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Q&A: Meet Pure Barre Old Town Owner Rachel True

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Photos: Courtesy of Pure Barre Old Town

Pure Barre opened a new studio in Old Town in November. To get the 411 on this particular type of fitness, we chatted with the studio's owner Rachel True. Read on to learn the benefits of being a barre devotee, what other types of exercise to mix in with the practice, and which leggings are perfect for pregnant women.

Tell us a bit about your personal Pure Barre adventure. What got you started, what got you hooked, and what inspired you to open your own studio?
Growing up, I was obsessed with gymnastics, doing it from the ages of three to twelve. At twelve my love expanded to sports in general. In addition to playing numerous team and individual sports, I also taught swimming and water skiing until I graduated from Emory University in 2003 and had to get a "real job." I started working in finance after I graduated, first in New York and then in Chicago, and also earned my CFA charter during the time. While I found finance to be an interesting and challenging career, my love of sports, fitness and nutrition always stuck with me. Eventually, I decided I wanted to truly love what I do, share my love of fitness, and do something where I could help my community become healthier. It was in 2010 when I moved with my now husband to Ann Arbor, Michigan so he could pursue his MBA that a friend brought me to Pure Barre for the first time. After my first class, I was a bit overwhelmed and wondered what had just happened to me. After my third class I fell in love with the challenge and the burn, and after about two weeks I was amazed to start seeing and feeling changes in my body. So, it was after two weeks that I was completely hooked.

After realizing that there were no Pure Barre studios back in Chicago, it became obvious to me after some research that I wanted to switch careers and open a Pure Barre studio in my neighborhood of Old Town. Pure Barre is an amazing workout. It is incredibly effective, incredibly quickly—but there is so much more to it than that. I love the atmosphere of a Pure Barre studio. The studio is a warm and welcoming place, and I love the friendships I have made there. I also really value the mental clarity I gain from taking class. The classes are so challenging you can't help but melt your day away as you take them, making it easy to focus on yourself and clear your head. The motivating music and the fast-paced class is fun despite how hard the work is, and I really believe everyone who leaves after class feels better for having come. Ultimately, I opened my own studio for all of these reasons and to help make a healthy impact on the lives of women and men in the community. My goal is to help our clients look, feel, and be their best in mind, body and spirit.

How many times would you recommend taking a barre class, and what are the best exercises to practice on non barre days?
Pure Barre is a non-impact workout, and is safe to do every day. However, I would certainly encourage our clients to mix up their exercise regimen. Ideally, someone would come to class three to four times per week to see, feel, and maintain maximum change in their body in terms of strength and flexibility. Regardless, everyone benefits from coming to class, even if it's just once a week. While Pure Barre certainly gets your heart rate up, it is not cardio. As such, I would encourage people to maintain a cardio workout alongside Pure Barre. Running, walking and cycling are all great cardio exercises. I also love and continue to do yoga.

Pure Barre is a great exercise and compliment for anyone who practices high impact sports or fitness, such as runners or triathletes. Because Pure Barre works the entire body without putting stress on the joints already getting pounded through other sports, we are able to help our clients gain much needed strength and flexibility without extra strain. We consistently hear that we have helped runners with their strength and flexibility, and that overall Pure Barre has helped them become better runners with faster race times.

What are the physical benefits of being a barre devotee, and when do they start to kick in?
Clients who take Pure Barre gain strength and flexibility, and burn calories throughout their day due to the exercise. You will feel a tighter body overall, and reshape your muscles to be long and lean, similar to a dancer's. Pure Barre will lift your seat, taper in your waist and thighs, and strengthen and tighten your core and arms. Clients can start feeling changes in their bodies in as little as three classes, but it is usually after about 10 classes that you can really start to see the change.

Pure Barre also has a retail space. What has your approach been to stocking the shop, and which items are you most excited about?
Our goal is to provide our clients with high-end, pretty, functional and comfortable exercise clothing. I believe there is some truth to the saying "look good, feel good." Working out can become even more fun and empowering when you feel excited and good about what you are wearing. The specific items at the studio now are pieces I love, and that I'm hopeful our clients will love as well.

In terms of apparel, we currently carry Beyond Yoga, Alo, Nancy Rose and Karma in the studio. I love all of these brands for different reasons. I am obsessed with the Beyond Yoga essential and quilted leggings. They come in fun colors, are really flattering, and are amazingly soft. I also love the Surplice Back Pullover in white-and-silver fleck. It is sparkly, "holiday," and very versatile: you can wear it as a cover up to and from the studio, or you can dress it up and wear it out at night. Nancy Rose leggings in general are on the thicker side, so not only are they amazing for wintertime, but they also have more compression than the average legging. The grasshopper pants are some of my favorites— they have rouching on the side of the leg that is really flattering. Being seven and a half months pregnant, I live in my Karma Yama tights. They are high waisted and help me feel more comfortable when I work out.

We also carry a limited number of accessories. My favorite is the Lily & Laura bracelets. These bracelets are handmade from glass beads, and no two are the same. They are made by women in Nepal as part of the Fair Trade Act, so buying these bracelets also helps to support their families. The bracelets come in beautiful colors, and while they look expensive, they are only $12 for a single bracelet or 3 for $30. I love to stack them. They add a little fun and sparkle to any outfit.
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