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The barre class at Pop Physique is a deceptive little workout

How can a workout with 1-pound weights and little movements be so hard? We try a barre class

If you take workout classes, you've surely heard about those using a ballet barre. Having never taken dance of any kind, I was uncertain; surely everyone else would have perfectly turned out, pointed feet and terrific balance? But barre is everywhere, and not everyone is ballet-ready. The class I took at Pop Physique in Highland Park was a good workout and good fun.

Pop Physique, a chain founded in L.A. by Jennifer Williams, a ballet dancer and Pilates teacher, and her husband, is meant to help you get long, lean lines using dance techniques.

Pop Physique, 5709 N. Figueroa St., a block from the Gold Line, and other locations. www.popphysique.com

Aura: The room is sunny and long, with barres at two heights (so you can lift your leg onto one of them) along both lengths and a mirror on one wall. For me, the music was too loud and a little distracting, but perhaps if you know the routines you're not as concerned with hearing the teacher's directions. Sixteen women took the class I was in, mostly young but with a range of fitness levels.

Effort: How could it be so hard to work with 1- or 2-pound hand weights? There are plenty of exercises that just ask for a little move or a little weight but, done properly, really let you know you're working your muscles. I appreciated the brief stretches interspersed throughout the class. And the teacher, Andrew Pearson, counted down, never starting with a number higher than eight, so you always felt you could push through.

Style: Pop Physique sits far from the likes of CrossFit on the fitness continuum. The low-impact workout, using weights, a ball and the ballet barre, is intended to fatigue a muscle with small moves, provide a short rest or stretch and move on. And the classes are reliably similar at all the locations. A particular Sculpt class might have some exercise variations, but the overall workout is the same.

Cost: $20 for a class, with packages available, including a new-client offer of a month of unlimited classes for $100. Students wear those grippy socks, which are sold at the studio if you don't bring them.

If you have suggestions for classes, please let me know by email, mary.macvean@latimes.com, or on Twitter, @mmacvean

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