No Holds Barred: NYC's Best Barre Workouts, Reviewed

Image via Flybarre

Over the past 12 months, I've undergone a bit of a body transformation. Once a doughy 8/10, and close to 150 lbs (that's packed on to a 5'2 frame, peeps), I'm now a relatively toned 0/2, and at least 25 lbs lighter (I don't keep a scale in the house, but I'd guesstimate my current weight at 120-125 lbs). While I attribute most of the actual weight loss to diet - restricting white carbs and sugar, and eating almost exclusively non-processed food - it would be IMPOSSIBLE, nay IDIOTIC, to deny the impact that working out has made on my bod as well. In short? Muscles. I've got 'em - biceps, triceps, abs, and let's not even DISCUSS my legs (unless it's to observe their tone, of course). And, as anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, my workout of choice always involves a BARRE, i.e. Physique 57 (my gateway barre workout), Core Fusion, Bar Method or, most recently, Flywheel.

What I love about barre workouts is the simplicity - they're focused on strength training and use your body weight as resistence, challenging your core strength and balance - and of course, the RESULTS - a lean, dancer-like physique for those truly committed. Classes are impactful, delivering maximum results in just under 60 minutes in most cases. I attend classes anywhere from 2-4 times weekly, and rarely feel the need to supplement with any other fitness activities. And while barre workouts share a similar foundation, there are fairly significant differences between the classes that will impact your experience. Here's what you can expect:

Physique 57: Perhaps because it was the first barre workout I experienced, I consider this Physique 57 the benchmark. Classes are - no surprise here - 57 minutes long and focus on individual muscle groups, starting with arms and closing with abs.

Pros: Most challenging thigh work, incredibly perky instructors, comfortable studios, various locations throughout the city.

Cons: Most challenging thigh work, instructors may actually be TOO cheerful for misanthropic types - occasionally (generally when hungover), I feel compelled to tell them to STFU. Also claims Kelly Ripa as a client, and who wants that woman's body?

Bar Method: Easily the slowest, most precise of the bar workouts, Bar Method requires intense focus and minute movements.

Pros: Cushy studios, instructors pay great attention to form and make many hands-on adjustments.

Cons: Instructors pay great attention to detail and as such, may enrage those looking to slack off for just a hot minute, only one location in New York City (located in West SoHo).

Core Fusion: The most yoga-inspired barre workout of the bunch, Core Fusion is found at Exhale Spa locations.

Pros: The most zen experience of all, little opportunity for boredom as there are several variants on the class, i.e. Core Fusion Sport, Core Fusion Cardio and my personal fave, Core Fusion Boot Camp.

Cons: As with any class, instructors will make or break the class - and here, I've had one or two that I despised.

Flybarre: The most dance-inspired barre workout of all from spinning haven Flywheel, this class boasts a particularly challenging abs section.

Pros: Assigned mats in class make late arrivals easy-peasy, free bottles of water, and by class, the least expensive option at $30 vs $35.

Cons: Those without significant coordination will need a significant sense of humor, and the ability to laugh at themselves.

Learn more about each studio, check class schedules and book online here:

  • Bar Method ($35 single class, class packages and unlimited memberships available)
  • Core Fusion ($35 single class, class packages and unlimited memberships available)
  • Flybarre ($30 single class, class packages and unlimited memberships available)
  • Physique 57 ($35 single class, class packages and unlimited memberships available)

What to Wear?