I enjoy fusion Pilates and hybrid workouts -- so long as they are clearly labeled as such. I know that not everyone wants to be, or can be, a full-on Pilates practitioner. Lately, the fusion workouts that have caught my attention, and seem to be making amicable inroads into Pilates studios, are the various types of barre workouts -- The Bar Method, Pure Barre, Booty Barre and so forth.
A "barre" is the bar ballet dancers hold onto when they do their warm up and indeed, most barre workouts are done to music and have a lot of dance influence in them. They use the barre for stability, and to stretch with. At home, a chair back takes the place of an official barre. Intense, strength and sculpt oriented, barre workouts do work the whole body, though they often focus a lot on butt lifting and thigh shaping exercises -- the promise of which accounts for a lot of the barre workout popularity.
My experience has been that barre workouts depend on a tremendous amount of leg lifting at various angles and directions to get that leg and butt sculpting effect. For me this is one of those differences with Pilates that is hard to get past, even though I studied ballet for years. I have only so much patience for the hydrant, or "batment" to carry on the ballet theme. I am reminded how much I appreciate that we do not have do a lot of repetitions of any one exercise in Pilates in order to get good effects.
Nevertheless, as Carrie Dorr, founder of Pure Barre, said to me: As we get older, we tend to spread east to west like a pancake. And that does put me in mind to do some focused butt and thigh work! Even Joseph Pilates recommended extra attention to areas that need it. Like other barre workouts, Dorr, who has over 10 barre DVDs, says Pure Barre works from the core and strives for mindfulness, like Pilates.
Barre workouts actually aren't all that new. The first "barre workouts" were developed by Lotte Berk who combined a rehabilitative approach to movement with ballet and opened a studio in London to teach her method in 1959. Her students brought the Lotte Berk Method to the United States. One of them, Burr Leonard, went on to develop the work into one of the most well known of the barre workout styles, The Bar Method (History of the Bar Method).
Now it seems there are barre workouts in every major city, and lots of DVDs to choose from. There are many barre workout franchises as well. Pure Barre for example, has over 100 locations. Each style has a slightly different spin, so if you are interested in trying them out, one barre workout isn't necessarily the same as the next. Experiment and find what you like.
A barre workout that has been noticeable in the Pilates world lately is Booty Barre. Founder Tracey Mallett is a fitness expert and Pilates instructor who even brought Booty Barre to the 2012 PMA conference as a pre-conference workshop. As part of my experiential research, I tried a Booty Barre class online at Pilates Anytime and I can vouch that in addition to it being a yes on sculpting, Tracey's enthusiasm will have you thinking doing a leg lift on the other side is a new adventure.
I did a short interview with Tracey Mallett about the Booty Barre so you could get a better sense of what that particular barre workout is like. Of course my first question had to be: Is it all booty?
Please see: What is Booty Barre?
Have you tried a barre workout? Tell us about your experience. Comments are welcome.