It’s no secret that I love Pure Barre – the community, the workout, the apparel, the form, the support from other girls in class to raise my heels higher, and shake for that final 10. I am constantly recommending barre to friends and family because regardless of your fitness goals, shape or size, its a killer workout for everyone that is low impact on the body but packs the punch with results.
What I typically hear in response is that barre is too pricey and they cant make the amount work for their budget. I have always felt that price is secondary to how much you love the fitness studio you belong to and the results you see, but as we focus more on our budget in 2018 I started to understand more and more why people were hesitant to pay the $135 annual member monthly price tag that Pure Barre held for me. So, I made the decision to end my contract in hopes to find a more affordable option!
So, I decided I would do a barre crawl in RVA and compare overall experience, cost and class options for your benefit and here is part 1 of my review:
The 3 “big” gyms in RVA all offer a barre class now so I hit them up first:
- American Family Fitness (Midlothian location)
- Teacher/Staff: Staff the front desk didn’t know whether I needed sticky socks for class when I asked. I had to ask where the locker room was and where the class would be held, as I haven’t been to Am Fam in almost 10 years. Another staff came over to have me sign a waiver form and wasn’t particularly friendly at all. I wandered around in my sticky socks until I found the Mind Body room. No greeting, no instruction about items needed from teacher when I walked in so I checked the other attendees and was able to find the items on my own after wandering. The instructor wasn’t on the beat of the music with counting which threw me off. The instructor was really friendly afterwards but no greeting or checking in about any modifications from class before.
- Class flow: The class had 8 individuals total with the instructor on a raised platform at the front of class. The barre was actually 6 standalone lightweight barres set up around the studio so I found an empty one towards the front and was ready. It was a good hour long workout and I was shaking like normal. We used the barre for most of the class, but we only did 3-4 minutes of abs which felt too short to me for a full body workout.
- Class Availability and Times/Schedule: Typically offers 1 barre class per day in morning or after work time slot.
- Cost: 92$ a month for family of 4, free childcare for 3 hours a day, and full use of gym amenities. Year contract with fees associated with cancelling unless you have a doctor’s note or move outside of a 25 mile area of an AM FAM location. Call and speak with Ginger to check out the location with a free week or month trial!
- Overall Experience: The movements and the terminology were different but I caught on quickly. I won’t lie, I was pretty grossed out that we didn’t wipe down the equipment after sweating on the mat, weights, and tube. I looked for cleaning equipment and there was none in the room YUCK. I am not a fan of the standalone barre in the middle of the room. You are missing out on key portions of barre class that involve using body weight to pull off of the barre. First impression wasn’t great with the poor customer service, but I will say I got a tour a week later and overall the gym is large, very nice, the kid zone is impressive, and the kid pirate ship pool would make any little one swoon.
- Teacher/Staff: No greeting, no instruction from front desk staff and had to ask where the locker room was and where the class would be held, as I haven’t been to YMCA in years as well (Is this typical, seemed like it was becoming a trend). I presented my ID and the staff didn’t even glance at it. Asked if I needed to fill out any paperwork and was told no. Got a vague point and description of where the room and locker rooms were. Very much like AM FAM, I wandered around until I found it on my own. The instructor was the most knowledgeable about barre in comparison to the other 2 gyms. She asked about modifications and shared adjustments for those who needed them in various moves.
- Class flow: The class had 4 individuals total with the instructor. The class started late due to difficulty with music set up. The last few minutes of class had a crowd standing at the open door waiting for yoga to start which was distracting. No ceiling fans in the class left it extremely hot. The barre height hit at my rib range, which is much higher than I am used to. It felt a little uncomfortable for my short 5”2 frame but would work great for a taller barre babe. It was a great workout, and I was shaking. It was the most comparable to classic barre with various terms and much bigger movements of the legs.
- Class Availability and Times/Schedule: Only 2 classes a week offered, morning and evening.
- Cost: 82$ a month for family of 4, free childcare for 2 hours a day, and full use of gym amenities.
- Overall Experience: The lack of greeting and helpfulness from front desk staff made this visit a complete wash. There are limited class offerings for barre at this location. I didn’t get a tour and since they didn’t document my visit or ask my name they have no way to follow up with me. Not likely I will go back anytime soon. Total wasted opportunity Y, and you knew I was coming since I called a week prior and explained I would be using for a blog post. Pretty disappointing overall.
Gold’s Gym Midlothian – Westchester location
- Teacher/Staff: Staff throughout the club were inviting and friendly. I was given a tour upon arrival, they offered to hold my items since I did not have a lock with me, and was escorted to the Mind Body class. The staff who got me set up, Virgil, was extremely helpful and made sure I was settled in class. The instructor was friendly, greeted me and introduced herself. Asked about health issues or any modifications needed.
- Class Flow – It wasnt barre, not at all. We used the barre for 4 minutes total and the rest of the class was aerobics/HIIT themed. If you head into this class expecting to have a classic/traditional barre experience, you will be as disappointed as I was. The teacher was upbeat but the personal commentary throughout the workout annoyed me. She wasnt counting and admitted so during the class, for example; we did approximately 18 lunges on one leg and 10 on the other. The woman who came to class 5 minutes late and wiggled in beside me asked me to move over because I was too close to her totally deserved the eye roll I delivered. And the two women who chatted pretty much the entire class, this is NOT social hour. I like to focus when I work out, not get the daily run down from the housewives of Midlothian. Teacher wasn’t on beat with the music and asked if it bothered anyone. I was too bothered by the lack of rhythm to even raise my hand.
- Class Availability and Times/Schedule: 2 classes per week.
- Cost: Virgil will give you a individualized quote if you call and ask for him! I will say that of the 3 gyms, Golds is most affordable for our family. 2 hours of free childcare available per day as well. Golds would cost me a third of the price that Pure Barre did and my whole family can utilize.
- Overall experience: The gym is new and impressive. I liked the set up and the barre space was gorgeous, bright and airy. But, I highly doubt I will ever take barre there again. Compared to the nonexistent helpful staff at Am FAM and Y during my first visits, Golds felt like it was rolling out the red carpet.
These gyms offer childcare while parents work out, which is huge and something that I have never had at Pure Barre. When my husband goes out of town, I had to miss class. They are all located conveniently to the village of Midlothian which for me is walking distance for 2 gyms and 4 min drive to Golds. There is value in the price for the wide availability of class types and open hours for the gyms.
However, I wasnt a fan of the barre options at these gyms. If i joined, it would likely mean finding a new class or routine, which I am not quite ready to do. Because, well I LOVE BARRE!
Don’t worry, there are still many small boutique barre studios in RVA. I am checking out all of those for you too! Part 2 of barre crawl on the way. Until then, are you a member at one of the big 3 gyms in Midlothian or RVA? Do you go to their barre classes? What are your fave aspects? Worth the price for your crew?
Can’t wait to hear,