The space at this Upper East Side studio was well organized, as was the class. We understood that it was early on a rainy morning but wish our teacher had been a little more engaged in the workout and helped us improve our form throughout. We left the studio sleepy instead of energized and ready to go about our day. We probably won’t return to this particular Pure Barre location.
Every Pure Barre class regardless of studio follows the same formula: standing warm-up punctuated by planks, then moving into arms with weights. This is followed by thighs, then seat, then two separate ab sections: one at/under the barre and then a section on mats on the floor.
In this class, Mary Kate had us do leg lifts and marches and then come down into plank for 30 seconds to warm up the abs. Our arms section immediately followed this warm-up and felt shortened and not particularly inspired, with most of the choreography taking place kneeling in a lunge pose. The legs section brought us back to the barre, doing a number of knee bends while standing on our toes to make us less stable. We did feel the burn in our thighs during this section.
The seat section of class was difficult, and consisted of waterski pose, chair, and foldover. This is always a challenge and Mary Kate made all three of these series that much more difficult by asking us to stand on high tip toes, again to drive that instability and make sure we were working our legs as well as our butts. To round class off, we performed a series of crunch type movements in the ab section of class, instead of the typical Pure Barre abs section which utilizes mats against the wall in both a c curve and a straight-backed series of positions. We did not feel this section was particularly taxing on our abs. As always, Pure Barre class ends with a two minute section of bridge & tuck exercises lying on your back – this was a great last chance to feel a little burn in this morning’s exercise.
Mary Kate gets points for introducing herself individually to everyone in class and for mostly following the Pure Barre class format we’ve come to know very well. However, we think she could be a more inspiring instructor by engaging more with specific moves and explaining technique better to those in class who are either new or who are looking for an advancement. It felt like Mary Kate was announcing each transition in class as if we were all equally familiar with – and challenged by – the movement, and for those of us who have been going to Pure Barre a lot, we were looking for a little more motivation to get sweating. She did not come around and correct form, which we would have liked very much, and we noticed that although we did one leg exercise completely incorrectly, Mary Kate seemed not to notice. Mary Kate did seem enthusiastic about Pure Barre and its benefits and we are confident that with more time and experience, she will become a stronger teacher.
This Pure Barre is essentially a cramped storefront – with very little space to move outside of the actual studio. There was one restroom in exactly the same space as the lockers, making it difficult to move around before or after class, especially as people sloshed around and carried their umbrellas inside on this very rainy day. The merchandise racks were directly next to the door of the studio but easy to miss on your way in or out of class. The studio space itself was large and furnished, as in all Pure Barre studios, with gray carpet, fun light fixtures, and gray walls. The props we used were quite new or at least well kept. We appreciate that this studio emphasized the class space over the lobby area but feel there are some improvements that could be made to make coming and going from class more enjoyable – perhaps another bathroom or a coat rack by the door?
1325B Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10128 Upper East Side Barre $$$$
Pure Barre Upper East Side 2nd Ave & 65th St
Upper East Side Barre, $$$$
1325B Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10128
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Walking into a Pure Barre class, you can feel that it’s going to be a little different from other barre classes, because the equipment is different from many other studios and you almost always use one of the props. The culture at Pure Barre is also noticeably different, requiring full coverage socks and midriff, which can seem a bit conservative within the current trend of athleisure. Your experience at a Pure Barre class can be really hit or miss depending on the teacher, but we really liked Kara Hartman’s class.
Kara got right down to business, leading us through a sweatier warm-up than most. We were planking, crunching, and using weights for arms before the class had even gotten into full swing. She was enthusiastic and encouraging but not in a peppy-cheerleader way. She made her way around the room, personalizing the experience, and was hands-on in correcting form. She even spotted us slacking off a bit and challenged us to raise our leg higher and really get the full benefits. We also enjoyed that she made sure to be visible when demonstrating moves, moving back to the center of the room in between making her way around the room. Overall, we thought Kara’s class was great and can’t wait to try it again!