As barre ballet classes continue to explode in popularity, a nationally known name opens four suburban studios.
Targeting areas of interest, stimulating cardio, and improving one’s posture make barre a triple-threat workout.
It may be a bone-chilling February morning, but inside the Barre3 Rosemont studio (1149 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, 484-383-3302), it feels like a summer day, thanks to 80 degrees on the thermostat and the whir of ceiling fans. Twenty-odd women of all ages line the ballet barre that circles the room. Small piles of equipment at their feet assist them through the 60-minute, choreographed class that mixes ballet, yoga, and Pilates: mats for leg work, low-weight dumbbells for high-rep back and bicep exercises, bands to help with stretching, and pliable balls for abdominals—all bearing the orange Barre3 logo.
“Our philosophy is work smarter, not harder,” says owner and instructor Karyn Pless. “The workouts are designed to be high energy so that you cruise right through class and leave knowing that you have worked every single part of the body.”
Fans have been tucking and rolling in cities like Los Angeles and New York for years. Barre has enjoyed more recent success here in Philly thanks to private studios and gyms alike offering classes. Spurred on by their popularity, Barre3, which launched in 2008, recently joined the local fitness ranks with the openings of four suburban studios—Berwyn, Newtown, and Doylestown, in addition to Rosemont—in the last year.
“Barre classes are popular because they create a lean, firm, sculpted body without adding bulk,” says Hannah Purbe, group fitness director at The Sporting Club at The Bellevue (224 S. Broad St., 215-985-9876). “It focuses on the butt, thighs, and core, which are areas of interest for most women. Because this is a full-body workout, you [also] get the benefit of this being a heart rate booster.”
Pless credits the multigenerational appeal as another reason why barre classes are big business in Philly. “This is something that an active 20-year-old or a 50-year-old exercising for the first time in decades can both do and leave feeling successful. The key to that is the modifications for every posture.” Those slight changes mean doing tricep extensions without weights or inner thigh movements standing instead of lying down. Another surprising benefit? You may even grow. Says Pless, “Some of our clients have measured a half-inch taller at the doctor [since starting with] Barre3.”