I have been going to barre classes for a about five months now, and I thought I would take this post to share some of my experience. I have been using ClassPass, so I have been going to different studios around the city. There are plenty of other workout class options available on the app, but I am only really interested in barre classes. In Charlotte there are 3 of the popular barre studios on ClassPass: Pure Barre, FlyBarre (part of FlyWheel), and Xtend Barre. I have also tried a local Charlotte studio. To sum it up in one sentence, I love them all! Each studio has fantastic instructors and staff, they are a very positive environment, and I always get a good workout. This post has not been sponsored by any of the aforementioned companies. I just thought I would share from an unbiased point of view, what I thought of each method and what makes them different. It's also going to be a long one, hang in there!
If you didn't already know, barre classes are exercises classes based on pilates and dance that are designed to build long and lean muscles. They involve a ballet barre, light weights, a lot of small movements, and are a full body workout. The exercises usually focus on certain muscle groups: abs, arms, quads, and glutes. They typically start with a warm up in the center or next to the barre, move to the barre for a variety of exercises, come off the barre for some more exercises, and end with a little bit of stretching to cool down. They don't typically have a lot of cardio, but I will explain more about that later in the post. I think these classes are a great workout for anyone. But in my opinion, they are fantastic for former dancers and would be excellent cross-training for current dancers.
It has now been a little over a year since I graduated, and I knew I should probably do something to stay in shape and keep the muscles from my dance years. But I have never liked running or going to the gym. During my last semester of college I went to yoga a lot, but I never thought of it as much of a workout. I had heard a lot of good things about barre classes but wasn't sure about them for awhile. My dance teacher growing up used to teach the very first barre method, created by modern dancer Lotte Berk. Every once in a while we would learn some exercises from it during our ballet classes, and I always remember them being very challenging. So a few months after I moved to Charlotte, I decided to give them a try. I loved it, and started off going once a week. I now go 2-3 times per week rotating around several studios. I have had such great experiences at each one!
As a new graduate in an entry-level job, I love ClassPass. They have been offering 70% off for your first month, which I think really helped in my decision to try it. You have the option of taking either 3, 5, or 10 classes per month, with an option to add on classes later. The prices vary by city (by a few dollars per class), but in Charlotte it is $30 for 3 classes, $50 for 5 classes, or $90 for 10 classes. And the additional classes are 3 for $25 or 6 for $50. And if you travel, you can use your classes in any of the their 39 cities. However, they only allow you to visit the same studio twice a month on the 5 class plan, and 4 times per month on the 10 class plan. If you want to try a little bit of everything in your city like spin, crossfit, etc. there are plenty of options out there. However as I said earlier in the post, I have only been really interested in barre classes. So I did not really like this aspect of it on the 5 class plan, but I think it works just fine on the 10 class plan.
The memberships at these studios for more than 10 or unlimited classes are around $200 per month. This may also vary by city, but there are not a lot of class options if I wanted to go every day after work, at one single studio. A lot of the classes are early in the morning or in the middle of the day. So as someone who works full time, I think having the option to go to several studios 2-3 times per week for $90 is not a bad deal. I will say I don't think ClassPass is very clear about their fees. You will be charged a $15 fee if you cancel a class within 12 hours of the class time, but will not be charged if you cancel earlier. And there is a $20 fee if you miss a class. From my experience, there is just one fee from ClassPass and no additional fees from the studio.
I have tried 4 barre methods, but for the sake of this post I am only going to share my thoughts on the popular ones that have studios around the country. As I said earlier in the post, I have had great experiences and would recommend any of these methods. But here are some of the differences between each one.
I think the most popular and best known of these barre classes is Pure Barre, which is the first studio and first barre class that I tried. Their classes are 55 minutes long, and they also offer a Platform class. As the name suggests, exercises are done with a platform near the barre in those classes. I think they incorporate a good amount of dance positions in the barre exercises, I know I am working a lot of the same muscles that I used to work in my ballet classes. I think the instructors here really go out of their way to learn everyone's name. They are always giving out encouraging compliments or offering helpful corrections throughout the class. I also love how they switch the exercises around so no two classes feel the same. As much as I love this method, I think their regular class has the slowest pace of all of the methods I have tried. I don't find myself sweating very much during the regular class, but my muscles are always still sore after it. However, the Platform class is very challenging! It has a faster pace, larger movements, and gets your heart rate going with some cardio.
The next studio I tried was FlyBarre, which is in the same location as FlyWheel spin classes. So if you also like spin classes, they offer membership for both. They offer the FlyBarre 60 class that is 60 minutes long, and the Power 45 class, that is 45 minutes long. I have tried both, and I think the only big difference is the 60 minute class slows down a little in the middle. And obviously since there is more time, there are more exercises included. This method makes both classes very challenging. I think the instructors push a little bit harder than the other methods, and the exercises last longer with more repetitions. I think this method has the least dance-like elements incorporated into their classes, but they still work the same muscle groups. Although they are a great workout, if you are looking for a lot of cardio, these are not your classes. The class schedule probably differs by location, but one thing I love about this studio is they have the most options for classes after work. The only thing I don't like about this method is the studios are smaller (more of long rectangle shape with not much center room) and usually feel a little crowded. Each person stays at their mat next to the barre for the entire class, which are pretty close together in the studio.
I am not really sure why, but Xtend Barre was the last method that I tried. I had been going to the other studios for a few months before I decided to try this one. I think part of the reason it took me awhile was because their classes fill up very quickly. They offer a few different classes, but I have only taken the regular Xtend Barre class (because I'm obsessed with it!) and it is definitely the closest to a dance class of these three methods. It has many more dance positions incorporated into the exercises, and involves more cardio. There is a set of terminology that is pretty consistent across most barre methods, but they use the most words from ballet here. Due to the added cardio, I probably sweat the most in this class as well. In my opinion, it is probably tied with the Pure Barre Platform class for the most challenging of the 5 types of classes I have tried. This method would definitely be my first recommendation to former dancers who want to keep their muscles from dance, but don't want to jump back into a full ballet class.
Has anyone else tried any of these barre classes, or another method?
I never would have thought I would be one of those people that are obsessed with their workout classes. I got off to a slow start, but I really love these classes! I can't say it fills the place that ballet used to have in my life, but I finally found a workout that I enjoy going to. I think I may start doing some activewear outfits on the blog as well. Let me know if there is any other fitness content anyone would like to see!
Thanks for reading!