Letter to a Client or Why I don’t believe in Barre Classes

A few weeks ago, I received an email from one of my clients who inquired about a barre class that I used to teach when I worked as the school director at a dance studio. She wanted to know if I had any interest in running this class again. Here was her email:

Hi Emily,

Recently as I was cleaning my house, I came across your original brochure that had your Barre Class listed.  Today, I came across an old article on Lululemon’s website about the benefits of Barre.  Would you consider bringing this class back?  I’ve seen a few people on LL facebook page who were inquiring about a local class. That community would LOVE it.  I know I would be there and will be a great way to market to their huge customer base.

First of all, let me say that yes, I used to teach barre classes. I am a dancer. I also taught aerobics and cycling, and I enjoyed them both very much. And I believe that any  exercise you decide to do whether it is aerobics or Barre or cycle is good exercise, and if it makes you happy, awesome. Keep doing it. BUT, I also believe that if you are not happy with your performance in the gym, your strength or your body, there are better ways for achieving your goals than the three I mentioned. Again, there is nothing wrong with these classes. Remember, I used to teach them. However, the best coaches are always questioning, researching and looking for better ways to challenge their athletes and/or clients. This may mean re-thinking exercises and training. Are barre classes good for you? Sure….but I believe there are better and more efficient ways for women to train. Would I get more business if I brought back my barre class? Sure. Maybe. But, honestly,  I don’t want this kind of business. My philosophy is strength. I want women to focus on gaining strength, not “toning their thighs.” I want women to focus on building a bigger deadlift, squat or press, not building “long, lean muscles” (which don’t exist). I want women to be able to carry the full propane tank for their grill back to the car by themselves and not have to ask for assistance.

I want women to feel confident in their own skin. I want them to walk down the street not thinking they are strong but KNOWING that they are strong. You cannot build a strong upper body doing 100 repetitions of arm circles. You cannot build strong glutes doing 50 leg kicks to the ceiling. I don’t care how much it burns. All you will do is tire your arms and your butt out. And really, what good is that? Yes, you will be sore. But you won’t be any stronger. It just doesn’t work that way.

But I digress. Here was my email response:


I really enjoyed teaching my barre class when I worked for the dance studio. It was a perfect way to build a new adult class at Kinetics and as a result of the class, I realized how much I wanted to work with adults. The more the class evolved, the more I began to move away from the “ballet” type work I relied on to create the class, and I began introducing more strength work. By the time I opened Fivex3 Training, I realized what I needed to do with the class to make it fit with my message about strength. The class needed a big face lift. Basic Training was born. I could not be more happier with this class.

I have a few concerns with running a class like this is again.

Body by Barbell, not Barre. Squats and deadlifts.


First and foremost, I do not believe in the message these classes promote. The classes rely on tiny weights and there is too much emphasis on “looking” like a ballerina and trying to achieve a body that for some people will never exist. (Professional ballerinas look the way they do because they are genetically born with a body that enables them to look the way they do. I, too, studied ballet, but I do not have the body to be a professional ballerina. Am I less of a dancer for this? NO.)



Second, I believe, as many other women who strength train believe and who are in my field, that women need more than what a barre class offers. Women do not need special classes like barre because they are women and they should “train this way because this is how a woman should train.” Doing tiny little pulses until your thighs burn does nothing but make your thighs burn. So what? As my husband said, “My butt would burn too if you made me squeeze it 100 times. But it won’t help me develop a strong butt.”  You will not build a strong body unless you stress the body ie. lift weights that are more than 5 pounds. No one is telling you that you need to lift 200 lbs (although this is damn impressive and shows true strength and domination.) But 5lbs? Come on. My five year old nephew deadlifted his bodyweight just the other day. With the barbell. 44 pounds. Exactly how much he weighs. And he carried two 8kg kettlebells around the gym (18 pounds) without a second thought. I had two 8 year old girls pull each other on the sled two weeks ago. They loved every minute of it. And most recently, one of my clients who just turned 73 years old, deadlifted 80 lbs and then proceeded to do a frame carry with the same weight. Is she strong? Hell yes. Is she toned? Who cares! She’s 73 years old, just started strength training about four months ago and picked up 80lbs!

Rachel is a dancer. And she teaches ballet and performs in Nutrcracker each year. Does she have long, lean muscles? No. And she never will. But she is no less of a dancer.

And third, these classes promote false advertising claims such as “Lifts your seat, tones your thighs and burns fat,”  “Firms and elongates muscles,” “Get long, narrow thighs,” “Longer, leaner and stronger muscles,” “Combines Pilates, yoga and ballet moves to give you beautiful, sculpted, lean muscles – without the impact and injuries dancers endure.” These are false claims and as a dancer who does lift weight and has seen her body change in ways she never thought was possible, I am tired of seeing these words used over and over again to lure women into these classes. Ladies, you either have long muscles or short muscles, depending on how TALL or how SHORT you are. Blame your parents if you want to blame someone. It is all genetic.  Someone with long femurs will have long muscles. Someone with short femurs will have short muscles. Your muscles will not get longer if you are not tall. Tall people have long bones and therefore long muscles. Short people have short bones and therefore short muscles. If you want to be leaner, lose the body fat. And also, please don’t think that by stretching a muscle after you have worked it, you will make it longer or leaner. *Sigh*

When I taught my classes, I was just beginning my journey into the strength world. I was training at the gym and teaching these classes. And I was feeling stronger and stronger each time I taught my classes thanks to all the squatting, deadlifting and pressing I was doing at the gym. But I soon realized this class could not survive anymore. I do not regret one minute for this class- I loved teaching it and quite a few of the people who started with me with this class, followed me to Baltimore when I opened up my gym. And they love my Basic Training class just as much if not more than my barre class. And because of the way I promoted my barre class way back then (build strength), I actually attracted people ages 40 and up. No one under 30 (with the exception of one or two) took my class. I made a point of promoting strength. If I had had more equipment as I do now, I probably would have taught it differently.

What I love about all the coaches I read and listen to is they are never afraid to say “I changed my mind. I have discovered a better way to do this.” As Mike Boyle, a strength and conditioning coach at Mike Boyle’s Strength and Conditioning in MA says, “I think I’ve become famous for changing my mind. And there’s a specific reason *why* the most successful coaches and trainers in our field tend to change their minds the most often. (and also why your athletes benefit from this ‘change’).” This is how I feel about barre classes and why I have changed my mind about this type of work. I actually never even thought about this that much until now because all I was really trying to do was come up with a new adult fitness class at the dance studio. Over the past two years, I have learned so much more about strength work and the benefits of barbell training. My philosophy is simple: Get strong. This is how I want to train and why I believe women should train this way too. While I know that I could reach more women if I offered this type of class, I do not want to compromise my beliefs when it comes to strength training. In my opinion, women need less of these classes and more good all fashioned basic strength work. They need to build muscle, not “elongate” it. They need to learn how to use their bodies efficiently by carrying weight, dragging weight, picking up weight, not worrying about developing “long, lean muscles.”

I am sure that there are many women who want to take these classes because of what the classes  promise. I am sure many take them because the classes are familiar to them because they remind them of  ballet classes they took when they were younger. And I am sure that these women do see changes in their bodies because anything will work…for a time. But I will never bring this type of class back. As my mission statement reads on  my website, “At FiveX3 Training, strength is our mission. When you are stronger, you feel better. When you are stronger, you look better. When you are stronger, you are better.” Lift weights. Get strong. Feel better.



153 thoughts on “Letter to a Client or Why I don’t believe in Barre Classes”

  1. I took Emily’s barre class and I loved it, but I love BT more. The barre class was familiar territory, which got me in the door, but honestly, if it showed up on her class schedule, I’d choose BT over it every time. It’s still a comfortable environment, and it still gives me the opportunity to focus on myself without worrying about what anyone else thinks. But now I know I’m doing the best I can to make the body I was given as strong as possible. It’s great.

  2. Thank you so much for posting your reply, Emily. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I shared it on my wall.

    Thanks again!

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  7. “While I know that I could reach more women if I offered this type of class, I do not want to compromise my beliefs when it comes to strength training.”

    Love this and will probably use it myself. Thanks for providing this honest message.

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  9. You have used the photo of barre class with out permission … Please remove it. This is a photo of my instructors at a barre studio and myself.. It is not stock for public consumption.

    Separately, you are completely wrong about barre class. I don’t know what kind of class you taught at your studio but our clients are much stronger, much more confident, ski better, play tennis better, etc and aren’t just there to tone their thighs. Perhaps they can not pull their husbands out if a burning building – not sure whose overall goal that would be anyway – but they are not looking to build enormous muscles and look like a man either.

    Remove the photo immediately.

    Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I apologize for using your picture. I will remove this out of courtesy to you and your instructors.

      However, what I cannot and will not do is apologize for my post. I am not completely wrong about barre classes and if you actually read my post, I am all for women doing what works for them and makes them happy. But I want to deliver to my female clients what I believe to be a better program for getting stronger and gaining confidence. While I am sure that your clients have gotten stronger from your barre classes, I believe that my clients are served better by actually lifting weights that will challenge their bodies, minds and spirits. None of my ladies look like a man. In fact, all of my women have dramatically changed their bodies into curvaceous, strong and fit women. Your comment implies that my goal is to make women look like men. Women can be strong, have muscle, lift heavy weight and still be women. I want to deliver the best program to my women and for them and for me, this includes picking up weight that weighs more than 3 lbs. Sure, you can get stronger by doing anything….but in my world (and many others) building a stronger body means actually lifting weights.

      And for me, I DO want to know that if I had to, I could pull my husband out of a burning building.

      1. Well said, Emily!

        I know women who take Barre classes and love them, but I also think if they were 1) better educated about weightlifting and strength training and 2) had accessible gyms similar to yours, more might choose Fivex3 over a barre studio. All I can say is I’m so glad I found your gym and am proud by how much weight I can lift… and I don’t look like a dude.

        1. Thanks Harper! As I said in the very beginning of my post, if you like taking Barre or Zumba or Cycle or anything….keep doing it! I used to teach this type of class but even while I was teaching it, I was also lifting. Sure, these classes may kick your butt….anything can be hard. BUT……if you are looking to gain real strength and build a stronger and more powerful body, these classes are not the way to go. Strength training ie. picking up weight and a lot of it will build strong bones and a strong body that you can be proud of. You are amazing to watch while at the gym. Focused, dedicated and determined. And you are ALL woman. 😉

      2. Very poised and professional response. There is a great misconception that women who lift will look like men, when in actuality, weight training nourishes the body in vast ways, especially for a dancer.

        Your post is very encouraging and I hope that your work has evolved to greater heights since then. Be blessed!??

    2. I know this post was a while ago, but I came across it somehow. And then I looked at the comments, which most seem lighthearted and nice, but then I came to this one. Few things I would like to point out:

      1. I am an Exercise Physiologist. I have been in the fitness industry for 15 years now, with a degree in Kinesiology, CSCS, CPT and I own two personal training companies. So, to save everyone’s time, let’s just say I know what I’m talking about.
      2. I have done a months worth of Barre classes. Although, I only went twice a week since my work/training schedule wouldn’t allow for any more. I know a few girls who liked it, but then a few girls thought it was pointless (me included). BUT, everyone is titled to their own opinion, especially when it come to their fitness and health.
      3. This blog is informative and was just pointing out a single person’s OPINION, not fact. If it was fact, we would see it in peer-reviewed journal article, but as it stands, it is just a blog and take what you want from it.
      4. The comment by “Support” is the most hilarious thing I’ve seen all week. Ok, maybe just from today but whatever. First of all, the blogger did not have to remove the picture you claim that belongs to you without a cease and desist letter served to her. A little comment on a blog site does not do the trick, that’s why it’s called a cease and desist LETTER. Second, are you the owner/franchisee or are you just the $30,000 a year salaried manager? Totally legit question because if you are not the owner/franchisee or you don’t even work for the legal department or are the owner of Barre Ind/LLC/Corp, whatever, then you really don’t have any legal base for your request. Just sayin’. Also, stock photo doesn’t mean for “public consumption”.
      5. Why is she completely wrong about Barre? Is she not allowed to have an opinion? You certainly do with your remarks about how you apparently know what women are looking for. By the way, any good, educated fitness professional would know this fact: you will not “bulk up” from just lifting weights. You need loads, loads of protein AND your body type, genetics and some more fun stuff have to align perfectly for this to happen. It’s a myth that is repeated, by uneducated people as yourself, that has held many women back from exercising and using weights. Also, biomechanics has shown that doing the type of moves that are in a Barre class routine CONSTANTLY are horrible for your knees. No wonder ballerinas don’t make it very long. Their knees and hips give out on them. Fact: knees are not to go in front of your toes when you squat…
      6. I totally believe what you said about your clients. They are probably stronger, much more confident, ski better, play tennis better and etc. Because remember ladies, skiing better and playing tennis is essential in life and to be fit and strong, you must be good at skiing and playing tennis… That is the most randomness line of physical attributes I’ve seen in awhile. A+ for marketing effort, moving on now…
      7. What’s wrong with just toning their thighs? Toned thighs are great, wouldn’t you agree, gals?!
      8. Yes, many of women are bound and determined to never be able to pull their husbands out of a burning building. A nice sized insurance policy can do that to a woman, I suppose. I think we can all agree that this statement was a little, um.. not thought out properly, so moving on again…
      9. Do you have something against women who want to look like a men? Please, by all means, go to a rough powerhouse gym, find the manliest woman you can find there, and tell her how you feel. They have every right to look how they want to, and who are you to judge, twinkle toes?
      10. If you’ve got the you-know-what to call someone out on their own blog site, use your name. Don’t hide behind the name “support”. You do nothing but support a bar on a wall and are just riding out this fitness trend until it fades out, and by the looks of the date on your post, you probably already have.
      J.R. Voight

      1. Can I just say thank you and I love you? 😉 My husband read your comment and thought it was the best thing he has read in a long time. Thank you. Thank you for you and everything you stand for. Cheers. 😉

    3. Ugh so gross. What a bitch. The worst kind of thinking “don’t want to look like a man.” You fucking won’t. Don’t worry, because you’re a woman, not a man. And your muscle shape / height etc is, Genetic. 🙂

    4. Yes! Who wants to pull another human out of a burning building when you can ski and play tennis better!

  10. You just described me to a tee. Amazing. I too am a dancer, used to teach barre (and several other group fitness classes) but now truly believe weight training is the best and most effective training method. I am now a personal trainer and figure competitor and can finally say I love my body and am comfortable in my own skin thanks to good old fashioned heavy lifting!

    1. Thank you for your comment Annelise!!! So happy to hear from you and to know that I am not alone! 😉 I, too, am more comfortable in my own skin thanks to squatting and deadlifting. Now, how can we get others to understand this too?

      Thank you again for reading and commenting! Good luck with your competitions!!

  11. Thank you SOO much for posting this. We have a fitness offering here in Memphis and due to the rise of barre classes, some of our clients have been swayed to join those classes. It is our purpose to move our clients in a fitness lifestyle implementing strength training as their foundation for metabolic and physical improvement. However, our message is lost sometimes and some women just move to the next trendy thing. Keep up the great work and I hope you know you have a supporter of our work here in Memphis!

    1. Thank you Dexter!!! I am glad you liked it and that it spoke to you. Trendy thing is right…..barre classes are in….who knows how long they will really last! 😉

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  14. Emily,
    This is easily one of the most honest and helpful posts I have ever read about fitness. I am 47 years old and I am short. I have short muscles. You know when they say “most women can’t build large muscles”, well I am one of the few – and I’m not the Hulk by any means but it is obviously that I work out – and it should be right? We do this to improve our body, strength, bone density and mind (my new phrase is it isn’t vanity, but my sanity that I work out!).

    I was looking into doing Barre workouts because I wanted to try lose muscle (I know…I know) but I go through these moments of stupidity where I want to have spaghetti arms. It’s completely stupid and totally defies everything that makes sense for a woman to do. We should be strong and fit and muscle is not evil. I can lift things my nieces 15 years my junior can’t. I can out run or walk them as well. I am very fit and I feel amazing and its not from cardio or pilates. It’s from weight work, leg work and core work.

    I remember a time when I would CRY when pushups came up in a workout. Literally. Now I am a champ! I can do tons of them and again, I DO NOT LOOK LIKE A MAN. I can’t stand when people say that. And why not be able to drag your husband or your kids, parent, pets or anyone else from a burning building? What in the world is wrong with that?? I was a trainer and it was comments like those that made me leave. Such pettiness.

    Anyway – thank you for the smack in the head. I needed it.

    1. Hi Linda,
      Thank you so much for your comment!!! I really appreciate the feedback. As a dancer, it really pains me when I hear this nonsense being spewed because, well, I am tall and thus blessed with long legs. In fact, I hardly have a torso. 😉 I have danced with short dancers, tall dancer, thin dancers, muscular dancers….taking barre classes will NOT give you a dancer’s body….they really should say “ballerina body” because modern dancers do not look like ballerinas. But ballerinas are ballerinas because, well, they are predisposed to have that kind of body that is why they become professional dancers!!!! Women should want to be strong and feel strong and look strong. Once I got over the wanting to be one way or the other and started actually physically making my body stronger, I became much happier. I was given the body I was given and I dare anyone to make me feel less than woman. 😉

      And you are welcome for the smack in the head. I gave that to myself awhile ago too. 😉

  15. Wow, you certainly seem to have a chip on your shoulder toward women who do care about not bulking up!
    I’m 42 years old and have been a lifetime runner. For years, I went to the gym and did traditional heavy weight programs (I even leg pressed nearly 3 times my body weight). I tried the cross fit thing. For me, these programs resulted in injury and chronic pain in my knees and shoulders. I’m a tiny person and I didn’t really bulk up, but I didn’t look feminine either. Barre 3 and Bar Method have provided wonderful results for me. I run faster and I have more endurance because my knees don’t hurt at all anymore! I am still very strong and in fact I can now do 50 push ups with good form. And I’m not embarrassed to admit, I love how how I look. Any women who doesn’t admit they don’t mind having a lean body with feminine muscular toning is lying to themselves and everyone else.

    1. Hi Jill,
      Thank you so much for your comment. And thank you for letting me know that this work worked for YOU and for YOUR goals. You see, not every woman has the same goals. Some women actually want a more “muscular” look and some women want to look like Tracy Anderson. I would rather have muscle on my frame and be able to carry my husband out of a burning building if I needed to. I LOVE how I look too. You use the word “bulking” up to imply that I, and many other women, want to look like men. This could not be further from the truth. And I am not sure what you mean by “feminine” muscular toning? I have a client who squats, presses, deadlifts, bench presses, does power cleans…..and she has a beautiful lean body with great muscular definition. People are really confused when she tells them she does not run, does not take barre classes, does not do aerobics. You lift weight? And look like that? Yes she does. I think she looks great as do so many women in my gym who can deadlift their bodyweight, squat over their bodyweight and are strong, confident, empowered women who LOVE the way they look and feel. Their GOALS are their goals, not someone else’s. The word “bulking” is not a bad word. I happen to be “bulking” right now and am stronger than I have been in a long, long time.

      Congratulations on how you feel. It is very important for women to love how they look. But my reasoning for the article was to let women know that there are better ways to achieve one’s goal that will actually make them stronger and feel better about themselves. I would be lying to them and to myself if I told them them that barre classes are the way to a stronger body. Thank you for your comment.

      1. Hi Emily,

        I found your site researching barre classes compared with weight training. I read all the posts. My background, I have worked out with weights for 20 years, preferably heavy. I squat heavy, (225lbs) Lunge 70 to 100 lbs, do pull ups, shoulder headstands…etc. I love it! I taught yoga for about 7 years, and stretching is great and complimentary. I took my fiancé’s Mom to a barre class because she likes classes and I don’t! I have to say I did enjoy it. I did it with her and did it for about two weeks. I noticed some incredible changes in my body. My butt was higher, my arms and legs more defined and I did enjoy it. It was more like a Physique 57 class (fusion dance, pilates barre) My question is because my base was already so strong am I just leaning up? I truly believe my booty lifting up is because of the exercises in the class. I have changed the way I want my body, a little leaner up top and still a round booty. What are you thoughts and thanks so much for your site!

        1. Hi Amanda,
          Thank you so much for your comment!!! I was starting to feel like I was the lady who hates barre classes!!! This is NOT the case!! Remember, I taught one and I enjoyed every minute of it. MY issue with these classes is not the classes but with the marketing centered around the classes. As my husband said, “If I (he) took one of those classes I know I would be sore too!!” I am not saying it isn’t a workout but what they say they will do to women’s legs – long, lean, elongate – is just bullshit. Really. (And speaking of working ou, this is all it really is too. A workout. Anyone can “workout.” I am a believer in training….but I digress.) I am sure that because of your strong foundation already, it allowed you to work at higher, more intense levels than perhaps some of the other women and the “leaner you” started to show through. The muscle you most likely developed from squatting, pressing, doing pull ups and teaching Yoga helped you push harder in class, allowing you to burn more calories thus allowing you to shed bodyfat and see the benefits of all of your lifting!!! 😉 All I know is that my butt is stronger, firmer and bigger now thanks to squatting, barbell and band hip thrusts, barbell glute bridges, deadlifts, split squats. I would never tell a woman not to do something that makes her feel good….but I do believe that more women would benefit more from real strength training ie. lifting more than 3lbs in order to build muscle, strengthen their bones and really make the changes they really want to see in their bodies. Stronger is just always better. 😉 Thanks for your email!! And have fun!

    2. I just re-read my post for the first time since I wrote it. And it’s a GREAT post. I am honest. I am sincere. And I do NOT bash these classes.

      In my post, I focus on three main points:
      1. “I do not believe in the message these classes promote.” 2. “I believe, as many other women who strength train believe and who are in my field, that women need more than what a barre class offers. Women do not need special classes like barre because they are women and they should “train this way because this is how a woman should train.”
      3. “These classes promote false advertising claims such as “Lifts your seat, tones your thighs and burns fat,” “Firms and elongates muscles,” “Get long, narrow thighs,” “Longer, leaner and stronger muscles.”

      My question to you is this: Did you really read my post? Because I think it reads like someone who taught this type of class before and realized while it wasn’t a bad class, it wasn’t the type of training for her or for really getting people strong, moving better or feeling better.

      Here is another quote from my article that I don’t think registered with you clearly:

      “What I love about all the coaches I read and listen to is they are never afraid to say “I changed my mind. I have discovered a better way to do this.” As Mike Boyle, a strength and conditioning coach at Mike Boyle’s Strength and Conditioning in MA says, “I think I’ve become famous for changing my mind. And there’s a specific reason *why* the most successful coaches and trainers in our field tend to change their minds the most often. (and also why your athletes benefit from this ‘change’).” This is how I feel about barre classes and why I have changed my mind about this type of work. I actually never even thought about this that much until now because all I was really trying to do was come up with a new adult fitness class at the dance studio. Over the past two years, I have learned so much more about strength work and the benefits of barbell training. My philosophy is simple: Get strong. This is how I want to train and why I believe women should train this way too. While I know that I could reach more women if I offered this type of class, I do not want to compromise my beliefs when it comes to strength training. In my opinion, women need less of these classes and more good all fashioned basic strength work. They need to build muscle, not “elongate” it. They need to learn how to use their bodies efficiently by carrying weight, dragging weight, picking up weight, not worrying about developing “long, lean muscles.”

      I really wish people would actually READ posts and not just see one or two words and decide they need to comment. I changed my mind. That’s it. And I am better for it and so are my clients.

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  17. What I appreciate about basic training work—the squatting, pushing, pulling, lifting, reaching, stepping—is the functional value. At the same time that my body becomes stronger, my capacity to DO is remarkably enhanced. To me there is a difference in the barre attitude of “looking lovely and lean”, and the strength attitude of generating physical confidence in a strong body. I want to be strong and functionally confident. This focus offers me a way to lean in and own my life in a way that is just different from wanting a merely physical outcome.

  18. Hi, Emily. Just wanted to leave my $0.02 on this post, despite its being a few months old.

    I have a similar background to yours. A (current) professional dancer, personal trainer, and instructor of group ex for over 12 years, I’ve seen a long list of trendy workouts come and go. I’ve taught kickboxing, weight lifting classes, HIIT classes, step classes, and most recently, barre. I got into barre through a simple Craigslist posting looking for dancers who taught group ex, a perfect fit for me. I had never tried barre before.

    As part of our instructor training, we were required to take 3-4 classes/week to become familiar with exercise choices and formats. Even though I am someone who lifts weights (and yes, they are heavier than 5 lbs–not all classes are the same, you are lumping all barre formats together, but I digress), I began to see major changes in my body in the first 3 weeks of training. I could do more pushups (yes, we do pushups). I could hold a plank for twice as long as before. The shape of the muscles on my legs changed, and my turnout became stronger because we worked internal and external rotation in class. I strengthened my TA more than ever and found a small six-pack with the tiny, slow movements we did for core.

    Sure, these workouts might not be what you prescribe or believe in. But they have inspired a whole group of people (not just women, I have men who take my barre classes too–I’ve never worked for a studio that promotes this as a woman’s workout only) to exercise. These are people who may need low-impact work. Many are recovering from ski injuries, running injuries, weight lifting injuries, rotator cuff tears, osteoarthritis. I have a woman in class who broke a hip last year and barre has made her more functional in 3 months than all of her PT work over 9 months did.

    Barre was created as a hybrid of dance, pilates, yoga, and rehabilitative exercise, and it is getting a lot of people moving. In addition to the low-impact benefits of barre, many people need an additional challenge in their workouts–feeling as if they are dancing and moving to music contributes to a sense of well-being and mental stress relief for many people that simply lifting weights does not, and barre classes incorporate that through graceful arm movements and fluidity.

    To summarize, just as barre is not for everyone, nor is lifting heavy weight for everyone, and as a trainer, it would behoove you to remember that. If an exercise program is getting people off the couch and moving, and inspiring them to continue, that is something amazing. So you don’t want to offer it yourself? Then don’t. But there’s no need to discourage others.

    1. Hi Briana,
      Thank you for your reply and comment. No where in my post do I try to discourage people from taking a barre class. I really wish people would actually read my article for what it is and not what it is not. As someone who TAUGHT a barre class for almost 4 years, I know that I helped and inspired many people. The majority of the people who took my class were over the age of 35. They came from all backgrounds, all ages, all abilities. They got stronger, they moved better and most importantly they had found a class that was low impact and helped them. This was because I did MORE than just teach barre. We did split squats, push ups, deadlifts, planks….yes we did a few “barre” related exercises but most importantly, we did the strength work. This is what helped them. I NEVER marketed it as a way to lost weight or get toned, long, lean muscles and THIS IS THE ISSUE I HAVE WITH TODAY’S BARRE CLASSES AND WHY I WISH PEOPLE WOULD STOP MARKETING THESE CLASSES TO WOMEN THIS WAY. I never, ever, ever say that you should never, ever, ever take a barre class. Anything that people do is better than sitting on the couch. I agree. And if you love barre classes, take them. If you love to run, run. BUT IF YOU ARE NOT SEEING THE RESULTS YOU WANT FROM YOUR CURRENT EXERCISE PLAN MAYBE YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR EXERCISE PLAN. And for the love of god, please stop marketing these classes to women and promising them things that they never will achieve. You cannot make your legs longer. You cannot get long, lean muscles. It is bull shit and I wish people would stop saying these things and promoting these classes this way. THIS WAS THE POINT OF MY ARTICLE.

  19. As a client at Fivex3 Training, I understand exactly what Emily is talking about. Emily is talking about me. I have been strength training at Emily’s gym for about 3 years?? Just before coming into the gym I had been taking a barre class for 3 months. I love the class. I thought the instructors were great. I felt pain in places I had never felt before, and I felt like I was getting a great workout. And I was completely convinced that I would get “longer, leaner muscles” because that’s what the instructors chanted in every class. It was the focus… look like a ballerina. I even invited a friend to a barre class because I was so excited about it. My friend is tiny. She is naturally thin and naturally strong. She breezed through a barre class that was extremely difficult for me after 3 months of the same workout. It became very clear to me that I had made no progress in 3 months.

    I had no expectations when I came to Fivex3. A friend invited me, and I figured I would give it a shot. Very quickly I learned the correct way to squat. My knees KILLED me during the barre class. But here I could throw a bar on my back and squat with no issues. We never talk about long, lean muscles or how we are going to look in a bikini. Our goals are related to performance. I am stronger than I have ever been, and when I tell people that I lift heavy weights they are shocked that I don’t look like a “bulky” man. I bet if I took a barre class now I would actually be strong enough to perform the movements correctly.

    I know plenty of people who love barre, and that’s great for them. It works for them. But Emily is talking about people like me. I fell for the long, lean muscle promises. The only promise that Emily makes is that if you work hard, you will get stronger. Maybe you will change the way you look along the way, but you will definitely change the way you feel.

    1. Furthermore, at Fivex3 we do not classify people by their body shapes. We do not glorify one perfect ideal body or describe women as bulky, stocky, or manly. All body types are treated as beautiful and strong. Everyone has a lift or exercise that they do well, so no need to feel the failure of not looking like a ballerina.

  20. Pingback: Girl Power: My “Go To” Sources for Female Training | Princess Model Management

  21. Kristie Schultz

    I usually work out with weights in my garage to DVD’s, there are alot of great DVD workouts these days. I have been working out with free weights for a long time and had gotten in great shape and was strong. I recently had some work done at my house and the garage was out of commission so I decided to join a bar studio in my area. I went consistently about 5 days a week because it was so expensive and I wanted to get my money’s worth. Of course the studios claim was that the workouts covered strength and cardio and needed to be done at least 5 days a week, so I went and went. I liked it at first, a nice change, but after six months I saw no results and my cardio and strength had diminished. My garage is usable again and I am back to my home workouts of strength and cardio and am sooooo happy. That bar is not for me. Thanks for this fantastic post!!!!!!

    1. You are very welcome Kristie!!!! 😉 I continue to get a lot of feedback from this post….both negative and positive. I always learn a lot from both sides! Glad to know your garage is back!!!! Got lift those heavy ass weights girl!!!

  22. I am in my 3rd week of barre class and just googled “is barre a good workout” because I know the long, lean muscle thing is not a real and I don’t know if it’s the best way to spend my workout time (and money!) Your post was very informative and motivating. I would like to go back to doing weights but need help and motivation. How do I find something like Fivex3? I am located in the Tampa Bay area in Florida. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Nancy,
      Thank you for your comment!!!! Anything can get you results at first…..but if you are looking to make real improvements in your overall strength and you want to get the most out of your program, strength training is the answer! I just emailed a coach friend of mine in Florid to see if he knows a good place in Tampa Bay. In the meantime, check this place out:http://tampabayathletics.com. They seem to have what he have and much more!!!! 😉 Thanks again for reading and contacting me!

  23. Dear Emily,

    Thank you for this informative post and for expressing so well thoughts about these Barre classes. A bit of background: I took barre classes for about 5 months and then took a break for 4 months and now I’m back at it. What I like about the method: systemmatic exercises and consistency. I do not like the bucketing of body types they market: lean, ballerina type muscles. I am not lean but I am strong. I can do 40lb dumbbell lifts. Also the level of cardio in the bar method was very low compared to using a pre programmed elliptical or treadmill. Most of the people in class look straight out of the stepford wives LOL . Why do I still go? Because it is the only place of exercise close to my home. (I work and go to school, so time is of importance!)

    1. Christina!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for your comment!!! You go because it is close to your home (and that makes sense) and you like it…nothing wrong with that!! I liked teaching my barre classes when I taught them at the dance studio. I don’t teach them now because, well, I found something that I enjoy coaching more and that helps a lot more women get stronger and get the bodies they want. 😉 Strong, powerful bodies that can squat and deadlift and press weight they never thought imaginable. And you got my post…you really read it. Do it if you like it. Do it if it works for you. If it is not working for you, stop. Don’t do it thinking you will end up looking like a ballerina. Only ballerinas look like ballerinas. 😉 Great comment! Good luck!

  24. Oh Also! I don’t think I’m ever going to get a “ballerina” body! I am of south-east asian decent with an ample bum and there is no way in hell that any amount of thigh/seat work is gonna change that LOL .

  25. I”m glad that I found this post – thank you for writing so eloquently. After few years of going to a big, commercial gym and doing “cardio” and some weight machines with little to no results (had no knowledge of heavy lifting, never touched a barbel) in my early 20s, I decided to take barre classes before my wedding – and I saw a great result (combined with dieting, of course) after 3 months of 5+/week classes. Ia hindsight, of course I saw results because I was dieting and going to those classes 5 times/week!

    I continued to take barre classes for another 3 years, but never really achieving what I wanted to look like – without the pressure of wedding and dieting, my body was not changing. And I noticed that I kept using the same weights during classes – 3lb weights, not ever going up to 5lb. So I looked elsewhere – and found few, but honest opinions posted online, just like yours. (This article is by far the most thorough and thoughtful, thank you)

    I wholeheartedly agree that their promise of “long, lean muscles” is not truthful. Barre class instructors are most of the time dancers, so they already had “dancer’s body”. It’s not from barre classes – it’s their genetics and of course, years of intense, real dancing. And most girls in the classes are naturally thin to begin with – and they start taking 5times/week bar classes and put on some muscles on their thin body – I have to say I envied them. Now I realize that I will never look like them because 1. I’m not them and I don’t have to look a certain way 2. Barre classes will not make me thinner, leaner or longer.

    Now I”m getting back to the gym and looking to start to learn how to lift heavy. Wow, it feels great – I feel stronger, refreshed and extremely rewarding – without exhausting my muscles with 100 repetitions with 2lb dumbbells.

    I loved barre classes while attended – but I think I liked the “idea” of it more. They typically have beautiful studios that make you feel pampered almost like a spa, and community feel was also a draw. It worked for me while it did, but now I’m ready to get strong for real.

    1. Wow. Amy, thank you so much for your thoughtful and honest comment in regards to my post. YOU read the article….something that some of my other “readers” who negatively commented on the post did NOT do. 😉 I enjoyed teaching those classes very, very much when I taught them and I helped many people feel better. And yes, some people got “stronger” but one should not stop there. ANYTHING will work for awhile….this is true. But after awhile, things stop working and you need to stress your body differently so it will continue to grow and change. There is nothing wrong with these classes….but will they truly give you the body you want, a stronger, healthier body that can help you become a better you? I don’t know about that. Our life consists of lifting things and carrying things and sprinting to catch a bus. Why not train for LIFE? 😉

      I am so happy you enjoyed this post and it made you question….now you are getting strong. For real. 😉 Thank you.

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  27. i am doing the Barre method, and I am a pro Pilates teacher. Barre classes are making me much much stronger. And I enjoy becoming more “compact” instead of building more muscle. I think you are beautiful, but I would not be happy in a big muscly body. I like slipping into my 100 % cotton jeans with no spandex in them and feeling svelt like a kitty cat. Anyway- i think lifting heavy is super cool- but the physical effects are not for me.

    1. They are not for everyone. But if you want to be able to still walk upright when you are 80, I think building muscle through resistance training is the way to go. My goal is to be 90 and still able to do for myself and that means a strong body with muscle in all the right places. I am beautiful and I have a muscular frame to boot. This means more to me than fitting into a pair of jeans. Thank you for your comment. Good luck with barre!

  28. Thanks for the interesting perspective. I hadn’t really thought about the verbiage they use, but what you said does make sense. I did a few months of hot barre classes last year and really enjoyed it. I am planning to start again next month, but your article has inspired me to add strength/weight training to my regular workout routine. Always good to mix it up Do you think its essential for a beginner to start with a trainer to minimize risk of injury or would it be ok if I used youtube videos/DVD’s?

  29. Hi Emily, this post is old so I hope you are still reading comments and available to answer. I just started taking Barre classes. I am about 40 pounds overweight, with a huge rack, and combined nursing of two children for about 5 years. At this point I am all hunched over. My question is, I thought that the idea of bar was to create upright carriage and good posture. My aim with taking the classes 5 days a week is sure to lose some weight and get some muscle, sure, and I am out of shape enough that it’s quite a significant cardio workout for me. Also, I’m having to lift my own body weight which is at this point at about 175, and pretty significant. But I mainly want to get really good posture. Your article has inspired me to add some heavier weight training to my routine. I am curious though if the idea of long lean muscles has more to do with upright posture and good carriage, like a dancer’s body. That’s what I consider a dancer’s body, not something like being tall and willowy like a ballerina. I’m wondering if you can advise? Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Kiki,
      My apologies for getting back to you so late. I have not been writing much these past few weeks as my sister recently died from colon cancer and my mind has been a little preoccupied. ;( Thank you for your comment and for reading the article. I think the long, lean muscles has more to do with mis-leading marketing and saying the “right thing” to women more than anything. Long is determined by your genetics. You are either tall or short. Blame your parents. 😉 Lean is determined by how much fat you have – lose body fat and you will have leaner legs. Long and lean have nothing to do with how much barre work you do or don’t do. Strength training will make you stronger, build muscle and if you are eating enough protein and watching your caloric intake, you will see a change in your body composition. Your weight may stay the same or even go up, but your clothes will start to fit you differently as your body slowly changes shape due to your new weight training regimen. By getting stronger, your posture will improve as you will carry yourself differently. Pushing and pulling exercises (push ups, rows, bench presses, overhead presses) will strengthen your upper body as well as your whole body. Add in squats and deadlifts and magic happens. Barre was created to get women in the door by promising them a ballerina body because, well, I guess, a lot of women want to look like ballerinas. 😉

  30. Hi Emily,

    I’ve been doing barre classes for 3 months and I appreciated your article. Although I love the classes at barre and am nearing the end of my monthly renewal, I honestly don’t know if my body is “built” to achieve the benefits that barre promotes and am questioning if I should continue with barre. I am 48 years old, 5’5″ and in good shape but after doing barre for 3 months at 3 classes a week and cardio 2 to 3 times a week, my thighs and glutes have bulked up to the point that I can barely fit in my clothes. Needless to say, it has been very depressing. I am very conscious about what I eat and feel like I am larger than I have ever been. With that said, there have been positive aspects to barre – I am stronger, more tone, and my butt is visibly more lifted. I have read the barre sites and keep thinking I will eventually start to lean out and the bulk will go away but at a cost of $150/month, I wonder if this is actually going to happen or if three months from now, I’ll still be having the same thoughts as I have today. I have worked out since I was in college – more cardio than weights but since I turned 40, I have focused more on weights and I have seen great results, which I avoided in my earlier years where I only focused on cardio. I like the barre classes for the results they promote but after 3 months of feeling “large”, it has become an issue for me in that I am concerned to continue down the same path. I have always been strong and build muscle easily (especially thigh muscle) and although barre is not a weight lifting class, it may be just enough my body needs to bulk instead of lean. Your comments are appreciated.

  31. Pingback: A Look Behind the Bar: Can Barre Classes “Sculpt” Your Body? – The Friedman Sprout

  32. Hi,
    I’m late to the game seeing this. I was actually looking up becoming an instructor when I found your site. You seem to be incredibly defensive when someone doesn’t agree with you.

    You say women should want to be strong over and over and whether you mean to or not, suggest that strength comes from one certain form of exercise- weight lifting. I know incredibly strong women who do a wide array of workouts. I believe that it is most important to have a good diet and stick to something. A lot of people would never stick to weight lifting the way they would in a barre class.

    I have been doing barre for a year now. I am also an ex dancer. I have seen incredible changes in my body. I am without a doubt much more toned. Almost every person I know has commented on the changes in my body. I do not believe there was false advertising at all, my thighs are absolutely leaner. My butt is higher. I have photos to prove it. I didn’t change a single thing about my lifestyle except for adding pure barre classes to my schedule. I don’t believe there was any false advertising. I am shocked with my results.

    You also mention barre being bad on your knees. Honestly, almost every workout out there has risks of you do it too often or have bad form, with the exception of maybe swimming. Crossfit is constantly having complains for injuries. I think it’s pretty ridiculous to say that barre is bad for you.

    Maybe your goal of the article was not to say that barre style classes are bad or wrong, but that’s absolutely how it comes off. It also comes off condescending and defensive (in the comments), which is why I will defend it back to you. Barre has changed my fitness life, and as a previous commenter mentioned, that should thrill you as an instructor. And yes, I read every single word and comment of this.

    1. Good for you!!!! I am glad that barre has changed your life. Strength training has changed my life. Thank you for your comment. Also, thank you for putting words in my mouth. I do not believe that anywhere in the article I talked about barre being bad for you knees. Did you even read my article???????? Where do I say that barre is good or bad? If if works for you, wonderful. I will keep deadlifting and squatting to get stronger.

  33. I have read both the article Emily has written, attended a pureBarre class, and I am a ballet dancer. Kudos Emily, I concur with everything you have said. The misrepresentation of what “barre” exercise classes can do physiologically are ridiculous. I can cite numerous websites regarding the “barre” workout to obtain a “ballerinas physique” or “build” and using “dancing” exercises to obtain that look. There is no barre in “barre” fitness classes. Actually, the class I took actually contradicted my ballet training. Diet, training, and genetics are what make a ballerinas body. Ballet just utilizes the body. Ballet barre is not exercising, you also use artistry. I applaude all the woman that want to be fit, the problem is the industry that allows these exercises with claims that are unrealistic, that is concerning. I do not think that weight lifting makes anyone look “manly,” just as I do not think the women that attend “barre” fitness classes look like ballerinas. I wish everyone much success in their fitness adventures. I am telling you if you want a to go to barre, go to your local dance studio. Learn the art while achieving better posture and flexibility. Classes cost about 15 dollars for an hour and half class. Want to get strong do weight training. Don’t let marketing ploys give you false expectations of what your body should or shouldn’t look like.

    1. Thank you for your comment Christine. You summed it up perfectly: “I am telling you if you want a to go to barre, go to your local dance studio. Learn the art while achieving better posture and flexibility. Classes cost about 15 dollars for an hour and half class. Want to get strong do weight training. Don’t let marketing ploys give you false expectations of what your body should or shouldn’t look like.”

      Exactly. Get stronger by strength training. Take a ballet class for the movement quality, flexibility and better posture. Could not have said this better myself. Thank you Christine for your comment. 😉

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  35. I’m a dancer, a dance teacher (classical ballet, jazz, modern) and an ACSM Exercise Physiologist. I believe in a functional approach to fitness, based on client goals and lifestyle, and I recommend cross-training to all of my clients. Runners can benefit from swimming, dancers will benefit from weight training, etc.

    I feel like with a proper background and approach, an instructor can make a barre class a really good bridge between dance and strength training. Ballet focuses on body awareness and control, balance, and graceful movement. To achieve this you must have strength, flexibility, and endurance. Real dancers don’t just frolick around in tutus, they WORK. But getting to that level takes years of training and dedication, which turns off most people who are interested in trying a class. I’ve taken Barre3 classes and was thoroughly unimpressed. The teachers seemed to be uneducated in dance OR training and kept giving incorrect information about the body. I found most of the pulse-pulse-pulse-pulse-pulse exercises to be completely unnecessary for the “goals” we were striving to achieve (Yeah, I could do this for 5 mins, or I could just do 5 squats and get even more muscle activation…). I have also taken barre classes from a professional dancer/pilates instructor/personal trainer who designed her own program, and I got a crazy good workout (with 1-5 pound weights and balls).

    When I get my IBBFA certification, I’m going to design my classes to be functional, with large range of motion to encourage flexibility and balance. I want to integrate body weight training and real weight lifting, without scaring away new participants. I want to advertise my classes for the movement they contain (ballet-inspired steps and positions) and not the “results” you “will” achieve.

    1. Hi Jo,
      Sounds like you would have enjoyed my barre class that I taught at the dance studio where I was the school director. YOUR class sounds a lot like what I programmed. We had the ballet element with the bodyweight training as well as resistance training. I never advertised the class as a “results you will get class” but rather a “want a joint friendly approach to bodyweight training class?” My clients were ages 35 – 65. No one was there for long, lean anything. All they wanted to do was move, sweat and feel better. And they DID. 😉 Thanks for your comment!

  36. Emily,

    Thank you so much for your opinion on Barre workouts! I, like many here, actually read your post and took from it the valuable information put forth in it. I hesitated in responding due to the age of the original post and the fact that I agree with many of the positive responses, but there is a few things that I’d like to say as to why I am commenting.
    I used to be very fit, now as of late, I find myself overweight and out of shape, it’s ok, I know what I did to get myself here and I am actively correcting it 🙂
    I was looking into barre classes because of the marketing of the classes, but it was for short sighted, why? Because I want a strong body…period! The comments about women not wanting to look manly or achieving a kitty svelt body are all fine and well, if you are superficial in your understanding of body mechanics. Yes I am overweight, but this wonderful body still allows me to do my job and I am on the road to treating it better through strength training. It helps strengthen muscle, ligaments, tendons, and bones, all tissues that will help to ensure a continuation of healthy full range of motion, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, strengthen the neck, spine, back, etc to continue enjoying life with minimal assistance as we age. Want firmer breasts and tighter buns, squats, dead lifts, and push ups are a time tested solution that are cost effective. Women do not have the testerone stores within us to create that ‘manly’ look! Also you have to train and create the regime to be a bodybuilder, which have various categories and coaching to achieve the desired results, just like any profession, swimmer body, runner body, etc.
    And finally you were solicited to restart a class that you once taught and gave the reason why you choose not to do so…very simple. The lift your husband out of a burning building comment one individual made is insulting. If the wife is unable to do so, I hope that the possible woman firefighter is strong enough to do so, or the female EMT on call can do so, because by the way, they have to strength train for their positions! Thank you Emily.

  37. (A continuation) Also, it would be helpful if women could stop judging the way others look or themselves. Be grateful to be able to do the activities you love, to enjoy an active lifestyle, and be a motivator. If something is not right for you, the fine, but stop tearing down another’s choice on workouts or how they chose to create their body look. Why add more suffering and ill will? When I lift, I feel great that I am creating a stronger body, when a run, I marvel at how far I can push myself, when I stretch, I feel relaxed and purposeful, that’s all there is to it. If someone disagrees, meh, it works for me and that’s that, if they make a compelling argument, I’m intelligent enough to research it and educate myself. Your blog helped me to see that!

  38. Emily,
    Is there any benefit to adding one barre class a week to a mostly weight training program? I typically only lift weights (I’m limited to 30lbs) and use body weight/yoga exercises because I work out at home. Last week I joined our local YMCA, which offers Barre/Yoga/HIIT and TRX. I’d like to choose a class or two to supplement weight training (which will be much better now with a full gym available to me) but am not sure what would be the best. Today I took the Barre class and didn’t feel super challenged and went straight from that to yoga, which was ok as well. Both combined gave me a pretty decent workout for the day but it took forever. Last week I tried the HIIT class which was insanely hard (I loved it!) and will for sure add that one, but it will have to replace a lifting day for awhile.

    Anyway, I guess what I am asking is if you think barre in particular is worth the time. I hate to admit it but while I love being strong, I also want to look good in a swimming suit!! It is a little sad that all this body shaming stuff makes it so you can’t even say you want to look good without feeling like an a-hole!

  39. This is a very informative discussion. Thank you. After years of sports and working out caught up with me (mild injuries), I did The Bar Method 5x per week for a year. Initially I gained mass in my butt and thighs to the point where I really had to cut my calorie intake. After four months I slimmed down. I loved the women in my class and enjoyed it very much. However, I lost strength and cardio endurance. It just didn’t do it for me. If I had been doing HITT classes 5x per week, I would’ve been in much better shape. The thing is, most of the these barre classes require additional workouts (cardio and strength) and not everyone has the time. I just don’t think barre classes are enough. I think barre and Pilates are a great way to mix up or incorporate into a workout regime since the stretching and core strength feels great but they don’t stand alone. I also think HITT 5x a week would be too much for me as well now that I’m in my mid-40s. I did develop some sort of hip/butt muscle pull in barre as well. Some of the movements are unnatural and abnormal stress on feet and knees. I 100% agree with the post that women cannot become “longer and leaner” as promised and not everyone wants too. I’m one of those who look at athletes like Gabriella Reece and see a strong beautiful women. Also, what is wrong with a women looking as strong as a fit man, awesome! Whatever improves your health. Any movement is better than no movement. One thing is, if you are someone that works out for an hour 3-4x per week, barre won’t cut it. Cardio and heavy strength will. I love kettlebells and lately have been doing Orange Theory since I find it 1. Keeps me interested and 2. Packs in an awesome 55-minute workout. 3. Improves my fitness in many ways. 4. Pushes me to try harder. I’d like to try Crossfit and other boot camp style workouts in my area. A friend told me once,”Be kind to your body. It gets you where you want to go. Be thankful and who cares about the extra 10lbs you think you’re holding so just be active and stay as healthy as you can.”

    I’m not even sure why I chimed in. I just enjoyed the real information on the post. Thank you.

  40. Oh, one more thing. I wear a heart monitor. The Bar Method burns about 300 calories (strong workout) as opposed to 575) orange theory strong workout) or 550 (Tabata strong workout) – 1 hr. 5’6″ and 140lbs 45 years old.

  41. Emily,

    Thank you so much for your post! I found it by googling barre vs. weight training. As I was reading, a lot of questions popped into my mind based on books and articles I have read before. I’ve heard (and believed–still believe) the the theory that the way you work out your muscles will not determine how they look at their healthiest–your muscles are your muscles and they are predisposed by genetics in the way they will grow and look. Is that true?

    If so, doesn’t this just mean that certain types of training–like crossfit and HIIT will just get you faster results due to the weight intensity? While Barre and smaller weighted workouts will increase your strength over time but much more slowly, and that “elongated muscle” toning is a myth (unless that is your genetic predisposition) . . . is this true? Because then I do consider the “looks” of different athletes and how their bodies are different due to their sport . . etc–but maybe that’s because they do more focused work different muscle groups than others?

    All that to say, I do both a crossfit and barre. Basically, I do a WOD with heavy barbell weights and the jumps, kettle bell etc, then I do Barre because it helps me focus on breathing, stretching, balance, posture and flexibility. I find that combining Barre and Crossfit has enabled me to feel less sore from day to day . . . I’m really liking the results I am getting because it feels so well-rounded.

    What are your thoughts on combining the two? Perhaps you have a suggestion? Also what are your thoughts on working your muscles certain ways to get different muscle results–is it genetic, or is it really how you work them?

    Thanks so much for your helpful article!

    1. Hi Laura,
      Thank you for your comment! To be perfectly honest with you, if you like doing barre and you also do Crossfit and it works for you, keep doing it!!! There is nothing wrong with doing something that you enjoy. I like lifting weights. I don’t run or do barre or take yoga because strength training makes me happy, makes me feel great, helps me get stronger and keeps me sane. I don’t need to be more flexible….as a former dancer I am too flexible and this make strength training even more important for me. My balance is already taken care of with the barbell. My posture comes from all the pulling I do – rows, chin ups, deadlifts, etc. If you enjoy barre for these reasons, wonderful!!! That’s what really matters in the long run. We can all get stronger by lifting weights. Our bodies will change on their own and they will look like us….not like anyone else. If you want bigger muscles, you will have to do more bodybuilding work. If you want to get stronger, you will have to add more weight to the bar every time you train. There is no magic. There is nothing complicated about it. Just lift weights. Add more weight each time. Keep training. Stay consistent. Professional athletes have bodies that are built for the sport they are competing in. Ballerinas are built with feet and flexible backs. Basketball players are tall. They are born with bodies that allow them to train in that sport and become professional athletes. If you don’t have good feet, sorry, you will not become a prima ballerina. It sucks, I know, but that is reality. I don’t spend too much time beating my body up for what it can and can’t do. I train for me and me alone. And lifting heavy weights works the best for me. 😉

  42. Can you please do business without ruining/ bad mouthing other business, women can choose which one they want, just stop whining like a child. I’ve tried it all but with my female hormone I’m still into barre.

    1. Thank you for your comment Jasmine. Did you actually read my article? Because if you did read it, you would know that I did not bad mouth any business nor did I tell woman that she should not try a barre class. I explained my reasons for not wanting to teach barre anymore. You did read the part about me actually teaching barre for oh, about three years, right? You did read the part about me not liking the marketing behind barre classes, right? When I read things I don’t agree with, I move on and read something I do agree with. Yes, you have your opinion and so do I. If you do not LIKE my opinion, that is fine with me. But please do not tell me to stop whining like a child. If you actually met me, you would understand that I don’t whine. I deadlift. And I like it. I may not be into barre anymore but you are and that’s cool with me. I just happen to like being able to lift more than 5 pounds. Thanks for your comment.

  43. Just wanted to add I don’t think you should give up on barre. There is something to the claim long lean dancers body. My legs look thin and long. I am only 5″ I am now measuring in at 5`4. I also read an article that stated daily stretching can help you grow. I thought we stopped growing once we have reached a certain age? I am literally standing tall. Why did my height increase? When I did p90x my height never increased.

    1. Can people please stop posting ridiculous claims about barre classes? Next time, read the article completely. You CANNOT get taller taking barre classes. It is PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO GAIN HEIGHT IN ACTUAL INCHES. You may stand taller but please do not claim you are taller. I swear I am going to run into a brick wall soon.

      1. Emily, I’m so sorry you have to deal with some of these comments! I clearly understand what your message is. I dont have any issues with weight training. Tons of ballet dancers do it and it helps. And people constantly are using the wrong words just to get attention. Like muscles. For example, if you are a runner or gymnast, most likely your muscles will take on a sort of bulky appearance, from the type of work put on those muscles. Female ballet dancers typically dont get bulky quads due to the type of workout in the training. And male ballet dancers usually do have the bulkier quads because they do much more intense weight training and running, and they are male which adds genetically to the bulk appearance. Everyone is different. And there are explanations for all results. And like I mentioned, this person claiming that barre made them grow 4 inches…..lmao, you and I know the truth. It seems obvious to us, but not to everyone. Good luck! I think you’re great!

    2. Sorry to break it to you, but you were 5’4 that whole time and your workout helped to fix your posture which then exposed the 4 inches that were hiding in your bad posture lol. I’m just now researching this barre class fad. I am a retired classical ballet dancer and ballet instructor. I know my stuff. I dont see why people dont just take a normal ballet technique class. They have great slow paced ones for beginners of any age and any body. If your instructor is properly trained and you apply corrections and keep trying, you will get results. Stamina, flexibility, better posture. Also learning about the art. Its wonderful!

  44. While I’m sure your new class does help with building muscle better, those types of classes are truly painful and almost impossible for some women. Naturally petite and very unmuscular women sometimes feel unwelcome in body building type classes, and barre is a more reasonable and welcoming environment for genetically weaker women. It may not help us build muscles as much as more intense classes, but it’s better than nothing and it’s a much more reasonable goal for a lot of us!

    1. Liz,
      I have no idea how you found us but you obviously do not understand who we are or what we do. I am sorry you feel this way about yourself. ;( There is no such thing as “genetically weaker.” There is strong and there is weak. And everyone can work to get stronger. I have 70 year old women at my gym squatting, benching and deadlifting. And they are STRONGER now than when they walked in. No one has EVER made them feel bad about themselves. None are intimidated by what we do. Perhaps that is because we are 70% women, 30% men. And half of my women squat more than my guys. I do not agree with you at all that barre is a more “reasonable” goal for her. Sorry but you are better than that. And stronger. If you actually gave yourself a chance, you would find out that you are more capable than you think. I know of a 92 year old woman who started barbell training last year and after about five months, she hung up her walker and her cane. What do you think of that? I am assuming you are not 92 years old. You have no excuse for not wanting to be stronger. If a 92 year old can learn to squat, deadlift, bench and press….we all can.

  45. LOL, to the poster who said “Perhaps they can not pull their husbands out if a burning building – not sure whose overall goal that would be anyway – but they are not looking to build enormous muscles and look like a man either.”

    Saving my husband from a burning building IS actually my goal! That is one of the reasons I started strength training. I asked him to act like dead weight and I could barely lift him up to a sitting position, let alone drag him. It made me realize how weak I was and what was the point of exercise if you look good but can’t do anything worthwhile with your body?

    I do both barre and lifting and have seen better results with lifting weights. My legs are more sculpted with proper squats and dead lifts, and even better results when I do plyometrics. I do like the barre classes because it is different from the power moves, but I feel it generates the idea that women can only exercise a certain way – a delicate, more “feminine” way. It should not be that way. A strong woman who knows the limits of her body is way more attractive. Also, no matter how much you exercise, there is no way for a female to bulk up like a man! It is genetically impossible. Yes you will see muscle, that is a good thing. But if seeing muscle of any kind on a woman means “looking like a man,” no wonder barre is so popular.

    1. Hi Allie,
      Thank you for your comment! I always appreciate people’s comments who have actually taken the time to read the article. 😉 No one ever said that you should do this instead of that…it is just so much more obvious that if you really want to get stronger, strength training may help you achieve your goal better. There are plenty of women who do both…..I did until I opened my gym and decided that I now had better tools to help women and men achieve their goals. Thank you for your reply!!

  46. I just have to say that this absolutely the most laughable blog I’ve ever read, especially coming from someone who claims to have taught barre. While maybe the marketing claims behind barre may be targeted to a specific type of woman, there are legitimate claims about increasing strength and lean muscle mass and increasing flexibility – without adding bulk. I am 5’5″ with a curvy, muscular physique and a big booty – and my intention for starting barre was not to “look like a ballerina.” But never until barre have I been able to trim down my thighs WHILE STILL MAINTAINING LEAN MUSCLE MASS (i.e solid, firm muscles) and my upper body is leaner but stronger than ever. While barre is loosely tied to ballet strength techniques, this is not a ballet nor a dance class. The workout emphasizes using light weight and higher reps or often just your own body weight (just a different type of strength training than you promote), and the last time I checked my body weighed more than 3 lbs. I have never before been able to hold my body weight in a variety of planks for minutes at a time or do 40-50 REAL pushups in a row. I think it’s ridiculous and lame, not to mention misleading, to say that because I may not be able to dead-lift my bodyweight (for one rep — what is even the point??) but that I can hold my body weight in an isometric hold or do pushups is not STRENGTH. My muscles may LOOK different than yours but I absolutely do have increased strength. I might add that I don’t particularly care for the body type you seek, but I don’t go around bashing your workout of choice. I have a healthy, curvy, strong womanly physique that even my husband comments is leaner and stronger while still looking feminine. And for the record, I could pull him out of a burning building if I had to.

  47. Continued…. and I just want to add that your comments on this entire thread are incredibly defensive. As a business owner, you come across as unprofessional and obviously threatened by barre competitors. I also think you are promoting a culture of body-shaming – and before you comment back “did you even read my blog?” Yes. I ready every word and every comment on here. Let women do what they like to do without belittling or passing judgment – or acting like one type of workout is superior. According to your theory, women with incredible strength from yoga or barre or even dancing are not considered strong. I challenge you to attempt some of their body weight balance workouts and then claim they lack true strength. I have done long-distance running, HIIT workouts, yoga, and traditional strength training before discovering barre – and each one provided different results, but I personally prefer the results I’ve gotten from performing barre exclusively. As for the comments regarding “time-tested” squats and push-ups, you obviously have never taken a barre class as these are key fundamental exercises incorporated in various ways into most barre classes. As for being a fad, barre has been around in the US in one form or another since the 70’s and there are women my mother’s age who have been taking barre for decades who can out-lunge, out-plank and are far more flexible than women half their age, so there is something to be said for barre’s ability to improve/sustain muscle, joint and ligament health while limiting injury — but of course you already knew all that, because you used to teach it.

    1. Wow! Thank you very much for your straight forward and honest comment. I am glad that barre works for you. And never did I say that women should not do barre in my article. I clearly stated that I found that there are better ways to get women stronger that work for me and for them. Take your barre class. A lot of my friends who are dancers do. It may not be for me but it works for them. And I am sorry if my comments offended you but I am offended by the comments that clearly show that you really have not read what I actually wrote. I do not tell women what to do and never will. I just show them tools that I believe will help them achieve what they are looking for. And as far as body shaming goes, give me a break. If you actually even met me and the women I work with, you would have to eat those words. I am so tired of hearing about body shaming. I don’t promote it and I don’t talk about it. We just want to get stronger. Move on with the body shaming remarks. I have received many comments from women who have contemplated barre, read my take on it, have tried it and then discovered it really wasn’t for them. I do not at all feel threatened by barre instructors or their classes. I am stronger than I have ever been in my life when I was dancing and what did it for me was good old strength training. In fact, I have a client who took barre for a few years and then started with us in November because she wanted to get stronger so she could care for her disabled husband who is brain damaged and has been confined to a wheelchair for the past 7 years. She could not care for him on her own for the first two years because her house was not set up to care for him and she herself was not able to lift him and carry him. She did BARRE and it did not make her stronger. She came to us in November and NOW she has the strength and confidence to care for her husband, pick him up when he falls out of bed, get him in and out of their car…..how did she do this? She got stronger. She stopped worrying about long lean muscles and she got stronger. I am sorry but barre did not help her. Squatting, pressing, deadlifting and benching helped her. The end.

      Oh, and thanks for bashing my body type. You talk about me bashing other women’s workouts (which by the way I don’t) but then you go ahead and bash how I look. Wow. I feel so loved. I look the way I look and all the women who work with me look they way they want to look. Fit and strong. We are all different. Thank you again for reading. I appreciate you telling me you don’t want to look like me. Makes me feel so good inside. 😉

      Oh, and by the way….this is me. And I am very proud of how I look. 😉

  48. Hi Emily,

    What an interesting read! As a naturally size two girl who does Barre I completely understand why you made this post. As you put it, I walked in tall and lean not the other way around! It IS false advertising. On the other hand, I went from being completely sedentary to lifting weights less than a year ago now and honestly I totally get it. Getting stronger is awesome! Although, I’m still 115lbs and 5 8 /= a year later (which debunks the whole bodybuilding shit mess), people are always shocked that I can do full body pull-ups, push-ups, a 170lb deadlift, and run 7 minute miles long-distance (without ever practicing running) all from lifting weights and doing squats. I wrestled my 160 lb cousin the other day and although I lost, he said “oh I didn’t know it was going to be that hard to beat you.” hahaahahahaaa. What is hilarious is how many people in the comment section are offended. I do Barre, but your article is literally your opinion and quite frankly makes a whole lot of sense. Anyway, thanks for writing this post Emily, you seem awesome! =) Btw, I do Barre because its fun lol.

    1. Thank YOU Amy!!!! Yes, this post was just MY opinion!!! And we are all entitled to our opinions. Women want to find what works the best for them when it comes to exercise. For some, it is barre. For others, it is picking up Atlas stones. 😉 I am for the latter but do what works for you! My article was an opinion piece…and for many women on the fence about barre, this article made them re-think their intentions for taking the class. 😉

      Keep kicking ass Amy! You seem pretty awesome yourself! And I just started taking Brazilian Jujitsu and I freakin’ LOVE IT! And you know what? It is my strength that is helping me learn how to move in this class. I have no real technique what so ever…yet….but my strength allows me to hang with my opponent a lot longer than if I had no strength. 😉 Being stronger is GOOD. Thanks for your comment. 😉

  49. Thanks for this sobering and real article. I bought some pure barre dvds and a couple of others (I like working out at home as opposed to paying $200+/month to “squeeze my butt”). No matter how much I tried to like these workouts, the fact is I HATE THEM. They just made me angry. It felt like I was punishing myself and focusing only on my looks which feels shallow, boring and totally unsustainable.

    So back to my kettlebells I went and could BREATHE again. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Kettlebells. When I am consistent with them, I get lean and strong in all the right places at least 5 times faster than barre workouts. To me the barre workouts are just stupid. It seems to promote a strange kind of elitism as well. No offense to everyone making a fortune off these classes, but give me 20 min of kettlebells for way better results ANY DAY.

    God bless!

  50. Pingback: Train Like a Woman, Look Like a Woman

  51. Hi Emily,

    I don’t know if you’re still reading these comments, but I just wanted to say thank you for writing this-it was one of the only posts I could find on this topic and I feel like you explained everything really well.

    I have been doing a variety of barre classes off and on for about 5 years, at a multitude of studios. I am also an avid runner, cyclist, and boxer. Most recently, I attended Pure Barre for a consecutive 6 months. It took me awhile to realize that my favorite part of class was the warm-up. Why? Because it challenged me with push-ups and planks. However, I became increasingly annoyed with the phrases “longer and leaner muscles” (so misleading), and “get on your five inch Saturday night heels!” Um, I don’t even own five inch heels. And if I did, I certainly wouldn’t use them as inspiration during a workout. And pretzel position-well, don’t even get me started on that. I would find myself thinking, why am I doing this? Really, why?

    Overall though, I realized that the biggest problem I have with this workout might be mental. I want to be an athlete. Bottom line. I want to get stronger, faster, build endurance, and generally be capable of doing daily tasks that do require strength and endurance-especially living in a city without a car. I want to feel like I’m going into a class and kicking ass. I want to get a PR in my next race. I don’t want to be in a c-curve surrounded by people who look like they are waiting for someone to hand them a margarita while they relax by a pool. I want to be surrounded by other strong and fit women who are red-faced, sweaty, and busting their asses.

    For all of these reasons, I strength train, box, run and cycle. And no one has ever mistaken me for a man.

    1. Catherine,
      Yes, I am still reading comments. And I THANK YOU for yours. 😉 You made my day. Thank you for reading the article and understanding that it was an opinion piece….and one that many women can relate to. I love it. Thank you for wanting to be a strong, fit, WOMAN. Because we are still women, even when we are squatting, benching and deadlifting heavy ass weight. All the best to you!

  52. Hi Emily,

    I was researching Barre classes for the first time and came across your article. And, whether it was your intention or not, I have decided not to try them at this time based on what I have read. Instead, I would like to get into the strength training workouts you teach. I am a runner and have been for years but am not strong at all. Full disclosure, I hate strength training. Not sure why, but I find it boring and the exercises intimidating when I can barely do a pushup. I am a nurse and understand the benefits to a combined cardio and strength training regimen for lifelong health and mobility. However, I never really know where to start. My husband is a firefighter and certified personal trainer but for the sake of our marriage I will not go to him as my personal trainer 😉

    So, where does one start with the kind of strength training program you teach? If I were to join a gym, what type of strength training classes would I be looking for?


    1. Kim,

      Thank you for your comment! Your best bet is to seek out a Starting Strength Coach as these people are most qualified to get you training the right way. Go to startingstrength.org to find a coach or gym near you. If this is not what you are looking for, let me know and I will try to steer you in the right direction.



  53. So here is one for you:

    If your core is too weak to properly lift, what do you actually recommend?

    I ask because I (a broken down runner due to a weak core/pelvic alignment) jumped into some strength/functional training classes and got absolutely NOTHING out of it due to the fact that I was too weak to actually do the movements. I’ve had some luck with barre/pilates because actually working the hip girdle helps with posture and alignment, something I don’t feel like *most* strength classes bother teaching. (Cross Fit in particular horrifies me given the lax standards for most instructors.) Because years of injuries have taught me you REALLY have to slowly move into lifting/strength to ensure you can use proper form, otherwise it doesn’t matter how much you’re lifting – you’e going to get hurt. I’m fully aware barre and pilates won’t give me functional strength, but how do you even get your core functional enough without doing something similar?

    Also, interesting note: I personally never interpreted “long lean” muscle or “strengthen and lengthen” claims from barre marketing literally. I just assumed they referenced the fact that you stretch after each muscle group giving you a radically different feeling than a workout that makes you feel tight like running!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I personally do not like to use the word “core.” Your “core” is your “trunk – abs, hips, back, shoulders.” How do you get your “trunk/core” stronger? Find a competent strength coach who will actually start you off at your level and not throw you into a program that does not take into consideration YOU. I can train the most de-conditioned individual and make him or her stronger because I have the equipment that will help them succeed. Most strength classes are just that – classes. They do not necessarily individualize. That’s where a competent coach comes in. If you want your core functional, seek out a Starting Strength coach who will teach you how to use a barbell and properly train.

      Stretching after working each muscle group does absolutely nothing. It’s BS. Anyone who tells you otherwise just wants your money. Stretching does not make any muscle longer. It does nothing to the muscle. You cannot stretch a muscle. *sigh.*

      1. Right, understand anatomy and get that you can’t “stretch” a muscle. (I’m not an idiot. 🙂 )

        I thought that was clear, but what I meant is that barre and cardio pilates variants put a heavy emphasis on stretching after sets which is why I always interpreted “long and lean” as just referencing the *feeling* you have after that particular form of exercise, not a literal result!
        I’m just surprised that that isn’t clear to others and it’s one of the problems I’ve had with the way barre classes are marketed.

        Thanks for following up. I’d actually looked into coaching but it’s absolutely impossible to find anyone in my price range, which is unfortunate because I’d like to lift without getting injured and don’t feel safe doing it on my own.

  54. Conway Runner Girl

    I am a distance runner, and I did get strong with Crossfit, but I also gained too much muscle (big butt and thighs) that had to be carried for 26.2. That was not working for achieving BQ times. I have since participated in Barre classes and yoga to help with flexibility and maintain some degree of strength. The weight melted off, and I am slim and strong. I have yet to meet a female crossfitter who could get near my times in the half or marathon even though I am 50 years old. Each athlete has to find what exercises work best for his or her goals.

    1. Thank you for your comment. To each her own. Find what works for you. If you want to run a marathon, then run. If you want to sprint, lift weights and sprint. Big butts and thighs are great for that. Thanks again for your comment. 😉

  55. I can’t resist chiming in on a conversation that’s been taking place for 3.5 years! Really cool. Great comments. Excellent post.

    I was a dancer a lifetime ago. For the last three years, I have typically relied almost exclusively on barre and various yoga classes for my exercise routine – and I gotta say, I TOTALLY AGREE WITH EMILY.

    I took my first barre class because a friend dragged me to it. Were it not for my friend, there’s no way in hell that I would have voluntarily taken my (then) overweight, depressed, exhausted and insecure self to a boutique studio whose branding images resemble American Apparel adds (i.e., highly-stylized modeling photos of thin, fair-skinned, 20-something females parading their cellulite-free butts in leotards that resemble lingerie). Know what I mean? Sure, my friend was right and as a former dancer, I fell in love with how the classes made my body FEEL (and the instructors are knowledgeable and positive). Still – there’s simply no argument whatsoever that the marketing sends the message that it does – even with the more “conservative” studios.

    Takeaway: a good barre class is wonderful for all of the reasons posted by the commenters above. And this is why — as Emily keeps trying to point out — it’s terribly sad that this genre of exercise: (1) has come to represent a way of seeing the female body that can be intimidating, isolating and discouraging; (2) often makes dishonest representations that exploit our physical insecurities; and (3) idolizes a form of the female body that doesn’t remotely resemble what most women do look like, can look like, or care to look like. Emily is also 100% right that by elevating the standard of a thin physique to advertise “strength” to women, we are doing a disservice to our gender and discrediting the many diverse incarnations of what a sexy and strong woman really is – regardless of how or whether she works out.

    So thank you, Emily, for being honest, speaking out and reminding everyone who’s had the fortune of coming across your blog that the extraordinary capacity and diversity of female strength includes the responsibility that we lift one another up… and our weights too. 🙂

    1. THANK YOU for chiming in!!!! I am glad you did. 😉 Thank you for reading my article. My husband as formally dubbed me the “Lady who hates barre.” 😉 I don’t hate it…..I loved every minute when I taught it…my way. What I hate is the message it is now sending women…the marketing. At the time, barre was just coming on the scene and I never, ever marketed to women only or as a way to lean out and get toned, lean thighs. ;( Thank you for speaking out and reading. 😉

  56. Emily – I opened a studio years ago that is bootcamp oriented (HIIT Style workouts and we lift heavy). We have had incredible results for the client base and the workouts are unique and fun. About 3 years ago a Barre studio came into town – and the Barre marketing mavens started their barrage of “lean, lengthening routines” (how the hell do you lengthen a muscle for gods sake??). We lost some of our client base to these workouts, as we expected. Now when I run into these people I don’t see long/lean ballerina’s. I see flabby, weak and heavier clients. It makes me very sad. Thank you for your article – it gives me hope that there are other women out there training that realize their are better options. I applaud you for your smart and informed commenting to the few crazies who have posted.

    1. A fitness boutique studio opened right downstairs from us about a year ago. I freaked out at first because I thought, “Great. I am going to lose people to something new.” I lost 0 clients I am happy to say. 0. They offer something COMPLETELY different from us which was I think the big reason why no one left. We train exclusively for strength so the barbell is very necessary for our training. Sure, the classes may be good for a little cardio but that’s it. Once I realized this, I breathed a sigh of relief and welcomed them. Our business has only grown since they moved in. I hope your former clients realize their mistake and return to you. Most do. 😉 Good luck!!!! And thank you for commenting. 😉

  57. I’m way late but thank you so much for this! I subscribed to a streaming barre workout service for a while, and although the instructor herself is a fine person, I never got much out of the workouts. All the pulsing up and down seriously made my muscles feel extremely tight and pinched, while some of the side planks while doing leg lifts were downright out of my comfort zone. I was wondering why I wasn’t catching on to the “fire” and “burn” while everyone else gushed about these workouts and the soreness it brought them.

    The last straw was last week when I did a tabata workout that incorporated some barre moves. I must’ve pulled something because I’m now in so much pain I can hardly walk. I just finished crying my eyes out because I want to work out and get healthy, and for me, that means I can’t do barre. Not even the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels causes me problems like this. She’s intense but I’ve never finished a workout of hers unable to walk and crying in pain. (Only when I was first trying to exercise a few years ago.) I will be skipping the pulsing up and down and releves for something more traditional, even if it makes me less “graceful” and “feminine.” I’ll have to visit my chiropractor now to undo the damage. It’s beyond upsetting.

  58. Hi Emily. I know I’m very late to the party, but I was doing research on barre classes and this post came up as a result. I hope you don’t mind answering some questions if you see this.

    Forgive me if I’m misunderstanding, but I need some clarification on your stance. You seem to be saying any exercise is better than no exercise, and in that regard, you wouldn’t tell a woman not to attend barre classes. At the same time, though, you seem to be suggesting it’s completely ineffective and all it does is cause pain. If the latter is true, shouldn’t you be discouraging it? What is the point of being in pain for no reason and with no results?

    I do not like lifting weights or high-intensity workouts. I’m not going to maintain workouts centered around those routines because they feel like drudgery to me…not fun. I wouldn’t call barre fun, but more enjoyable than most exercise is for me. I’m a healthy weight (5’2, 120 pounds), but could stand to be about 10 pounds less. I don’t need to be burning a metric ton of calories, and I don’t need visible muscles bulging. I’d just like to be a bit less flabby and out of shape, and have better posture. I have only attended 3 classes so far, so I obviously haven’t seen results yet, but I like the environment and it’s convenient for me.

    Wondering if you think there are certain circumstances, like mine, for which barre is beneficial, or if I’m just wasting my time and money. If I am, I’d like to know. Thanks!

    1. My article was an opinion piece and I stand behind what I said. My article was against the marketing of these type of classes – there is no such thing as LONG LEAN MUSCLES. If you are short, you will never have long muscles. Why is this so difficult to understand. THIS is what I was writing against.

      If you enjoy these type of classes and they are working for you and giving you the body you want and the energy you need, who am I to say otherwise? BUT….if you want to be stronger and build muscle, IF you have tried these classes and you DO NOT have the body you want and the energy you need, then change the way you train. Try something else. And I am sorry, but I never, ever, EVER said that this kind of work causes pain. Where did you read that in my article??? Someone made a comment in regards to this post saying that she hurt herself doing barre but I certainly never said this in my article. I like visible muscles and I like weighing 155 pounds at 5′ 7.” I actually don’t care what I weigh. I care about how I feel. I care about how much energy I have. If you don’t want muscle, then don’t lift weights. Stick with what you love. And for some that is barre. For others that is lifting weights. Personally, I like having a lot of muscle and being strong,because, well, I like knowing I can take care of myself and as I age, I will continue to be able to do for me. That is why I lift weights. And it’s badass too. 😉 Thanks for commenting.

  59. I love your message, it’s perfect for women growing and learning that what isnt important is what we look like (that’s what misogyny brainwashes our culture into believing) but our strength and abilities are limitless (gender is not a handicap!)

    I just wanted to remind you that there are ALL kinds of women! I suffer from more than a handful of autoimmune diseases and there are more months in the year than not that I have to be gentle to my body, my joints cant handle the pressure, the weight, the pain. One thing I can handle when I am sick is yoga, pilates, barre, dance. I don’t think this makes me weak, because I don’t ask anyone to do things for me. A sectional couch needs to be moved across the room? I got it. This tire is piled on all my stuff in the garage and i need the kids toys way at the bottom, no problem. There’s plenty I can’t do, but when I need to do something I do it.

    When my body feels great I will exercise harder but there is a lot of coincidence with me training harder and a flare up of my diseases (that often leave me sleeping for most of the day). So I have found a way to be strong without that.

    It’s so hard to find a class where I live that isn’t all about this crazy tough spirit (which is I great, I’m happy women realize we don’t have limits because of our gender) but I’m also isolated to exercise alone at home because I can’t inflict that much wear and tear on my body.

    The classes help women! Especially women like me! I know so many women who have health conditions and prefer barre and yoga! It’s just so hard to make it social.

    1. You should read my post about one of my clients who has EDS http://www.fivex3.com/2015/03/24/client-profile-of-the-month-meet-kristi/- I have ALL kinds of women at my gym, all shapes, all sizes and sometimes they don’t lift heavy. When Kristi feels good, she lifts. When she doesn’t, she takes my other class. When she really can’t get her, she doesn’t come and she rests. Women should do what they love to do and want to do….but if something isn’t working for you, try something else. That is my message. There are so many ways to feel good about yourself. MY issue is the marketing of certain classes. Really. I market to women who want to feel strong and confident and comfortable in their own skin.

  60. Actually, a lot of women get quite bulky in the thighs from weight lifting. I do and I can see you do too from you photo. Nothing has leaned out and sculpted my thighs like barre and it’s actually a lot harder than lifting weights.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I love my “bulky” thighs. 😉 At least if I have to help someone pick and move a sofa, I know I can do it. Not sure if taking barre classes will help with that. I could care less what my thighs look like as long as they are strong and capable. Thanks again for commenting. Enjoy your weekend. I know I will because I will be carrying 300# on my back this weekend in preparation for a Strongwoman Contest.

  61. Thank you Emily! I needed this. I taught a barre class for a while in addition to killing myself w/ cardio. Now I find myself being challenged by a coach/friend who is telling me to get my butt back to the weight room, where I’ve been off and on for 30+ years. I needed this opinion to know it’s going to be ok to step away from the barre to build the body I want. Thank you!

  62. Hi, Emily,

    This is, indeed, a very lengthy and very informative blog. I appreciate the content in total. I am a 59 year-old woman, 5’3″, 30 lbs overweight, in a salaried career (i.e., no limit on hrs working), and living w/ sciatica (degenerative disc disease — went through physical therapy).

    I try very hard to educate myself about exercising — But, I only do it at home. I do physical therapy exercises, work with lighter free weights, use a Total Gym (since 1999), and walk on a very good True brand treadmill. I have portable barre, which I very carefully used (really researched well) until the sciatica occurred — None of the moves I did contributed to the disc problem, by the way. In looking for more good information about exercising, I came across your blog.

    As both a consumer and a marketing professor (28 years), I have been intrigued by the exercise industry, both goods and services, for a long time. This blog simply reflects things common to highly diversified industries that have tremendous variance with statistics (averages, distributions, outliers, percentages, etc.) and individuals (customers, employees, and owners). The “hard” and “soft” data in these industries can be disputed to serve a wide variety of purposes. In other words, high variance commonly means high disagreement.

    My overriding consumer and professional concern is that the individual consumer is unharmed, in net, by goods and services in the exercise industry (unharmed physically, financially, and emotionally — as well as time, which is unrecoverable). We live in a “Buyer beware” world.

    This blog’s content flow serves that higher-level purpose of educating individuals (all — consumers, employees, and owners), as long as the information is both clearly communicated and correctly processed (even Emily’s clear needs to re-clarify her original statement have proven very beneficial). Such a blog is -far- more beneficial than using an “expert panel” form (either in-person or on a web site), as that tends to have invitation-only information, which can be highly biased. In other words, regardless of the diverse positions taken by the participants in this blog, this blog has done a very valuable thing in the “Buyer beware” world.

    This has been great!



  63. Thank you for your post. I am 53 years old and looking for a new way to exercise that will keep my bones strong (and let me pull my husband out of a burning building if I need too as well) I was considering Barre until I read your post. I am hesitant to go to just any gym and hire any personal trainer because I have 5 fused vertebrae in my back, three lumbar and two levels in my cervical area. I am not supposed to lift more than 50 pounds, however, I do pick up my 60 pound daughter without any issues. Can you give me any advice on how to choose a personal trainer that will understand my issues and work with me to help me stay within reasonable limits and still get stronger? I had a very bad experience at a Koko Fit and ended up with a shoulder injury that still plagues me.

    1. Hi Kim,
      Your very best bet is to seek out a Starting Strength coach….where do you live? If tell me, I can point you in a very specific direction. I do know of other coaches who are not SS…but without knowing where you live, it will be hard to give you a name. 😉 Thank you!

  64. Hi Emily,

    I’m a barre instructor and wanted to leave a comment, not because I’m offended by your post, but because I wanted to let you know that found this dialogue in the comments to be so interesting that I read all of it with a lot of interest! It’s pretty amazing to have a comment thread going on for this long and I think that’s so cool!

    Unsurprisingly, I do disagree with some of what you’ve said, but not all of it. I personally, even though I work in this niche of the fitness industry, also dislike some of the marketing that goes into barre. The original workout that these were based on has been around since the 70’s, and I feel that in terms of the message that you can actually lengthen your muscles, there is still some outdated rhetoric that we now know isn’t true (but did think was possible back then) being used. I know that my company has been very incrementally moving away from saying that, and instead saying that the workout creates muscles that *look* longer (which I have personally found to be true.)

    I agree that stretching doesn’t lengthen muscles. But I think it feels incredibly good and I’ve seen my clients gain so much confidence in their increasing flexibility. There is just something that feels really good to a lot of people about being able to touch your toes or do the splits or see your ability to straighten your legs in certain stretches grow as your hamstrings become more flexible. I don’t think it changes the way anybody looks, but it just FEELS good. And coming at the end of intense exercises it feels like a nice treat, and it’s a nice way to nurture yourself and care for your body.

    I do disagree with your assertion that barre doesn’t increase strength, because I have seen some amazing changes in both my strength and in that of my clients. BUT different barre workouts also vary in sometimes small but always significant ways, and lots of the newer iterations in particular incorporate a lot of pretty bizarre exercises. So the workouts aren’t really all equal. As far as using very light weights, in many of the classes (my company’s included) this is really more than made up for in the amount of pushups and planks we do. That of course is also a matter of personal preference, but I LOVE pushups and think they’re probably one of the most effective exercises for building strength throughout the upper body and core (or trunk, as I know that’s the term you prefer.) Being able to support and move the weight of one’s entire body involves quite a lot of weight, and I’m not sure what the difference is between doing that face down in a pushup vs. face up with a barbell (except that in the former you’re working more muscle groups at once.) And nothing gives me a greater kick than when a client who has been doing barre brings their husband who does crossfit or another kind of high intensity exercise and puts their spouse to shame with the number of pushups and squats (we do ours on our toes, but they’re still squats) they can do.

    The way I think about the claim that barre gives women (and men! we get a fair number of men in class too) dancer’s bodies is that it gives them the physique *they* would have if they were dancers. Not all dancers are willowy ballerinas — a dancer’s body is the body of anyone who dances (like a bikini body is any body with a bikini on it!) I’ve seen some incredibly gifted dancers who have curvier bodies because that’s what’s natural to their shape.

    At any rate, I really appreciate your views and especially the dialogue that they started. I 100% agree that there should be much less focus on the way our bodies look and a LOT more focus on how our bodies feel and what they can DO. And at the end of the day, the most important thing is for people to be getting out and moving their bodies, and nobody should be limited by a fear of looking a certain way from finding the workout that best suits them. We should all be free to focus on how we feel. 🙂

    Also you have a gorgeous body and holy cow to some of these ridiculous mean comments!!

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      Thank you very, very much for your comment. 😉 I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your remarks. You are absolutely correct – at the end of the day, what really matters is how a particular way of training works for YOU and makes YOU feel. This was an opinion piece and while I had a great time running my barre classes at the dance studio, once I opened up my gym and realized the potential was there to help more women find the right way to train for them, I left the barre work behind and focused on strength training. Being stronger is different for everyone. If you want to deadlift 2x your bodyweight, you can’t do this taking barre classes. If you want to learn how to do a push up and work your upper body, then barre classes will help you and so will a boot camp. I still think that the marketing of these classes could do with a face lift – many, many, many women flock to these classes with the hope of looking like the thin woman who is or was a dancer who is running the class. Not saying that all women who run these classes look like this..but it is more of what you see in the marketing than the opposite. If you go to a Strongwoman contest, you ain’t gonna see Misty Copeland. 😉 Thank you again for you honest comment. “We should all be free to focus on how we feel.” I could not agree with you more. 😉

  65. Hey there! I guess my confusion comes from where you said that isometric movements that burn your thighs do nothing but burn your thighs. Well why would my thigh she burning and shaking and me dripping sweat and my body fat lowering of nothing was happening but just a burning feeling. I think some things you said in this article are actually false and misinforming people. I have known people that can lift two to three times their weight and ended up injuring their joints because of the pressure. Of course you can make your muscles bigger and able to lift more but your joints eventually give out. And in regards to carrying my husband out of a burning building… I could carry my three year old helpless son out of mile long burning tunnel while squaring the whole way. I guess strength can be measured in different ways. Barre workout has been great for me and a lot of people out there! And I find my heart rate raises more than if I was just lift a super heavy weight once. I have built not only strength but endurance!!

  66. And actually my heavy lifter husband came to barre with me and couldn’t even make it thru the workout without stopping!

    1. Thank you for your comment. No, I have not said anything in my article that is false and gives people misinformation. Shaking and sweating is not you getting stronger. My husband weighs around 195#. Carrying him is a pretty big deal. You know, everyone is going to have their opinion about what works and doesn’t work for them. If it works for you, great. I have better ideas as to what works for my ladies and they are thrilled with their stronger bodies. Barre did nothing for them but make them feel bad about themselves. Lifting empowers them and makes them feel more confident in their bodies and their abilities. Thank you for your comment.

  67. I wouldn’t want to be in any training class with trainers that believe slamming each other publicly is Ok, the way you have on this blog including commenters. It is all very negative I feel sorry for any of your clients .

    1. Thank you for your comment. And if you believe I have slammed any trainers, please point them out to me. From what I gather, any of the trainers who have commented have actually had well thought out comments that have contributed to the conversation. All of the other comments that I have received have been very negative towards me and some have even gone out of their way to bash my body type and subsequently, my ladies and their bodies. My clients and I actually have a great relationship and they feel sorry for the commentators who have posted negatively. Thank you for your contribution to this conversation.

  68. Thank you for this blog. As a short gal at 5’2, I always wonder why I’m barre class my leg just doesn’t “look” like most of the instructors do, or it just doesn’t shoot all the way straight up as they guide me too. You have reinforced my belief that sometimes we are just not born to all perform the same way. I think the bottom line is “do what makes you happy”. I do a combination of barre class in addition to weight training and cardio on my own. I do think the intensity of the barre classes helps my cardio, while I think my weight training for sure makes the arm sequence and push up sequence in barre class more tolerable. I have to say though I’ve done step, spin (spin is another blog topic– amazing how many people flock to cycle class only to destroy their knees), jogging, BUT nothing had changed my body like barre class. My abs have never been more visibly toned, and my clothes have never fit better. My neck, that I have suffered from injuries for decades, has never been as pain-free since doing barre class!!! Not to mention the barre studio I go to plays amazing music and the crowd in the room is inspiring very good feel every time I go. Bottom line again- do what works for you, be realistic, and keep searching for whatever it is that WILL make your body change.

  69. Pingback: After a two-year hiatus, I’m finally back to Barre3

  70. I had been doing weights at the gym, running and other cardio, yoga, cycling etc for years, and lookin’ pretty good, but more important, feeling and being strong. A few months ago a friend convinced me to do a month of barre class with her. Yikes! It’s hard, and while sometimes the other workouts aren’t much fun, barre class, with its creepy fast techno music, holding of poses to the point of exhaustion, doing exercises with our fists in the air all together like some Stepford wives all in a row, was the most un-fun workout I had ever done. I hated it! I was pretty good at it pretty quickly, for a beginner, but I always dreaded it. And while people individually seemed nice, it’s not a diverse group. It’s very, very white. I am not. It added to the Stepford feel.

    The thing is i saw some change. My butt became more like a fist my the end of the month. My abs may have been a little tighter. But I could no longer do the heavy weights I was doing at the gym. Not quite as heavy anyway. I had to work back up to it. I don’t quite see that same inward dimple on the edge of my seat they’re always striving for there two months after my time at Barre, but I know I can kick ass a lot better now that I’ve got my glutes back!

    OK so I want to hate barre class. And I do. But at the time I was in it — knowing I was going to escape at the end of the month — I was thinking I could put *maybe* up with it once a week as part of my cross training routine because I know it has certain benefits. The way they structure the class pricing system, though, pretty much forces you into a monthly membership mode. If you sign up for nine months it’s “only” $160 a month. One month is like $225. And one single class is $25. I’m not paying $25 to hate something for an hour and look like a zombie. And I’m sure not signing up for a month, much less many months, of this hell.

    So I have this idea. Barre class, how about having some awesome hiphop music or R&B or great music with a real beat that’s not like a heart in fibrillation mode? People could really get their groove on. How about having some fun, having some rhythm, dialing back the Stepford feel? And how about offering a reasonable price for people who just want to come in occasionally? You may say that the 20 class card at $380 is a steal, w classes only being $19, but $380 is a big chunk of change for some people.

    When my friend, who is still going to Barre, tells me there’s an old school hip hop barre doing on at our local Barre class, and that the ladies aren’t looking like programmed robots in it, and are actually having fun, I will rush in to sign up!

    1. Thanks for the comment Tara!!! I will take being strong and powerful over looking like a Stepford wife any day! 😉 Keep lifting those weights….and make a playlist and get your own groove on in between heavy squats. That’s what I do. 😉

  71. Pingback: Beachbody workouts, Expensive Barre classes, and Aerial Acrobatics: A Tale of Sweat, Lies, and Bruises - Active Minimalist

  72. Wow, I know this is a really old post, but I just went to my first barre class and am so glad to see that I’m not the only crazy person who absolutely HATES IT! The instructor I had clearly had zero dance or anatomical training (she admitted as much, and was not able to give clear and simple advice about adjusting turnout to avoid torquing the tendons in the knees, when another student complained of sharp anterior knee pain under the patella!)

    The exercises themselves take VERY LITTLE from an actual ballet barre. The movements of ballet are FUNCTIONAL (for a different function, of course, than weight training) and create a long, lean look as a result of that. No of course they don’t make your actual muscles longer, but they allow you to feel and possibly appear “longer” because they strengthen stabiliser muscles all over the body that you can use to hold your limbs in graceful positions of EXTENSION. Squeezing and pulsing a few tiny muscles a million times while praying that that will make them smaller has absolutely nothing to do with those goals! The movements we were practicing are not “good for” anything except repeating the same class over and over. In fact, training in an actual beginner ballet class and learning to use your muscles in ballet alignment has the potential to make you look quite a bit “leaner and longer” without losing any weight or becoming any smaller, because you will be able to use your posture, carriage, and extension to its fullest. As a (low-level) dancer I am far more interested in developing this potential than obsessing over the extra inches on my thighs. A professional ballerina might be required to shave a few inches off her thighs in order to meet her company’s standards on stage, but who am I to think that people are scrutinising my body to that degree — all while I can’t execute even half of her movements? The priorities here make absolutely no sense!

    In the class I took, there was very little explanation of the exercises, absolutely no cues given about alignment, and very few corrections. Looking around the room you could see that almost everyone was doing a different exercise — it wasn’t even clear whether some of the exercises were to be done in parallel or in turnout, which obviously works different muscles. How can anyone think that performing quick, repetitive movements in poor alignment can give good or consistent results? After the class I had a bit of a sore/fatigued hip and ankle, but definitely did not feel as if I had worked all my muscles, stretched, gotten sweaty, or MOVED. Where is the joy of movement, of using the body according to its incredible and beautiful design?

    A supposedly “heavy, bulky” woman who has worked on her strength and alignment will look far more compact and graceful than a skinny girl who practices these graceless, functionally and anatomically senseless movements. Alignment (in accordance with your anatomy, not an idealised image of the desired position) quite literally IS grace whether in dance-like movements or the lifting, dragging, carrying strength movements that you teach here. Maybe the class I went to was unusually badly taught, but I was shocked that anyone would take the concept of a ballet barre workout and miss the benefits of it so completely. I also thought the fitness world had moved a bit beyond the myths of 1-2 lb weights for women, “spot reducing”, “toned not bulky”, and other such regressive, pseudoscientific, anti-woman garbage.

    Also, this is my personal opinion. Women like a few of those in these comments are far too prone to accusing anyone who brings up critical opinions of “being hateful, being negative, not supporting other women” and that attitude is itself disingenuous and hurtful to women. Women do not live in some cushiony bubble where only sweet and supportive things can be expressed — they can take criticism just as men can, and choose to use it to improve themselves or disagree and ignore it. The whole concept of “support other women” is being weaponised to shut down discussion and that is really quite a catty and aggressive tactic, especially when it goes into “she must be so negative because she is jealous, because she is single/childless/overweight/etc etc” territory! Oh well! Thank you for publishing your opinions and hosting this discussion!

    1. THANK YOU ANA!!!!!!! This made my Monday. 😉 And yes, this is an old post….yet somehow, people keep finding it. And as a result, the conversation continues. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  73. Hi Emily,

    I know this article is a few years old, but I wanted to let you know that I totally get where you’re coming from. I recently started barre classes. I tried a few out from different studios before settling on one I liked. The first few I tried, I felt they seemed to market the idea of “long, lean muscles” too much, which is kind of what turned me off. The studio I go now, I absolutely love! It’s a low-pressure atmosphere, and the teachers are great at teaching you proper form. The reason why I felt inclined to do barre to begin with is because I was a dancer growing up, and I loved it. I’ve gone through a weight loss journey the past couple of years, and I learned so much about how weight loss is contributed more to eating right than regular exercise. After losing enough weight to start exercising, I started running and love it, but then got bored once I completed my 2nd half-marathon. I didn’t like HIIT workouts too much, and weight lifting bored me after a while. Barre was fun and I never go in with the mindset that I’m going to look like a ballerina. My body just isn’t meant to look that way. I continue to do it because, for me, it’s fun, and it’s something I look forward to every week.

    Thank you for your time, and your honesty.

  74. You are absolutely wrong. I am not very gifted in dancing. I worked hard to do barre right. Even first position is challenging for me. But I do look more like ballerina doing barre. Weight training does not give the same result. I don’t see I need to be empowered by developing more strength. I have PhD in Physics, I am competing with guys on a professional level in the field that is still mainly masculine. I don’t need to compete in weight lifting to feel myself empowered. I can design a robot to lift that weight. But I like to have a grace of a ballerina and barre does help me a lot. My friends notice it. my husband notices it. It is not like I kidding myself. I combine it with cardio to keep weight down. But now I even can dance pretty good. I increased my flexibility, my legs look perfect now.Barre is absolutely THE MUST for a woman!

    1. You have your opinion. And I have mine. I am not wrong. I am not right. I wrote an article and gave an opinion. Good for you that barre works for you. Stay with it if it makes you happy. But if a woman wants to be stronger, she needs a strength program. And that means picking up weights. Thank you for your response and your OPINION.

  75. I know this is super old, but after reading the article and a lot of comments, I’m wondering…why didn’t you just start marketing and teaching the barre class differently? Don’t market it or say in class that you’re going to get lean lon muscles or look like a ballerina. Mention strength, range of motion, etc. And incorporate more weights in the class?

    1. I DID teach a barre class and I DID market it that way. I incorporated weights in my class and enjoyed teaching this class. But then I opened my gym and discovered a much better way to get women and men stronger. And I decided I would never teach a barre class again. Those who like barre classes should keep taking them. Those who want to be stronger should start lifting weight. And I can help. 😉 Thanks for your comment.

  76. Hi Emily –

    I tore my left hamstring while running a year and half ago and started Barre classes because the tiny pulses reminded me of the physical therapy I had while healing my injury. For years I have incorporated weight training into my fitness routine. My body never looked and felt better with weight training. After my hamstring injury I decided to just take Barre classes until I felt strong enough to run and lift weights.

    Here is what I have experienced with Barre:

    I have been practicing Barre for 9 months on average 3x times week. What has changed is my thighs and butt have gained more muscle and are stronger, but that is it. While my upper body is “toned” I do not nearly have the strength that I had while weight training. There is still a layer of fat around my core, after having practiced Barre for 9 months. When lifting, my core developed much faster and I actually had a “4 pack”.

    I am naturally thin and have long limbs, but even for my body type Barre has not given me that lythe, longer and leaner body. It has been the contrary, as I said my thighs and buttocks have gained mass. Even after 9 months of Barre, I am not seeing full results.

    My point is that Barre is not the ONLY workout that I should practice if I want to build strength in my upper body and core. While I enjoy the classes, I am going to go back to weight training and just incorporate Barre into my routine. Even the instructors at my studio incorporate other modalities into their fitness routines.

    As for the comment about women looking like men when weight training. That is a totally ignorant statement and completely untrue. I never looked better while lifting weights. And I always felt like a BAB.

    Thank you Emily for confirming what I thought was the case all along.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment, Stella. I am glad to know you are a believer in strength training. 😉 If people enjoy these classes, by all means, take them. BUT….in my opinion, if you want a stronger BODY, arms, legs, gluten, trunk, then you need to lift weights. Preferably heavy. 😉 Take barre. Take Zumba. Go for a run. But please, ladies, lift weights too. By age 70, your body will thank you. 😉

      Thanks again for your comment!


  77. Oh, one more thing. My knees never hurt as much as they do with Barre. I have been an athlete my entire life, from field hockey for 6 years, a lifetime runner, a certified yoga instructor, weight trainer, pilates machine dabbler, and now Barre practitioner, with the exception of yoga, I have never experienced so much knee pain.

    Also we work on the ballet bar, maybe 20 percent of the time. I’m not knocking it at all and will still continue to practice, however, it’s just not the full body work out that I expected.

  78. Barre3 no longer promises long, lean muscles. Being strong doesn’t just mean lifting a 50 lb sack over your shoulder and walking down the driveway. It could mean recovering after having a baby, or being able to lift your own body weight, or creating flexibility in a an area that caused you daily pain. Barre3 in particular, fixes those things. I appreciate heavy weight strong and I think you should give the women who don’t want to bulk up a little credit. We’re strong too. And we’re not just “toning our thighs”. Many women appreciate the warmth, community, love, and mental strength barre3 offers to its clients. Those aren’t weaknesses…they’re stronger than any WOD or kettlebell anyone could swing.

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      Strength – the ability to produce force against the external resistances encountered in the environment – is the most fundamental adaptation necessary for increased performance.




      “Engineered Equal?
      This means that kettlebells, kickboxing, playing with the dumbbells, Pilates, yoga, bicycling, jogging, running, swimming, shuffleboard, gardening, balancing on colorful balls while waving chrome weights in the air, treadmilling, elliptical machining, stair-climbing, rock climbing, wood chopping, loading hay on a trailer, snow shoveling, air-squatting, push-upping, chin-upping, grave digging, or stealing millions of dollars of gold bullion from the floor of a bank behind enemy lines is not strength training. It may be hard, you may get tired doing it, and it may even make you sore, but it’s not strength training because it cannot make you stronger. Some of these things may require strength, but doing them cannot possibly develop strength since 1.) none of them are limited by your absolute strength, and 2.) they do not require constantly increasing force production. But all of them benefit from increased strength developed elsewhere.”

      Thanks for your comment.

  79. Emily – Thank you for the article! I enjoyed it. As a Classpass user I occasionally take barre (once or twice a month) – but I was never under the impression that I would get long or lean muscles, it’s just something to change up the workout routine. I am curious what are your thoughts on workouts like the Lagree method or Solidcore? I took a class and the studio I went to only talked about being strong not about being “long and lean” or looking a certain way. While this was refreshing I am curious if thats true or similar to barre class.


    1. Anything that makes you get off the couch and move your body is a good workout. Will those programs actually make you stronger? They may make you sweat and feel happy….but real strength will never let you down. I don’t know anything about those programs. If they talked about being stronger, great. But gaining strength requires you to move weight, heavy weight. Even if you just start off squatting 15lbs. In 30 days, if you are now squatting 135lbs, you are stronger. The end. 😉

      Thanks for your comment! 😉

  80. I gave up in frustration after reading many many many many replies and none of you even mentioned the only way to work on bone density is with weight/pounding — not glorifying stretching gripping a pice of wood.

    1. Sorry?? Don’t really understand your comment. Bone density is built through resistance training. Period. Pick up weight. Carry weight. Put down weight. Rinse and repeat. What is the piece of wood you are referring to???

      Thanks for your comment.

  81. THANK YOU for this! Great post! I did a barre class for almost a year was bored to tears by the repetition, the crappy music, and frustrated by the teachers always talking about slimming this and tucking that and the whole long lean muscle fallacy, and the burning, and the diamonds, etc. I longed to get back to the gym and be truly strong again, but my local gym had closed and I thought I’d stick w barre for a year before commuting to a farther out gym. I now have two co-workers who are doing the class four times a week, and they love it so good for them. But when it came to lifting some heavy boxes of books from one office to another on our floor, they couldn’t manage alone, so I hoisted them without a problem. I’m happy I have a routine that helps me truly be strong.

  82. Pure Barre is by far the most effective, time efficient way to see results fast. Pure Barre is not easy and not for the faint of heart. I’ve never been more proud of myself than when I complete a session in my basement and then get to see the results in my bikini.
    I mix it up with doing Brazil Butt Lift (which I also swear by) but it takes longer to see results. Brazil gets heart rate up for longer period of time which helps with endurance. I also like that I don’t have to be on my tip toes or “tuck” position. But that’s exactly what makes Pure Barre so effective (tip toes and tucks). Pure Barre on demand is awesome. New trainer and routine every day. I am a musician so I always hear music – EXCEPT when I’m doing PB. Its so intense that the music is not an issue for me.
    I’m 48 and I just started PB last summer. I didn’t like the way I looked in bikini pics in my early summer beach trip – so I did Pure Barre (in the studio) 2-3X a week for 6 weeks before my next beach trip to go scuba diving. I loved the way I looked in those pics. Total difference!
    I will continue doing PB and Brazil for the rest of my life.

  83. Nothing wrong with mixing it up, right? A lot of professional athletes take ballet and Pilates go supplement their training.
    (BTW, I’m far from a professional athlete, I just get bored easily, lol!)
    As you say, whatever floats your boat. ?

    1. Thanks for your comment! Nothing wrong with trying anything out…..and if you like to mix it up, great. Find something you like and stick with it. If it is helping you with your goals, great! But if it isn’t, try something else. This is what I did and I and my female clients are reaping the benefits. I just had a meniscus root repair surgery on my left knee. If all I did was barre classes and not strength train, I would not be where I am today. Stronger and walking around as if I never had the surgery in the first place. Being strong helped me recover faster. Being strong allowed me to get back to coaching my clients the next day after my surgery. Being stronger allowed me to skip the prescription drugs and take only Ibuprofen for any discomfort. Can barre classes help you recover from a knee surgery? I don’t think so.

  84. I really enjoyed this article. I remember I was doing hip thrusts at the gym one time, and this very slender older lady doing a zumba class comes up and says to me, in her Russian accent. “Why you want to make your butt bigger?” she was very impressed with my strength. But at the same time it just goes to show you how incredibly out of whack our society is, about what’s beautiful…skinny vs. strong. I just laughed it off, and thought to myself, first off what a b and secondly she’s not worth my time or an explanation. I wanted to tell her that I am a surfer who needs strong legs and glutes, and that also I’m into tai chi and qi gong martial arts, so I really enjoy the fact that I could probably kick half the guys butts in the gym, and hers for sure. If I ever needed to that is of course I am studying self defense. And would never harm anyone unless attacked first. But it’s so true, most of the women I know cannot even carry a grocery bag home more than two blocks, and they also can barely do a push up. They are told they have huge butts if they lift weights and do squats. And from what I can tell, most of the men I know, that are not bi sexual, actually love a women who has a toned butt and thighs, who is strong. Unless they are weak themselves, they are not into anorexic women who can barely lift anything heavy to save their lives. Living in so cal really showed me that because models are seen as beautiful, because gay men are the ones who run the fashion industry, and they like skeletal women who look like little boys. This is a fact. It’s so sad that most women and some men have been brainwashed into thinking that weak is beautiful. I know plenty of men who had wives in their first marriages who were anorexic… Several of these men surprised me, because they ended up remarried to women who were so strong, and rock climbed…I guess they found out that strong is ideal. It really gets to me that it’s also other women trying to put strong women down who are working on their squats and hip thrusts, just because they
    are brainwashed by the media into thinking long, lean, and weak is more beautiful than a strong Olympic athlete like physique. I personally think that yoga that focuses on alignment, is the best thing you could do for your body. It will make you strong, and long and lean. You’ll be able to do handstands and headstands. And all the while focusing on the correct alignment of the knees is so important. My mother wouldn’t even let me do ballet growing up, because she has seen so many women wreck their body’s because their hips deformed and stuck in an outward position, and their feet are destroyed, they wind up with debilitating osteoarthritis from forcing their body into unnatural positions, that are terrible for your joints. If all these women think skinny is the answer, why do they insist on making strong women feel inferior? Why does it always seem to be skinny women’s missions to make strong women feel unattractive? Is it a mean girl complex?

  85. I concur with the comment about Barre being somewhat overrated.

    The reason for that is that Miranda Esmonde-White’s Essentrics program has many of the elements of Barre but without the overemphasis on the isometrics (till failure M.O.)

    So ROM, arm circles, plies, etc, are included and in proportions which could be a launching point for additional work in martial arts, Tai Chi/Bagua, yoga, weight training, etc.

    And that’s the point, it’s synergistic with other exercises whereas Barre, as a stand alone, can burn oneself out before getting to the other stuff.

    Understand, unless a person is a professional actor or athlete, working out for more than an hour per day, 3-5 times per week, is usually prohibitive. So with that in mind, a good 15-20 mins of Essentrics, followed by 40-45 minutes of weight training (or 40-45 mins of exercise bicycling on alternate days) is a very efficient way to train for the long term.

  86. Ex MMa fighter. Judoka wtf do you think your not stronger. I was CrossFitter since it dropped.and I still laugh at women that are so serious about being strong. Strong what? TKD…Krav Maga MT Western boxing Judo Bjj. If I see you coming slow af with muscles trying to think your strong to attack me. One simplistic fight move sweety you will be on ground with broken nose. If I jump on top of you your weight lifting days will be a joke. Stop telling people it’s to be stronger. It’s an addiction to iron the barbell kbs that’s all it is. It definitely is way less work than barre hell barre is annoying and hard. I rather lift 100 times than do that bull but woman live a woman body. No your not building lean long muscle whether short long on 2lbs but your creating a slimmer look. For instance hot yoga will lean you out asap but they are all crossfitter and weight lifters in disguise here in south fl. None look strong or muscular barre pilates yoga lean you out. By lifting and cross training with hot yoga they create a more anorexic look. It’s either you want muscles stil with iron or drop weight look slimmer then you do that. Pilates reformer I love it increase flexibility it’s harder than lifting. Lifting is just fun. You feel more muscle that’s it. I do everything I hate barre pilates and yoga but I want to loose weight so that’s what I’m doing now before I go back to CrossFit because addiction to iron. MMA I’m 47 fuk it but you get lean lean

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