Neck Notebook | New Pawleys Island fitness studio raises the ‘barre’

07/24/2013 11:00 PM

07/25/2013 8:54 AM

A new Pawleys Island workout studio raises the “barre” for fitness, one plié at a time.

The Barre Dance and Wellness Studio, opened in mid-May, serves up fitness cocktails with a singularly different ingredient: barre workouts.

Owner Gina Clapham, originally from New York, opened the studio to offer locals and tourists a new way to lengthen, strengthen and sculpt muscles with a combination of pilates, ballet and flexibility training.

“Business has been good,” Clapham said. “We’ve been getting a lot of vacationers because they know barre. Barre is new to (local) people, but once they figure out what the workout is about, they love it.”

Barre workouts incorporate a ballet barre to give fitness enthusiasts the look of a dancer’s body, and the new studio mixes in cardio workouts for hour-long classes, tailored to individual needs. Barre uses elements from ballet, such as plies, first position and port de bras.

“We try to make each class a little different, because we want variety,” Clapham said. “We don’t want people to get bored.”

With an array of class options, days and times, participants will have a difficult time getting bored. Several barre classes are offered, including a Beach Barre class held Saturday mornings on the beach in front of Litchfield Inn.

Two yoga classes are also on tap, including a sunrise yoga developed for all levels, with a goal of relaxation and meditation.

Stephanie Mood, visiting from Columbia and feeling the burn during last Friday’s open barre class, decided to try out At the Barre while on vacation.

“It’s a workout I’ve never done before,” Mood said. “I’ve been pretty sore.”

Mood’s sister-in-law, Eliza Hudson, also spent the week experiencing barre for the first time and said she’ll look into Columbia-area barre classes for the months she’s not in the Grand Strand.

“I love how different it is,” Hudson said. “It’s a different form of strengthening.”

At the Barre has several local frequenters, including Brenda Chapman, Pawleys Island resident. She said the ballet-style exercise has worked to improve her overall health, including lessening the hard-to-target oblique muscles, commonly referred to as a “muffin top.”

“(Barre) works for me because I need someone to push me and motivate me,” Chapman said. “If I don’t have Gina (Clapham) to yell at me, I won’t do it.”

Prices range from $15 for a single class to $120 for a monthly unlimited membership, with several options in-between. Currently At the Barre is offering a $99 summer unlimited special.

The studio is currently sponsoring a 30-day abs challenge, and is planning several outdoor boot camps for the fall.

For more information on At the Barre, visit their Facebook page at or email The studio is located at 12020 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island.

Lowcountry Prep mourns loss of beloved staff member

Ellen Donkle, former registrar, college counselor and athletic director at Lowcountry Preparatory School, passed away last week following a long struggle with illness.

Donkle began her work with Lowcountry Prep in 2003, rapidly earning a reputation for getting things done. Through her assertive efforts in college counseling, students gained admission to competitive colleges, including the U.S. Naval Academy, Notre Dame and Wake Forest University.

“Ellen’s steadfast dedication to serving those around her – our students, their families and fellow members of the faculty and staff – was both humbling and exemplary,” said Headmaster Scott Gibson III. “Her lesson to our students in how to take care of one’s neighbor was as critical a part of the education we provide our students as were our core courses.”

The school plans to honor Donkle with an award to be presented annually in honor of her fighting spirit and service to others.

Lowcountry Prep lowers standard tuition

With the academic year looming closer to kids across the Strand, Lowcountry Preparatory School has announced a 30 percent tuition reduction for the 2013-14 school year.

New tuition rates are as follows: $4,800 for grades K3 and K4; $6,000 for K5; $6,300 for grades first through fifth; and $6,800 for grades sixth through 12.

The school’s board decided to lower tuition, previously ranging through a high of $10,590, in order to attract more families and make the preparatory curriculum more affordable. Enrollment has generally remained constant but the school has not been filled to capacity, and many parents were applying for financial aid, a sign that tuition was simply priced too high, according to the Board.

Headmaster Scott Gibson said the tuition reduction “is an intelligent move that has quickly generated a flurry of activity in the admission office.”

The academic year begins Aug. 21, and Lowcountry Prep offers rolling admissions, which allows families to apply any time during the school year and begin immediately upon acceptance. For more information on Lowcountry Preparatory School, visit

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