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Pilates vs Barre: Which Low-Impact Exercise is Better? +Best Home Equipment

Updated: Jan 8

With both Pilates and barre becoming increasingly popular, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. Here's a look at the similarities and differences between the two so you can make the best decision for your health and wellness goals.

woman working out in a Pilates class on a reformer machine using body weight to improve physical fitness and body awareness.

Pilates vs. Barre: What Are the Differences and Which One Is Better?

Many people wonder about the difference between Pilates versus barre. Both are fantastic workouts that provide a slew of physical and mental benefits, but there are some differences between them. Pilates and barre are both low-impact, rigorous, and intended to stretch and strengthen your muscles. Here's a rundown of the differences, similarities, and benefits of each so you can pick the one that is most appropriate for your health and fitness goals.

What is Pilates?

During World War I, Joseph Pilates invented Pilates to help wounded soldiers recover from injuries.[*] Pilates is popular among athletes since it improves their strength without adding bulk. Today, many people use Pilates to condition their bodies. This technique can improve your core strength, flexibility, and reduce stress. It can also help with the treatment of chronic pain and injuries. A Pilates workout focuses on lengthening and strengthening muscles, particularly the core (abdominals and back). Pilates is often performed on a mat or reformer machine. If you want to stick with performing Pilates on a mat, try Pilates mat classes.

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What Is Pilates Good For?

Pilates is a highly effective exercise for a variety of reasons, and it's considered a functional fitness activity. Pilates focuses on the concept of “mind over matter” is at the heart of the Pilates technique. The goal is to link the mind and body in such a way that the body may achieve proper balance, strength, and health without requiring conscious effort.[*]

Benefits of Pilates Classes

  1. Low impact and gentle on your joints[*]

  2. Improves muscular endurance[*]

  3. Increases flexibility[*]

  4. Effectively treats low back pain[*]

  5. Strengthens core muscles and improves posture[*]

  6. Reduces stress[*]

  7. Improves self-awareness[*]

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What Is Barre?

Lotte Berk, a German-born contemporary ballet dancer, created barre fitness in 1959. Two of the major aims of this exercise are to strengthen your body and enhance flexibility. Barre blends both yoga and Pilates while incorporating ballet to tone your physique while increasing flexibility. The main focus of barre is on isometric exercises, which are often done on a ballet barre. These exercises include lunges, curtseys, arabesques, pliés, and ballet squats. Barre is an excellent method to tone, strengthen, and improve flexibility from head to toe.

What is Barre Good For?

Taking a barre class is an excellent option for your fitness routine if you're searching for a unique fitness motivation boost and a workout that will increase your core and lower extremity strength. You can do barre workouts from the comfort of your own home or you can take a barre class in a studio. All you need is a chair, a mat, and some basic workout clothing.

Benefits of Barre Classes

  1. Increases flexibility[*]

  2. Improves posture[*]

  3. Improves muscle endurance[*]

  4. Strengthens core muscles[*]

  5. Increases muscular strength[*]

  6. Protects your joints with low-impact isometric moves[*]

  7. Reduces low back pain using isometric exercises[*]

Women using ballet inspirted movements in an aerobic exercise fitness routine.

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Similarities between Pilates and Barre

There are a few similarities between Pilates and barre. Both exercises focus on balance and control and you achieve a full body workout. They both use light weights or body weight to provide resistance as well as resistance bands.

Both Pilates and barre workouts include non-impact movements. They both strengthen and lengthen your muscles without adding bulk.

Both Pilates and barre are popular forms of exercise, so lots of equipment is available for both. You may practice Pilates and barre in a group at a studio or at home. Pilates and barre studios often provide sessions tailored to those with specific health issues, such as back pain or post-injury rehabilitation.

Both Pilates and barre offer a long list of comparable benefits. You'll improve your balance, muscle strength, and flexibility while reducing stress.

Remember that both exercises are great ways to take care of your wellness and practice self-care!

Differences between Pilates and Barre

Pilates and barre are both great exercises, but there are some key differences between them.

The most significant distinction between these two types of exercise is muscle use. Barre frequently emphasizes working single body parts with little, repetitive movements. Pilates, on the other hand, requires the entire body for each movement.

Another difference between Pilates and barre is the equipment used. A Pilates class uses a mat or reformer machine, whereas barre classes make use of a ballet barre for balance.

Best Pilates Home Workout Equipment (on Amazon!)

Balanced Body Magic Circle: This resistance-adding tool enhances flexibility and conditions various body parts. With padded cushion handles, it comes with a 15-minute training video for beginner and expert exercises.


Balanced Body Pilates Mat: Unlike regular yoga mats, this Pilates mat is thicker and denser, providing essential support for moves that often start on your back. Its extra length and smooth surface facilitate gliding through movements.


Balanced Body Pilates Arc Barrel: A multifaceted equipment offering stretching, resistance training, and mobility work during Pilates workouts. Suitable for targeting arms, shoulders, legs, feet, spine, and lower back.


Balanced Body Motr: Combining resistance bands and a foam roller, the Motr allows eight different positions, engaging core, agility, balance, and planks. It offers a full-body workout with adjustable resistance levels.


Merrithew Split-Pedal Pilates Chair with Handles: Key for strength and balance exercises, this chair is adjustable to suit various workouts. Compact and easily storable, it comes with two heavy and two light chair springs, vinyl-covered pedals, and adjustable handles.


Balanced Body Springboard and Push-Through Bar: Wall-mounted, the springboard challenges the body with an unpredictable bounce, enhancing postural stability and core strength. It includes various attachments for a versatile workout.


Faittd Foldable Pilates Reformer: Notable for its ergonomic design, this foldable reformer ensures a comfortable workout experience. Adjustable head and foot positioning accommodate a natural range of motion, and its foldable design prioritizes user convenience and storage.


Best Barre Home Workout Equipment (on Amazon!)

VITA Barre Portable Freestanding Double Ballet Barre: Craft the ideal, personalized workout or dance experience with this Barre designed for both home and light commercial use. Assembly is a breeze – effortlessly set up this ultra-portable and transportable Barre in seconds, whether you're at home or in a studio.


Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands: These durable fabric bands offer different resistance levels, allowing you to target various muscle groups and intensify your barre routine.


Amazon Basics Neoprene Dumbbells: Add upper body toning to your barre sessions. With a comfortable grip and various weight options, these dumbbells enhance overall muscle engagement.


ProBody Pilates Mini Exercise Ball: Intensify core engagement and isometric exercises with this ball. This anti-burst and durable Pilates ball enhances the effectiveness of your barre workouts.


NeuType Full Length Mirror: Monitor and refine your form during barre exercises. A clear view of your entire body ensures proper alignment and maximizes the benefits of each movement.

Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site, including text, graphics, images, and other material, is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your specific condition.

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