Spending Time at the Bar(re) Made Me a Better Mom


Five years ago, I put on my first pair of sticky socks because I had decided to give this “barre thing” a try. I had two small boys (ages 4 and 2), a full-time career, a husband who was rarely home, and I was still carrying “baby weight” from my last pregnancy (Did I mention that the “baby” was 2?). I also was coming off a challenging year – a 10-month deployment for my husband that was preceded by a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), buying a home and the addition of a new baby.

Needless to say, my fitness took a back seat.

I not only wasn’t losing the baby weight, but I also felt completely drained – physically, mentally and emotionally. It seemed as if every waking hour consisted of someone needing something from me – my husband, my babies, my boss … I had nothing left to give myself.

A Mom Walks into a Bar(re) …

We were living in Jacksonville, Florida, and there was a new Pure Barre studio opening right between our house and my office. The hype surrounding the new wave of barre-style workouts definitely had me curious, so I signed up for a one-month trial membership figuring I had nothing to lose.

Although, if I’m being honest, I’ve never been a “workout queen.” I’ve tried various group fitness classes over the years (step aerobics, Zumba, yoga), but after a few months I eventually get bored. So, I knew that I needed to make the most of those first 30 days of Pure Barre in order to see if it really was the right workout for me. I couldn’t give up or only go once or twice a week and expect to see results. I needed to make it a priority and not allow life and my busy schedule to interfere.

With the help of my incredibly supportive husband, I scheduled classes in advance (which is super easy to do through the Pure Barre app and then sync them with my iCalendar). Having it as an appointment on my calendar officially made exercising a “task” for the day and helped me stay committed (who doesn’t love crossing something off a to-do list?). Plus, the 2-hour cancellation window with the studio also held me accountable. No backing out at the last minute!

What Exactly is Pure Barre?

Founded in 2001 by Carrie Dorr, Pure Barre became a franchise in 2011 and there are now over 460 studios throughout the United States and Canada. There also are other barre studios — I am a fan of Purre Barre, but there are plenty of other barre workout studios out there depending on where you live.

The name might make you think that some dance background is required to do the workout, but it’s simply because you’ll use the barre for stability during some of the exercises.

Fellow ballet drop-outs, you have nothing to fear! All you have to be able to do is hold onto the barre.

Trust me, Zumba requires more dance experience than barre! The workout consists of low-impact, isometric movements and most exercises can be modified if you have any physical limitations or are working through an injury. It’s also a great workout to do during pregnancy and especially postpartum. 

A typical class is 50 minutes long, which is great for busy moms. You might think that doesn’t sound long enough, but you will work your tail off (actually, your “seat,” as we “barre babes” like to say…). In that 50-minute block of time, you’ll tone your arms, thighs, seat and abs.

And you know what?

You won’t think about anything else – not the kids, the laundry, your job … nothing. It is nearly impossible for me to turn off my “mom brain,” but a barre class gives me that space to shut down and think about nothing else during that precious 50-minute window.

Except, of course, how hard it is to hold a plank.

More Than a Workout

While I wasn’t completely transformed within those first 30 days, I definitely got stronger (and had the sore muscles to prove it). Each small achievement, whether it was a few more seconds in plank or an extra push-up or two, meant that I was getting stronger with each class. I was reaching those deep, long-forgotten muscles and proving to myself that I could do hard things.

It hurt, but in a good way.

So, I kept going. I met every challenge and milestone and had the most amazing group of women cheering me on. Over the next 15 months, I took 250 classes.  

Not only was I physically getting stronger, but I also felt good about myself again. Pure Barre was changing me on the outside and the inside.  

Before starting Pure Barre and 12 months (180+ classes) later

The Inevitable PCS

Just after I took my 250th class, our family moved overseas. While I was excited for the opportunity to live in Europe, it meant that I would have to leave behind this amazing community that had become such an important part of my life. So, I used the time overseas to try different workouts in addition to keeping up with Pure Barre on DVD. Although it wasn’t quite the same as working out in the studio…

Let’s face it, if you’re living in Europe for three years, there are some sacrifices you’re willing to make!

But through it all, I still looked forward to returning to the “real barre” someday… 

Back to the Barre

We moved back to the U.S. this past summer, and I immediately found the local Pure Barre studio here in Pensacola.

Even though it was a new town, a new studio, new instructors and new people, it immediately felt like “home” to me. That is probably what I love most about Pure Barre – the community. No matter where you live or how many classes you’ve taken, there is a warm, welcoming, fun, and supportive environment waiting for you. And for those of us who move every two to three years, having something that is familiar in a brand new place can be a saving grace.

In some ways, it’s a bit like the military because you’ve already got one thing in common with the other people in that room – in this case, you’re all suffering through planks and push-ups!

If there is a barre studio in your area, I would encourage you to check it out (and if you’re in Pensacola, I’ll even go to your first class with you!). It really is so much more than a workout. Five years ago, I never could have predicted that Pure Barre would have such an impact on my life. It has made me a stronger person – physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Most importantly, it has made me a better wife and mom (and these guys know it, too!).

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Jen currently resides in Pensacola, Florida with her Navy husband and two sons. Having spent the last three years in Belgium experiencing European life, she is adjusting the heat and humidity of living in the Florida Panhandle. When she’s not at the soccer field cheering on her boys or taking a Pure Barre class, you’ll find Jen curled up with a good book or planning her family’s next travel adventure. Born and raised in the Midwest, Florida has now become “home” – at least that’s what her driver’s license says!