Fitness Throwdown II: Pilates vs. Barre

A new fitness craze that has boomed in the last few years is Barre, which has spawned a plethora of gyms offering a barre method type of workout. Those who have admired the lean, strong physique of a dancer are the ones who have flocked to this style of workout. Combining Pilates, yoga, and ballet, barre can offer a less intensive, yet very focused path to that dancer physique. While the styles of workout between Pilates and barre are quite different, they both hone in on similar mental and body sculpting goals. This makes barre an obvious companion for Pilates enthusiasts.


The Barre Method is a derivative of the Lotte Berk Method founded in 1959. Lotte Berk was a dancer and teacher who developed her own style of exercise based on ballet, concentrating on a person’s core. Incorporating aspects of yoga and Pilates, barre focuses on small, measured movements with an emphasis on form.

Joseph Pilates created Pilates while in an internment camp during World War I to help prisoners regain and maintain their health even while cot-ridden. It has since fully grown into a pathway to integrated wellbeing that suits pro athletes, dancers, and exercise enthusiasts, as well as post-op patients.


Barre and Pilates share many things, primarily in the way they affect the human body and our mental state. Both will improve flexibility and posture, sculpt and tone muscles without increasing size, and aid with avoiding injury by aligning the body to allow proper functionality. Neither exercise program places high strain on the body like other training methods, yet you will still feel the burn!

Mental benefits include an increase in mind-body cognizance and clarity. Both barre and Pilates require focus and precision in order to properly perform the techniques. They also help in decreasing stress levels and release endorphins for a well-rounded feeling of relaxation.


The main differences between Pilates and barre is the amount of equipment and the extent to which the muscles are fatigued. Barre simply uses body weight, a barre, and mat, and sometimes an exercise ball, while Pilates ranges from just using light hand weights and magic circles to apparatuses, such as a reformer or tower.

Barre focuses on small, intense movements that push muscles to the point of fatigue, often in an aerobic setting. Pilates is non-aerobic and moves between small and large muscle groups, focusing on core strength and flexibility. It is a full-body workout, though it is best paired with a cardiovascular exercise such as barre.


As you can see, there isn’t a debate on which is the better method of exercise. Barre and Pilates live in similar communities and work very well with each other to reach similar goals. We often have clients who practice both styles to obtain a well-rounded exercise regimen that is fun and effective. If you are currently a barre enthusiast, but have been interested in trying Pilates, visit our studio to see what we can do for you.


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