Tried and tested by the experts.
Trawling the Internet for the Barre classes that are actually worth your time and money? Then look no further, as we've tasked movement specialist Vanessa Michielon - who has a Masters in Dance Performance and is a qualified 200 hour Barre instructor - to share her top picks.
Barre classes that a specialist Barre instructor would actually go to herself? We're so in.
Not sure what Barre actually is? According to the pro, Barre is a full body workout that blends moves traditionally used in Ballet classes with core strengthening and muscle building exercises. Think a hybrid of Pilates and resistance training and you're on the right track.
Jennifer Aniston, Zooey Deschanel, and Kirsten Dunst reportedly swear by Barre as their celebrity workout of choice, and various research papers have found it not only improves posture and flexibility but strengthens your glutes and stomach muscles, too.
What is a barre class?
Good question. In a nutshell, Barre is a full body, low impact workout which uses strength training techniques to exhaust your muscles and improve active range of motion. "One of the signature features is the famous muscular “burn” or shake caused by the frequent isometric holds," shares Michielon. (Read an explainer on the benefits of Barre, here).
Wondering how these work? "These work by maintaining the same position - for instance, Barre exercises such as a wide second, a lunge or an arabesque - for a period of time, often adding small concentrated pulsing motions that move you up one inch and down one inch," explains the expert.
This type of contraction, she goes on - one where the length of the muscles involved almost doesn’t change - is not only effective at building endurance because your muscles hit overload, but also mental resilience and concentration. "At the end of your practice, you'll probably feel both empowered and confident," she shares.
Of course, across studios, the structure of a Barre session can vary, explains the expert. That said, Barre classes will generally include:
- A fast-paced, full body warm up
- Thighs and glutes sets at the barre
- A core workout on the mat
- Balle or yoga inspired stretches to cool down.
"Some studios keep these two middle sections separate from each other, while others alternate between focus areas repeatedly through the session," the expert shares.
Keen to hear a little about the history of Barre and how it came to be such a popular workout? Michielon explains that the Barre method was created in London by ballerina Lotte Berk back in the ‘50s.
Are there different types of Barre? Oh yep - spanning the method mentioned above, Pure Barre, Barre3, Pop Physique, and more.
"Although today the method has evolved and many different approaches exist, the health benefits of Barre run across all forms."
7 Barre classes in London to try ASAP
If you fancy doing your own home workout and trying some Barre exercises from the comfort of your living room, know that you can get just as good a sweat session in.
That said, if you love the dynamic feel and exercise motivation a qualified IRL trainer always offers, Michielon recommends any of the below Barre classes.
1. BarreSculpt at Barrecore
What the expert says: "This challenging class adds resistance bands to restrict the range of motion and target even the smallest muscles, bringing the famous Barrecore shake to the next level," shares Michielon.
Price? Classes from £15, barrecore.com
2. Glide & Sculpt at Psycle
What the expert says: "Not for the faint-hearted, this fun class delivers the best music, a truly modern approach to barre (no Ballet terminology here), and extra burn with the use of gliders and weighted balls," she shares.
Price? Classes from £13.33, psyclelondon.com
3. DefinePower at Define
What the expert says: "High energy and with a bubbly feel, this class offers quick transitions and lots of high and low impact sets to improve cardiovascular health and break multiple sweats," Michielon explains.
Read our feature ed's review of Define London, here.
Price? Classes from £10, define.london
4. Barre 60 at Blok
What the expert says: "Starting with a juicy yoga-inspired warm-up, this dynamic class offers lots of full-range functional movements and opportunities to improve coordination and balance as you shift your weight on your mat. Great if you don’t like to be stuck for too long in the same position," she adds.
Price? Classes from £15 in studio, bloklondon.com
5. Release at Transformative Movement
What the expert says: "With a Contemporary Dance twist, this mood-boosting practice incorporates dynamic stress release techniques and specifically trains your nervous system to increase resilience and flexibility by lifting and lowering your energy in a punctuated way," she shares.
Price? Classes from £12, vanessamichielon.com
6. True Barre at Equinox
What the expert says: "This is an authentic, isometric-focused Barre class, with slow transitions and simple choreographies, great to focus on correct technique and master controlled yet powerful movements," Michielon shares.
Price? Classes on a membership basis, equinox.com
7. Barre Fit at English National Ballet
What the expert says: "Led by artists of the Company, this class is ideal if you are looking for a dance-based exercise practice more rooted in Ballet, which also challenges your stamina and strength," she concludes.
Price? Classes from £15, active.ballet.org.uk
So there you have it - an expert-led guide to the best Barre classes to try ASAP. What are you waiting for?
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Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.
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