VAIL VALLEY, Colorado - There's a group of women working out in a small Edwards studio arguably harder than in any other gym in the valley.
The studio is called Pure Barre Vail Valley, a franchise owned by Sandra Goncharoff, who also owns Synergy in Avon.
Pure Barre got its start in a Michigan basement in 2001. Founder Carrie Rezabek Dorr, a "dancer, choreographer and fitness guru," according to purebarre.com, has since grown the company and workout regiment into a nationwide phenomenon, with franchise locations in 25 states.
In Edwards, as many as 22 women do the 55-minute workout, which is offered daily and often several times daily.
The studio is simple - a carpeted, long and narrow room lined with a ballet barre and floor-to-ceiling mirrors.
The focus of the workout is also simple, in that it targets the problem areas most women have with their bodies - abs, hips, thighs, back of the arms and the butt.
Rezabek Dorr calls it an "intense, yet intelligent exercise technique, as it works muscles to fatigue, without any bouncing or jumping, and then stretches them back out."
As women fill the Edwards studio and stretch while they wait for the class to begin, the atmosphere is calm and relaxed. Instructor Ally Coucke calls Pure Barre a
"I love the people I take class with and the people I teach," Coucke said.
Coucke taught her last Edwards class Friday and is now off to Denver to the corporate Pure Barre studio, where she'll train at the private training facility there. Coucke was once just a woman looking for a new workout routine, and she instantly became hooked on Pure Barre.
"I took one class and bought a package that day. I took a class every day the studio was open for the next month," she said. "I was obsessed. I couldn't believe it. It made me feel so good about myself, and I noticed the change in my body."
Coucke taught Friday in black leggings and a bright-pink tank top that revealed how toned her body truly is. She attributes the results she has gotten to Pure Barre and also to running.
"I promise in 10 classes, you'll notice a difference," she said.
A month and a half after Coucke became obsessed with Pure Barre, she was already teaching it. She calls it "the safest, most effective way to change a woman's body."
"There's no bounding, no high impact on your joints - you just work on strengthening the problem areas that women typically have, which are the arms, the abs, the thighs and the seat," she said. "It's different than going to the gym, where you get the cardio and then it's like, 'what do I do next?' It's very structured. We move quickly; there's no breaks."
Fifty-five minutes fly by, too, even as you look in the mirror and see your muscles quivering and limbs shaking. That burn is what produces the results, Goncharoff said.
"You have to hold it, and you're shaking - but you're not going to do that (by yourself) at the gym," Goncharoff said.
Goncharoff has a yoga and pilates background, and she's also done kick boxing and long-distance running. Nothing compares to Pure Barre, though, she said.
"I can't produce the results (with those other workouts) that Pure Barre does," Goncharoff said.
And while it seems intimidating - the intensity, the burning, the shaking - the workout can be something different for each woman in the class.
"It's group fitness," Goncharoff said. "You're going to make it what you want it to be. You're either going to push harder or make it what you need it to be. You want that burn because you're changing the things that are weak in your body (when you feel that burn)."
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.