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Gulf & Main Magazine

Pure Barre: Crazy popular exercise, modify that bod, for guys too

Jun 26, 2017 09:15PM ● By Kevin

Pure Barre is a fitness franchise started in 2001. Today there are 450 studios nationwide, three in Southwest Florida. Photo by Nick Ciletti.

Pure Barre isn't limited to the ballet barre. Photo by Nick Ciletti.

The gym just wasn’t cutting it for Lisa Scherff. Some days she’d be in one for hours, lifting or spending blocks of time doing cardio.

Still no results. “I didn’t know what was happening,” explains Scherff, a lifelong athlete.

But Scherff, who is 49, was about to make a discovery that would change her life―and her body―forever. “I was hooked within five minutes,” she explains. “After that, I was done with the gym.”

So, what made Scherff finally bid adieu to all of that cardio, lifting and forcing herself to drive to the gym?  It’s a workout trend that has swept the nation and Southwest Florida, showing no signs of slowing down. “As long as you can hold a ballet barre, you can do Pure Barre,” says Jennifer Hissam, the owner of Pure Barre in Fort Myers.

For more than two years, Pure Barre has been stretching, toning, and improving the bodies of Southwest Floridians. With franchises in Fort Myers, Naples and Bonita, “it’s the fastest, most effective way to change your body,” Hissam says. “It is intelligent exercise that concentrates on areas women struggle with the most―hips, thighs, seat, abdominals and arms.”

If you’re new to the movement, you may assume (like the name suggests) that all you’ll be hanging off a ballet barre (said bar) all class, but get ready for some surprises! During the 55-minute class, you’ll also be expected to do some light weightlifting. Choose dumbbells of varying weights depending on your skill level. You’ll also incorporate exercise balls and a variety of stretches and poses on the floor. “It’s such a unique type of fitness,” says Hissam. “There’s nothing else quite like it. In Pure Barre, the music in each class is a huge driving factor and really allows clients to lose themselves in the music. We change things frequently, which keeps the body guessing and makes each class exciting.”

Got achy joints? Who doesn’t, right? The beauty of Pure Barre is that it allows those of us with hip and joint issues to enjoy class and still get a rigorous workout without hurting ourselves and possibly causing further damage.

For Scherff, it was important to find something that wouldn’t aggravate some existing injuries. “I had a total knee replacement,” she explains. “There are modifications I can make and still do every single bit of the workout. The instructors are fabulous about that. They’re all about not hurting yourself! I had a stress fracture in my foot and I did Pure Barre for three weeks in a boot. I hate when I have to miss a class!”

And that’s not to mention the transformations Scherff has seen in her body. “I lost two full dress sizes in six weeks,” says Scherff. “[People] think I’m 10 years younger. I’m in the best shape of my life.”

With more than 400 locations across the U.S., women all over are bragging about the impact Pure Barre has had on their physiques. “I really started noticing changes in my body,” explains Karen Farrell, who attends classes at Hissam’s Fort Myers studio. “I’ve always been a slim girl. After having two kids, I noticed my midsection just wasn’t the same. In the last few months, I’ve slimmed down, have more muscle definition and I’ve toned up. I love what I’m seeing!”

And you don’t have to worry about lifting or going for a run afterwards―Pure Barre targets the whole enchilada.

And fellas, despite what you may think, Pure Barre isn’t strictly for women. “It tends to be largely attended by women,” Hissam says, “but there are several men who take Pure Barre and even male Pure Barre teachers. I think that part of the fitness population, whether they are men or women, feel that in order to achieve certain fitness results that they must be lifting heavy weights and using explosive movements and therefore are less inclined to try barre class. 

“There is also sometimes the misconception that you need to have dance experience to take barre class, which is not the case.”

Details are at

Written by Nick Ciletti, a freelance writer and frequent contributor to TOTI Media. He works as a TV journalist in Phoenix.