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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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
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.
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.”
Both are modern takes on The Lotte Berk Method. Physique 57 does not franchise, so only 9 studios exist.
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.
If you’ve heard of, or have tried Barre before, maybe you haven’t been informed that there are numerous types of Barre workouts. Just like yoga, and Pilates, there are various options to choose from to meet your health or physical requirements.
The word barre itself refers to a stationary, horizontal bar that ballet dancers typically use to stretch. Since the 1970’s when Barre was introduced to New York City, different variations have been produced.
The different types of Barre to be aware of are Pure Barre, Barre 3, The Bar Method, Physique 57, and Figure 4.
Pure Barre is the largest of the Barre options, with over 375 studios in North America. Pure Barre is low impact with stretching in-between sections.
Barre 3 is new, having only started in 2008, it values three elements; exercise, nourishment, and connection. Barre 3 focuses on isometric holds, small range movements, as well as large range movements.
The Bar Method focuses more on physical therapy, and keeping joints safe by offering exercises that are safe and therapeutic.
Figure 4 stems from Pure Yoga, and incorporates high energy dance and interval cardio.
There may be just small differences between the types, but the main elements come from the Lotte Berk Method. Lotte Berk was a dancer in London who wanted to increase strength and flexibility. Esther Fairfax, Lottle Berk’s daughter, continues to teach her mother’s technique in the U.K.
Most Barre types fuse Pilates, yoga and ballet into one exercise routine.
With the five Barre techniques, and the popularity of Barre growing and growing, it is no wonder that the number of Barre studios in North America continues to grow. The following is a bar graph showing the number of Barre studios of each method.
easel.ly Pure Barre, Barre 3, and The Bar Method, all offer franchising options, which has allowed them to expand so quickly in the past ten years of Barre being a well known exercise routine. It is still a new routine to people outside of metropolitan areas, but it is only a matter of time before it breaks into rural America.
If you are interested in seeing if there is a Barre studio in your area, the following links will bring you to the five types of Barre websites to locate the one closest to you.
Barre fitness hasn’t been well known for long, but the popularity is quickly growing and spanning across the United States and Canada. It is difficult to trace the actual history of Barre fitness, but most articles written on the subject agree that there are numerous benefits from Barre, including weight loss, strength training, and motivating.
Barre is a combination of yoga, Pilates, and ballet. It is designed to create a dancer’s body with a low impact, high intensity, and fun workout.
Pure Barre has been operating for a decade and has studios across the country. The founder is Carrie Rezabek Dorr, a dancer, choreographer and fitness guru. Her company has grown to more than 375 studios. One of Carrie’s studios is owned by Michelle Garcia Davidson in Washington D.C. Michelle opened the Pure Barre studio in 2012. Michelle isn’t the only one with a Pure Barre studio in the area. There are two more in the district, 8 in Maryland, and 20 in Virginia.
A counterpart of Pure Barre in the Washington D.C. area is B.Fit Barre. One of the instructors is Katie Oyama, a veteran with over 300 hours of yoga training. You can find Katie’s classes, biography, and other barre-tenders here.
Barre hasn’t interested only fitness gurus, medical professionals like Sara Gottfried, MD have taken an interest in the movement as well. Dr. Gottfried is an expert on women’s health, and gives the workout an A+ for its benefits for women.
There are different variations to Barre. Barre3 at Union Station in Washington D.C. offers a routine that is just slightly different from regular Barre. Some differences are carpet vs. wood flooring, and flexibility vs. stability. Jill Warren, the studio owner of the Barre3 at Union Station, and two other locations, opened the studio in 2011 to focus on her fitness career.
In case you’re brand new to Barre and want a demonstration to help make you comfortable before your first class, Michelle Fondin offers some demonstrations on her Google+ page. Her website also offers answers to beginners’ questions.
Many workout routines start small and then branch out into different markets. Stacy Hinkel has found a new market in Stroller Barre, a Barre workout for new moms.
If you’re looking for a new workout routine, read the positive reviews of Barre, and take a look at what is available in your area.