Pushing the Barre: Pure Barre Studio Opens on Magazine St.

01:00 February 26, 2011
February 7, 2010 is a day that will be etched in almost every New Orleanian's memory. It was the day Lombardi Gras began and the day the city of New Orleans finished strong with a low crime record for the night. Oh, it was also the day the New Orleans Saints won Superbowl XLIV against the Indianapolis Colts for the first time in history. But for one Saintsation in particular, it was a day she realized she could achieve the impossible.

"[Winning the Superbowl] put life in perspective," says Jennifer Thomas, 25. "The best of the best was there; it was so inspiring. I realized I can do anything I want to do, and that was the first time I really believed that." Ever since that realization, Thomas, who grew up in Slidell, decided that owning and operating her own franchise of the fitness studio, Pure Barre, was exactly what she wanted to do both for herself and the city of New Orleans.

Originally created in 2001 in Michigan by dancer and choreographer Carrie Rezabek, the Pure Barre Technique is a total body workout that combines pilates, weights and the famed ballet barre to perform small isometric movements in intense 55 minute sessions to burn fat, tone the inner thighs and lift your seat. In 2006, the fitness studio began to expand; five years later, it made its New Orleans debut in January 2011.

"It took a lot for me to convince Pure Barre Corporate that there was a market in New Orleans and that Magazine St. was a great location," Thomas says of the studio's initial apprehension to the city, steaming from its undeniable reputation for rich, often fried, food specialties. She also ran into problems with the building's lease for construction because of its historic roots.

Taking over for the restaurant, New York Bagels at 3923 Magazine Street, Thomas laughs when she explains that since the building was so old, one of the walls was crooked. Well, one can't have a crooked ballet barre, so she had to order contractors to build another wall entirely--a fake wall to go against the old one she was restricted from tearing down in order to straighten out the possibility of an uneven support barre.

Despite these obstacles, Pure Barre Corporate approved Thomas as an owner for the franchise in September of 2010.

Pure Barre has six trainers: Mandy Strief, Randi Savoie, Catherine Caldwell, Donna Crump, Ali Briuglio and Catie Callaway. Fresh off their trip to Colorado for training, Crump, 26, who graduated from Tulane University with a bachelor of fine arts in dance, was still reeling from the intensity of the workout. "All any of us could think to describe it was intense," the former Honeybee of three years says. "None of us have ever been through anything like it. I've only taken three [master] classes and I'm starting to see results in my biceps, my seat, my abs. I'm excited."

Pure Barre's nearly hour long, full body workout aims to bring every muscle to complete fatigue. The exercise focuses on toning and burning followed by stretching for long, lean muscle. Considered a "safe" workout because there's no jumping and putting stress on the joints, Thomas stresses that no one needs experience with the ballet barre; anyone can dive right into the technique.

Classes range in price and time with the studio that is open every Monday from 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 5:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Individual classes are priced at $25 per class, but there are class packages, monthly/yearly bundles, and special unlimited packages (New Client Special, Purre Barre Bride, and Baby Bounce Back) that can be found at www.purebarre.com. A special going on now lets college students and U.S. Military get 15 percent off class packages, and if you head over and "like" their fan page on Facebook, you can print a coupon to get your first class free.

Thomas says she worked hard making this New Orleans location different from all the others, and thought that adding a full boutique of designer women's active wear such as Lucy and Physhion, would set this studio apart from the rest.

"I'm looking forward to the city being introduced to a new type of exercise," Crump says. Thomas agrees, "I'm really excited to find a career that I really believe in," she says giddy with excitement that the stereo system in the studio has just been installed and is up and running. "There's nothing like it in the whole state."

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