Barre always intimidated me. I've heard so many mixed reviews about barre classes I wasn't exactly sure it would be something I would enjoy...or if I would even get a good workout. Also, I definitely don't look like a ballerina and I haven't been in a dance studio working at barre since high school. But, when my girl Kelsie invited me to her class that she teaches at Pure Barre New Albany, I knew I couldn't turn it down.
I did some research before I went to my first class and found out that I needed to get some barre socks. Luckily, my local studio also offers barre and I was able to buy some beforehand--but Pure Barre also sells lots of them with different styles and pricing options. So, don't panic like I did the first time. You can purchase socks at the studio.
As I was setting up my little area in the class, many of the other ladies who were attending were chatting and laughing together. It was very clear that this was a group of regulars. I love joining a class where the same group of people attend each week. I think it always makes the class more comfortable when people chat and know one another.
Soon the class started and from reading Pure Barre's website, I thought I knew what to expect:
Each Pure Barre class is 55 minutes and begins with a warm-up in the center of the room, on the floor, and then standing with light weights to work those arm muscles. We’ll then move to the barre to work your thighs and your seat. After the seat work, you’ll do a series of ab exercises, followed by a cool down. While the flow of class is always the same, we are always changing the music and exercises, so you never experience the same class twice!
Within the first 3 minutes of the warmup, my core was on FIRE and I was shaking like crazy. I quickly found that each move was short and intense, but purposeful. Kelsie timed every move with the music like she had rehearsed it earlier--and she threw out terms like "tuck" and "pulse" all throughout the class. I always kept my eye on the other more experienced girls in the class so I could make sure I was doing the right thing--but I think "tucking" is just something that you learn with time. My "tuck" looked more like a bad dance move I used in college.
We moved from the floor to the barre many times, with a nice stretch series in between each section. We would exhaust lots of tiny little muscles for 5-7 minutes, and then stretch it out before moving on to the next muscle group.
When the class ended, I realized that I wasn't really sweating. I knew that I had worked really hard, but since there isn't any cardio in the classes, I wasn't as sweaty as after my normal Spin or high intensity classes. You could totally get a killer workout and then hit up a restaurant afterwards without having to worry about being super gross and sweaty.
The experience was way less scary than I thought it would be. Pure Barre is an amazing workout and I love that it's low-impact. There are three locations in Columbus: Dublin, New Albany, and Grandview, and all locations offer a $10 Friday Class Pass for new guests!
Have you tried barre before? What was your experience like?
Columbus is great for so many reasons, but one in particular is because we have so much variety when it comes to food options. While it’s not for everyone, vegetarian menu options are becoming more and more common, and chefs are coming up with new and exciting ways to add flavor when they subtract meat from their dishes.
Below, we have our five favorite places that are either 100% vegan, or have lots of healthier vegetarian options for lunch or dinner.
Alchemy offers one of the most fun and unique menus in Columbus. Their passion for focusing on sustainable ingredients is evident by their always-evolving menu. Our current favorite is their Cherry Cheezecake bowl, which has organic acai, cherries, vanilla cashew cream, homemade almond milk, almond butter, granola, and crumbled cranberry no-bake bite. It’s great for breakfast or even a mid-day snack! Their menu is mainly vegetarian and in addition to the smoothies and bowls, they have sandwiches and salads that are so unique and amazing.
Portia’s Cafe is a vegan restaurant that has been impressing vegetarians and meat eaters alike for years. They have everything from salads and wraps to Mexican dishes and pad thai. Everything we’ve tried has been excellent, and nothing on the menu cost more than $12. From the service to the way the food is prepared, you can tell everyone that works at Portia’s Cafe cares about what goes on to the plate, which always translates to a great experience for the customer.
Brassica hasn’t been around for long, but it’s already become one of our favorite lunch spots thanks to their out-of-this-world good falafel. You can customize your order by getting either a pita or bowl, and adding a variety of unique and delicious mediterranean inspired options like spicy carrots, lentils, and hummus (traditional or roasted eggplant). Between the lentils and falafel, you will get plenty of protein to fuel you through the rest of the day.
Great for a weekend splurge, Condado Tacos does a better job at offering veggie-friendly options than any other taco shop in the city. Their thai chili tofu is fantastic, as is the bbq jackfruit. The tacos at Condado are all “build your own” style, so you can make them as simple or crazy as you like.
Core Life Eatery
CoreLife Eatery just arrived in Columbus, and we’re glad they did! We tried their Sriracha ginger tofu and ancient grains bowl and are already planning our next trip back. CoreLife Eatery specializes in their grain bowls, salads, and soups (which they call bone broths), but most of their soups can substitute veggie broth for the chicken or beef based broths. We like how customizable their menu is, as you can choose from four different salad bases or eight different grain bowl bases.
If we missed one of your favorites, let us know so we can check it out for ourselves!
The first thing you notice when you arrive at CrossFit Clintonville is the sense of community you feel as soon as you walk through the door. We noticed big groups of people talking, not just small cliquey groups. Patrick, the owner and lead instructor for our Saturday workout introduced himself and made sure we had a handle on some of the basic CrossFit movements, then went over to a big chalkboard to write down the day’s three-person team workout. All Saturday’s at 9am are team workouts, and then the 10am class is a free class that is ideal for people who are new and want to learn more about CrossFit.
As Patrick began writing, people slowly started to crowd around to see what was in store for them that day -- anyone who has been a part of a CrossFit team WOD (workout of the day) knows that you have to mentally take stock of which movements will give you trouble and which ones you’ll crush! As Patrick continued to write, a bunch of unfamiliar faces came up to us and introduced themselves. Again, the sense of community here was fantastic!
As he finished, Patrick went through the workout and as we broke into our groups, the chaos of setting up spots began to occur. People were moving rowing machines, getting barbells and weights, and setting up ab mats for handstand pushups. Our workout consisted of four mini-workouts that each involved 3-4 movements. Most followed a 21-15-9 (number of reps per exercise) pattern and we had to complete all movements as a team before moving on to the next set of workouts.
Our team finished before most other teams were done, mostly due to our third partner being a machine on some of the heavier-weighted exercises. As we finished and took in the scene, we again felt that tremendous sense of community. Patrick came over and asked how we liked everything, while our partner was over to another group cheering them on as they completed their last few reps. People were clapping, cheering, and continuing to introduce themselves until the final group finished and the clock stopped.
As far as a CrossFit box is concerned, CrossFit Clintonville has to be one of the best. After the class ended, Patrick was helping some members on some movements that we didn’t get to in class, and you get the sense that he really does care about each person’s personal journey through CrossFit.
After our early class, the CrossFit Beginners class was starting to fill in. It was refreshing to see some people you wouldn’t expect to see in a CrossFit gym giving it a chance. This kind of low-pressure environment is unusual for this kind of gym, and anyone who is either new or looking for a community-based CrossFit gym that wants to see you succeed should check out CrossFit Clintonville.
Tucked in a shopping center right off of Powell Road/750 between Route 23 and Polaris, is DK Fitness -- a powerhouse fitness studio that offers Spinning, TRX, and many other fitness classes. You might miss it if you aren't looking for it, but its location is super convenient and parking is a breeze.
I dropped in for a Spinning class on a weeknight and the studio was packed! The studio, while small in size, hits you with energy as soon as you walk in. I was greeted by Katie Fell, co-owner of DK, and she made me feel welcome immediately. I walked into a dim but loud Spinning studio where Katie and her husband, Doug, helped me get set up on my bike.
DK Fitness uses Spinner Blade bikes equipped with MyZone monitors that can track your heart rate, mileage, and RPMs. These are a luxury because you can immediately see how hard you are working and can follow the instructor better because she is actually calling out RPMs and not suggested levels of effort. I've also ridden on hundreds of Spinning bikes and these ones are by far the best I've seen. The owners take great care of them and riding them is comfortable and smooth.
This 45 minute spin class was taught by Hunny. I quickly found that Hunny had lots of energy and had definitely thought out her class ahead of time. Being that it was right before Christmas, she playfully told us that we were Santa's reindeer who had to drop off presents to all the houses. As we bopped along the rooftops and dropped of Christmas presents, I noticed that the class was going by quickly and the 45 minutes would be over soon. We spent a lot of time in the saddle but played with resistance, and when we had to take off from a rootop, we added resistance and stood out of the saddle to climb and work a little harder. It was a tough class, but her theme added a little bit of playfulness and distraction to the ride.
The class ended and as people were cleaning off their bikes and getting ready to leave, I noticed the owners, Doug and Katie, saying goodbye to each person by name. Being that it was a full class, there were probably over 20 different people in the class, and the owners knew each and every one of them. The personal attention and interest is such an overlooked thing at most fitness studios. The owners treat their members like family and really get to know them. It was great to see the interaction and I appreciated Doug and Katie even more for making the extra effort to get to know their members.
DK Fitness is one of the few studios that offers TRX classes, as well as Les Mills Body Pump and CXWorx. They also have a few yoga classes and, of course, Spinning. If you are near the Polaris, Powell, Lewis Center area, be sure to stop in to check them out!
Ryan and Kelly of Sweat Local Columbus