Yoga, barre, and Pilates are popular workouts that, at first glance, seem to have a lot in common. (You’re barefoot! You’re stretching! You can wear those nice, grippy socks!)
There is a lot of overlap between these three workouts, but they also have different philosophies, principles, and movements.
So, how do you decide which workout is right for you, especially when you look at hybrid classes labeled Pilates barre or barre yoga or yoga-lets?
Let’s take a closer look at yoga, Pilates, and barre and what each entails to help you choose a program that’s right for your goals.
What is yoga?
Yoga (definition: union) is a mind-body practice that involves performing poses or the seatMillennial roots.
There are different types of yoga, from fast, athletic ones like Ashtanga and energetic, to slower, gentler ones, like Yin and Restorative.
But whether you’re in child’s pose or triangle pose, you’ll always focus on your breath first and foremost.
Yoga 52 instructor Mickey Duran says, “Yoga is about balance, in your body and in your life.
Yoga practice helps create a union between mind and body, breath and movement.
Major Benefits of Yoga
The benefits of yoga are much more than can be listed here, but below are its biggest benefits
1. Healthy joints and bones
By taking the joints through their full range of motion, yoga promotes healthy joints and connective tissue, increasing mobility and flexibility.
And despite being low-impact, yoga is weight-bearing, so it helps build good bone density.
2. Improved strength and body composition
Yoga’s ability to build energy is among its most easily recognized benefits. Research also shows that it helps build muscle mass and may even work for weight loss.
3. Better mood and overall mental health
“Some of the most profound benefits of yoga are for mind and emotional well-being,” says Anne Swanson, MS, E-RYT 500.
Yoga has been shown to relieve stress, depression and anxiety, and regular practice can lead to “significant” improvements in sleep quality.
4. Help with pain
Yoga has been shown to be effective in helping with neck pain, headaches and low-back pain. “That’s huge, since back pain is one of the most disabling diseases and a leading cause of missed work,” says Swanson.
5. Healthy aging and balance
Your mind and body will thank you later for practicing yoga. It can help slow cognitive decline as you age, and yoga helps maintain balance by strengthening the feet and ankles and increasing proprioception.
Who is yoga for?
Yoga is for everyone, says Duran. It’s for all ages and all levels — and that includes men, she adds. You don’t have to be a yogi or practice yourself for an hour every day to do “yoga.”
In 30 to 45 minutes a week, Yoga52 can help you reduce stress, build strength and flexibility, and improve balance, and help shape your body like only yoga can.
“It’s yoga for your body, at a level that’s right for you, helping you reach your goals by helping you set a routine that fits your life,” explains Duran.
What’s in the bar?
Barre is a combination of ballet, pilates and yoga developed by a German dance professional recovering from an injury in the late 1950s.
That’s why “the barre is great for muscle toning, but extremely friendly to the joints—with little impact on the body,” says Shanda Domingo, a NASM-certified personal trainer and barre instructor based in New Orleans.
Barre classes can be deceiving, with signature pulsating movements that can look more elegant than challenging.
But make no mistake: you will sweat and feel it tomorrow! “No other workout combines grace and athleticism like Xtend Barre,” says Andrea Rogers, the program’s creator.
Barre’s main benefits
Barre is Domango’s preferred choice for clients “when they still want a tough workout, but need to take it easy on their bodies.” Here’s why.
1. Increased core strength
The barre’s emphasis on balance and control requires your core to be “on,” even as you work other body parts.
“Barre works and incorporates core throughout the workout,” says Domingo. “You’ll definitely see an improvement in core strength.”
2. A multitasking, total body workout
Like yoga, barre works the entire body. “Barre involves a lot of standing work,” says Ingrid Seid, a Bay Area NASM-certified personal trainer who teaches Pilates and barre.
“We’re amping up the results with a strong cardio component,” says Rogers of Xtend Barre. It “increases your flexibility and improves your posture and body alignment,” adds Rogers.
3. No dance experience required
You don’t have to be a ballerina to do barre. “Although barre is often stereotyped as a fitness class for dancers, its format and style meet [to]and open to all fitness levels,” said Domingo
Rogers is a big fan. “I love that this program allows people of all ages and fitness levels to feel like a dancer without any dance experience,” she says.
4. Muscle definition
Don’t let that fluttering, pulse-like motion fool you. These micro-movements “call on slow-twitch muscle fibers that aren’t used as much during traditional high-intensity or interval-training workouts,” says Domingo.
Your legs will feel tired, so “embrace the shake” as barre fans say.
5. Mind-body connection
Like yoga, barre helps you get in tune with your body. “You’re cued for good posture, grace, and body lengthening techniques,” says Seid.
You get a good mind-muscle connection that helps you feel connected to your body.”
Barre for whom?
“Barre is for anyone,” said Domingo. Although its dance element may appeal more to women, he recommends it for men – they’ll feel the vibes too!
Sid mentions Barr’s proprioceptive (body awareness) benefits and attention to technique.
“It’s not just mindless movement,” she says, which is why it also appeals to yoga and Pilates fans.
“Extend barre is for people who are trying to reach a goal,” says Rogers. “That goal could be performance, body confidence, weight loss, general fitness, or injury recovery or prevention.”
The same goes for Barre Blend at Beachbody On Demand. Not only will you see physical results, but you’ll also gain a solid understanding of how to move with good technique and form, thereby increasing body awareness and confidence.
What is Pilates?
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. Weak and sick as a child, Pilates used workouts designed to heal himself and grow stronger.
The German-born physical instructor eventually developed both mat- and equipment-based (eg, Pilates reformer) programs that are still used today, such as in XB Pilates.
The main difference? Barre is based on micro-movements choreographed to music, while Pilates is based on regimented repetitions of a greater range of motion that is not usually accompanied by a soundtrack.
As for the difference between yoga and pilates?
Andrea Rogers, creator of XB Pilates and Xtend Barre, breaks it down, “Yoga has a history of meditative practices with vinyasa movements.
Pilates is a modern-day movement method that focuses on achieving physical goals and increasing core strength.”
Traditionally, yoga is more philosophical, with a deep focus on the inner self.
Although Pilates is more introspective than pursuits like CrossFit or spinning, it is more fitness-oriented than yoga, with its use of equipment, counting repetitions and unique breathing patterns.
The main benefits of Pilates
Like yoga and barre, Pilates offers a lot for the mind And Body – and core. Here’s a closer look at some of the main benefits of Pilates.
1. Deep root development
One of the first things you’ll learn in Pilates is how important your core is — and what that really means.
“Pilates targets your transverse abdominis, the deepest layer of the abs, which is responsible for activating your core and stabilizing your pelvis and lower back while lengthening and strengthening the entire body,” says Tetelbaum.
2. Total-body strength and tone
Pilates, like barre, promotes a lean, muscular body. “Two of the main benefits of Pilates are lengthening and strengthening — including flattening your stomach, defining your muscles and increasing flexibility,” says Tatelbaum.
3. Welcome newcomers
Joseph Pilates himself wasn’t always fit and strong, and the workouts reflect that with unusual inclusions. “Pilates is a journey of body and mind.” “Challenges can be overcome with daily practice and specific cues appropriate for your body type,” says Rogers.
4. Athletes are also welcome
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy—Pilates can challenge athletes, bodybuilders, and even advanced yogis. “Not all exercise is beautiful,” says Teitelbaum.
“They are strong and quite challenging.” Pilates is logical, one exercise leads to the next. So, the possibilities are endless — as long as you maintain that deep root connection, suggests Tatelbaum.
5. Good posture
Since Pilates focuses on your core, and that’s what keeps you upright, it’s no surprise that the exercise can help you stand up straighter — which makes you look fitter.
“When the focus is on strengthening the core and strengthening your shoulders, naturally your spine lengthens. You will notice,” says Rogers.
Who is Pilates for?
Like yoga and barre, Pilates isn’t an “exclusive” workout—it’s suitable for almost everyone.
“After 20-plus years of doing Pilates, I’m still discovering new things and making new choices,” Teitelbaum says. “It’s an intelligent, stimulating and fun workout for men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes.”
The application of the practice doesn’t end there, however, Rogers says.
“I think the popularity of barre and pilates comes down to a lot more than the physical results these workouts provide,” she says. “People today are looking for more than just a workout – they want a connected and empowering experience.”
How to start your practice
Have you decided which exercise — barre vs. Pilates vs. yoga — is right for you? Read on and see which program is right for you:
Xtend Barre, created by Rogers, a professional dancer, is a 30-minute combination of traditional mat Pilates methods, ballet barre, and high-energy cardio designed to sculpt the body into a lean, strong dancer-like body.
Yoga52 classes can help you reduce stress, build strength and flexibility, and improve balance while shaping your body like only yoga can. Commit to at least one full yoga class a week for one year – 52 weeks.
You can — and are encouraged — to do more than one, but a 30- to 45-minute yoga class per week is the bare minimum to reduce stress, increase flexibility, reduce pain, and maintain your commitment to getting stronger.
XB Pilates is a combination of mat Pilates and reformer-inspired movements that help you burn fat, strengthen your core, lift your booty and sculpt your entire body in 30 minutes a day.
Beginner Pilates with Lisa Hubbard teaches you the simple, basic movements of Pilates over three weeks. You will progress with each class and master the form and alignment of each step with Lisa’s prompting.