Pilates and barre are two popular exercise programs that are often compared to each other due to their similarities. Both workouts focus on building strength, and flexibility, and improving posture, but they have their unique differences. As a Personal Fitness Trainer, Group Exercise Instructor, or fitness enthusiast having a base understanding of these two programs will give you an upper hand when it comes to working with current clients and reaching new ones.
So, what exactly is Pilates?
Pilates is a low-impact exercise program that was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. It focuses on strengthening the core muscles and improving overall body alignment. Pilates exercises are performed on a mat or using special equipment like a reformer. The movements in Pilates are slow, controlled, and precise, with a strong emphasis on breath control and alignment.
Types of Pilates Classes
There are several different types of Pilates classes, each with its unique focus and approach. Here are some of the most popular types of Pilates classes:
- Mat Pilates: Mat Pilates is a classic Pilates class that focuses on performing a series of exercises on a mat. This type of Pilates class is great for beginners as it does not require any special equipment.
- Reformer Pilates: Reformer Pilates is performed using a piece of equipment called a reformer, which uses springs and resistance to provide a full-body workout.
- Tower Pilates: Tower Pilates is similar to Reformer Pilates, but it uses a tower unit instead of a reformer. This type of Pilates class focuses on developing core strength, balance, and stability.
- Chair Pilates: Chair Pilates is a type of Pilates class that uses a chair as a prop to perform exercises. This type of Pilates class is great for targeting the core muscles and improving balance.
- Cardio Pilates: Cardio Pilates is a high-intensity Pilates class that combines Pilates exercises with cardio workouts, such as jumping jacks and lunges. This type of Pilates class is great for burning calories, improving cardiovascular health, and toning the muscles.
- Power Pilates: Power Pilates is a challenging Pilates class that combines Pilates exercises with strength training and cardio workouts. This type of Pilates class is great for building endurance, and strength, and improving overall fitness levels.
What is Barre and How is it Different from Pilates?
Barre, on the other hand, is a workout program that combines elements of ballet, Pilates, and yoga. It is performed using a ballet barre as a prop to support the body while performing exercises that target the legs, core, and upper body. At home, a sturdy piece of furniture can serve as a barre. Barre exercises typically involve low-impact movements that focus on small, isometric contractions to target specific muscle groups. The workouts are often set to music and incorporate elements of dance, which can make the workout both fun and challenging.
Exercises performed in a barre class target the core, arms, thighs, and glutes, and classes often involve a warm-up, upper-body work, lower-body work, and a cool-down. Some barre classes and instructors may also include cardio or HIIT to provide a more intense workout.
Barre workouts can be tailored to all fitness levels, and modifications can be made to accommodate injuries or limitations. Barre classes are typically performed in a group setting, but many studios choose to offer private sessions for a larger fee.
Types of Barre Classes
There are several different barre classes, each with a unique focus and approach. Some of the most common barre classes you will see and may consider trying include:
- Classic Barre: Classic barre is a traditional barre class that focuses on low-impact, high-repetition movements designed to tone and sculpt the muscles. The class typically includes a warm-up, upper-body, lower-body, and cool-down.
- Cardio Barre: Cardio barre is a high-intensity barre class that combines traditional barre movements with cardio exercises, such as jumping jacks and lunges. This type of barre class burns a lot of calories, improves cardiovascular health, and tones the muscles.
- Barre Fusion: Barre fusion classes incorporate elements of other fitness disciplines, such as yoga, Pilates, and strength training. This type of barre class provides a full-body workout that targets multiple muscle groups.
- Bootcamp Barre: Bootcamp barre is a high-intensity barre class that combines traditional barre movements with strength training exercises, such as squats and lunges. This type of barre class is great for building endurance, and strength, and improving overall fitness levels.
- Barre Sculpt: Barre sculpt is a full-body workout that uses light weights to sculpt and tone the muscles. This class is great for building strength, and endurance, and improving overall fitness levels.
- Barre Yoga: Barre yoga combines traditional barre movements with yoga poses and stretches and is great for improving flexibility, balance, and mindfulness.
- Barre Dance: Barre dance is a fun, high-energy class incorporating dance movements and choreography. It can improve cardiovascular health, coordination, and overall fitness levels.
Why Have Barre and Pilates Become More Popular Recently?
Boutique fitness studios, which specialize in small group classes and personalized instruction, have become increasingly popular in recent years. Many of these studios offer Pilates or Barre classes, making it more accessible to people who may not have tried it before. Other reasons Pilates and Barre have grown in popularity again include:
Emphasis on the mind-body connection: There is a growing emphasis on the mind-body connection in the fitness industry, and Pilates and Barre are perfect examples of this. Both Barre and Pilates emphasize the importance of proper breathing, concentration, and mindfulness. And you likely already know how all of that leads to improved mental health and well-being.
Social media trends and popularity among celebrities: For anyone on the fitness side of TikTok, Pilates is taking over phone screens and workout plans. Today with online videos and group classes it’s easier than ever to try Pilates or Barre. Additionally, many celebrities, including athletes, models, and actors, have publicly endorsed Pilates or Barre as part of their fitness routines. This has helped to increase the popularity of both these classes and make them more mainstream.
Accessibility of online classes: With the rise of online fitness platforms, like Peloton, people can now take Pilates or Barre classes from the comfort of their own homes. This has made them more accessible to people who may not have had access to a Pilates or Barre studio or who prefer to work out at home. If you are interested in learning more about leading online fitness classes or online personal training sessions you will want to check out this article on virtual personal training. You can also learn more about online training and coaching with the Online Coach Certification offered through the Spencer Institute.
People have become more aware of the many physical and mental benefits of Pilates and Barre: We will touch more on this next, but just know that more people are seeking out Pilates and Barre classes and incorporating them into their fitness routines.
Benefits of Pilates and Barre
People have become more aware of the many physical and mental benefits of Pilates, such as improved flexibility, strength, balance, posture, and stress reduction. As a result, more people are seeking out Pilates classes and incorporating Pilates into their fitness routines.
One of the primary benefits of Pilates is its ability to improve core strength and stability. By working the muscles of the abdomen, back, and hips, Pilates can help improve posture, balance, and coordination. Pilates also helps improve flexibility and mobility, which can help reduce the risk of injury.
Barre workouts, on the other hand, focus on toning the muscles of the legs, hips, and glutes. The small, repetitive movements used in barre exercises help to isolate and fatigue the muscles, which can lead to increased strength and tone. Barre workouts are also great for improving balance and flexibility.
Both Pilates and barre workouts offer mental benefits as well. Pilates is known for its ability to help reduce stress and improve focus. The slow, controlled movements of Pilates require a lot of mental concentration, which can help calm the mind and reduce anxiety. Barre workouts, with their upbeat music and fast-paced movements, can also be a great stress reliever and mood booster.
What Should Trainers and Coaches Interested in Teaching Barre or Pilates Classes Do?
If you are interested in adding pilates or barre styles programs to your offerings, you should start by taking pilates and barre classes from experienced instructors to gain a better understanding of the techniques, sequencing, and flow of a barre or pilates class. This will help you develop your own teaching style and incorporate your personal training knowledge into their classes.
Once you have confirmed that you do in fact enjoy these types of programs, you will want to practice teaching barre or pilates classes to gain confidence and refine your skills. You can start by teaching friends or family members and then gradually work up to teaching larger groups.
Eventually, you can create a pilates or barre-style workout plan that incorporates your personal training knowledge and experience. This can help you differentiate yourself from other instructors and provide a unique workout experience for your clients.
Does a Group Exercise Instructor Need to Know How to Teach Pilates and Barre?
Depending on the specific requirements of the studio you are applying to and the types of classes you will be expected to teach will determine whether you need pilates experience, barre experience, or both. Having knowledge of a variety of exercise modalities can be beneficial for you as a trainer or instructor as it allows you to offer a diverse range of classes and cater to a wider audience of clients.
It’s important for you to have a strong foundation in exercise science, anatomy, and proper exercise technique in order to effectively lead any type of group exercise class. If you haven’t yet established this foundation, the NESTA Personal Fitness Trainer Course (PFT) would be where you need to start. Once you have the PFT completed, the Sports Yoga course would be a great option for a coach or trainer who was interested in training similar to pilates or barre.
If this topic interests you, you will want to check out these other articles:
- Benefits of Pilates for Athletes and Dancers
- The Future of the Fitness Industry Including Employment Opportunities
- Can You Lose Weight With Low-Impact Workouts?
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