I am so overwhelmed and crazy excited to FINALLY share my love story with Pure Barre [Addison]. My goodness it’s been so long since I wrote out my thoughts for the blog and I’m bursting to tell you #WHYIBARRE. I barre because quite simply…it works! I feel challenged, stronger, focused, energetic and calm after every class. I’m incredibly grateful to the women at the PBA studio and the Pure Barre way of life for pushing me to become my best me. Also, I can rock legwarmers on a random Thursday morning and it’s TOTALLY appropriate! I should wear that adorable board Giselle chalks up in the studio with encouraging life sayings and stand on the sidewalk. I would in a heartbeat.

Almost two years ago… My life was pretty fantastic on the outside looking in. My precious boys, dedicated husband, supportive parents, house and really cool job equaled up to more than the necessities. But it didn’t feel that way. Like so many of you reading this right now, I was overworked, stressed, sleep deprived, disconnected and just not any fun when I turned (gasp!) 35. That milestone and something about the ‘5’ really hit me. Sad. Unhealthy. See here. Did you go ahead and read that short essay? Are you all caught up? Super. But now? Now life is perfectly PERFECT. Nope of course not, but it’s better. Way better because I put in some majorly hard work. I shared a little on Insta about my running journey here and then when I found the little red circle p that fit so beautifully into the picture (see what I did there?) I shared again here. It’s been a looooong time (year and a half) since the blog has seen any action. Don’t get me started on actual sessions to show you. Except I did just post this beautiful newborn!

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First. Just a tee-tiny story for those of you that are strangers or my sweet peeps who have asked how this all happened! Even my barre buddies don’t know allthethings that brought me to PBA. I’m a native Texan, wife, boymom x 3, dogmom, former special education teacher, lifestyle photographer, only child, aunt x 15, friend and [now] runner + barre addict. Back in my not-so-happy phase I hit a low and my next chapter was about to begin. Near our home there is a 2 mile trail loop. I started walking + pushing the ginormous double Bob (sometimes stuffed with 3 kids until the wheels would deflate) and was finally getting out-the-dang-door and moving. Using my body for something other than baby-growing or baby-feeding (both wonderful pastimes that I recommend.) I was also in an excessive-calorie-consumption phase that apparently doesn’t go with the mid-30s metabolism. It was time. MORE than time. Regular exercise was a thing of my past…teenage dancing days were behind me. I remember asking the husband (Spring of 2014) “do you think one day I could RUN around that trail?” and he LAUGHED. Laughed at me, but not why you’re thinking (Max is a very nice person) he laughed and said “of course, Leah! Of course.” Me: “oh.” Then one day after walk-jogging the boys for weeks, stopping countless times to wipe noses and open fruit snack pouches… I actually started to run. My first run was with Max (we found ourselves childless one evening) and decided to go for a walk. Only we ran! We ran all the way up to the bar by our house and had a beer. (truth.) But then, I really did start to run for real and alone: just my legs, my feet, my over active thoughts, my new will-power…just me. Doing the running. RUNNING!! Thinking about how hard it was to run uphill, wondering if I run like Phoebe from Friends, how Tove Lo rocks but is not appropriate for the small boy children and reality check, I’m actually doing this! I ran around the entire loop. Not that first time, but maybe a week later. And then another time, I ran around the entire loop TWICE. Twice. Pretty sure I took a selfie. And it was stupid-hot because it was summer in Dallas. I was scared. So so scared that the inactive, Cheeto-eating-at-midnight Leah would come back.

I didn’t buy any new clothes when mine started to get baggy. So afraid. I did buy some workout stuff. Then I was fitted for real-deal running shoes. THEN I fit into the 2-sizes-too-small lulu leggings that my husband bought for me several Christmases ago (you know that’s a big deal.) Just real quick –  weight loss is not the key to life. I get that…this is just my little journey to healthy + strong (in case you were concerned…) So I keep that up and get obsessed about moving and pay attention to what I’m eating. My relationship with food is out in the open and I choose not to hide in my car with lots of fast food. I start to come out of the fog and accept my new body that grew tiny people. Friends start to notice I’m changing. Husband is proud. He tells me this daily AND let’s me take the time to run. Boys learn that ‘going for a run’ is fun for mommy and she NEEDS it. I’m scared. Still scared I will go back to not doingtherunning. In the beginning I gave up alcohol. I substituted my evening glass[es] of wine with sparkling water. Gimme all the lime Perrier. Oh! I found hummus and cucumbers. It may not have been a religious experience, but it was an ah-ha food moment. That was my go-to snack. p.s. I still eat [too much] junk food, but now I don’t beat myself up over treats. I keep up the running or walking with the stroller throughout the summer and into the fall. I have new running buddies that I text + share + ask questions but we never actually run together. They really drove me to keep going. The time change is basically annoying (no running in the dark) so I walk with the stroller during the day, use the treadmill more and let Jillian Michaels encourage (yell) at me through the TV while doing the 30 Day Shred. But I’m still moving! The difference from newly 35 year old Leah to almost 36 year old Leah was crazy…BIG life changes. Work got better, Mommy-ing was more enjoyable, my sense of humor was back in full force and finally my brain + body were feeling healthy. I was ready for something more.

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February 2015. After driving by the Addison studio location I was so curious and googled Pure Barre. I’d heard of it before but was never brave enough to take a class. I mentioned to Max that I’d like to try their new client special. I get the green light. I’m super nervous to try something new (read: real anxiety) but I walk into the studio on Super Bowl Sunday. Everyone is smiling. Everyone is excited. Everyone has on leggings. I wear my normal ‘not-sticky’ socks because really do you need those? (uh, yes. yes you really do.) Such an eclectic group of all ages and body types – twentysomethings, 30+40somethings, women that could be my mom, there are newbies (like me!) and hard-core barre addicts. The instructors are so toned and I immediately have arm muscle envy. Class is crazy fast paced and I’m concerned about what happens if I pass out? We have to plank for how long? Pushups? I fall in love with the loud music one pulse + bendstretch at a time…holding on to a barre that I never really knew how much I missed. It feels great. I have no idea if I’m actually doing the tucking-thing correctly. I shake right out of my non-sticky socks during thighs + seat. What in the world! Under the barre (slow abs) confuses me and there is a lot of ‘fluff’ in my midsection. Oh my core. The lights go off and we get to “Lift. Tone. Burn.” one last time before stretching. Ah, that feels good. It goes by too fast that the next thing I know my mat is wiped off and the little red ball is back in the bucket. I smile + chat with the other barre-goers + instructors, slip on my Uggs, say “Thank you…I’ll be back!” and whisper in my head congrats for making it through something new. I even go for a short jog when I’m home since my energy level is THROUGH THE ROOF. 3 hours later…I can’t get off of the couch. Ouch. Not twentysomething anymore, I’m reminded. At least the game is on. Pushing through the pain I download the PBA app and sign up for more – 4 times that first week. The rest. It’s history they say.

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The end of July marked my 100th Pure Barre Addison class! and we celebrated! Where else do you go workout and have your accomplishments recognized in such a positive way? As women it’s so easy to compare and get jealous. So often we see other’s successes as our failures instead of using them as inspiration. Pure Barre isn’t like that. The Pure Barre Family is a REAL THING. People are actually truly happy for your hard work. They are dedicated right along with you. I celebrate them! We recognize that it takes effort and planning to make time for ourselves…and it is SO. MUCH. FUN. Difficult? Of course (even harder with correct form!) but we’ve LTB’d under black lights, in costume, for a cause, in tutus and sometimes we take pictures after class (every once and awhile.) The Pure Barre workout is fluid and ever changing. You will not get bored and your body will continue to strengthen with every exercise. You WILL become addicted to class AND to barre apparel =) The PB Family extends to different cities, states and friends from all parts of life and it’s just the coolest having barre in common! Finding what you love. What works for YOU. That’s the key. My long distance barre buddies Michele + Minnette (among a few other friends) positive-peer pressured me into signing up for a Half Marathon in January! Although I’m still doubtful I can run it, before Pure Barre there wouldn’t even be a consideration for all those miles. My core actually holds me together and my legs are way stronger than ever before. The PBA barre girlies work wonders for my well-being. Hands down I’m amazed at how far we’ve all come. Laughing and working out beside women that are all different from one another is empowering. Giselle is the owner of PBA. She’s gone above and beyond to create such a positive and well-respected studio. She’s just…amazing. Read about her on the Pure Barre Blog here! She believes in and encourages every single person that walks in the door. Who knew we’d become fast friends and obviously she didn’t open the studio FOR me, but I’m so grateful she took the leap! Thank you, Giselle…you’ve changed more lives than you know…we are all so thankful for you! Sara, Bailey, Mary Marshall, Wendy, Natalie and Joanna…I truly BIG LOVE/tiny hate you for kicking my seat. LOTSoffeels for you gals. Seriously with the lunges + pretzel?? Meanies! No but for real, thank you for giving everything you have to teach our classes…our fearless leaders and powerful 10-counters, reminding us constantly that we are stronger than we think. I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know you and figuring out how much we have in common this past almost-year.

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As women we have a lot to live up to…we are told to be everything and be AMAZINGatEVERYTHING. Which is really not possible. What I do know is that Pure Barre is for every one of us. Our best is enough. We can be strong. We can compete with ourselves instead of comparing to others. No matter what is going on during any given day, I absolutely love those 55 minutes of tiny movements and big changes. And I’m gonna say it. I am really proud of myself. It took a long time to get active again and I love my family + crazy life too big to go back. I barre because it works.

Thank you for reading! It’s always scary to put yourself out there and I was just so happy to share something positive in hopes it could help someone else. If you’re in that icky place I once was…there is hope! Do something for yourself…it’s completely worth it. aaaaand If you were just here for the pictures, thanks for that too!!

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  • November 12, 2015 - 3:34 pm

    Joanna - Leah – thank you so much for sharing your story! There are so many women who have a similar journey and struggle to find their release. We ALL need to hear stories like this to encourage ourselves to find our OWN power, find our strength, and find our balance. PBA is so lucky to have you in the #purebarrefamily, and I’m so glad I had the chance to talk to you on the very first day, and see just HOW far you have come! Thank you (and sink that seat a little lower)! 😉ReplyCancel

  • November 12, 2015 - 6:39 pm

    Tina - Leah, I love you! I know we havent hung out much in the past, but I’ve loved following your photo business AND your life story! You’re an inspiration! Thank you for being REAL! I’m in a sort of an icky place RIGHT NOW – transitional living, leaving “home” and waiting for our new home to be built, quit gym, being inactive and not sleeping well w/2 toddlers has made for a not nice Tina equation and the ones who suffer the most from this are the 3 people I hold most dear and that just plain sucks! God gave me your post to read today bc I just told Scott this morning that once he logs off for his lunch break (bc he works from home), I’m lacing up my shoes and going running. I need physical activity back – for strength, weight loss, a clear head and a just plain better psyche! It truly does help to get those endorphins going! Thanks again! You’re precious and look great and sound great too! Hugs and love! Please tell Max hi!ReplyCancel

  • November 12, 2015 - 7:12 pm

    Michele - Leah…I’m so glad you finally got the chance to get this all down into words. You’ve inspired so many people…you have to know that. And you must be so proud of the direction you’ve taken with your life and your health! It shows!! So happy to see you so happy and I couldn’t be more thrilled to get to run (hopefully) 3M with you in a few months. How amazing to see where this journey has taken you???!!! Your beauty radiates inside and out and your love and encouragement of others doubles that glowing personality! xoxoxoReplyCancel

  • November 12, 2015 - 7:22 pm

    Beth - I love everything about this, sweet friend.ReplyCancel

  • November 12, 2015 - 11:22 pm

    Megan - Leah! It was so wonderful reading about your journey to a healthier and happier lifestyle. I’m completely inspired by your dedication and honesty. You are amazing!ReplyCancel


Hello. I think it’s about time to add some PICTURES to this blog! Let’s start with this incredible family…sure, no one is perfect but they are pretty. darn. close. Such a calm + loving session…I left with a full heart and a huge smile. Plus my awesome friend Liz drove me out to their house AND took some behind the scene pics! Sabrina is an incredible photographer and I was truly honored (and super nervous!) that she trusted me with their newborn lifestyle session. Thank you, sweet G family!!leah cook | newbornleah cook | lifestyle newbornleah cook | lifestyle newbornleah cook | lifestyle newbornleah cook | lifestyle newbornleah cook | lifestyle newborn

  • November 9, 2015 - 2:14 pm

    Sabrina - Oh Leah! It was a dream come true to have you photograph our family. It was just as wonderful as I imagined it would be. Thank you for blessing us with your talent and your friendship! XOXOReplyCancel

  • November 10, 2015 - 7:41 pm

    Angela Lauterbach - Glad to see you back and in full color! WHOO HOO! the Pixel Playground missed you!



So excited to share this event! Please consider doing something AMAZING for yourself (and sweetheart!) You will have a blast in front of the camera…grab a Dallas friend, head to Austin + make a weekend out of it!snow angels | .emme. boudoir

This is a year in the making!  I’m WAY over-the-moon happy to be teaming up with Michele Anderson of Pinkle Toes Photography and Minnette D Photography of Houston–along with makeup artist Katie Astoria of Modern Muse Beauty in Austin, to bring you Snow Angels: A Winter Enchantment by .emme. boudoir.  We can help make all of your frozen fantasies come true as our magical stylist and team of experienced photographers help capture your inner Snow Angel. From start to finish you’ll be pampered with gorgeous hair, makeup and images that will warm up even the coldest winter nights. Even better, you will have your images in time for Valentine’s Day!

Contact us ASAP for full session details – there are special discounts and booking incentives for reserving your session early. Sessions will be held at Michele’s studio/property outside of Austin…best. road-trip. EVER!!

  • December 4, 2014 - 11:49 pm

    Lisa - Hi! I wanted to get more info regarding the snow angels.



  • December 5, 2014 - 5:34 am

    Megan Cieloha - Oh, Leah! This sounds amazing. Congratulations and have so much fun!!ReplyCancel