The Method

Trying to Decide Between Yoga, Pilates, and Barre? The Bar Method Has it All!

May 18, 2020
Woman exercising at ballet barre

If you’ve ever thought that yoga, Pilates, and barre are interchangeable and offer the same results, think again! While all three have some similarities, like improving core strength, flexibility, balance, and posture, they’re all uniquely designed workouts that address different fitness goals. Incorporating a low-impact workout into your fitness routine can be very beneficial for improving joint health, decreasing the stress on your body, and giving you a major boost of energy.

Don’t be fooled by the words ‘low-impact’. Yoga, Pilates, and barre alike will make your body sweat and improve overall strength. Many people tend to think the origins of these methods are similar and the physical structure of the classes is the same. But what brings the best results? How do you know which one to choose? What’s the real difference between each of these workouts? The best part about The Bar Method is you don’t have to decide between these workouts. Barre truly does it all. Don’t believe us? Let’s break it down a bit further and dig into each workout method and what each does for your body.

Yoga

Yoga is a type of fitness that’s been around for a long time. It has a strong emphasis on fluid movement, controlled breathing, and a deeper connection of the body and mind. Through the incorporation of full-body movement, yoga can boost strength and improve flexibility. Yoga also offers extra versatility due to its various styles. What makes yoga unique is its strong emphasis of body and mind connection through meditation during class. It can be great for both improving overall physical health and simultaneously managing stress. It is very common in a class setting to set an intention for your practice. This means bringing your attention and awareness to a quality or virtue you wish to pursue both on and off your mat.

History of Yoga

The oldest of the three exercise methods, the practice of yoga, dates back thousands of years. Yoga originated in India and dates all the way back to 2700 BC. Lord Shiva, the first ever yogi, was seen as the first one to spread the knowledge of yoga as an offering of the Indus valley civilization. It was created as a spiritual discipline that was sought to promote both material and spiritual well-being in humanity. Its strong focus was and still is the harmony of the body and mind. The purpose of yoga is to cultivate enlightenment, increase awareness, self-regulation, and a higher consciousness. It was introduced to America in the 18th Century where it grew in popularity and practice styles. The practice has grown so much that it has also become an Olympic sport!

Variations of Yoga

While therapeutic in nature, yoga offers more than just relaxation, mindfulness, and flexibility. Yoga offers a wide variety of various styles that incorporate the whole body and encourage increased strength and proper alignment. With a mix of standing poses and mat routines, yoga can help improve your balance, core strength and mindfulness. Some of the most common and popular forms of yoga are:

  • Ashtanga Yoga: Dynamic and athletic form of hatha yoga with a fixed order of postures.
  • Hatha Yoga: Involves a set of physical postures and breathing techniques.
  • Hot Yoga: Vigorous form of yoga performed in a warm and humid studio.
  • Iyengar Yoga: Known for its focus on precision, timing, and the use of props.
  • Kundalini Yoga: Type of yoga that involves chanting, singing, breathing exercises, and various poses.
  • Power Yoga: Fast-paced style focused on building strength and endurance.
  • Restorative Yoga: Restful practice that holds yoga poses for longer and uses props.
  • Vinyasa Yoga: Characterized by stringing postures together seamlessly using breath.

Yoga is a great way to slow down your fitness routine and dedicate a focus to your breathing, flexibility, and enhancing that mind-body connection. The key in choosing the type of yoga class is determined based on what will best support your intention.

Pilates

Pilates is known for its strong focus on core-centric movements in classes. In addition to strengthening the abdominal muscles, this workout can also improve posture and strengthen the pelvic floor. This is your body’s entire “powerhouse” which includes the midsection, hips and lower back. This full-body workout method targets small and large muscle groups alike.

History of Pilates

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in Monchengladbach, Germany. His father was a gymnast and his mother, a naturopath. During the beginning of the twentieth century, he developed a system of exercises intended to strengthen the human mind and body. He originally called it “Contrology”, which means the focus on dedicated control of various muscles groups. The first variation of a Pilates studio was opened in the 1920s in New York City by Joseph and Clara Pilates. Since then, the Pilates method has gradually evolved and integrated current fitness methods and modern pieces of equipment. However, the roots and philosophy of the technique are still incorporated into Pilates classes today.

Variations of Pilates

Some Pilates classes strengthen muscles through the use of machines and equipment, like Pilates balls, Reformer machines and Magic Circle rings, while others rely on body-weight exercises and mat routines. Pilates is actually considered a form of resistance training. A big focus in any Pilates class is core. In addition, the overall effectiveness of any class relies on incorporating the correct breathing techniques. Like yoga, Pilates includes sustained poses and controlled breathing techniques. Another likeness to yoga is that there are different types of Pilates as well! These styles range in difficulty, complexity, and overall fitness ability. These include:

  • Classical Pilates: Typically combines mat and equipment work that’s designed to move the body through a full range of movement.   
  • Mat Pilates: Uses very little equipment and can be done with body weight only.
  • Contemporary Pilates: Incorporates both modern and originally created exercises.   
  • Reformer Pilates: Uses the Pilates reformer machine and is typically higher intensity and more dynamic.

No matter what variation of Pilates class you take, you’ll experience a full body alignment, a larger range of motion, and strengthened muscles. Many that do Pilates consistently will incorporate a variety of these styles to achieve the best total strengthening.

Barre

Our personal favorite, barre, is the perfect solution for when you can’t decide between Pilates and yoga. We combine the best elements and principles from both Pilates and yoga for an all-in-one approach to your fitness routine. At The Bar Method we want to deepen your mind-body connection while also strengthening and lengthening muscles all over to help you sculpt the physique of your dreams. What makes barre different is the incorporation of calorie-torching cardio for additional cardiovascular and weight-loss benefits, which truly makes it the best of both worlds. You’ll experience core-centric movements and exercises you often see in Pilates matched with the breathing techniques used in yoga. These combined with a burn like no other, and you’ve got barre!

History of Barre at The Bar Method

While barre itself originated in the late 1950s, The Bar Method has a barre style of its own creation. The original creation of barre was done by ballerina Lotte Berk who created the idea by combining ballet barre routines and rehabilitative therapy. The Bar Method’s founder, Burr Leonard, was introduced to the Lotte Berk Method in 1981. Burr immediately fell in love with barre and became a devoted student. She noticed an incredible transformation in her body and dreamed of creating her own version of the exercise technique. Burr wanted to empower people of all ages and abilities to build strong, lean, toned, and healthy bodies for life. Working alongside a team of physical therapists, she created a method of barre that was safer for the joints and more effectively targeted the muscles. Her passion and drive created The Bar Method and barre exercise we know and love today.

Variations of Barre

In your typical Bar Method class, you’ll go through a mix of mat routines, standing exercises and positions in front of a mirror to help elevate your workout and maximize your results. Many barre classes use a variety of weights, sliders, and other equipment to strengthen and tone. Regularly adding barre classes into your fitness routine can improve your posture and flexibility, tone your core, legs, and arms, improve mental focus, and reduce stress. At The Bar Method there are a variety of styles of barre classes you can take. They’re great for everyone and anyone who’s looking to build their barre foundation and burn fat. You can try:

  • Bar Method: Our classic interval-training style workout. Designed to help you lose inches and sculpt long, lean muscles. Sequenced movements will target and reshape your muscles.   
  • Bar Advanced: Focuses on the precision and technique of our signature exercises, but with an additional challenge that requires advanced muscle engagement and endurance.
  • Bar Move: Fast-paced, aerobic style workout that will increase your heart rate through large, active movements. This class provides a cardio challenge for those in need of an endorphin rush and a good sweat.
  • Bar Flow: Infuses Vinyasa yoga flow sequences and our signature Bar Method class to strengthen, stretch, and energize. Constant movement and flowing will elevate the heart rate and master balance and flexibility while strengthening muscles.
  • Bar Restore: Combination of the signature Bar Method class with a restorative and stretching-filled second half.
  • Bar Combo: An efficient class format that includes a warm-up and working two specific muscle groups, all in the span of 30 minutes.

Whether you’re a fitness newbie or have been taking fitness classes for years, barre is the perfect workout for that full-body strength and tone many are searching for combined with a commitment to the mind-body connection. No matter what fitness routine or journey you’re currently on, taking a barre class can be a great way to fast-track results and see a transformation like you’ve never seen before. Because barre lifts elements from both Pilates and Yoga, you can maximize the effectiveness of the movement in your body to achieve both inner and outer strength. The Bar Method is truly unique in that the technique was developed in partnership with physical therapists and is continually re-evaluated and improved.

Benefits of Doing Barre Workouts

When you begin to barre consistently, you can expect to see results within your first month! We know that body transformation doesn’t exactly happen overnight. It takes lots of patience, time, dedication, and consistency. However, one of the best parts about The Bar Method specifically, is that often those results are accelerated when you begin regularly taking barre classes. This comes as no surprise to us as The Bar Method technique is unique and fully focuses on developing and strengthening each muscle group. The benefits of doing barre don’t stop there! Here are some of the top things you can expect to see when you add barre into your fitness routine:

  • Postural changes: Your core muscles will be engaged throughout, and you may find yourself sitting straighter and taller with a higher bodily awareness. Helpful cues from your instructor will remind you to pull in your abs, press your shoulders down, and lift your head.  
  • Deeper mind-body connection: Many may believe that yoga is the only way to curate a stronger mind-body connection but that’s not the case! Bar Method instructors will hold you accountable by teaching you how to breathe deeper, focus your energy, and more effectively target your movement to get the most out of your workout.  
  • Upper body definition: Our technique was designed to affect change in your muscles and the look of your body. With the use of weights in the beginning of each class, you’ll sculpt your biceps, triceps, and shoulders, giving you a more toned upper body.  
  • Sense of accomplishment: Once you start attending Bar Method classes regularly, you’ll understand that barre is truly no joke! You’ll start seeing some of the physical benefits as well as a desire to continue on burning.

We believe everyone should experience everything The Bar Method and the workout of barre has to offer. If you haven’t tried it yet, now’s your chance! You can experience the true magic of barre for yourself and book a class at a Bar Method studio nearest you.