Category Archives: Barre

Research Leans Towards Pilates for Improved Athletic Performance

Joseph Pilates started exercising to combat his physical disadvantages, such as asthma, which allowed him to form his own system that we know today as ‘Pilates.’ Since the workout routines boom in recognition in the 1970’s, studies have followed on the effects of Pilates.

Studies show that Pilates improves lower limb muscle strength and trunk flexibility in women, lowers the rate of depression in postpartum women, and improves  hamstring flexibility in football players. Is Pilates the best option, over Barre, for improving athletic performance?

Barre is designed to be a workout for every woman, but not many studies can be found on the effects of a Barre routine.

Mariska Breland of Fuse Pilates in Washington D.C., says Barre doesn’t make you better at sports. “It’s not a complete workout,” says the instructor, “It’s not very functional.”

Jennifer Rockwell of Pilates 4 in Virginia Beach says “equipment Pilates is definitely good for people that are post physical therapy, it is a very rehabilitative type exercise, it is a full body workout, but it is slower paced, it is much more mindful, you’re getting more one on one, so you get lots more corrections, vs. in a Barre class, you can only correct to the general, you can’t spend all your time on one person.”

An article by USA Today in 2003 reported on athletes improving their performance through Pilates, such as quickness, power, flexibility, weight loss, and injury-free seasons.

Barre- An Exercise Routine Designed To Be For Every Woman

What started as a combination of ballet and rehabilitative therapy, variations of Barre have quickly become the new go to work out for women, but unless you live in a populated urban area, you may not have heard of it yet.

Barre workouts have been spreading for the past decade across the United States and Canada. The market is for women who desire a dancer’s physique or in need of a post physical therapy workout. Each type of Barre is a variation of the original, The Lotte Berk Method, and consists of a workout that is slightly different from the others, but the consistent element is using a barre, and simple ballet movements, and creating a workout that does not require experience or a background in dance.

Lotte Berk, a German dancer and fitness pioneer, created the exercise routine in 1959 after sustaining a back injury. One of her students, Lydia Bach, brought the routine to Manhattan in 1971, starting the first Lotte Berk Method studio in the United States. With popularity of the effective routine starting to rise, different types of Barre started to appear, most notably Pure Barre, and Barre3.

Source: Esther Fairfax

A barre used for balance and simple ballet movements during a Barre workout. (Photo by Jillian Knight)

What is the difference between Barre, Barre3, and Pure Barre?

The word barre itself is a ballet term meaning a horizontal handrail that sits at hip height. It is pronounced the same way as the word bar.

“That is to me what Barre class is, it’s group exercise, but incorporating simple ballet type exercises that are modified for the general public so that you don’t have to have any dance experience whatsoever,” says Jennifer Rockwell, owner of Pilates 4 in Virginia Beach.

“I just think because it’s (Barre) result oriented, it’s fun, it also does great things for your butt, it tones, it doesn’t bulk, and it burns calories,” said Jennifer, who has had her studio open for two years now.


When asked who her typical clientele consisted of, Jennifer says, “I think it really, and this would be the California in me, it is for women over 40, who have money to spend, and the time to invest in it.”

Barre is not a cheap investment. Jennifer is the cheapest rate in Virginia Beach at $10.00 a class, but recommends coming three times a week for best results.

Alicia Sokol, studio owner of Barre3 on 14th Street in Washington D.C. says Barre3 uses cork floors, “so the workout can be done bare foot or with socks, there is no tucking involved, it’s easier on your lower back and knees, incorporates small range of motion, as well as large range, and includes more cardio.”

Tucking is a core engaging technique used by Pure Barre.
Source: PureBarreCompany

“Barre3 is really designed for any type of body,” says Alicia, who discovered Barre3 in 2012.

When asked about her goal as an owner, Alicia says “I want everyone to leave confident, feeling strong, and good in their skin.”

An element that sets Barre3 apart is that most studios offer child care services to accommodate busy mothers.

Barre3 uses cork floors instead of carpet, making non-slip socks optional (Photo donated by Alicia Sokol of Barre3 in Washington D.C.)

 

Pure Barre has been the most popular franchise, with over 400 studios. Founded in 2001 by Carrie Dorr, and franchising starting in 2009, Pure Barre is a mixture of ballet, yoga, and Pilates. Pure Barre uses balls, weights, mats, and resistance bands in their workouts

Balls used in Pure Barre routines. (Photo by Jillian Knight)
Light or heavy weights used in Pure Barre routines. (Photo by Jillian Knight)
Mats used for Pure Barre exercises. (Photo by Jillian Knight)
Resistance bands used for Pure Barre routines. (Photo by Jillian Knight)

Pure Barre corporate policies do not allow photos or video of the equipment being used, unless for advertising or marketing purposes.

Deanna Graham, co-owner of Pure Barre in Virginia Beach, attributes the popularity of Barre to being “the simplest, safest, really workout that you can do.” She says it is great for pregnant women, it allows people with injuries to continue working out, it allows people to gain flexibility, and is great for people with athletic injuries like bad backs, or knees. Nancy, a breast cancer survivor, and a Pure Barre client, says the workout allowed her to gain her strength and flexibility back.

Deanna also attributes the success of Pure Barre to lack of judgement in the studios. “It’s a community, it’s a community of like-minded women, we are all here, not necessarily to lose weight or to get skinny, but to get strong.”

Deanna also encourages people to attend three or four times a week, and that people will start to see results after 10 sessions.

Source: PureBarreCompany

So, what caused Barre to rise in popularity? Mariska Breland, founder of Fuse Pilates in Washington D.C. says Physique 57 and Pure Barre are what made Barre explode by adding music. She also says a lot less training is involved for Barre instructors than Pilates or even yoga, so it is easier for studios to open quickly.

“You can get teachers up and running in two weeks,” said Mariska, a certified Pilates instructor.

She also says it is a cheaper investment for studio owners, as opposed to the upwards of $100,000 investment in Pilates equipment.

Mariska, a Pilates instructor since 2002, and a Barre instructor since 2005, says “Pilates is core strengthening, more functional fitness, makes you stronger”, and “Barre makes your body look nice, depending on your body type. Some people find it bulks them, but for thin people, the ‘dancer body’ is more attainable.”

Other Barre franchises exist across the country including The Bar Method, and Physique 57.

Both are modern takes on The Lotte Berk Method. Physique 57 does not franchise, so only 9 studios exist.

Infographic by Jillian Knight at easel.ly

The conclusion on whether Barre is here to stay according to Steph Mignon, a blogger and fitness enthusiast says “Barre has been around in the mainstream for almost ten years now, so I definitely think it’s here to stay. I already think Barre is on par with Pilates or Yoga as a fitness discipline. “

Continue to follow the progression of Barre on Twitter.