Stacy Schieber is a regular when it comes to bellying up to the barre.
The 31-year-old Omaha resident exercises at Pure Barre, a new fitness studio near 156th Street and West Dodge Road. The workout combines yoga, Pilates and ballet movements performed on a dance barre.
Schieber, who had a spinal cord tumor removed last year, was on the hunt for a new exercise routine after she could no longer handle high-impact, fast-paced workouts. She says her new exercise routine helped her stop taking pain medication.
Pure Barre, which opened in August, is the nationwide franchise’s first Nebraska location. The studio offers more than 30 classes each week, tripling barre class offerings in the area.
Other local fitness studios also offer a handful of barre classes, including Lotus House of Yoga in west Omaha and Prairie Life Fitness Center locations near 85th and Q Streets and at Midtown Crossing. Another Pure Barre location is scheduled to open at 90th Street and West Center Road this fall.
Instructor Lisa Logan said the barre classes have become so popular that Prairie Life at Midtown Crossing is hosting A Week at the Barre Oct. 6 through 12 so non-members can try a class for free.
Sara Kohll, a 28-year-old Omaha native, said she is opening The Barre Code, a nationwide barre franchise, at 50th and Dodge Streets in December.
She said barre exercises are gaining popularity because the classes are fun, motivating and focus on problem areas for women such as arms, abs, butt and thighs.
“Barre exercises are really unique because they use small movements and light weights or body weight,” Kohll said. “It’s the hardest workout I’ve ever done. It works your muscles in a totally different way and, by the next morning, I am always sore no matter how many times I’ve done it before.”
Jill Koegel, an Omaha dietitian and personal trainer, has taken barre classes before and even has a barre in her personal training studio. She said barre exercises are good for everyone but especially for people who have been sedentary and want to be more active or have limited abilities with exercise.
The Barre Code, Pure Barre and other ballet-inspired workouts such as Barre 3 and The Bar Method have been a hit around the country for years.
That’s why Emma Sodoro, 28, wanted to open the first Pure Barre franchise in Nebraska. The Arizona native loved taking Pure Barre classes in other cities, but couldn’t find one when she moved to Omaha.
Her husband jokingly told her, “If you like Pure Barre that much, why don’t we just open one in Omaha?”
So the couple did.
Within the first month of business, Sodoro added eight classes to the existing 25 because of the demand. Each class can hold up to 25 people, and Sodoro said the busiest classes — typically in the morning — draw about 18 people.
Each class begins with a basic warm-up focusing on abs. Fast-paced pop music plays while the instructor demonstrates moves, such as shoulder rolls and knee lifts. Next, students use light weights or resistance bands to work their upper body.
“You’re barely moving,” Sodoro said. “It’s lots of pulses and small, tiny, movements.”
For instance, instead of full bicep curls with heavy weights, participants use light weights and only do half of a bicep curl. They’ll work until a muscle is fatigued, and move onto the next exercise. The class continues with upper body work, including push-ups and tricep dips. Then it’s on to the barre for traditional ballet moves like pliés — similar to squats — and leg raises.
“You work until your muscles shake and then you stretch out that muscle group,” Sodoro said.
While barre exercises are great core and midsection workouts, Koegel said it may not be enough for someone for trying to lose weight or build muscle mass. She recommended supplementing barre exercises with good nutrition and workouts that increase your heart rate to burn more fat.
But for many, the beauty of barre is the low impact. Often the classes finish with gentle stretching to relaxing music.
“If you can hold onto a barre, you can do a Pure Barre workout,” Sodoro said. “Anyone can do it.”