Above the Barre: From Stage to Fitness

For those contemplating a replacement for crossfit or hot yoga, or a somewhat easier way to kickstart a new routine barre might be the low-impact alternative you’ve been looking for.

What is barre?

Barre has actually been around a while. Begun by Lotte Berk in London, the exercise incorporates all muscles in a variety of stretching, core, and isometric movements. Berk, a former German ballerina, combined her training into a less classical form of ballet training which, yes, includes a barre. The exercise then came stateside in 1971 when Lydia Bach opened a studio in New York City.

What kind of exercise is barre?

Barre focuses on toning and elongating muscles rather than building bulk. So if you want to look more like Arnold Schwarzenegger you may want to skip this class. In other words, this routine incorporates elements of ballet, pilates, and yoga, emphasizing core strength, leg strength, and flexibility throughout.

Desired results are achieved by repetitive movements using limited equipment: a small medicine ball, light hand weights, and a rubber strap to aid with stretching. Length of exercise can vary depending on intensity, but it usually lasts no more than an hour.

Is there barre for men?

Yes. Although many studios don’t expressly forbid men, barre is most popular for women. In fact, many studios host “Bring Your Man” nights. Others say women, in general, benefit more from these types of exercises.

Men’s interest has gained popularity, to the point where there are classes for men only, although these are not as common.

How much does barre cost?

Prices vary widely, depending on the investment. Prices can range from $70 per class to $300 per month. Unless classes are included in a membership, it’s perhaps advisable to try one or two classes before investing.

Can I do barre at home?

Yes and no. While the needed equipment isn’t as expensive as, say, a treadmill, barre does require a bar of sorts for some of the exercises. So unless you’re willing to install a barre and/or floor-to-ceiling mirrors, you may want to stick with a classes at the studio. Plus, it doesn’t hurt having an experienced instructor nearby.