Reporting Sara Pelissero
There’s a new barre in town and it seems like everyone is lining up to get served. Except at this barre, it’s not the drinks that will make your legs a bit wobbly.
A fitness craze that has hit the east and west coast by storm is slowly but surely making its way to the Midwest. Known as a cousin to the yoga and Pilates family, barre utilizes the elements and equipment of ballet — taking some movements and the barre itself — and combines it with small, isometric movements that shapes and tones your body.
The typically hour-long workout takes meditation, a focus on form, effective stretches and a high-intensity approach to transform your body in just a few classes.
I’ll admit, the first time I tried it — I was skeptical. I watched YouTube videos that showed women (and a few men) doing small movements at a ballet barre and thought, “how is that going to do anything?”
But then I tried it and was shocked at how strenuous and yes, exhausting it all was. My legs started shaking almost immediately. I was pushing through leg cramps and trying my best to stay focused and engaged until those sweet, magical words were uttered: “And release.”
I was sweating far more than I thought I’d be and found myself amazed at how such small movements could be so intense. The next day I was incredibly sore — but it felt great.
And like I said, it’s not just for women. In my first class, I met Eric Grier — a self-proclaimed gym rat who was looking for something new.
He said he heard about barre while searching for a yoga class that could fit in his weekend schedule. He stumbled upon a place called Barre Bliss — purely by chance because it had a late-afternoon class. After his first experience, he said he found barre gave him elements of a workout he couldn’t get otherwise.
“I still run three days a week, but you reach a certain age where weights just don’t seem to be right for you anymore,” he said. “Making your muscles long and lean seems better than bulking up.”
For him, it had the right balance between Pilates, emphasizing your core, a little cardio and a touch of yoga.
“I like the fact that it’s good for strength and flexibility. I felt habitually stiff and just running doesn’t really help me overcome that,” he said. “So you become stronger, more supple, and at the same time you improve muscle tone.”
He said he’d suggest it to other men looking for that same muscle toning and strengthening.
“I’m a golfer. Lean flexibility is really good for a golfer and the workout you get from weights doesn’t help with golf at all,” he said.
There are several places throughout the metro area now offering barre classes — each with a slightly different approach and philosophy. Find the one that’s right for you with our guide below.
Time Out Pilates & Fitness Studio
6001 S. Lyndale Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55419
Phone: (612) 866-0832
Price: Drop-in class $20, Pack of 10 classes $165, Pack of 20 classes $299, Pack of 40 classes $560
Instructors: Five, with a mix of dance and fitness backgrounds and even former gymnasts.
Jeanne Schmit first found out about barre from someone who just moved to Minnesota from San Francisco. They asked why there weren’t any barre classes in the Twin Cities and Jeanne responded, “what is a barre class?” In the summer of 2009, the studio began offering their own version — based heavily on the Lotte Berk Method. (Berk is longtime dancer, teacher and visionary. She developed the Lotte Berk Method as an alternative to exercise and body transformation.)
Schmit said they provide intense muscle-toning and conditioning classes that just about anyone can do. But said this isn’t a Pilates class. And it’s not a ballet class. Those with back trouble, unstable hips and have trouble moving forward or bending find barre classes very beneficial, she said. “You’ll feel your muscles burn and your legs might shake,” she said. “It changes your body quickly.”
Schmit said one thing to remember — your muscles will burn more than you think and that’s completely normal. Even after several classes, you’ll still have that. Time Out is also hosting an open house on March 30-April 2. During that time, students can come in and try a class for free.
3021 Holmes Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Phone: (612) 343-7500
Price: Single drop-in class $20, 4 class pass $72,
8 class pass $120, 20 class pass $300
Instructors: Five, plus numerous subs
Align Pilates opened in 2003 and eventually began incorporating barre classes into their program. Their approach is to begin with the core — a strong core makes everything better, after all — before folding in some Pilates work and a cardio blast. Emily Easton, co-owner of Align, said after a good warm up, they spend 20-30 minutes at the barre. “It’s a really long time to be at the barre, because people love to be at the barre. It’s such a good workout,” she said.
The workout is a complete head-to-toe regimen with an arms portion, stretching and more. Easton said a big emphasis in their barre class is the music — they even talk about it in their teacher training because it’s that important.
“We think that our classes are packed because of all of these things combined,” she said. “People just come in and want to have fun and they like the camaraderie around them.”
5620A W. 36th St.
St. Louis Park, MN 55416
Opening in early April
Price: Still not finalized but they will have a new client special, 30-day unlimited classes, a new moms package, bridal packages and more.
Instructors: Starting with seven, could build from there
Pure Barre hasn’t even opened yet but there’s already plenty of buzz surrounding this national franchise. Pure Barre opened in July of 2009 and has locations nationwide, including the Minnesota’s first soon-to-be-open St. Louis Park spot. Owners Robin Cornacchio and Kelsey Rood have a passion for barre and couldn’t be more excited about opening their very own place. Rood currently owns a Pure Barre in Beverly Hills but is excited to open a new location in the Twin Cities.
Cornacchio used to work as a personal trainer and fell in love with barre after being introduced to it through Rood. Their instructors are trained through Lotte Berk’s Method — a total body workout that utilizes barre and works the muscles until they fatigue. Cornacchio said each class can burn a minimum of 500 calories with those small, isometric movements. Again, she said aching muscles and soreness is all part of the process.
Cornacchio said she took the class five times and already noticed a difference. For others, it might be more like 10 classes, but it’s still quite quick. The classes are catered to the areas that most of us have troubles with — the hips, abs, thighs and arms.
“Anybody can do it, as long as you can hang on to a ballet barre, you can do it,” he said.
2920 Bryant Av S Suite #110
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Phone: (612) 356-2239
Price: First class is free, single class is $20, pricing varies, depending on what you can pay, also includes child care
Mia Jennerman started dancing when she was 4 years old. She performed professionally over the years and eventually found yoga in college. She quickly fell in love and began teaching, learning the teacher training and eventually was living the life of a Yogi. But she wanted something more. She did some soul searching and said she always knew barre was popular in New York and Los Angeles but wondered when it would come here.
After searching the internet and knowing she wanted to open a studio, she looked for a space that would allow her to create something very signature to who she was. She opened Barre Bliss in January of this year and said it’s been a wonderful experience.
Jennerman’s approach to barre is to help people discover joy and joy in movement. Jennerman focuses on the belief that there is power and strength in self-love and uses that approach to her teaching. It may be a tough and challenging class but Jennerman consistently asks her students to listen to their minds, focus on their breath and tune in. She encourages students to go to as many different studios that they can and find a method that works for them.
240 Minnetonka Avenue South
Wayzata, MN 55391
Phone: (952) 473-2433
Price: $20 per class, the more classes you buy, the more you save, packages available for 4, 8, 12 and 24 classes
Tina Dunlap is a Pilates instructor who heard about barre about a year and a half ago. She went to California to take her first barre class and said she was hooked immediately. She said she was hooked by the challenge of it and the fact she saw results after her second class.
She went through certification through BarreAmped in order to teach and brought her knowledge back to Minnesota. She started teaching in a gym in Chaska, but people were going crazy for it. She opened Balanced Barre after a nudge from her husband and has been teaching ever since in Wayzata.
Under the BarreAmped training, Dunlap said the focus is really on form — moving with a neutral spine, rather than a tuck. The technique focuses on muscles that probably haven’t been hit before, which causes the shaking that’s all too familiar. Dunlap said she likes to say “shake to change” — if you’re not shaking, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.
The Barre Studio
539 Lake Street E
Wayzata, MN 55391
Phone: (952) 473–0109
Price: $22 for a single class, packages available for open barre or barre burn — 5 classes $105, 10 classes $200, 20 classes $380 — and child care for $5 more.
Rachel Warford and her sister-in-law Paula were living in New York when they found barre. They were instantly hooked and saw results immediately. She said they never saw results like they did with these type of classes.
Paula eventually moved to Wayzata but couldn’t find barre classes in the area — and was desperate for them. With the help of her sister-in-law, they felt it was the perfect opportunity to open their own spot. They opened The Barre on Oct. 31, 2011.
They focus on high energy, interval strength training and a traditional head-to-toe workout. It’s low impact on your joints, focused on building bone density and pushes you to the point of exhaustion. Warford said they like their students to feel like they’ve earned their stretch. They teach an open barre class or their more intense barre burn.
Other barre offerings around the Twin Cities:
Energy Pilates & Fitness Classes
3 Locations in the Twin Cities
Know of other places offering barre? Let us know by commenting below.