Which is Better: Pilates or Barre?

The Barre workout method has been gaining traction over the last several years, motivating several gyms to institute classes and programs. The technique is of particular interest to former dancers or those who admire most professional dancers' muscular physique and lean appearance. The most interesting thing about the Barre method is that it is advertised as a complement to Pilates and yoga and not an alternative. In truth, while more intensive, the workout does incorporate several principles and movements of Pilates, but it is more focused on the outcome of a dancer's body. Despite the apparent differences in styles, the goals of Pilates and Barre are pretty similar; Therefore, while most people want to look at exercise programs as an either-or situation, that is not the case with these two methods.

Looking Into the History of Each Method

Out of all the workout methods, there are few with such a storied history as Pilates. The founder of the technique, Joseph Pilates, created it while imprisoned in an internment camp during World War I. He wanted to help fellow cot-ridden prisoners maintain their health and mobility. Coming from such humble beginnings, Pilates has grown into a fitness and wellness program used by people from many walks of life, from pro-athletes to post-op patients.

While not as endearing or awe-inspiring, Lotte Berk, a dancer and teacher, is credited with inventing the original Barre method, the Lotte Berk Method, in 1959. She based her program on ballet, focusing on the core. The Barre method has evolved to incorporate movements from Pilates and yoga and focuses on measured movements, emphasizing form.

Similarities Between Barre and Pilates

Both Barre and Pilates are mental and physical disciplines. Each leads to similar results: improved flexibility and posture, sculpted and toned muscles, increased flexibility and mobility. Additionally, neither method requires high strain on the body, making it safer for most people than other exercise programs.

As mental disciplines, each method requires precision and focus to perform techniques. The level of concentration can lead to increased clarity and mind-body cognizance. Additionally, as each is a form of exercise, they result in the release of endorphins, causing feelings of relaxation and reduced stress levels.

Differences Between the Barre and Pilates Methods

The most apparent difference between the two methods is the use of equipment. Barre is a minimalist routine, using only a barre, mat, the occasional exercise ball, and your body weight. Alternatively, Pilates does require light hand weights and magic circles or Pilates wheels attached to some apparatus.

Barre also requires participants to push their muscles to the point of fatigue by focusing on intense, small movement in an aerobic setting. Pilates is non-aerobic and focuses on all muscle groups with the incorporation of various small and large movements. The primary goal of Pilates is to improve flexibility and core strength through a full-body workout.

The Primary Takeaway

Neither Pilates nor Barre is a superior workout by comparison. Each method achieves similar goals, and both live in a similar community. If anything, Barre is an excellent complement to Pilates, as the former often requires a cardiovascular or aerobic partner to achieve maximum results.

While Pilates and Barre are a part of a larger group of exercise methods, each provides unique benefits. One approach does not overshadow the other. If you are interested in a fun and effective regimen, consider using both methods to achieve superior results. If you only want to choose one, consider your current physical state.

Which method do you choose? Leave a comment.

One Reply to “Which is Better: Pilates or Barre?”

  1. Interestingly, I teach a class called Barre’ FX, which over the last decade has been very resilient in attracting a wide variety of devotees, including men. Because of the nature of the class, which is a fusion of Barre’ & Center Dance Work, Plyo-Pilates, Balance, Weights, Yoga & Mat work, it achieves a healthy symmetry in the body and the mind.
    It is most enjoyable because it is the best of everything and supports healthy cardiovascular, strengthening, toning, posture, core & balance.
    It calms and brings joy!

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