What Is The Best Bar Workout?

The Bar workout aka “barre” is an amazing way to tone your body pretty quickly. However, no bar studio is ever the same. So it can be difficult to know which barre workout studio is the right one for you. I am a classically trained dancer and also a yoga teacher as many of you know, so I offer you my body awareness expertise in comparing 3 very different (but extremely popular) Barre workout classes. Read below to see which one is the right one for you! Happy toning!

A Comparison of 3 Bar Workouts

1. Xtend Barre

“If Pilates tones your body, Xtend Barre chisels it.”
Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.34.07 PM
As a former dancer, Xtend Barre is by far my favorite. I feel like if you want a dancer’s body, you need to move like a dancer (as you read below you will see some studios do not have you moving like a dancer).

Xtend Barre incorporates graceful ballet movements with other barre technique. The graceful movements and extensions get your heart rate up and make you feel beautiful as you move like a ballet dancer. They do short sessions with weights and sometimes a “stick” attached to bungee cord.

What I like best about Xtend Barre is their approach to proper dancer’s alignment. With my movement background I take proper alignment very seriously (and you should too to protect yourself against injury). Alot of Barre studios employ the 90’s Lotte Burk “tuck”, but Xtend does not do this, and I love them for it. They keep you poised and extended like a dancer. The class is an intense workout, and I tell you I have see quick results going to these classes!

Xtend Barre has over 150 locations around the world…so click below to find yourself a class!

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.35.26 PM

You can also do their workout dvd from home, which I highly recommend! Only $12 on Amazon versus a $30 class :-)

Exhale Core Fusion Barre

Image via Exhale

Image via Exhale

If you haven’t been to an Exhale class before, you need to go just for the fancy pants experience. Exhale knows how to make you feel fancy and special. I especially recommend Exhale Flatiron which is located inside the trendy Gansevoort Hotel on Park Ave. The changing room and bathrooms (with gorgeous showers) are enough to write home about.

Let’s get to the class. We did come here to workout, not to lounge. Here is Exhale’s description:

Hit the barre for our signature full body workout designed to give you chiseled abs, toned legs, cut arms, and a high, lifted butt. This ballet inspired, core-centric class focuses on isolated exercises, alignment, flexibility and posture as you work through targeted mindful muscle movements. Push yourself to the limit — and then find balance — as every hard worked muscled is followed by a deep, relaxing stretch. Suitable for all fitness levels, we invite you to choose from Basic, Open (to all), or Advanced classes. Socks required. Exhale’s no-slip grip socks recommended!

The class is a wonderful hard workout where instructors really emphasize where to Exhale…not sure if this is a branding thing? But I like proper breathing so I was happy. They only do a couple of “tucking” moves which for me is great in moderation. Their teachers are first class and really pay attention to your alignment, which is so important especially if you’re tucking. They also incorporate some yoga stretching in the middle and the end. I highly recommend this class.

Click here to find an Exhale Studio near you. If you don’t live near a studio, they have several Dvds on Amazon around $12!

3. Pure Barre

Remember the 90’s and your mom’s Step VHS tapes? Remember how peppy those ladies were? Well, Pure Barre is the 2014 version of those Step VHS tapes. They wear head mikes during class and blast the music so loud that you cannot even hear the high pitched squealing instruction over the loud music. It’s like a bad aerobics class from the beginning and it just gets worse from there. So bad, I will list all the reasons you should not try Pure Barre (I went 3 times, so I feel like I really gave them a chance):

1. The instructor does not demonstrate the movements. She points out people before class who are “good to watch.” Great.
2. It’s really hard to hear the cues. Not to mention the cues are for MICRO movements, so you cannot even see what people are really doing as it’s MICRO.
3. Way too much tucking. You are basically tucked 75% of class, and it’s super easy to do it wrong. The instructors rarely correct posture, so your likelihood for injury is pretty high!
4. Stinky carpet. This franchise insists on carpet in the studio without mats for the first part of class and with mats the last half…not sure what that’s about. So half of class you’re laying on stinky weird berber carpet. It is not soft nor is it comfy.

Overall, I feel like Pure Barre is more like a 90s workout with bad alignment. There are so many other barre classes out there, I really don’t recommend trying Pure Barre.

What To Bring To Barre Class

You need to bring socks, and the special barre grippy socks are highly recommended. You use different muscles when you are slipping, so grippy socks help you stay grounded and using the right muscles. Below are some of my favorite grippy socks.

1. Luppo Socks

I love these socks because they resemble ballet slippers. Plus the band helps them stay on your feet during certain movements. MSRP $14

2. Off Brand 4 Pack From Amazon

This is definitely the best deal out there! 4 pairs for only $13!