For years I used to pay over $150 per month for my Pure Barre Membership. That’s on top of the $5 parking fee, along with the gas and general aggravation of driving 45 minutes each way in LA traffic to get to class.
I did this because I loved the results I got from barre workouts, and this was 2012, long before online fitness became so prolific.
Now I wouldn’t DREAM of driving somewhere to pay $25 for a class and instructor I may or may not like, when I can buy access to so many options online for a fraction of the price. The flexibility of doing workouts whenever I want is in itself a huge reason for working out at home.
So are Barre workouts at home better than working out at a studio? You’re damn right they are! Unless of course, you love the energy and connection of a live class. If that’s what you’re after, keep doing your thing. But if you just want the workout done so you can check it off your list, keep reading.
What's so great about Barre workouts?
Barre workouts are fantastic. They’re generally low impact, the workout offers both cardio & strength benefits and it’s great for working those finer muscles and tendons that keep us standing tall and walking gracefully.
If you love that long, lean sculpted look - barre workouts are your friend.
I hear so often from women that they are afraid to lift weights because they don't want to bulk up. First of all, this is rarely the case, even if you do lift weights, but barre will ensure you never get bulky.
More Benefits of Barre
Beyond the obvious benefits of exercise, like controlling weight, improving muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness, barre also increases flexibility and range of motion across all your major joints.
Because you’re focused on isometric movements (holding rather than contracting or lengthening muscles) you have much less risk of injury. In fact, this type of movement can be very rehabilitative.
Barre is also a workout that gets you out of your head and into your body. Much like yoga, you have to focus on how your body is moving through space, how you’re holding the movements and how you’re flowing from one position to the next. Because of that, I always feel more mentally clear and grounded after a good sweaty barre class.
The Benefits of Doing Barre at Home
A home barre practice is not only much more time and cost effective, it’s also the perfect workout if you travel because it requires very little space and even less equipment! I LOVE the simplicity of barre workouts because I can roll out a mat in my living room and be good to go in a matter of seconds.
As a general rule, the more simple and accessible you can make your workout, the greater likelihood that you’ll actually do it. So if you struggle with motivation or just finding the time, this is the perfect solution for you.
Barre at Home: What Equipment do you need?
If you’re committed to creating an ongoing, progressive practice, I would recommend a few home essentials that will give you the best bang for your workout buck
A light set of hand weights - if you’re just getting started, try 2lb weights. If you’re a regular exerciser, a combination of 3lbs to 5lbs will be more than enough. I also love these Bala wrist weights!
Barre Socks - if you’re working out on a hardwood floor, barre socks will ensure you feel secure in your movements and that you don’t slip. If you use a yoga mat, or workout on carpet, you don’t necessarily need them. I do recommend them if you workout at a barre studio however, because bare feet on a public floor can be gross.
Workout Bands - A lot of barre home workouts call for workout bands to target glutes and legs. They can add a ton of intensity (if you want it) and it really helps you hone in on problem areas (like glutes). I have this kind and they work perfectly. They’re also super inexpensive.
Yoga Mat - I do use a yoga mat for my workouts, but I specifically use one that’s not too grippy. The movements in barre are different than yoga, so you want the ability to glide more. I use this Gaiaim mat and it’s the perfect level of grip and thickness.
Barre Ball - Not all barre programs call for a barre ball, but some do, and they can be really helpful for targeting inner thighs and balance.
Using a free standing barre at home
One of the biggest questions I get is whether or not you need an actual barre to do barre workouts. Personally I don’t use one, but that’s because I workout in my living room and I happen to have a railing that’s a perfect height for me. If you don’t have something like that, a bar stool, sturdy chair or counter top can work, too.
If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated workout area in your home, then adding a free standing barre to your space can be a fun thing to have.
You can also try a collapsible barre that you can travel with if you like to tuck it away when you're not using it.
The other option is to invest in a barre that’s drilled into the wall. You’d need to make sure it’s really secure as you don’t want it coming out of the wall when you’re leaning on it!
DIY Freestanding Barre at Home
I would NOT call myself an expert DIYer, but I did find this fun video that shows you have to make a DIY barre at home. If you’re handy, you might want to give it a whirl.
Best Online Barre Workouts
I’ve written about so many barre classes in the past, but I’ll summarize them for your reference. I think the best kind of barre class is one that’s at least 30 days long, and helps you to progress with your technique, strength and stamina. For that reason, my top choice is Barre Blend.
- Barre Blend - an 8 Week progressive program (also includes pre- post-natal classes). Blends strength, cardio, core and booty/leg work. This program is on the Beachbody app, so you get access to it along with hundreds of other programs, from cardio and weight lifting to hip hop dance and more.
- Xtend Barre - a 30 day, intermediate program that’s mostly cardio, but some strength as well. Xtend Barre is on the OpenFit App, so you also get access to other programs, like pilates, weight lifting, CrossFit style workouts and more.
- Alo Moves has some great barre classes, but they are one-off classes rather than a progressive program. It’s also a lot pricier than the two options above at $20 per month. Alo also offers a host of different workouts, from yoga to strength training, HIIT and tabata.
Physique 57, Pure Barre, Barre3 and The Bar Method
These are the top bar studios in the US that offer online classes in addition to their in-person studios. Personally, I’ve tried them all, and while I do enjoy the classes, creating a great online experience is not their focus. Their prices are generally much higher than online-only fitness brands and they only offer barre classes, where as platforms like Beachbody or Openfit over barre and a bunch of other styles of exercise.
For that reason alone, I don’t recommend them unless you REALLY like one particular style and that’s all you want to do. Otherwise, Beachbody offers the best barre program (and every other exercise program) that I’ve seen online so far.
So have I convinced you to try barre at home yet? If you’ve tried it, what’s your favorite class or style? I’m always looking for new options to try.
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, low carb recipes, quick home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.