Raising the Barre

Want to quickly develop the long, lean look of a dancer, get the most challenging workout of your life, and have fun while doing it?

Ballet-inspired fitness classes offer an ultra-challenging workout.

Want to quickly develop the long, lean look of a dancer, get the most challenging workout of your life, and have fun while doing it? Pure Barre is your answer. Although not a dance class, Pure Barre has roots in ballet, specifically the Lotte Berk method developed in the 1950s. Berk, a dancer, designed this technique that shapes the arms, hips, thighs, and seat using small isometric movements. This triggers deep contractions in muscles and delivers fast results. Pure Barre reshapes the body and improves flexibility and strength with targeted exercises using bands, balls, weights, or a ballet barre.

We spoke with Kayla Allen and Marni Chaikin, owners of Pure Barre studios in Woodland Hills, Brentwood, and Santa Monica, Calif., about these in-demand fitness classes, which are available throughout the U.S. and in Canada.

How did each of you get started in Pure Barre?

Kayla: I took my first class in January 2012 after having a baby. After approximately five classes, I could feel a change in my body, and I was hooked! I started taking class 5–6 days a week, and lost all of my baby weight and was stronger than I was before having my baby. I was looking for a job that I had passion for, so one day I asked my now-business-partner Marni if she wanted to open a studio with me. We grew from one to three studios in 11 months!

Marni: I was dancing professionally in New York City, teaching Pilates, and doing voiceovers, but wanted something to truly call my own. I took a Pure Barre class and I was hooked. Serendipitously, I met the founder of pure barre Carrie Rezabek Dorr, in a woman’s entrepreneurial networking group, and we became friendly. Pure Barre was a fledgling company at the time with only a handful of locations, none in L.A. I set out to find a way to bring something like it to Los Angeles. I grew up with a dad who was an entrepreneur and so I think I have that type of enterprising spirit—either inherently or from watching him work hard my entire life. I opened Brentwood in February of 2009. A while later, I met Kayla as a client and knew that we had to work together.

Who is your typical client?

There is no typical client; we have people from all walks of life. But the most common story we hear is that people come for the workout and stay for the community. It’s truly a family. And it changes people! Not just people’s bodies, but their lives. We hear stories every day about how Pure Barre has “changed my life.” We have people who are recovering from injuries, looking to cross-train for marathons, or just looking for something new.

Why do you think Pure Barre is so popular?

Because it works. It sounds cheesy, but it’s not a fad workout. Pure Barre has been around since 2001, and we continue to evolve and keep our technique fresh and innovative for our clients. We are always adding new elements, and in January 2016 we introduced a new cardio class—Pure Barre Platform.

Are the exercises similar to those done in ballet?

Some of the moves are inspired by ballet, but Pure Barre is not a dance or ballet class. The technique targets the arms, hips, thighs, and seat using small isometric movements to find a deep contraction of the muscle. And it’s all set to highly motivating music that makes the hour fly by.

What’s the biggest transformation you’ve seen with a student?

It’s so hard to say, because every transformation we see is unique and amazing. We have a client who lowered her blood pressure to normal levels and stopped needing medication; we have a client who had debilitating back pain and migraines who no longer suffers from chronic pain; we have a client who dropped down from a size 12 to a size 4, and the list goes on.

I’ve noticed most of your clientele are women. Are men into Pure Barre?

We do have some men who come regularly who love it, and there are some pro athletes who do Pure Barre in the off-season, as it’s a great cross-training workout for all athletes, especially for high-impact athletes such as runners. So we definitely see men who need strength without too much bulk. We also have our Bring on the Men class, where our clients bring the men in their lives to experience class. Then we give them beer and pizza! It’s so fun and is one of our most popular events.

What results can people expect from Pure Barre?

It is a full-body workout.Throughout class, we focus on different areas, and by the end of class your whole body will feel sore in a good way. The Pure Barre format is unique in that you work each section of the body to fatigue (and, all the while your heart rate gets up nice and high). And then each of those sections is followed by a stretch, teaching the muscles to be long and lean (as the heart rate slows).I call it the “spring and recovery,” which is a very effective way to burn fat. Our new cardio class, Pure Barre Platform, mixes high-energy cardio with low-impact Pure Barre. It’s not to be missed!

For more information on Pure Barre, go to