From Melanie Hudson. Email her at melanie[AT]borderstan.com.
Perhaps you have fond memories of ballet class as a child, back when every student wore a pink tutu and tights and had no problems with posture. You saw Black Swan and imagine that you, too, could become a vegan, drop 20 pounds and win an Oscar – if only you had a full year of your life to dedicate to the task. Whatever the reason, embrace your inner ballerina and make a beeline for the barre.
Barre classes – which combine elements of ballet dancing, Pilates, yoga, strength training and stretching in a series of intense, repetitive exercises – date back to at least the 1970’s but didn’t quite catch fire until about 10 years ago. While there are various styles and methods, all can be traced back to the German dancer Lotte Berk who first used ballet barre routines as exercise with her celebrity clients in London as early as 1959.
But let’s not kid ourselves: this is not your mother’s ballet. These classes are hard. As in, your thighs, glutes, hamstrings, abs and arms will beg you to stop and it will take every ounce of willpower you have to keep going. It’s all worth it, though – barre results in a lean, firm, sculpted body that even Natalie Portman would envy.
Here are the most popular barre classes in Borderstan and beyond. Tell us about your favorite studios in our comment section.
- B. Fit ,1339 14th Street NW Suite #3 (Logan Circle), $22 new student special for 2 classes. This five-year old friendly and intimate studio space in a walk up in Logan Circle offers classes that combine strength training, Pilates, and ballet barre exercises that are accessible and easy to learn. Focused on form and the isolation and exhaustion of major muscles, B. Fit has just enough ballet movement to carry you through the intense sequences of butt-kicking drills. Prepare to get worked.
- Epic Yoga, 1323 Connecticut Ave NW (Dupont Circle), $18 single class or $20 unlimited week for first time clients. This beautiful yoga studio (hardwood floors, exposed brick, high ceilings) known for its instructors offers a popular barre-yoga class that incorporates elements of ballet barre, cardio and Pilates into traditional yoga. Amenities include locker rooms, showers and laundry service and a lounge with wifi.
- XTend Barre DC ®, 1228 Blagden Alley NW (Mt. Vernon Square), $20 walk in; studio will honor Fuel mat class packages; free classes November 10-11. Opening November 10 from the owners of Fuel Pilates in Georgetown, XTend Barre DC is a particular style of barre that blends Pilates and sculpting exercises with the fast-paced rhythm of dance to strengthen, lengthen and stretch. Currently offered at Fuel as well as in studios across the country and around the world, this method promises to chisel your body – and fast. Now that is an offer we’re willing to accept.
- The Bar Method DC ™, 750 9th Street NW (Chinatown), $24 single class or $125 unlimited month for first time clients. The DC franchise of The Bar Method, which they say is the heir to the Lotte Berk way of teaching, offers an intense, highly regimented Pilates-style class that combines isometrics, dance conditioning and interval training for that lean, sought-after body. The instructors make it a point to call you out by name, so there is no hiding in the back of class. The pushups alone will exhaust you. Showers and lockers are provided in their spacious, clean – and carpeted – studios.
- Barre 3 ®, 1000 Wisconsin Ave NW Suite G-100 (Georgetown), $25 single class or $45 for 3 classes for new clients. A franchise of the national parent company, this barre class focuses on balance, strength and flexibility in exercises that bring together ballet barre, yoga, and Pilates. Studio has more of a scene-y vibe (Jill Biden occasionally pops by!) and offers a bonus: inexpensive childcare on-site.
- Biker Barre, 738 7th Street SE (Capitol Hill), $22 single class or $50 unlimited week for new clients. This new cycling and barre studio from the former owners of Red Bow Studio offers low-impact, high-intensity barre classes that are music-driven and combine Pilates, dance, and yoga. Studio encourages use of their lounge area and free wifi and has a relaxed atmosphere perfect for beginners and experts alike. Plus, mimosas after Sunday morning classes!
Next up: Borderstan tackles New York’s trend of the moment: Soul Cycle!