Pure Barre and the Bar Method are two workout regimens designed to strengthen muscles and burn fat using exercises performed at a ballet barre, or at any other stationary surface. Both techniques combine isometrics (stationary, strengthening exercises) and stretching to sculpt toned, lean bodies.
Creators of both techniques studied the Lotte Berk Method, an exercise routine created by German dancer Lotte Berk. Berk formulated the exercise routine after injuring her back by combining ballet barre exercises with rehabilitative therapy. She opened her first Berk Method studio in London’s West End in 1959.
Lotte Berk Method student Burr Leonard and her husband, Carl Diehl, founded the Bar Method in 2001. Leonard spent 10 years teaching the Lotte Berk Method, first at the company’s Manhattan studio and then at franchised locations she owned with her husband in Connecticut. Leonard and Diehl updated The Lotte Berk Method by working with a physical therapist so that exercises would not stress the joints. The couple opened their first Bar Method studio in San Francisco, California, in 2001, and there are now more than 25 Bar Method studios nationwide as of September 2009. Created in 2001 by dancer and choreographer Carrie Rezabek, the first Pure Barre classes were offered in Birmingham, Michigan. Rezabek graduated from Michigan State with a degree in business, and then pursued a law degree at Wayne State before deciding to put her knowledge of dance, fitness, Pilates and Berk Method to use and open her own exercise studio. Pure Barre now has franchises across the country. The first Pure Barre instructional DVD was released in February 2007 and an updated version came out in 2009.
The Bar Method draws from dance, interval training, physical therapy and isometrics. The Bar Method uses exercises like lunges, leg extensions and core work, interspersed with stretching, to provide an aerobic workout. The Bar Method also places an emphasis on targeting muscles and not the joints. Bar Method exercises are performed to music. The Pure Barre method combines the fundamentals of Pilates, ballet and weight training to strengthen and tone the arms, abdominals, thighs and rear. Strengthening exercises, such as lunges, releves (ankle-rises) and plies (knee bends), are performed in between stretching segments. Each Pure Barre workout session lasts 55 minutes.
Both methods are designed to strengthen and tone major muscle groups (abdominals, thighs and arms), while also elongating and stretching them. Additionally, both exercise routines contain stationary, strength building exercises to create muscle without taxing joints.
According to Pure Barre, the technique not only targets typical female problem areas like the arms, hips and thighs, but also provides the mental benefits derived from performing yoga. The Bar Method, according to its official website, burns fat, tones muscles and reshapes the body with a recommended three to five workouts a week.