What's The Difference Between Pilates And Barre?

While everyone agrees that exercising is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are different opinions on which type of exercise is best. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults require two days of muscle-strengthening activities along with 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. These activities can be spread out throughout your week to best accommodate your schedule.


Two popular muscle-strengthening activities are pilates and barre. Both practices share similar movements and target similar muscles, and are great options for getting your body moving. But while their concepts might be similar, there are important differences between them. Learning them will help you better decide which is best for your abilities and personal workout goals. So before you set off to book an upcoming pilates or barre class, make sure to first understand what each discipline is all about.

What is pilates?

As simple as its moves and stretches may seem, pilates can be an intense workout, even though it is considered low-impact. According to lululemon Studio, pilates was created by physical trainer Joseph Pilates to help treated injured dancers in the early 20th century. Since then it's grown into a popular and powerful method of building strength and developing balance.


Using the power of breathing to strengthen your core, Pilates works to improve your posture and make you more flexible and strong (via The Bar Method). The practice involves making very small movements that don't require much space, but when repeated, effectively work specific areas. While pilates is mostly done on a mat and with no other equipment, some versions do include using reformer equipment and items such as a magic circle or pilates ball to achieve more results.

Because pilates focuses on flexibility and your core, it makes for the perfect exercise if you want to get your body moving in a low-impact way and achieve strength, toning, and better posture.

What is barre?

Barre mixes ballerina-style movements, yoga, and pilates into one workout. According to Sweat, barre originated in 1959 when dancer Lotte Berk began teaching it in London. During a barre routine, you perform a specific number of reps using a ballet barre or a sturdy chair for support, with the goal being to work your muscles to the point of fatigue.


Different from pilates, barre is more technical in its movements due to its ballet-inspired exercises. But no dance background is required to do barre. Instead, a focus is placed on proper technique and form by controlling your muscles and building up your endurance. Barre instructor and personal trainer Shanda Domango told Beachbody On Demand, "Barre is great for muscle toning, but is super-friendly to the joints — with little impact to the body."

Barre is the perfect exercise for someone who wants a low-impact but challenging workout that increases core strength and muscle definition and targets multiple areas at once.