Photos by Hillary Ehlen
These Fargo winters aren’t easy. It’s not hard to slip into a lazy routine and put on a few pounds that you think will be hidden well under a large parka. I especially know the struggle of not wanting to work out. On my daily morning phone-check, the sight of a below-freezing number from my weather app taunts me. In this situation, I barely want to emerge from my flannel sheets, much less go out and exercise. To be honest, I barely want to hit the gym when it’s 75 and sunny!
Fitness and taking care of your body are important though. Just because the weather is sickening doesn’t mean your body should take a hit as well. As someone who is not an avid gym-goer, I’ve decided to test out a few alternative workouts throughout town.
If I can do it, so can you. Get out there and have fun with it! Staying fit doesn’t always mean having to spend an hour on the stair stepper. Here are some fun, adventurous workouts that will make you look forward to breaking a sweat this winter.
Pure Barre: Pure Barre Classic
Precise. Proud. Balanced. Passionate. These are words used to describe Downtown Fargo’s newest gym, Pure Barre. Pure Barre opened its first North Dakota location October 1 and already has had an outpouring of community affection. The first day of business, classes were full and sold out and customers were already signing up on a waiting list. In the wake of this newness and popularity, be ready for a full class.
The Pure Barre chain is the original barre fitness class. I had heard so much about this gym and was excited to know that a location was now here in Fargo. As someone who is scared of heavy weightlifting, the appeal of a barre class was calling to me. Instead of heavy lifting, the class combines elegant ballet movements with fitness, using holds with small, controlled movements. The company website describes this class as:
Pure Barre is a collection of 45-50 minute total body workouts. At the core of our technique, we use a thoughtful series of low impact, isometric movements that are designed to produce results. You’ll use the ballet Barre and other light equipment as you move through class, focusing on different areas of your body.
This class will be fast-paced, energetic and full of individuals who love pushing their bodies to the max. Pure Barre provides a new way to think about group fitness. While you are in a group setting, the classes are structured and focused, providing a tunnel vision on your own actions.
Precision is key with Pure Barre. This is not a workout about big, sweeping movements and hefty weights. Co-owner Nichole Allmendinger said, “Our workout is all low impact, small repetitive deep muscle movements. We don’t use the large muscle groups so much as the smaller, connecting muscles. And a lot of repetitions.” At first research, I thought, “Hey this can’t be too bad. It’s just using my body weight and tiny motions!” But looks can be deceiving. I was exhausted within the first 10 minutes and I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk straight the rest of the week (in the best way possible).
Each class has a set structure, but with variations so that your day-to-day classes will always be a bit different. The class began with a warmup and then went straight into floor work. There, we warmed up our core, which included a 90-second plank, something each class includes. This plank was a struggle for me but served as a good benchmark of something I could achieve someday if I stuck with it. Next, we worked on our arms and shoulders with the small weights, I chose the two pound ones, but three and five pound ones were also available. Three different thigh muscle exercises came next and naturally progressed into “seat,” or backside, techniques. The class closed out its workouts with what we began with, more core and back workouts. The following stretching section was much needed and appreciated.
I found this class challenging and fast-paced. This is one of those classes where you want to come back soon and master the techniques and movements. I know it’s a “no-no,” but I must admit that I was looking around the room a lot to make sure I was doing everything correctly. There’s certain terminology used that might not be clear to a newbie, but not to fear, we have provided a guide of terms to study up on before your first class.
This class is a fantastic workout and an upbeat experience (who can resist the fun techno tunes?) and established focus and coordination are key. “The classes go so fast because your mind is engaged the whole time. It’s great because once you get into the rhythm, the music just moves you and you can kind of tune out sometimes and just have a good time while you’re working out,” said Nichole.
I appreciated the pace of the class and how it didn’t allow me the time to feel like I was struggling. It moved fast and by the time the lights dimmed for our warm-down, I was surprised that it was done. The feeling of accomplishment and the rush of endorphins you feel after doing such a well-rounded full-body workout is incomparable. I now get why this is class is a nationwide success for all types, seasoned athletes and newbies alike.
What to Wear
This is a no-shoe zone, but you are required to wear socks. What works best is barre socks with non-slip grip soles. I learned the hard way that slipping feet distracts from a good workout. Luckily, they sell barre socks (and other various workout wears) right in the shop. Leggings or capris (not shorts!) are also a good idea so that you have some modesty while doing the exercises on the floor.
What You’ll Feel the Next Day
Your seat and your core will be burning. The following day, I felt every single one of my abs aching and standing up from my desk chair was a struggle. Also expect to get the muscle shakes, which is completely natural and nothing to be scared of.
Side Bar(re): Terms to Learn Before Class
Tuck: A movement that involves contracting the abs back causing the hips to rotate forward to elongate the spine.
Hold: A movement held in its deepest, tightest, lowest position to achieve isometric contraction.
Pulse: A downward movement from the lowest point of the stretch/pose, usually done to the tempo of the music playing.
Bendstretch: A tiny quiver in the joint followed immediately by an extension and contraction of the muscle being worked.
Pressback: Typically refers to a movement of the knees backward while keeping a heavy tailbone position. The two motions create the opposing forces at work to lean and tone the muscles.
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