For a gym-a-phobe like me, it's not so much the workout I dread as the jarring atmosphere: the bad fluorescent lighting, the blaring cable news, the smell of socks. Stepping into the B.fit studio on 14th Street NW feels more like arriving at a girlfriend's flat than at an impersonal gym. Here, owner Linda Bachrack offers classes in the Pure Barre technique, a body-sculpting cousin of Pilates. The space, atop a Subway sandwich shop, is a converted apartment, with the former living room and bedroom combined into an airy studio.
Pure Barre traces its lineage to the cultish exercise method developed more than a half-century ago by German dancer Lotte Berk. Hard to explain and difficult to categorize, it feels like a hybrid of ballet, Pilates and standard aerobics-class weight training. Led by an instructor, students start by lifting light hand weights, then move to the ballet barres that line the room for a series of movements designed to tone abdominal and derriere muscles. Stretches are sprinkled throughout the class, and flexibility is as much a goal as sculpted abs.