Portland Fit Fix: Lift, Tone and Burn at PureBarre Pearl District

Credit: PureBarre Pearl District

Credit: PureBarre Pearl District

Who knew you could sculpt a strong, lean physique by barely moving a muscle?

Well, you can; it comes in the form of PureBarre, a total-body workout that fuses together elements of ballet, Pilates, yoga and pure shake-inducing wonderfulness into one 55-minute session.

Founded by dancer, choreographer and fitness guru Carrie Rezabek Dorr, it’s actually the largest, most established barre franchise in the nation, with more than 200 studios across the country, and more opening every month. Who knew?!


Now, I’ve got to admit when I first caught wind that a new barre studio would be opening in the Pearl District this winter, I remember thinking that Portland needed another barre studio like we need more fixed gear bikes, waxed mustaches and Mason jars.

But soon thereafter I was introduced to Ally Coucke, owner of Pure Barre Portland – Pearl District, who assured me that her studio’s method emphasizes more “athletic” movements — so much so that pro footballers, such as Brent Celek of the Philadelphia Eagles, take classes in their-off season to help hone their strength.

My ears perked up at that. Ok, I’ll keep an open mind (a.k.a. if it can make me a stronger runner and help lift, tone and tighten, it’s worth a shot). 


Sure enough, Coucke was true to her word — my skepticism has been turned into fanaticism after just a few classes with the lovely ladies at this studio.

You see, PureBarre utilizes the ballet barre to perform a series of small, isometric movements that are focused on lifting your seat, toning your thighs, abs and arms — basically, all those trouble spots in need of targeting.

After starting with a brief warm-up, which utilizes some light weights for arm work, the structure of each workout is the same although the the exercises vary from class to class: thigh work, seat work and core work followed by a glute sequence (my favorite!) and some final stretches during the cool-down.

And while we all know there’s no such thing as isolated spot-toning, when combined with a healthy diet and exercise regimen, PureBarre has been met with consistently rave reviews when it comes to sculpting muscles, improving posture and creating an overall leaner look.

I can vouch for this myself — after just a few weeks of classes, I’ve certainly felt a difference in the way I feel and how I carry myself. But I’ve also noticed that my hips, thighs and butt are also, ahem, carrying themselves a bit differently, too.


But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of the other benefits you can experience when bellying up to the barre:

  • Since the technique is low-impact, your joints are protected by avoiding any bouncing or jumping
  • Each strength section is followed by a stretching section in order to create long, lean muscles without bulk
  • The concentration needed gives mental benefits similar to those obtained by the practice of yoga or meditation
  • All classes are the same level, as the technique was designed to work for people at all levels of fitness
  • Instructors keep things fresh and exciting by adding new moves and constantly changing music

And did I mention just how great the instructors are?!

Credit: PureBarre Pearl District

Credit: PureBarre Pearl District

Having people at the helm of a studio who are warm, approachable, knowledgeable and who don’t take themselves too seriously has created a strong sense of community and makes PureBarre a safe haven for those in search of a supportive, effective, fun workout experience.

Coucke also knocked it out of the park when designing her space; from the custom-made front desk, bench and storage cubbies made of reclaimed wood to the vintage lighting and decor in the hallways to the Edison-inspired chandelier in the classroom, it’s something you’ve got to see for yourself to fully appreciate.

Transform your body, balance your mind — and challenge whatever you thought you knew about barre in the process.


Single classes are $25 a pop, but new students can sign up for a month of unlimited classes for only $99. PureBarre also offers multi-class packages and specials for brides and new moms, which you can view here.

For more information on the technique or to find a location near you, visit PureBarre.com.

5 thoughts on “Portland Fit Fix: Lift, Tone and Burn at PureBarre Pearl District

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