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Sara Ferguson and Melissa DeMore work their thighs in Chair High V pose.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2011 8 years ago

Pure Barre comes to town


This summer saw a new exercise technique added to the options locally available to fitness seekers. The method and the studio are called Pure Barre. Owners and teachers are young Sarasotans Melissa DeMore and Sara Ferguson.

Carrie Rezabek Dorr, a Detroit-born lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, created Pure Barre in 2001. Its heritage includes Pilates, Yoga and Lotte Berke. Pure Barre started in a small studio with no bathroom. The classes grew quickly, as did the staff. In 2006, Pure Barre began expanding and is now offered in studios nationwide.

DeMore discovered the methodology while visiting college friends in Birmingham, Ala. She came home and was excited to share it with her good friend, Ferguson, who was then pregnant. An avid runner and exerciser, Ferguson loved to work out, but her condition and her doctor prohibited her from getting her heart rate too high. Pure Barre was a workout that was both demanding and safe. She did it until right before she delivered, and she was back at it two weeks after.

Pure Barre is not a conventional ballet barre workout, and if you try it with that expectation, you will be sorely disappointed. It is intense, working muscles to the point of failure, or the “shakes.” The class begins with an approximately 12-minute warm-up, including high reps with light weights for the upper body and a variation on the Pilates 100 for the core. Next are similar amounts of thigh work and then seat (buttocks) exercises, each with its own stretch. Three sections of abdominal moves follow, two at the barre and one on the floor, about 20 minutes total. Then there is a minute of back extension, two-plus minutes of “back dancing” in bridge position and, finally, a full body stretch. Stretching throughout the class is a hallmark of the Pure Barre technique.

Pure Barre’s slogan, “Lift, tone, burn,” refers to lifting the bottom, toning the thighs and burning fat. “Burn” also refers to how the muscles feel when worked to exhaustion.

“If you take the recommended three to four classes per week, you will notice an improvement in your body in eight to 10 classes,” says DeMore.

Ferguson adds: “We have our ‘addicts.’ They come in, try it once, and they are hooked.”

Local Pure Barre students range in age from 6 to 72, and the studio owners stress that there are modifications that make the moves accessible to beginners. No dance experience is required. The workout is low impact — no jumping. In my view, it is not appropriate for a deconditioned individual just starting out, but it’s a great, new option for anyone in reasonable shape who would like to try something different and challenging.

Classes are offered seven days a week; a walk-in class is $20; a 20-class card is $300 ($15 per class.) Pure Barre is located at 3800 South Tamiami Trail at the north end of Paradise Plaza. Call 953-2323. More information and online class sign-up is available at

Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer with a specialty in older adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training, SCF Yoga Fundamentals and Power Pilates™ Mat Certifications. She teaches classes at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center and the Longboat Key Club. E-mail her at [email protected]" target="_blank">[email protected].

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