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The Best Barre Studios

  • October 6, 2015
  • By Brittany
The Best Barre Studios

Do you remember the first time you fell in love with something?  Like the first time you ran a race and decided you wanted to become a runner?  Or the first time you wind rush through you and you biked down a hill and decided you wanted to become a cyclist?  Or maybe the first time you emerged from a sweaty Zumba class all high on endorphins and realized this was where you were meant to be?  Well, I remember very clearly the first time I stepped into a barre studio for my first barre class.  The first barre class I ever took was at Exhale Spa.  I took their signature Core Fusion class and I was immediately drawn to the elements of ballet and pilates but it was harder than most other workouts I’ve ever tried.  I loved it!

Since then, I’ve branched out trying almost every barre studio I can find.  Trying out the different methods, examining the studios, taking in the instructors and generally listening for my heart to tell me that this is not only a good workout, but a place you can call your barre home.  I like to think I’m a bit of a barre studio expert and so I’ve rounded up The Best Barre Studios.  I previously published the Best Barre Studios in NYC when I originally published Barre Week and while many of these studios are located in NYC, I’m not limiting myself to just New York.  Barre has taken over the country and the world and studios are everywhere.  While I can’t sample every single studio in every single city, I’m hitting the major ones here and I hope you can find one of these studios near you.

Best Barre Studios

Physique 57

Just as I clearly remember the first time I ever took a barre class, I remember so very clearly the first time I walked into Physique 57 for my first barre class there.  I heard about Physique 57 because Kelly Ripa was doing it and she is basically my workout guru because…do you really need me to tell you why?  I remember my instructor and I remember getting a note after my first class about how well I did.  Most importantly, I remember walking out of that first class and thinking “wow, I love this place!”

physique 57

Physique is what I like to call traditional barre because it is based on the Lotte Berk Method, who I believe is the founder of barre workouts and responsible for their insane popularity today. Her workout combined ballet moves with rehabilitative exercises that still influence barre studios, like Physique 57.  

physique 57 ball

To this day, Physique 57 still provides the best burn factor for me compared to any other barre workout.  Not only do my muscles shake, quake and quiver, but I also get cardio benefit from pretty much every class.  I did Physique Prenatal my entire pregnancy and I loved every second of it.

physique 57 studio

Beyond offering the traditional barre class, which provides an amazing calorie burn (approximately 300 calories per hour) and muscle toning session, Physique offers a ton of other amazing barre classes. They offer beginner to advanced barre classes (an advanced class can burn up to 600 calories per hour!). Physique Mat is a their spin on a pilates mat class but amped up to really feel even more of a burn.  Physique Cardio uses no weights and moves at a fast pace to keep your heart rate pumping–a low impact but extremely effective class.  Formula 57 fuses their mat class with a more traditional class in compound movements–basically its tough!  They also offer classes focusing just on arms and seat and arms and abs.  Oh and I love their stretch class!


Not only does Physique having a wide range of classes, but the classes are constantly updated and I feel like I learn a new move every single time I visit.  Even though it was a traditional barre class, there is definitely a modern spin and the instructors obviously keep pace with the constantly developing fitness landscape.  Not to mention motivating playlists and well-chosen use of props to enhance the workout (e.g., playground balls, cushions, weights, etc.). 


This is still one of the hardest barre workouts I’ve ever tried and one of the biggest calorie burners.  Every class I dread/love the leg section because I can feel how difficult it is and how much I’m pushing myself.  The studio has locations in New York City/the Hamptons, Beverly Hills, Dubai and Bangkok.  No worries if you don’t live in any of those locations, you can also check out their online classes!

Xtend Barre

A new one to my list since the last time I wrote about the best barre classes, Xtend Barre opened more recently in NYC.  With locations throughout the country, this franchise serves up a tough class that focuses on strength and stretch.  The burn and cardio factor at Xtend is also very high and I’ve burned between 400-500 calories in a class before.  The classes include low-impact, ballet-inspired cardio elements that get your heart rate pumping, as well as ballet and pilates sculpting and toning moves.  


What I love about Xtend is that they are hands down the most balletic of all the barre classes I’ve sampled.  The terms they use in class are traditional ballet terms such as plie, tendu, releve, pique, etc.  You can clearly see the creator’s dance influence in this class but it is by no means your average slow ballet class.  It is fast-paced, fun and extremely energetic.  Xtend focuses on strength, balance, flexibility and grace, similar to a ballet class and every class ends with a balance exercise (which is a great way to work the core!).  There is definitely a fluidity to the moves and I often find myself resorting back to my ballet training as I move through the class.


Despite being heavily based in ballet, there is absolutely no need to have any dance training to participate in this class.  The instructors cue every move and offer form tips throughout.  The abs section draws heavily on pilates and unlike other barre classes, little equipment is used except for occasionally a playground ball.  I love bringing abs back to traditional pilates rather than using the wall and cushions, which is don’t find as effective.

xtend barre warm up 4

While not available online, Xtend does have several locations throughout the country and has a DVD: Lean and Chiseled.  Expect to walk out of class feel toned, stretch and incredibly graceful!


Barre3 is what I like to call the most un-barre like of all the barre studios.  Neither based on ballet nor traditional barre moves, it is more focused on strength exercises than ballet-type exercises.  Still an amazing workout and a great compliment to the other forms of barre, barre3 is perfect for those interested in barre that are unsure about having a ballet background or much coordination.  It goes at a slightly slower pace than Physique 57 or Xtend Barre so it is easy to follow.  

barre3 1

Even with a slightly slower pace, still expect to get a great workout and burn about 300 calories in an hour long class.  Each class usually starts out with some kind of cardio segment such as hamstring curls or step taps so expect to get your heart rate pumping!  The class is entirely low-impact and focuses a lot on functional movement.  For instance, rather than upper body toning, barre3 offers combo work which uses light weights focuses on compound movements to work multiple body parts.

barre3 2

I really like how barre3 offers a ton of options, making this a great workout when I was pregnant and also perfect for coming back from an injury or a pregnancy.  Even if you aren’t in need of modifications, the class still has a major burn factor and their core section is very inventive and different from most other core workouts I’ve done.

barre3 photo


Barre3 is nationwide so just look for one near you.  Or you can check out their online classes!


Flybarre calls my favorite spin studio, Flywheel, home but rather than a bike, you find yourself at the barre.  What I love about Flybarre is that it kind of embodies its name.  It’s barre that is really fly.  No, I’m serious.  The class is kind of funky and almost dance-like but definitely still focused on strength and toning.

flybarre 3

 It is a completely different spin on a traditional barre class and the moves are innovative and fun. You actually spend a lot of time facing the front of the room and then some time facing the barre, as opposed to most barre classes where I’ve found you spend a lot of time at the barre and some time in the center.  


Flybarre is less balletic than most of the other barre studios and has kind of a hip hop edge to it, which offers a unique vibe.  I also like how the class intersperses the arm toning section throughout the class, unlike most other barre classes where there is defined upper body section.  This keeps bringing it back to the arms and I really felt the burn in my upper body!


Bar Method

What I like about Bar Method is that the class definitely focuses on making those muscles burn and shake.  Bar Method is similar to Physique 57 in the sense that it is a traditional barre class based on the Lotte Berk method.  Many of the moves that you see in Physique, you will also see at the Bar Method and the sequencing is also very similar.  While Physique moves at a fast pace, the Bar Method is much slower and really focuses on doing a lot of reps.  The benefit is great toning but there is less cardio benefit.  However, if you are regular runner or spinner, you will appreciate the low-impact, muscle burning focus.

bar method 4

Bar Method is very focused on form and their technique, which is actually quite different than ballet technique.  If you are a former ballerina, you will probably appreciate the intense focus on the technique.  It is also especially useful if you are entirely new to barre exercises because sometimes the faster moving classes can sacrifice explaining the technique.

bar method 1

Personally, I prefer a little more calorie burn and cardiovascular benefit and I found the focus on exact mat placement on the wall to be a bit pedantic.  However, the Bar Method has a strong following and many people praise their toning benefits.  Bar Method has studios nationwide and also offers online classes.


Pure Barre and Exhale Core Fusion both get honorable mentions here.  Both offer solid traditional barre classes.  While neither of them are really on my favorite list after sampling the studios mentioned above, they definitely still have a place in the barre scene and offer a great chance to get some quakes and shakes. Both are focused on toning the muscles using high reps and either bodyweight or light weights. 

Readers, what’s your favorite barre studio?  Are there any of these you would like to try?  Do you remember the first time you fell in love with something?

See also:

The Best Online Barre Classes

The Best Barre Workouts DVDs

The Best Barre Resources

Barre Class Playlist

Barre Moves for Beginners

By Brittany, October 6, 2015
  • Holly
    October 6, 2015

    Physique 57 is my fav–yes the instructors are so encouraging– and I really like Xtend Barre. Barre3 has a place in the line up –I agree that it is a bit slower paced and we sometimes need this. Nice reviews.

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