The Barre Workout: What is it and Why Does it Work?

barre /bär/ (noun): a horizontal bar at waist level on which ballet dancers rest a hand for support during exercises

If I had a dollar for each time someone mispronounced this single syllable word, I’d be balling. The traditional definition of barre describes a tool used to maintain stability in a ballet class, but nowadays it means so much more. Barre studios and classes are popping up all over and it seems to be a very popular fitness modality, but what is barre exactly? What makes it so special?

Inspired by standard positions and movements you’d see in a Classical Ballet class, the barre workout fuses other modalities known for strengthening, lengthening, and improving posture, including Yoga and Pilates. It’s called “barre” because, in most classes, an actual ballet barre is utilized for stability when executing the given movements.

The idea behind the barre workout is achieving the “dancer body” without actually having to dance, and although it seems like barre is a recent fitness fad, it’s been around for decades. It all started in London, 1959, when dancer Lotte Berk injured her back and soughta way to integrate her love for dance with her rehabilitative therapy. Berk began teaching this new method in her basement studio and The Lotte Berk Method was born.

The Lotte Berk Method made its way to New York City in 1971 with the help of Lydia Bach, one of Berk’s dedicated students. This studio operated until 2005 and from there, its instructors went on to found some of barre’s major chain studios.

The barre method is captivating because