Innovative fitness takes Oxford: Orangetheory, Pure Barre, Southern Star Yoga, PureRyde, Cardio Barre rocking fitness

Published 3:53 pm Monday, October 31, 2016

By Callie Daniels Bryant

In 2015, Oxford won the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation’s Healthy Hometown Award. It’s certainly no secret that Oxford is a haven for fit, healthy people with plenty of options for those looking to get back into shape. People who want to energize their weight loss journey with an original workout routine will find invigorating, innovative experiences throughout the city.


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Last fall, Orangetheory opened at 1801 Jackson Avenue West. Since then, Orangetheory has offered a new twist on the standard gym visit with its heart-monitored training.

The fitness center offers 60-minute workout sessions split into intervals of endurance and strength training that focus on maximizing metabolic burn.

The clients are fitted with a heart rate monitor around their rib cage so they can see visible results as they workout. Orangetheory also has an app that the clients can use to track their progress over time. The trainers at this fitness center are highly-qualified who will work around obstacles such as injuries for the clients.

Since opening Orangetheory last fall, the owner and manager Summer Pegram has created a tight-knit community among the trainers and clients in group fitness classes.

“We’ve had great success in helping people get to their goals and then make new ones which is great to see,” Pegram said. “We’re all appreciative of the support and the community we’ve gotten. We talk about goals, strengths, weaknesses and how we can help… It’s like a family really.”

Men, women and those as young as 14 years old work out at Orangetheory.

“It’s great to see families working out together and getting healthy,” Pegram said, “We have a big variety of people who come in which is great.”

Orangetheory keeps it simple with its equipment: treadmills, rowing machines and weightlifts for the group fitness classes to use. There are no single-person workouts as the fitness center believes that individuals are more likely to stick to their goals consistently when working out with other people who have similar goals.

“Orangetheory is definitely more serious,” Pegram said. “It’s a franchise so corporate is awesome to work with. They’re always striving to do something new so things change every day, keeping it new and fresh.”

Pegram was introduced to Orangetheory in Memphis, Tennessee by her husband, Joe Pegram. Since then she fell in love with it and the couple brought it to Oxford where they’ve enjoyed steady growth and providing a simple but efficient service with quality heart rate technology.

“I want all of us to succeed,” Pegram said. “I want to help everyone meet their goals here.”

Interested clients can purchase any of three packages: Orange Basic which offers four sessions per month; Orange Elite which is eight sessions per month; and Orange Premier which has unlimited sessions per month. Everyone is welcome to try out Orangetheory for free on their first time.

To learn more about Orangetheory, visit it online at To keep updated, like its Facebook page: Orangetheory Oxford.

Pure Barre

Overlooking the Square on the third floor above High Point Coffee at 265 North Lamar Boulevard is a fitness center named Pure Barre where clients of any age and skill level can enjoy working out in isometrics and pilates with a ballerina’s bar included.

Pure Barre was brought to Oxford by Kelly Waite and Madison Davis Newton in April 2014. Since then, Pure Barre has grown into an unique fitness spot for Oxford residents and University students for its combination of Pilates with a traditional ballet bar.

Hailing from Lexington, Kentucky, Pure Barre’s co-owner Newton was a cheerleader and a gymnast who grew up on a sports-loving household, but she clicked right away with Pure Barre.

“During college, I started taking Pure Barre classes in Lexington and fell in love with the technique,” Newton said. “It complimented everything I had learned growing up with training, and the atmosphere was amazing.”

Now eight years later, Newton is happy to share Pure Barre with Oxford residents and University students who are looking for a fresh take on group fitness classes.

“I think the things that make Pure Barre stand out in any town or city are the safety and results of the technique, the atmosphere and the consistency,” Newton said.

She explained that Pure Barre is a workout that anyone can maintain regardless of age, background or fitness level and yet still fresh enough that even after eight years she feels positively challenged by it.

“The fundamentals of a 55-minute Pure Barre classes are always the same, but the positions will change every class to keep your body from hitting a plateau,” she said. “I usually take two to three Pure Barre classes and two Platform classes a week. The combination of isometric classes and cardio classes has gotten me to my very best fitness level in years.”

Pure Barre also offers a friendly atmosphere that makes it easy to find a friend or two among women of all sizes and shapes in a group fitness class.

“The positive, encouraging atmosphere we have here at the studio is unparalleled,” Newton said. “To leave feeling encouraged, stronger and more connected is what it’s all about.”

Interested clients can sign up for a monthly package with the first month package offering unlimited classes at $99.

It costs only $10 to sign up for a first class at Pure Barre. To book an appointment, visit it online at and like its Facebook page: Pure Barre Oxford.

Southern Star Yoga

Nestled next to Snackbar in the Midtown Shopping Center at 723 North Lamar Boulevard is Southern Star Yoga Center.  Owned by Mary Solomon and Stevi Self since 2008, the yoga studio has been popular with Oxford residents and University students and athletes.

Yoga may be seen as a mediation practice by some, but Southern Star Yoga can offer intense workouts like the Candlelight Hot Flow Yoga.

Held Mondays to Wednesdays from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. this yoga class is performed in candlelight with the building’s temperature turned up to 98 degrees. The routine is so sweat-inducing that it ends with a welcome splash of ice-cold eucalyptus towels for the forehead.

Stevi Self, who is a cofounder of Southern Star Yoga Center, said, “The class is inspired by a class I took in Varanasi, India 20 years ago. Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in India and it had mandatory blackouts due to electricity shortages. During the early evening hours the whole city was in candlelight. That night in my yoga class, for the first time I experienced how my practice felt without being concerned with how it looked.”

When she instructs Candlelight Hot Yoga Flow on Tuesday nights, she aims to create an environment where students can get out of their heads and into their bodies. This is why Southern Star does not have mirrors. In a culture that is hyper-aware of physical appearance, Candlelight Yoga is the perfect antidote. Without seeing themselves and others, students are more likely to enter what Self calls “intuitive space” as they are learning to breathe calmly through difficult positions in hot temperatures. It is strengthening for the body and calming for the mind.

Self said that what she loves most about Candlelight Hot Yoga Flow is that it’s late on a weeknight. “As a mother of three, the late evening hours are the only time I have for myself,” she said. “It gives you the space to take care of yourself the way you take care of others.”

Due to the hour, Candlelight Hot Yoga Flow is taught at a slower pace as the clients perform a series of challenging positions that stretches the body into a refreshing exhaustion an hour later. “You”ll want to be settled in for the night,” Self said.

Southern Star offers additional challenging yoga classes such as Dynamic Power Flow and those who want yoga classes with moderate intensity can enroll in Beginner’s Flow, All Levels and Sunrise Yoga.

For a first class the price is $12 and $15 for drop-ins. Clients can pay $65 a month for a yearlong membership with unlimited classes. University students can pay $195 for a three-month semester membership with unlimited classes. They also offer accredited Yoga Teacher Training for those seeking to be instructors.

For more information, visit


Located at 319 North Lamar Boulevard, PureRyde is another one-of-a-kind fitness experience especially for those who want to punch up their indoor biking routine.

PureRyde instructor, Allison Thomas, who is a journalism alumna from the University of Mississippi, said that PureRyde is different from other fitness centers because of its overall experience.

“From the way the classes are designed to the equipment we use, it is a one of a kind workout,” Thomas said. “Every instructor has a different teaching style so clients never get the same workout twice.”

She noted that PureRyde is the only studio in Oxford that offers reformer Pilates and the only studio that uses RealRyder bicycles. These bicycles move side to side which is an upgrade from the stationary indoor bicycle.

“With the incorporation of the side to side motion, clients are able to burn 20 percent more calories in our cycle classes, opposed to true stationary bikes,” Thomas said.

PureRyde workouts are led by specially certified instructors who are guaranteed by the company to give the customers a workout they wouldn’t be able to achieve alone on a stationary bicycle.

“There is also a bond between our instructors and clients, making PureRyde more of a fitness community,” Thomas said. “What I like about PureRyde is truly everything. Our clients are the best and we couldn’t do what we love every day without them.”

Thomas first got into PureRyde as a junior journalism major at the University of Mississippi as part of a sisterhood event hosted by Kappa Delta.

“The cycle class was so hard I knew I had to come back and be good at it,” Thomas said. “I continued to take classes the rest of the semester and on my last class before Christmas break, I asked how to become an instructor. Training came the following month. I went through and never looked back.”

Thomas has taught cycling for two years and became a Pilates instructor too a little over a year ago. When she graduated this past May, she was hired in July as the director of marketing also.

She truly loves working with clients at PureRyde. “Watching them grow stronger and improve with every class they take is so awesome,” she said. “I also love that for 50 minutes a day, everyone in a class comes together to forget about the stress of the day to focus and do something good for themselves. Personal health sometimes gets pushed to the side with the limited time allowed in a day, and we realize that. We want our clients to be aware of how great it is that they recognize the importance of personal health and continue to join us here day after day.”

PureRyde offers cycling and Pilates classes that are 50 minutes each. For more information, visit To stay updated on local events, follow PureRyde on Instagram @purerydestudios and like it on Facebook: PureRyde Oxford.

Cardio Barre

Coming soon to the Village Station on Old Taylor Road is Cardio Barre, a 50-minute workout that combines barre work and light weights with continual fat burning motion.

The owner of Cardio Barre is Gina Matthews, who is excited to open the new workout studio a few doors down from Sinfully Southern Bakery.

“We are aiming to open late November/early December once the instructors return from training,” said Matthews. “All of our senior instructors are trained dancers who will go to California to complete intense training with the owner of Cardio Barre and other instructor trainers.”

The Instructors will spend three weeks visiting Cardio Barre studios all over California to garner ideas on how to lead their own workout routines once the Oxford studio opens. Cardio Barre’s lead instructor is Katherine Waits who brings a lifelong ballet and jazz background to Cardio Barre.

Cardio Barre has a dance foundation, but Waits said that one doesn’t need to have a dancing background to get into this workout.

“They separate the dance-related movement from the kind of movements with weights,” she said. “So you’re starting out with movements with barres that you can easily catch on to and then you’ll move onto cardio and then toning with the small weights.”

The workout routines at Cardio Barre do not have kicking, punching nor jumping up and down. Instead, Cardio Barre tones, trains and develops the body of a dancer in clients.

Matthews describes Cardio Barre as the “best of both worlds.”

“I like less traditional workouts rather than an elliptical or a treadmill,” she said. “I like high intensity, low impact workouts that provide cardio while toning the body. I feel like Cardio Barre is the best of both worlds.”

Cardio Barre also has a bonus: a childcare room for mothers who cannot find a babysitter. As a mother of two, Matthews feel this is a huge plus. She is excited to open Cardio Barre soon as a first-time studio owner.

“Although I danced growing up, I did not pursue it after high school. After college I got into working out and that’s when I fell in love with Pilates,” she said. “I got certified with Pilates Method Alliance and started teaching classes. I always had a dream of opening a studio. After my two kids, I had an opportunity to open a studio and I decided to open a competitive Cardio Barre.”

The Oxford location will be the first Cardio Barre studio in Mississippi. It is a part of a franchise founded in 2001 by Richard Giorla, a lifelong dancer and choreographer with over 30 years of experience that ended one day with a hip injury. Giorla then developed a high cardio but low impact workout routine so he could maintain his dancer’s physique without straining his injury. After seeing injured athletes and everyday people seeking the same type of workout routines, Giorla then founded Cardio Barre in 2001.

“There are currently 25 Cardio Barre studios across the US, but they are constantly signing new locations,” Matthews said, “It’s catching on. This is the first in Mississippi. Cardio Barre is friendly for men and women of ages 14 to 65+ and it’s not a workout routine where you’ll get bored. You’ll be constantly changing and moving.”

Matthews and Waits have not set prices or a number of class schedules yet, but once the studio opens the prices will be competitive.

Waits envisions Cardio Barre as a potential tight-knit community. She said, “It’s a dance studio feel where you’ll work out with people, make friends and form a community. Cardio Barre is not just a workout. You’re not just focused on the clock ready to get out… you’re enjoying it. In a way, Cardio Barre is kind of a family effort.”

For more information, visit and like its Facebook page: Cardio Barre.