST like Mena Suvari a la her performance in American Beauty. The likeness is crazy uncanny. Stylistically, she wasn’t discouraging or even judgmental, but you could tell that her bar for you is set crazy high. Like where you keep your secret chocolate stash, high. So it probably doesn’t surprise you that her class was one of the hardest we’ve ever taken at Pop. There was a ton of form correction going on and pretty much no one’s leg lifts seemed high enough for her. But hey, when we’re coughing up $32/class for this, that type of instruction is what we ask for. So love it or hate it, Rachel is the type of instructor who’s going to make sure you work your literal ass off and see results.
The Pop Physique in NoMad is like your good friend’s two-bedroom flex: you’re super impressed with what they’ve accomplished with the space. But, you can tell that the space is being pushed to its limits. With two studio areas, they are able to offer a more robust schedule. But Studio 1 is clearly superior to the other: much more natural light, less crowding at the ballet bar – these things make a difference to your mindset, people! Especially when you are tucking and holding within an inch of your sanity.
Amenities-wise, there are no showers at either studio location. Sure, you aren’t going to break a crazy sweat in class, but for the transitions to work or happy hour, this makes things a touch difficult. And even with three individual bathrooms and two changing areas, there’s still a ton of congestion pre- and post-class. You’ll have a much better experience if you’re already dressed before and don’t need to shower after. 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.
31 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010 NoMad Barre $$$$
Pop Physique NoMad
NoMad Barre, $$$$
31 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010
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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.