Meet me at the barre

BarreHey Lovers,

As you know from some of my “recent” posts, I’ve really been into fitness lately which is never a phrase I pictured myself saying even 2 years ago. You can check out some of my older fitness related posts here and here.
I’ve tried a ton of classes. I’ve tried, bikram yoga, vinyasa yoga, hot vinyasa, pilates, Hot HIIT pilates, barre, sculpting, cardio, circuit, etc. By far barre is my favorite workout. It’s my favorite for a few reasons. First, you can’t look at a person’s size and tell whether or not they’ll be good. I’ve seen thick girls bust splits and thin girls give up. It’s also very effective for women’s bodies. Barre makes the body leaner and more toned without creating bulk. I saw the quickest results after joining a barre studio. Keep reading for a few thoughts on the barre studios I’ve visited. 

  • Pure Barre. Pure Barre is the studio that first comes to mind when you hear “barre.” However, after several visits, I’ve come to the conclusion that Pure Barre seems to be most interested in being the lowest common denominator. You can’t find a trendy neighborhood without at Pure Barre location but the actual routine and instructors aren’t great; average at best. Neither of the studios I visited (FiDi and Tribeca) have showers or real locker rooms. Pair that with the fact that their heaviest weights are 5lbs and I just can’t take it seriously. Pure Barre is where you go to be trendy but there are way better options at the price point (~$33) if you want a more effective workout. 
  • Barre 3. Aside from the facts that Barre3 allows bare feet, the time at the barre is very short, I don’t like Barre 3 because their floor adds unnecessary strain on my joints. 
  • Exhale. The first Exhale I visited was at The Gansevoort hotel in New York City’s Meatpacking District. Who doesn’t love The Gansevoort? I digress. In my ClassPass review I mentioned hating that Exhale doesn’t have mirrors because I need to correct my form while judging myself (and others). The SoHo location doesn’t have mirrors either so I think that’s a theme. Exhale is better than Pure Barre but I realized that the intensity of the workout seems to vary widely between instructors. I’d suggest finding an instructor you like and following their schedule to avoid let downs. FYI: Exhale SoHo is moving to Wooster Street in 2017. 
  • Fluidity Barre. Fluidity was the first barre class I ever took when I was a member of NY Health & Racquet Club. The barre is available for purchase along with routines on DVD. If there is nothing else available, Fluidity is fine but otherwise there are way better barre routines. 
  • Xtend Barre. Xtend Barre is probably in my top 3. They have a floor too but it doesn’t bother my joints and stocks are still required. Their traditional barre class is good and their instructors are knowledgeable. Some people feel intimidated because Xtend uses the french ballet terms. I recently took their “Stick Fusion” class and it’s becoming my favorite. Imagine working out on a barre that is not attached to the wall. I would not recommend this class for beginners because it is fast paced and some knowledge of terms is assumed. 
  • Bar Method. I did go back to Bar Method during what should have been off peak but it was still crowded. So crowded I ended up pulling my hamstring because I couldn’t support myself properly without knocking into the girl next to me. 
  • FlyBarre. I can’t comment on FlyWheel because I’m not into riding bikes that don’t move. Anyway, FlyBarre is overrated to say the least. The studio is nice but the routine itself was unremarkable. It was neither easy nor hard. The instructor was neither bad nor good. It is worth noting that at 5’4 I found that barre unusually low. If you have a FlyWheel membership and can take FlyBarre for free then have it. But there are way better options if you pay per class. 
  • Flex Barre. I liked Flex Studios. The instructor was great at motivating and the playlist was good. The barre felt less sturdy than I’m used to but overall the workout was good and I plan on going back to try their pilates/barre fusion class. 
  • Physique 57. Even after trying 9 other studios, Physique is still my favorite. The instructors actively give corrections and motivation without being annoying. I’m big on not being annoyed, can you tell? The studio is always clean, they have showers and a well stocked vanity area. The beginner class is great for people new to barre or those who need a refresher on proper form. The Signature level is still challenging for me after over 60 classes. I’ve even taken their F(ocused) I(nterval) T(raining) Class which is Signature level on steroids. I’m putting their S(weat) B(urn) T(one) class on my 2017 to do list. It’s their hardest class and isn’t recommended for anyone who hasn’t taken at least 20 classes. Pray for me.     
  • Barre Tribeca. Barre Tribeca is no frills. I like frills. 
  • BFX Barre. In addition to BFX being a nice facility, the crowd seems more serious about working out. Since barre is a popular workout right now, a lot people are going just to go; annoying. Since other classes are given in the same studio, there is a floor instead of the usual carpet. The instructor did a good job of demonstrating so beginners would probably be ok. 

To summarize, after over 80 barre classes this year I recommend Physique 57 for beginners who need to learn form and for barristas (see what I did there?) who prefer a workout that is more intense. If you’re recovering from an injury, recently gave birth or just not into very difficult routines, Pure Barre is for you. By ditching weights altogether or adding heavier weights you can customize your experience at Xtend Barre. If you like routines that vary, check out Exhale. 

Have you ever tried barre? If so, how was it? If not, why not? And, what do you instead? Comment below and let me know! 

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