January 2015

Raise the Barre

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Unlike bars that serve adult beverages to ease the stresses of the day, Pure Barre Hilton Head is a place to get happy in a completely different way. Conveniently located in the new Shelter Cove Towne Centre, it is the fitness phenomenon that is taking Hilton Head Island by storm.

Pure Barre is not a gym in the traditional sense—no heavy metal objects or torturous machines—just a pristinely clean studio with mirrored walls, ballet barres and some innocent-looking little red balls and elastic bands.

Not a dancer? No worries! “The apparatus we use is a ballet barre. But we don’t use the barre for anything that is totally ‘ballerina-ish,’” said Pure Barre Hilton Head owner, Kara Letien. If you can hold onto the barre, you can do this.

Defying gravity at every age
Participants at Pure Barre Hilton Head are ecstatic over the results they are seeing in just a few short weeks. Twenty-seven-year-old Shanna Radney says she’s tried other types of exercise and has never really been able to stick with it. She has been attending Pure Barre three to four times per week and is already seeing a firmer, more lifted seat and flatter abs.

Forty-nine-year-old Jeri Hollifield has attended 18 classes so far and is also thrilled with the way the exercise is shaping her body. In addition to toning and tightening, she said, “It gives me a big energy boost, and I’m sleeping better.”

“You’re not jumping around, and I don’t think you can injure yourself,” said 66-year-old Karen Curry, adding that her Pure Barre practice is also helping her stay more focused on eating well. “I’m feeling stronger, and I find that I’m much more aware of my body throughout the day,” she said. “It’s so different, I absolutely adore it.”

The Pure Barre difference: what to expect
Each Pure Barre class is a 55-minute total body workout. “Everything we do is tiny.” We say, ‘move just the size of a paper clip—just an inch.’ We want to take the momentum out of all the movements and really isolate the muscle,” Letien explained. “We also say, ‘find your shake.’ A shake is your muscle reaching fatigue. That’s when change happens and results come. And then we stretch, to help elongate the muscle.”

Other terms you will hear in class include:
Tuck: Bring your hip bones up towards your ribcage and roll the pelvis down.
Squeeze: A movement toward the midline of the body.
Hold or Freeze: Synonymous terms for holding a lift or squeeze.
Pulse: A downward movement toward the floor.
Bend/stretch: A teeny flicker behind the knee to find more length and a longer, straighter leg.

Attendance is limited to 25 participants, allowing instructors to work with each student individually.

Expect personal attention minus any embarrassment or intimidation. “Every time you come, you will get hands on ‘love.’ We come around to make sure that you are in great form and that you are challenging yourself,” Letien said.

In the beginning, you will be sore, because you will be working muscles you don’t even know exist. Letien encourages participants to work through it by coming again. “One of the best remedies for soreness is stretching, which is incorporated throughout every Pure Barre class,” she said.

What to wear/what to bring
Participants are encouraged to wear capris or leggings to keep muscles warm and protect knees on the carpeted floor. Wear layers on top (midriff covered)—a tank or tee and a sweater, but the sweater is likely to come off quickly.

Socks are required for sanitary and safety reasons (no shoes in the studio). While any socks are acceptable, grippy socks are recommended to help hold your position and keep from slipping. Pure Barre brand socks are available for sale in the studio, along with several scrumptious lines of fitness wear and accessories, including Pure Barre Apparel, Beyond Yoga, Alo Yoga, Splits 59, Lily and Laura bracelets and more.

Bring a bottle of water and a towel. Most important: Bring a great attitude. “Come in with an open mind.

You are going to be challenged and maybe a little bit confused,” Letien said, stressing that it takes three to five classes for the technique to click. So give yourself permission to be a beginner. Above all, don’t be worried about what your neighbor is thinking. “Other students are so focused on themselves that they have absolutely no time to think about you,” Letien said.


The Pure Barre Hilton Head Team (from left to right): Stephanie, Sami, Kara Letien, Danielle and Bee

More than a workout
Letien says she has discovered a happier more positive self through her Pure Barre practice. “Pure Barre gives you an escape from the craziness of life. Those 55 minutes are all about you. The effects of that are undeniably life-changing.”

“Women are often hesitant to make ourselves a priority,” Hollifield added. “There’s a real sense of accountability about being in a group and taking that time to focus on yourself.”

“I feel like a new person,” Radney said. “It’s not just the workout, but the encouragement you get to push through and find focus. It makes me feel better about myself and has raised my confidence.”

“As a part of our Pure Barre family, we want you to come here and make new friends, gain confidence, feel stronger and leave knowing that the instructors know your name and care about you,” Letien said. 

Pure Barre Hilton Head is located at 38 Shelter Cove Lane, Suite 129. Classes are offered seven days a week. For more information, stop in, visit purebarrehiltonhead.com, or call (843) 785-7888.

Who’s That Girl?

Walk into Pure Barre Hilton Head and you are likely to encounter Kara Letien, proud owner of the local franchise. Don’t be intimidated by her good looks and perfectly sculpted body. With a sharp mind and warm personality to match, she is the embodiment of the Pure Barre experience.

Letien holds a degree in fashion merchandising from the University of South Carolina and has participated in and taught a variety of fitness classes, from cheerleading to Pilates, yoga and Zumba. A self-proclaimed “fitness girl,” she took her first Pure Barre class two years ago in Savannah, Georgia, and it was love at first tuck.

Letien is engaged to marry Matthew Raehn, who was born and raised on Hilton Head Island. The couple is planning an April wedding.

“We are excited to be here and start a business that we are both really passionate about. What I most look forward to is connecting people to their strongest bodies and minds. I am eager to help motivate and encourage clients to reach their goals and provide them with the support, community and enthusiasm to exceed their greatest expectations.”

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