Barre in Seattle, Explained

Photo credit: The Bar Method Seattle-Westlake
After trying four different barre studios (Barre3, Pure Barre, The Bar Method, FlyBarre), I’m mildly obsessed. Ok, definitely more than just mildly. It’s a great workout that pulls from pilates, yoga, and ballet and is suitable for a wide range of abilities. 

Each studio offers something a little different, but all of them offer a low-impact, high-intensity workout. With so many new fitness studios opening up around the city, it can be hard to know which is the best for you and how to get started. Even though I check out as many new gyms as I can, I can’t keep up. The research for this article spanned over a year and I really enjoyed it. 

First off, what is barre?

 
Barre fitness is a hybrid workout class that combines ballet-inspired moves with elements of Pilates and yoga. Most classes incorporate a ballet barre focusing on high reps of small range movements. Props include resistance bands, sliders, light weights, and exercise balls.

What to wear & bring 

Leggings, a t-shirt or tank, socks (required at Pure Barre and The Bar Method, not required for Barre3 or FlyBarre). Bring a water bottle! All studios have water fountains and provide towels. 

The studios

Barre3

I felt this was the easiest introduction to the Barre workout. It’s approachable for those new to Barre, to working out, or for getting back in shape. The classes are fun and high-energy with classic barre muscle-burning micro-movements in addition to cardio bursts.  

Barre3 offers an introductory 3-class pack for $40 or two weeks unlimited for $49. Drop-in classes are $22 each. You can see all the options here for the Capitol Hill and Roosevelt locations.  

There are also locations in Queen Anne, Ballard, West Seattle and on the Eastside. If you’re on the Eastside, the Bellevue downtown location is my favorite. The studio overlooks a little grassy park next to the Bellevue Regional Park and is such a treat on sunny days.

Pure Barre 

The tuck! At first, it was my enemy, but after talking to an instructor after class (more than once), I was able to figure out exactly what this small, pelvic movement is. They use it a lot throughout class, so it’s good to understand what it is. It’s a strenuous workout doing isometric movements using various props—a small pilates ball, resistance tube band, and light weights. I found it to be about the same difficulty level as Bar Method.

As this was my very first barre experience a couple years ago, I felt a bit silly while I was fumbling around trying to figure out what to do while everyone else looked elegant and choreographed, knowing exactly what the instructor would ask them to do next. Over time, this got better as I got stronger, with assistance from instructors, and of course, with practice.

The classes are held in a carpeted room surrounded by mirrors on two of the walls and no windows. I think it’s a bummer that both Pure Barre studios I went to (Capitol Hill and Bellevue) didn’t have any windows and natural light.

They offer a free Foundations class for new students in a small-group setting to learn the basic movements at a slower pace. You can learn more and sign-up for it here.  

There are locations in Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, U-District, and Green Lake.

The Bar Method 

Out of all four, The Bar Method is my favorite. It helped tone my body the most and is quite intense (in a good way). You will often be doing a 60-second plank or 30 push-ups in the first five minutes of class. Co-owner Maika Manring and the staff are so warm and friendly. Instructors are diligent about learning your name and giving you guidance to make adjustments during class. The attentiveness helped create the most welcoming atmosphere at all the studios I visited.  

You’ll use light weights, balls, bands, and mats during the workout. There are some slightly awkward positions, but instructors will give you a detailed description of how to get into it, for example: “place your feet in a v-shape with your toes 6-8 inches apart, then walk your heels until they touch”, etc. Though the movements are tiny, the burn is mighty.

The Bar Method offers new clients 3 classes for $49. Regular classes go for $29 a class or less if you buy a class pack. See all the options here.

FlyBarre

Though it’s located the FlyWheel cycling studio, FlyBarre has nothing to do with spin. No bike shoes or bikes at all. Instead, you’re on mats in a small studio using props (light weights, balls, and resistance bands). There is less tucking and seat work than the other barre classes, still providing a full-body workout.

Check the schedule because each day offers different classes, including Arms & Abs, Core, Glutes & Abs, Power (fast-paced full-body workout without stretch breaks), and more.  

First class is free. Afterwards, $65 for your next three classes and then $30 a class or less if you buy 5+.