Barre vs. Pilates: The Toning, Sculpting Showdown

by | May 23, 2019 | Training

Barre vs. Pilates, both are low-impact exercises that will strengthen your muscles, tone your body, improve your posture and more, but which is better?


Millennials are transforming the fitness industry and choosing specialty classes and boutique fitness studios rather than attending more mainstream gyms.

Now, there are barre and pilates classes popping up in nearly every gym and fitness studio across the country.

Let’s put them head to head and take a look at the differences and benefits of these two exercises.

People like pilates and barre because they offer a unique way to tone and strengthen your muscles, while others enjoy barre for its ability to lengthen the body.

Both barre and pilates target many of the smaller muscles we don’t often use in our everyday lives.

Get lean legs and strong arms, and more by doing barre and pilates.

Barre vs. Pilates: Everything You Need to Know

We Put Barr vs Pilates Head to Head in 10 Different Categories, See Who the Winner Is.

  1. Best for Fat Loss: There are so many exercises that will help you take the necessary steps to lose weight, however, there are some that help you burn more fat than others. Although Pilates offers elements to burn fat, Barre can help you burn fat quicker by speeding up your metabolism and increasing your cardiovascular endurance. Barre may not look like (or sound like) a tough workout, it does increase your heart rate. Barre is the winner when it comes to fat loss.
  2. Best at Building Muscle: Both Barre and Pilates are great exercises for building muscle without bulk. Depending on the intensity and difficulty of the exercise, one can build more muscle than the other. Our winner here is Barre, as it allows you to focus on certain muscle groups while Pilates focuses more on the whole body.
  3. Best at Strengthening Core: Both Barre and Pilates can help strengthen the core, however, it is one of the main focuses in Pilates and the intensity of Pilates provides a better benefit, making it a winner in this category.
  4. Most Calories Burned – Shortest Time: An average 30-minute Pilates class will burn about 180 calories, and if you continue, you can burn an additional 90 calories every 15 minutes. In an average 60-minute Barre class, you can burn 200+ calories. The clear winner here is Barre (unless you’re after a very long Pilates session).
  5. Best Full Body Workout: Pilates is a full-body workout that uses a series of equipment and exercises to tone muscles, strengthen the core, burn calories, and more. In Pilates you are also working both sides of your body evenly, which is an added bonus. Pilates is the winner here, as Barre is more of a cardiovascular exercise.
  6. Best Option for Busy People: Both Barre and Pilates require the use of additional equipment (along with a mat), so you can do the exercises from anywhere as long as you have what you need. Barre and pilates are low intensity (depending on the class) and are great for a little stress relief.
  7. Best for Back Pain: Pilates movements focus on aligning the spine and strengthening the lower back, back, joints, and core, which are essential for relieving back pain. Pilates is our winner here.
  8. Best for Stress Relief: Both Barre and Pilates can get the heart rate up and help relieve stress. Just choose one that works for you!
  9. Best for Mental Health: Just like all types of exercising can relieve stress, the same goes for benefitting mental health.
  10. Best for Joint Mobility/Stretching: Pilates is the winner here, as it focuses more on stretching and the flexibility of joints through its many poses.

Not sure which one is better for you?

Let’s check out the similarities and differences between pilates and barre.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a controlled exercise that was created in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates.

It focuses on strengthening the core, toning muscles, body control, and improving flexibility without building bulk.

Most Pilates routines and exercises are performed on a mat.

However, pilates also utilizes different equipment, such as the Pilates cadillac, reformer, tower, magic circle, and more to accelerate the process of stretching, strengthening and aligning the body, and increasing core strength.

Pilates can help you break a sweat and give you that toned body you’ve been after, as long as you do the exercises correctly and on a consistent basis.

There are six key principles of Pilates: concentration, control, centering, breathing, flow, and precision, which can help you create a leaner and better you from your core muscles out!


Know what else is good for creating a lean figure? Barre!

What is Barre?

Barre is a ballet-inspired fitness class that combines dance and functional training.

Barre is a great exercise for toning, strengthening, and lengthening your muscles, and it includes a mix of poses from pilates and yoga, which is what makes them similar.

Barre will make you feel the burn in their arms, abs, glutes, and thighs.

It can also help you learn to control your muscle movements and improve your posture.


Barre vs. Pilates: How are they similar?

Barre and Pilates have a lot in common.

While both will help improve flexibility and posture, sculpt and tone muscles without bulk, and align the body, they will also help improve your mental state.

Primarily in the way they affect the human body and our mental state.

Neither exercise places a high strain on the body, which makes them great for reducing injuries, and like other training methods, you will still feel the burn!

While mind and body benefits are great, both barre and Pilates also require discipline, focus and precision in order to properly perform the techniques.

Like other exercises and workouts, they also help decrease stress and release endorphins for a well-rounded feeling of freeing relaxation while you break a sweat.


Barre vs. Pilates: What is the difference?

The main differences between Pilates and barre is the amount of equipment used and how you work your muscles.

Barre uses a bar, a mat, and sometimes an exercise ball, while Pilates also uses a mat, and other equipment such as light hand weights and magic circles to more technical gear like a reformer or tower.

Both exercises also slightly differ in the focus of muscle groups.

Barre is typically performed in an aerobic setting and focuses on small, intense movements that push muscles to the point of fatigue, while Pilates is non-aerobic and moves between small and large muscle groups, focusing on core strength and flexibility.

Both Barre and pilates are modern exercises that offer a unique way to tone and strengthen your muscles.

No matter which exercise you choose, you will no doubt see positive changes in both your mind and your body.

Get lean legs and strong arms, and more by doing Barre and pilates!


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