Yesterday I went to my first class at Pure Barre. Having gone to Exhale and Bar Method, I was curious about the differences at Pure Barre. The class structure was extremely similar, but I found some different teaching inspiration.
1) Accounting for Transitions and Organizing Materials Saves Time – At Exhale, the weights and straps are stored in the back corner of the studio in bins on the floor. If all students arrive in a staggered way, then collecting these items before the start of class is pretty easy. Pure Barre has the weights organized on shelves right outside of the studio with the numbers facing out, so that you can grab them from the various shelves on your way in. Similarly, the tubes are hanging on racks so they’re not tangled, and they’re easy to grab. Pure Barre adds one extra piece of equipment (playground balls), and several baskets of these are staggered inside the studio and out. During class, Exhale has students return their weights to the bins immediately after the arm section (causing a big line). Pure Barre does not. I preferred this because we got a little more time to stretch our arms and transition to the next set of exercises.
My takeaway for the classroom: reassess my organization to think about how materials are used in context (versus whether I have enough space for them). I’d like to figure out the tasks I keep repeating (or that students keep repeating) and make them more efficient. I would also like to find the spots of downtime and cut them down to increase on-task time and cut off the starting points for boredom. I appreciate that both Exhale and Pure Barre classes go straight through the hour without awkward breaks.
2) Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable – I read a post by Nicole is Better that has a compelling lesson: “When you cross the border between comfort and discomfort, you have no choice but to step up your game. When you want to change, when you want to be better, you have to push yourself into discomfort.” My experience at Pure Barre yesterday was exactly that. Exhale was my first experience with barre classes, so I have a mental association with only being able to achieve the first levels of exercises (often shying away from doing the challenge modifications). I noticed at Pure Barre that the instructor didn’t explicitly offer many modifications to make the exercises easier or more challenging (though she did come around to correct our form). She proceeded through class as if everyone could achieve the same level of fitness, and lo and behold, I didn’t automatically downgrade myself (e.g., by doing side plank with a knee on the ground). Exhale offers options to push regular attendees, which I appreciate as well–so now I’m inspired to take those options the next time I go!
My takeaway for the classroom: Treat activities as if they are achievable by all students, emphasizing a “you can do it!” attitude instead of coming in thinking “they are going to have the worst time with this, it will be so hard,” and encouraging students to go for the challenge rather than to take the comfortable road.