When Fitness Barre was born

Barre fitness has become very popular in recent years. One form of barre fitness or another seems to be popping up everywhere, so you would be forgiven for thinking that it was a recent invention. But this isn’t actually the case. Barre fitness was first developed in the 1950s under the guidance of the ballet dancer Lotte Berk.

The Lotte Berk method focused on isolation exercises, much like modern barre fitness does. The aim of the Lotte Berk method was to give women the body and the posture of a ballet dancer with carefully designed barre exercises, strength training, and some hatha yoga. And all with a touch of glamour over the top. The Lotte Berk method spread and grew in popularity but, over time, it started to receive some criticism.

The isolation exercises that were implemented could be hard on people’s joints and there were reports of injuries from devout attendees and classes were very expensive. So people started to modify the method and come up with their own versions and from there, the barre fitness world started to grow.

Dancing or doing exercises?

Barre fitness is very different from ballet dancing. There is no dancing involved with barre fitness, and really no cardio. So it’s nothing like attending an adult ballet class or something similar. If you do attend an adult ballet class, you will of course do some barre work as part of your training, but you will also be dancing and learning choreography at the same time.

Instead, barre fitness utilizes the sorts of barre exercises that we looked at in the previous section. Each of these exercises will isolate particular muscles. Often, in barre fitness, rather than completing the entire movement, you will “pulse” and use an extended hold to fully isolate the muscles that you are using.

Isolation exercises are useful in two different ways. First, they help to isolate particular muscle groups to give you extra definition and/or strength. This can often be difficult to achieve using compound movements only. Second, they can be very useful when rehabilitating from an injury. And, in fact, Lotte Berk herself used her experience with rehabilitating from a back injury to inform her Lotte Berk barre method.

Barre fitness has a range of health benefits. It can help to build muscle, improve your posture, and improve your cardiovascular health. It can also help to increase your bone density, which can help to stave off osteoporosis.


Ballet Barre is also an art form, while Fitness Barre is more goal oriented. This means that if you want to experience more the artistic side of using a barre (dancing, moving your body in the space to create elegant shapes, working on expression and feelings), Ballet barre is for you. If you are just looking for a support to use while doing exercises to strengthen your body without giving to your movements any kind of artistic touch, Fitness Barre could be for you.

How useful was this post?

Click to rate it!

Sign In

If you don't have an Account,
click on Register at the end of this form. Registering takes less than 10 seconds!


Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.


An active membership is required for this action, please click on the button below to view the available plans.