The history of barre classes

September 10, 2013

Just in the last few years the demand for barre classes has skyrocketed. Because of this recent surge in popularity, many think of barre classes as the newest fad in the fitness world. However, in actuality, barre classes have been helping men and women alike, tone, lift, and tighten for decades. This method of exercise is far from new. In fact, it all started over 50 years ago, when in 1959 Lotte Berk opened up The Lotte Berk Method on Manchester Street in London. After suffering a back injury, Lotte Berk got the idea combining her ballet barre training with rehabilitative therapy, and thus The Lotte Berk Method was born. In 1971 the method was introduced to the United States when Lydia Bach, one of Lotte’s students, opened The Lotte Berk Method in Manhattan.

Today, new studios and franchises opening up at alarming rates it seems that there is a barre studio on every corner. But what exactly are barre classes? Well, the roots can be traced back to the days of Lotte berk. but each studio and each teacher puts their own spin on the method. In general, barre classes are a workout designed to provide a fitness enthusiast an incredible work out that is both fun and effective and promises to give you a dancer’s lean physique. Many celebrities, such as Madonna and Kelly Ripa, are huge barre advocates, speaking to the effectiveness of these classes.

Barre is a workout routine that combines elements of ballet, pilates and yoga into an efficient and effective workout. By using your own bodyweight as resistance in while challenging your core stability and balance, barre classes manage to give you the streamlined body of a dancer while reinforcing your strength and muscle tone. Barre workouts are not only very effective but they are also fun as most classes are choreographed to amazing, upbeat music. Many become hooked due to this fun factor, and a result of their frequent barre-going that they become slimmer, stronger and healthier.

Barre studios are typically designed like regular dance studios with large open spaces and mirrors surrounding the room. Similar to pilates and yoga classes, shoes are not worn in barre classes. Students are either barefoot or wear ballet shoes or grippy socks. The class will usually incorporate some props into the workout routine, such as yoga blocks, playground balls, resistance bands and light hand weights. Most classes are generally just an hour long and will include a 5-10 minute warm up, followed by a 10-15 minute upper body work out using light hand weights, then 20-30 minutes spent at the barre working the legs and seat, then a 10 minute abdominal section, followed by a short cooldown/final stretch.

Barre classes are available for all levels and are usually customized to fit all fitness levels and body types. A well trained barre instructor will be able to work with all levels of fitness.

September 10, 2013