If you have visions of girls in tutus bellying up to the barre, you may think barre work is restricted to those professional dancers who make a career of staying on their toes. But barre has gone mainstream, and for good reason: As it does for the ballerinas, barre workouts will give you the strength, flexibility, and endurance you need to perform cardio workouts and just get you through your day with the stamina you require to take the stairs or walk long distances, or even dance all night. Not to mention imparting a sleek, slender silhouette you’ll love to show off.
And as a regular practitioner of Pilates, you’ll recognize the similarities between the two disciplines. Both work the core with a series of strenuous exercises, primarily using the body’s weight to achieve fitness goals. Both emphasize proper alignment and balance, and the classes are slower than traditional aerobics classes, with their more frenzied movements, increased heart rate and heavy breathing. Both will improve flexibility, posture, and stability, while also—and not incidentally—burning calories.
Like Pilates, barre targets the abs and glutes, and lengthens and strengthens muscles. As with Pilates, you’ll “feel the burn” after a class due to the “micro-movements” employed in the isometric contractions during the exercises. And like Pilates, barre is available to anyone of any fitness level.
The main difference between barre and Pilates is that usually the only equipment used in barre classes is the ballet barre, although some classes employ resistance bands, hand weights, small balls, or a chair. And there is no mat work in barre. Another difference is that students are instructed to hold their positions much longer than those in Pilates, sometimes for several minutes. This is meant to fatigue the muscles being used in the workout, thus producing faster results.
And of course, the actual exercises differ. Barre classes will sometimes incorporate such ballet moves as the plié, but the slow, almost static poses have sometimes been compared to yoga moves, versus the more dynamic movements involved in Pilates. And barre tends to focus more on the leg and abdominal muscles, which is why hand weights are sometimes used to incorporate a workout for the upper body.
But it’s not really a competition over which is better. Both types of exercises are actually complementary. Thus, you will often see various Pilates studios offering barre classes, or a combination thereof. The thinking is that by providing such a hybrid routine, all bases are covered, so to speak, and the body receives a total workout, with benefits accruing to every possible muscle group.
Whether you choose to stick with Pilates, incorporate barre, or perform some combination thereof, the result will be a better you: greater flexibility and range of motion; longer, leaner, toned muscles; improved posture; better core strength; and greater stamina and endurance; along with a generally enhanced overall feeling of well-being.
Pilates In the Grove offers a unique combination of Pilates, barre, and cardio with our exclusive BARRE-SET-GO classes, providing your body the endurance of a football player with the grace and sculpted body of a ballet dancer. Book a barre class today to get in on this exciting new workout!