Pure Barre Vs. Bar Method

Pensive ballerina leaning on barre

Ballet barre workouts promise to help practitioners achieve slender, toned ballerina bodies without ever stepping foot on a dance floor. Studios like Pure Barre and Bar Method offer similar classes that combine strength training techniques with dance conditioning and flexibility exercises. Both Pure Barre and Bar Method have locations throughout North America. However, the studios differ in terms of the equipment used, class structure and style.


Lotte Berk, a former dancer, developed the first barre workout in the 1940s after fleeing Nazi Germany to London. Berk's method gained popularity in the United States, and several studios devoted to her program opened on the east coast in the 1970s and '80s. In 2000, Burr Leonard, an instructor of Berk's method, developed her own spinoff of the program and opened the first Bar Method studio in San Francisco. Carrie Rezabek Dorr began incorporating high energy dance-inspired moves to Bar Method workouts and opened her Pure Barre studio in Michigan in 2001. You can now find franchised locations of Pure Barre and Bar Method throughout the United States.

Class Structure

Both Bar Method and Pure Barre classes emphasize small, isometric movements to strengthen the abs, buttocks, and legs. Class exercises include traditional moves like lunges and squats with tiny pulses added to each move. Bar Method classes focus heavily on alignment with instructors offering hands-on correction and cues, similar to a traditional ballet class. Pure Barre classes tend to move at a faster pace without as much emphasis on proper alignment of the spine and legs. Because Pure Barre classes move more quickly, students may not do as many repetitions of each exercise as they will in a Bar Method class. Pure Barre's fast pace also adds a cardiovascular component to classes that is not emphasized at Bar Method studios.


Pure Barre and Bar Method class pricing varies by location. A single class at both Bar Method and Pure Barre typically costs between $20 and $30. At the flagship Bar Method studio in San Francisco, a single class costs $23 with a recurring monthly membership option of $195 for unlimited Bar Method classes. A single Pure Barre class in San Francisco will also run you $23. Pure Barre offers a 30-day unlimited class package for $225. New clients at most Pure Barre locations can try 30 days of unlimited classes for $99.


Students spend large portions of both Bar Method and Pure Barre classes exercising with the help of wall-mounted ballet barres. Both types of workouts also utilize other custom equipment. Every Bar Method studio provides riser mats filled with dense rubber to help petite students reach the barre while sitting on the floor. Bar Method studios also have padded mats to make floor exercises more comfortable and stretching straps to aid in flexibility exercises. Pure Barre equipment includes 3-pound balls used for strength training and tube-shaped resistance bands. Students use tubing to add extra resistance to the arms and legs both at the barre and for core exercises. Both Bar Method and Pure Barre classes may also incorporate small hand weights.

Locations and Availability

Bar Method classes are available in 19 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. Pure Barre studios operate in 35 states, plus the District of Columbia. As franchised businesses, every studio location operates under different owners and may vary in the number of classes offered each week. Pure Bare and Bar Method studios in large, busy areas like New York City offer as many as eight to 10 classes per day, while smaller studios may offer only one or two classes per day. If classes aren't an option, Bar Method sells DVDs that guide you through workouts in your home. DVDs are available for beginngers and advanced practitioners, and they feature Burr Leonard and instructors from New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles studios. Pure Barre also offers instructional DVDs, including prenatal workouts and DVD packages that come with equipment like resistance tubing and weighted balls.