Boston boasts a large number of barre studios, and having so many options can be confusing whether you’re a wanna-be ballerina or just want to feel like one. All of the studios use the same base for their classes—small, dance-inspired movements meant to target major muscle groups like the arms, thighs, seat, and abs—so choosing where to go can seem like a total toss-up. To help take the guess work out of your choice, we took classes at three of the city’s best-known barre studios to see what they’re all about.
Great for: Someone seeking an authentic barre class.
The class: Pure Barre’s name doesn’t lie—this is a class for those who want a real, authentic barre class. That means that many of the exercises use very specific movements so tiny they’re barely visible, which can make it difficult for a newbie to pick up the technique. Not to worry, though, because the studio’s instructors are enthusiastic and more than willing to come around to adjust form and offer detailed explanations as to what you should be doing and feeling. Even if you struggle with the technique, you’ll leave the hour-long class sore and tired. The seven-minute ab sequence at the end and the thigh sequence that uses props like tubes and a playground ball are especially brutal.
The spot: A gorgeous Newbury Street studio with a lobby that feels more like a boutique than a fitness studio.
The vibe: A girly heaven meets fitness studio. And let’s just say that if a studio’s clientele reflects the effects of the workout, you’ll want to sign up for Pure Barre classes—fast.
The cost: A single class is $23 and one month unlimited is $225. New members receive one month unlimited for $100.
Pure Barre, 350 Newbury Street, Boston, 617-247-5360; purebarre.com. Also locations in Brookline, Newton, and Wellesley.
The Bar Method
Great for: The no-frills barre lover.
The class: Fewer props, no complicated instructions, just burn. This class is all about doing the basics in a barre way—over and over again. Most muscle group segments consist only of a few exercises repeated many times, so you’ll work those muscles to the point of total exhaustion with rep after rep of squats, curls, and lifts. You won’t get hot and sweaty, but you will work your way to a completely toned body. Bonus: Of all the classes we tried, The Bar Method’s had the most extensive arm workout.
The spot: A small, intimate studio with full locker rooms (stocked with plenty of cosmetics and toiletries) and great views of the Back Bay.
The vibe: At this studio, your instructor will not only know your name—even if it’s your first class—but address you by it throughout class. There’s also plenty of joking and laughter, a welcome respite from the intense burn in your thighs.
The cost: A single class is $26 and a recurring monthly unlimited pass is $165. In December, new clients get six weeks of unlimited classes for $100.
The Bar Method, 234 Clarendon St., Boston, 617-236-4455; boston.barmethod.com.
Core Fusion at Exhale Spa
Great for: The laid-back barre student.
The class: Core Fusion, Exhale’s signature fitness class, may be a little easier to follow than some hardcore barre classes, but it’s just as difficult. Movements are still barre-specific, but instead of teeny tiny flexes and points, the class is made up of classic exercises with a barre twist, like squats and pulses at the barre and Pilates-esque ab work. All movements done in the class are meant to engage your core, but you’ll leave feeling muscles in your thighs and arms that you didn’t know you had.
The spot: Core Fusion has two locations, Back Bay and Battery Wharf, both nestled into Exhale spas. As such, you’ll be working out in a relaxing, soothing atmosphere complete with spa music in the lobby.
The vibe: As soon as the door closes, the spa is gone and the party begins. Our instructor was upbeat and enthusiastic, and the music was loud and night-club ready. The class also attracts women of all shapes, sizes, and ages.
The cost: A single class is $25 and monthly memberships are available. New students get one week of unlimited classes (and spa discounts!) for $30.
Core Fusion, 28 Arlington St., Boston, 617-532-7000 or 2 Battery Wharf, Boston, 617-603-3100; exhalespa.com