Forget those ballet lessons you attended when you were three because now there’s a whole new use for the barre.
Barre fitness classes have been sweeping the nation and there’s no need to be a good dancer to join in.
The classes, which are firm favourites among Victoria’s Secret Angels, take place both in the centre of the studio and at the ballet barre.
They’re usually characterised by their use of isometric movements - where the body stays almost motionless but you contract specific muscles, using your own body weight as resistance.
These tiny exercises may sound like a walk in the park, but a good barre class will leave your legs shaking and your forehead sweating.
Attend for a few weeks and your body will look leaner and feel stronger - just like your favourite ballerina’s.
Check out a few of our favourite sessions in London below.
The signature class at BarreCore (BarreCore Mixed) is more ballet-inspired than barre classes elsewhere. Those familiar with classical dance will recognise that some of the isometric movements are completed with arms in attitude grecque, while others are taught with feet in ballet first position.
But what really sets BarreCore apart from other studios is the sheer variety of classes available.
Yoga fans should head to BarreAsana where pliés are interspersed popular poses, like downward dog and warrior pose. Meanwhile those wishing to burn fat fast should head to HIITCore, where barre exercises are mixed with drills such as burpies and sprinting on the spot. Head to BarreBands to add resistance bands into your regular barre workout, or BarreStretch for 45 minutes that will leave you feeling at your most flexible.
Regardless of what class you choose you’ll leave the studios looking flawless. Each location has fully equipped changing rooms with showers, shampoo, hair dryers and straighteners. WebsiteLocation:
Studios in Chelsea, Chiswick, Hampstead, Kensington, Mayfair and Wimbledon.Price:
Taster session £20, single session £28, five classes £135, 10 classes £250, 20 classes £480. Other membership packages available.
Tucked away in Clapton's Tram Depot, you might feel like you've wandered off course on your first trip to Blok. That is, until you spot the other Lululemon-clad gym-goers, confusingly glancing at their Google Maps. But it's worth getting a little lost for.
The new addition to the East London fitness scene boasts stunningly modern interiors and a superfood ingredient-packed smoothie bar your bank balance will wish you never knew about, but your post-workout body will thank you for.
Blok's 60-minute Barre class will have you sweating hard, although it's nothing a little Taylor Swift can't get you through (major props to the music choices here). Lengthening stretches at the barre are combined with strength-building resistance moves and mat work using your own body weight.
Get in with instructor Sarah B if you can - her signature no-weights arm work out feels Swan Lake on steroids, and provides near-instant toning results.
For a more traditional ballet-based workout (think pliés, not push-ups), try Blok's Ballet Fit class - which is also suitable for complete dance beginners.Website
The Tram Depot, 38-40 Upper Clapton Rd, London E5 8BQPrice:
Single class £14, five classes £65, 10 classes £120. Other membership offers available.
Frame is fast taking over London with its fun and feel-good approach to gym classes. The whole 'working out shouldn't feel like a chore' spiel actually rings true, thanks to their studios' fast-paced approach to fitness.
A series of low-intensity fat-burning intervals make the hour-long Barre class at Frame fly by, without the dreaded burnout halfway through.
The class is tough, but isometric moves using resistance bands and Pilates balls target the smaller supporting muscles for a streamlined physique.
Our top tips? Bring a towel or prepare to part with £1 to hire one. While Frame's newer studios are state-of-the-art, the facilities at the original Shoreditch branch leave a lot to be desired - but, trust us, the quality of the Barre class makes up for the school-changing-room vibe.
Like Blok, Frame also offer a 'nostalgic' Ballet class involving jumps and learning a small routine ('grace not essential', thank goodness).Website
Shoreditch, Kings Cross, Victoria and Queen's Park.Price -
£15 per 60 minute class. £12 per 30 minute 'Mini Barre' class, available for at all Frame studios, except Shoreditch.
The way that ballet dancers glide effortlessly across the stage, you’d be forgiven for thinking a barre class would be easy or low-intensity. But after 50 minutes in the hands of Paola diLanza - the fierce Australian fitness instructor who created Paola’s BodyBarre method - you’ll be limping out of the studio.
But while the class really does make you ‘feel the burn’, there is something addictive about DiLanza’s fun approach that will leave you itching to go back.
The PBB Signature class gets into the deeper stabilising muscles, as well as the peripheral muscles, through a mixture of plié squats at the barre and a gruelling mat work.
There are lots of variations to the PBB classes: Burn, which is like an advanced version of the signature class (yikes!), Cardio, which includes a HIIT workout, and Below, which focusses on the lower body.
The classes take place in a range of venues across London, including Fulham and the Lorna Jane flagship London store in the heart of Covent Garden. It’s worth noting the main PBB studio in Fulham is rather sparse in terms of facilities - with no changing room and limited space meaning you have to wait outside the studio before your class begins. Website:
Studios in Fulham, Fitzrovia, Covent Garden, Parsons Green, Battersea and South Kensington.
Fulham Studio: 70 Rosaline RdLondon, SW6 7QT.
Price: Single class £28, 10 classes £175, 20 classes £300, 30 classes £370.
Barre at Heartcore is great for both beginner and advance attendees as the instructor will demonstrate simple and moderated versions of the movements throughout. You’ll also get to choose from a variety of weights at the start of class, allowing you to feel in control of the intensity of your workout.
Using the weights, the class starts with exercises working your abs and arms in the centre of the room before you move to the barre to sculpt your bum and legs with a series of isometric movements.
High energy tunes from everyone from LMFAO to Justin Timberlake will help to keep you motivated throughout, but what really makes barre at Heartcore stand out is the setting.
HeartCore's City studio is extra spacious, meaning that, unlike at other venues, you don't have to angle yourself at the bar to avoid kicking people. You'll also have a clear view of the instructor at all times. The studio space is decorated with calming candles and beautiful ceiling drapes that'll make you want to stay long after your cool down.
We you are (inevitably) moved along, the changing rooms are fully stocked with towels, straighteners, hair bands, deodorant, body wash and hairspray.
While you’ll need £1 for the lockers, most people bring their bags into the large studio and leave them at the side anyway.
Location: Studios in Kensington, Notting Hill, Hampstead, Chelsea, Fulham, City, Park Lane and St John’s Wood.
Price: Single class £27, 5 classes £125, 10 classes £220, 20 classes £400, 40 classes £700.