More than Exercise: Pure Barre Builds Muscles and a Sense of Community

Flavia Harton demonstrates a workout move with her Westie accompanying her. / Photo by Sandra Barnes

Pure Barre owner Flavia Harton was a ballerina for many years, performing in Brazil where she grew up with her Italian parents. In the classes offered at her fitness center on Hendersonville Road, Harton incorporates traditional ballet movements with other strength training exercises designed to achieve fitness goals.

Haron stresses that people who take at classes Pure Barre do not need a dance background to participate.

“You don’t have to be a dancer,” Harton says.

Standing at the barre in the large, carpeted space where classes are held, Harton balances herself on one leg while extending the other forward.  She holds a red exercise ball in her hands and smiles while maintaining this position. After a few moments, her legs begin to quiver; but that is to be expected, she says. The muscles are becoming fatigued and need to be stretched, she explains.

The 55-minute workout is hard but safe, Harton points out. Clients who take classes at Pure Barre work to strengthen and tone major muscle groups in their arms, legs, hips, core and seat (the term that Pure Barre uses for buttocks). Harton and other instructors at her center also help clients develop and maintain good posture. It’s important to keep the body upright, Harton says.

“We start at the center of the room with a warm-up,” she said. Then exercises that include plants, push-ups and working with weights follow in the sessions that feature upbeat music playing in the background.

“It’s all about building your strength,” she says.

Each strength section of the workout is followed by a stretching section in order to create long, lean muscles without bulk.

To keep things interesting for participants, the workouts vary, Harton says.

“The class is never the same,” she remarks.

The classes are designed for people of any age—and for men as well as women, Harton notes. At her center, there are several men who take classes, she notes.

To feel comfortable during workout sessions, participants wear tights or leggings and tops that cover the midriff. And they exercise wearing “sticky socks,” which provide traction for stability.

Harton began taking classes at a Pure Barre center several years ago while looking for a type of exercise class that had a low risk of injury, but was effective.

“I just jumped in,” she said. “I feel like Pure Barre has changed my life.”

Four years ago Harton opened her own franchise in Asheville out of a desire to work with people and help them gain physical strength.

“I am combining two passions: people and fitness,” she said.

Pure Barre is in the genre of boutique fitness, which has increased in popularity in recent years, Harton points out.

“It’s interesting to see the shift,” she said.

Many people who come to fitness centers are seeking personalized attention in an inviting atmosphere where clients get to know each other, she said.

Having grown up in a small town in Brazil where everyone meets at the town square, Harton strives to create a sense of community at her fitness center.

“I always want it to be more than exercise,” she says.

Both Harton and her instructors receive intensive training and certifications before teaching at Pure Barre, an international fitness franchise with more than 300 centers in the United States and Canada.

By Sandra Barnes