Many credit the origins of barre to the Lotte Berk Method...
...which started in a London basement in the 1950s and was exported to New York city in the 1970s. Pulling in elements of yoga, pilates and ballet, over time the method was refined and tweaked into what we now call ‘barre’.
Barre saw an explosion in popularity during the 2000s, with the strong emergence of quality barre offerings just as the boutique fitness scene was picking up pace. During this decade, top barre brands were founded that are still going strong today, such as Pure Barre, Physique 57, The Bar Method and Barre3.
These brands are all featured in the New York edition of The Fit Guide and are riding the wave of increased interest in barre, with continued growth across the US and into other developing fitness markets.
Our highly-trained Experience Evaluators anonymously visited New York’s leading barre studios, scoring each visit across more than 250 objective standards, so if you’re looking for a high-end barre experience, The Fit Guide will help you find the very best place to ‘feel the burn’.
Want to see how all barre studios and other clubs ranked? Check out The Fit Guide New York.
Physique 57 Soho
Address 550 Broadway 3rd floor, New York, NY 10012
Physique 57, so called because its first studio was on 57th street in New York, is one of the city’s most well-known and respected barre experiences. After our visit, we can see why, with their flagship studio scoring 5-stars for both the overall and class experience awards.
Founded in 2006, ‘Physique’ (as it’s often more succinctly known) offers 57-minute classes that focus on ‘pulsing’ or isometric movements designed to target specific muscle groups. In a typical Physique class you can expect to use light weights, resistance bands, and exercise balls that all contribute to a fun and effective full-body workout.
Our evaluators were particularly impressed with the coach to client connection, the clear, easy-to-follow instructions and the warmth of the team. A true 5-star experience all round!
Physique 57 Soho won both of our highest awards: The Fit Guide 5-Star Award and our 5-Star Class Experience Award.
Pure Barre Union Square
Address 39 W 21st St, New York, NY 10010
Pure Barre was an early arrival in the boutique fitness scene with their first studio launching in 2001 in the basement of an office building in Michigan. The brand expanded to other locations locally before opening studios across the country, with the first New York Pure Barre opening in 2012 in the Upper West Side.
Today, Pure Barre sits under the Xponential umbrella of brands, with over 500 locations across the US, Canada and the UK. With both their Union Street and Flatiron clubs scoring well, we can see why the experience has proven so popular.
Our evaluators were particularly impressed with the Union Street class experience which scored our top award of 5-stars. The instructor made a big effort to connect with everyone and ensured the workout was at the right pace and difficulty level. The class was rounded off with a round of applause from the room and the sense of community was clear to see. Highly recommended!
Pure Barre Union Square won The Fit Guide 4-Star Award and our highest 5-Star Class Experience Award.
Barre3 West Village
Address 63 W 8th St, New York, NY 10011
Barre3 was founded in 2008 by Sadie Lincoln in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. What started as a single, flagship location has now blossomed into over 170 locations across the US and internationally, each with a focus on body positivity, empowerment, and redefining what success in fitness means.
The Barre3 program is designed to be accessible to people of all fitness levels, and their instructors are trained to offer modifications and adjustments to help clients get the most out of each session. Our evaluators found an upbeat and positive instructor who delivered a well-structured class, coupled with a clean and nicely designed studio and reception area.
Barre3 West Village won The Fit Guide 4-Star Award and our 4-Star Class Experience Award.
Exhale Spa Central Park South
Address 150 Central Park S, New York, NY 10019
Yes, you have a million and one to-dos and 237 unread emails. “But first, exhale®”. We can all relate to this, and Exhale Spa aims to relieve us of some of these stresses with their yoga, barre and spa offerings. Exhale Spa has over 10 locations in a number US states and territories, with three Manhattan studios as part of their portfolio.
Our evaluators visited their Central Park South spot and found nicely designed public areas and bathrooms and an enthusiastic and encouraging instructor.
Exhale Spa Central Park South scored our Recommended rating for both overall experience and also class experience.