What exactly is a Barre Class anyway?

studio be barre class

With the opening of our Studio Be Pilates Annex coming soon, and the launch of our Barre classes, I think it’s time for a little history lesson on The Bar Method. All of the pictures we’ve seen, and the exercises we’re looking at, seem to be pretty modern and new – no strange-looking machines like the reformer with its straps, springs and pullies.

But The Bar Method has a history as old as Pilates, and it all began with Lotte Berk.

studio be barre class

Lotte Berk

“It is true that everything worthwhile in life is worth working hard for, and surely it is worth a little hard work to achieve a super shapely body that works well, a body full of vitality that makes you feel happy to be alive.” – Lotte Berk

Lotte Berk is coined as the woman who kickstarted the modern fitness industry and is described as one of the strangest and most ruthless characters of the 20th century. She came to Britain in 1938, fleeing from Nazi Germany and, from a basement in the West End, founded an exercise method for women derived from ballet training.

Her exercises became a cult for stars and celebrities. Zoe WannamakerBritt EcklandShirley ConranMaureen LipmanPru Leith are just a few of the very famous who got into shape under Lotte’s eagle eye.

Her natural and naughty wit, her straight talk and her no-nonsense attitude won her many admirers. She believed that if someone thought that the method was good, she should be prepared to come down to the basement, do the exercises and drop the airs and graces: and so during the Sixties, while Vidal Sassoon did the hair and Mary Quant made the clothes, Lotte Berk took care of the body.

She was responsible for introducing the pelvic-tilt exercise that has now become so popular in workouts, and insisted on referring to it as “the lovemaking position”. If a student had problems with the manoeuvre, Lotte would ask with wide-eyed wonder: “How is your sex life?” The celebrities flocked to her: Yasmin le Bon, Shirley Conran, Edna O’Brien, Joan Collins — and Barbra Streisand, who stayed only one session and would not remove her hat.

barre history

Lydia Bach

One of her students, an American named Lydia Bach, was so impressed with the technique that she bought the rights to Lotte’s name and in 1971 opened The Lotte Berk Method exercise studio in Manhattan. She modified the exercises, adding upper-body work and designing a tighter format.  These changes gave clients stronger, more defined bodies and increased stamina.

Over the course of the next 30 years, other former Lotte Berk Method students followed suit and began to open their own Bar Method studios, and along with that, develop their own versions of the technique.

barre history

Barre Class

Our Barre classes at the Studio Be Pilates Annex, are based on the principles of the Lotte Berk Method and they fuse the fitness techniques of pilates, calisthenics, ballet and yoga. They are designed to lengthen and strengthen your muscles, tone your arms, thin your thighs, lift your seat and flatten your abs.

For more information, visit our website: Studio Be Barre Class. The Annex will open on Mother’s Day weekend with a Stella and Dot Happy Hour from 5:00-7:00. We will offer free 30 minute classes on Saturday and Sunday. For more information on this exciting Grand Opening Weekend, click HERE.

studio be barre class

Suite 215 | 4211 Fairfax Corner East Ave., Fairfax, VA 22030 | Phone: 703-222-0122

studio be barre class

11877-B Grand Commons Avenue, Fairfax, VA  22030 | Phone: 703 222 0122


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