Barre vs. Pilates: Which is the Better Workout?

Barre and pilates are popular low-impact fitness classes. Both workouts are effective at increasing core strength, toning muscles and improving posture.

While barre and pilates have many similar benefits, each form of exercise is very different.

Which is the better workout for you? Read on to find out.

What is barre?

Barre is a whole-body workout, inspired by ballet, that combines low-resistance weights with high-repetition movements to target each muscle group.

Barre is especially good at firing up the glutes – expect lots of pulsing, ballet squats and donkey kicks. But it isn’t just a great lower body workout – you’ll also use the bar and mat to strengthen your core and tone your back and arms.

It may be low-impact but don’t be fooled – you’ll feel the burn!

What is pilates?

Pilates is a low-impact exercise that aims to build core strength, improve posture and increase flexibility.

Conducted on a mat or a reformer machine, pilates uses small targeted movements to tighten those hard to hit muscle groups – like the inner thighs! Over time you’ll build lean muscles while improving your balance and body awareness. 

Pilates may be less intensive than a HIIT workout but you’ll be sweating all the same!

Barre vs pilates: how barre differs from pilates

Both barre and pilates are fun low-impact workouts for building core strength, lengthening lean muscles and improving flexibility.

These exercises can help improve your posture which makes them an ideal class to incorporate into your workout routine to reduce injury. You’ll also notice both pilates and barre can reduce your stress levels and improve your mood.

You can do barre or pilates at home, perfect when you want to squeeze some exercise into your busy schedule. However, if you prefer to exercise in a group environment, pilates and barre classes are also very popular! You can check out barre and pilates studios near you on the ClassPass app.

If you’re unsure of which class is best for you, consider your goals.

If you’d like to focus on building super strong abdominal muscles, especially if you struggle with lower back pain, then pilates will offer more exercises to accomplish this. Pilates is also a great option if you love the mindfulness of yoga but would like to add a bit more vigorous exercise to your workout.

While barre is better for anyone wanting to incorporate more dance movement into their life. But you don’t have to be a dancer to enjoy barre. Barre is open to all levels and if you’re keen to work in some aerobic moves, barre will also help improve your cardiovascular fitness for intense results. 

Reasons to take a barre class

There are many reasons to try out a barre class from pulsing to the beat to improving posture, flexibility and muscle strength.

Fun workout while you pulse to the beat

Barre is inspired by dance which means you can expect to feel like a ballerina in training while you workout! It’s a fun class to spice up an exercise routine that’s grown boring. Pulse it out to the beat as you work up a sweat for a toned body.

Improves posture to decrease back pain

Have you ever seen a ballerina slouch? If you spend too much time hunched over a screen, barre is the perfect exercise to lengthen your spine and improve posture. This can help improve back pain.

Strengthens your lower body

Barre is a total full-body workout but it’s especially beneficial for your glutes, thighs and calves! Barre targets muscles that many workouts fail to do. You can expect tighter glutes and stronger legs from consistent barre workouts.

Increases flexibility

Barre encourages elongation in the entire body. Each move helps strengthen and stretch the muscles for a more flexible body overall.

Reasons to take a pilates class

These are just some of the reasons why you should consider taking a pilates class:

Increases core strength

Pilates is infamous for focusing on the core and strengthening the abdominal muscles. If you’re looking for toned abs, pilates will help you achieve this. Plus a strong core is essential for protecting your back, ideal if you struggle with lower back pain.

Improves chance of injury

Pilates builds dynamic strength across all muscle groups so that you feel strong in every body movement, even when you’re not exercising. It also improves body awareness, flexibility and posture. This will help prevent future injuries if you’re prone to accidents in the gym.

Strengthens bones too

Pilates can strengthen and tone your entire body but did you know it can also strengthen your bones? Studies have found that pilates can increase bone density which reduces your risk of osteoporosis.

Improves balance

By focusing on core strength and full body alignment, you’ll likely notice an improvement in your balance. This will help aid you in other fitness classes and everyday activities.

Summary of barre vs pilates

Both barre and pilates are excellent low-impact workouts to incorporate into your exercise routine. They’ll help you improve your posture and flexibility while strengthening your entire body.

Barre might be better suited to you if you love dance and pulsing to the beat. While pilates is ideal if you love yoga but want to focus on your core strength.

If you’re still unsure which class is right for you, why not try them both out? You’ll find plenty of barre and pilates studios near you on the ClassPass app.

Lucy Elizabeth Moffat is a Senior Content Marketing Executive and freelance writer living in London. When she’s not at her desk, you’ll find her exploring new fitness studios, planning her next trip away, or curling up with a book. Sunflowers make her smile, you can connect with her on confessionsofalondoner.com.
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