Which workout is better: Pilates or Barre?

These low impact strength building workouts have their benefits.
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When it comes to exercises that help to lengthen and strengthen, few are as effective as Pilates and barre – even earning the tick of approval from A-listers like Madonna and Kate Hudson. 

And while these workouts are low impact, good for power and flexibility, and have connections to dance, you’d be wrong in assuming that they’re all the same. So how do you know which one is right for you?

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“Barre is a workout that was inspired by the exercises that ballet dancers do at the ‘barre'”, Laura Bullock, founder of Mode Pilates explains. 

“Just as dancers use barre to condition their body to endure their physically demanding performances, we love barre for allowing stability so you can access and tone all of the tiny micro muscles.”

Barre workouts are very diverse and have a variation of barre work, both floor Pilates and standing Pilates exercises, as well as other body weight and cardio exercises done away from the barre on your mat. 

“Lightweights, rings, Pilates balls, and bands are all often used to give you that extra burn and add an extra challenge,” says Laura.

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Pilates is divided into two categories – mat and reformer. 

Both involve precise moves and specific breathing techniques, however have some key differences and results.

Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates is a mat-based workout that targets core strength while improving flexibility, strength, and overall body awareness (you’ll feel muscles that you didn’t even know you had). 

“While it provides strength gains, the resistance is limited to body weight, so the emphasis is on toning and lengthening muscles,” says One Playground’s head of wellness and Pilates and barre instructor Claudia Howard. 

“It enhances posture, promotes balanced muscle development, and helps with coordination.”

Laura adds that while the foundation of mat Pilates is comparable to barre, there are some key differences.”

“Classical mat Pilates is generally a much more controlled, slower-paced set of excercises than a barre workout, though that is changing as the Pilates space develops in line with functional fitness,” she says.

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Reformer Pilates

The main equipment in reformer Pilates is – you guessed it – a reformer, a sliding bed with springs to add resistance and intensity to movements, making them more challenging. 

“Reformer is excellent for building up muscular strength, improving balance and coordination, and enhancing overall body alignment,” says Claudia. 

“It can help both tone and sculpt muscles, significantly improve posture, and increase flexibility. 

The main focus is on controlled, precise movements that effectively engage the core and other muscle groups, specifically using the breath to try and elevate the targeted areas.”

As a result, reformer is particularly effective for building lean muscle mass.

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Is Pilates or Barre better for results?

Whether your fitness goal is to improve flexibility or build up muscle strength, it’s the small differences between these exercises that can have a big impact. 

However, the average time to see results from all three workouts is up to two months, and consistency is key. 

“The speed at which you’ll see results can vary based on several different factors, including your starting fitness level, consistency, effort, and your individual body compositions,” says Claudia.

But regardless of which workout you choose to do, you’ll need a pair of high-quality grip socks. We recommend these budget-friendly ones from Alvy.

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