• Lauren

All About Yoga, Barre, and Pilates; Benefits and When To Incorporate

I LOVE Yoga, Barre, and Pilates, but do they work?

My answer is YES...depending on your goals.

The whole purpose of this "Workouts that Work" series is to explain how different modalities of exercise such as cardio, light-resistance training (yoga, barre, pilates), and weight-lifting all serve a purpose and can have a place in a balanced workout routine.

First, what Yoga, Barre, and Pilates are:

Gosh, I feel pretty when I do barre and yoga. I mean, I look like a complete buffoon half the time, I’m sure, but I feel like a damn swan.

The oldest of the three methods I’ve listed, Yoga has been around for about 5000 years. Yoga is a broad system for improving mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. As a method of exercise, Hatha Yoga involves gentle, low impact movement and classic poses such as Downward Dog or Child’s pose. Focus and quiet meditation are typically emphasized. (Yoga Alliance)

Although vastly different and separate entities, Yoga, Barre, and Pilates offer many of the same benefits and limitations, which is why I’ve grouped them together in this post.

I like to say that Barre was my gateway to fitness. I started taking Barre classes in 2016. This was post weight-loss, pre-lifting, during a time of transition and desperate need of a physical outlet. I felt like cardio wasn’t “enough” and I knew nothing about how to work out in a traditional gym. Barre delivered!

Barre is a method of exercise that blends a Pilates-style workout with ballet-inspired movements. Barre incorporates a lot of isometric holds and emphasizes very small, controlled movements. A barre studio will typically have an actual ballet barre that runs around the room. Exercises are performed at the barre, on a mat, or standing. Often, resistance bands, light dumbbells (2-5lbs), and stability balls are used as well.

Pilates is a style of exercise that focuses on lengthening the body silhouette by using precise movements to build strength and flexibility. There is a notable focus on building core strength in nearly every Pilates workout. Like barre, Pilates also incorporates the use of balls and resistance bands during class. Pilates can be done on a mat or a reformer- a very distinctive looking machine with a sliding carriage that offers multiple levels of resistance. (Club Pilates)

So, why should I do Barre, Pilates, or Yoga?

- Great entry point to fitness. Particularly if you participate in a live class with an experienced instructor who can assist you in proper execution of movement.

- Mind-muscle connection development. Being aware of your movement and which muscle group you’re targeting is skill and one that is critical for building strength. These classes offer lots of practice in that area.

- Posture improvement

- Increased flexibility and mobility

- Help manage anxiety


What Barre, Pilates, and Yoga Do Not Offer:

- Significant strength increases or muscle hypertrophy. The light & variable resistance these classes offer simply isn’t stimulating enough to produce dramatic results. If you’re looking to sculpt your legs or add definition to your arms, you may be disappointed in your results from these classes alone.

- Weight loss/major calorie burn. As I mention in my Strong-6 series, weight loss can be achieved through diet modification alone. However, if you’re looking for an exercise to burn additional calories, these classes may not be the best bang for your buck.

These days, my workout routine is mainly a blend of weight lifting and cardio. If finances allowed, I’d love to incorporate one Barre or Yoga class per week. I truly value the benefits of these types of classes, which is why I’ve included them in this series. However, it’s important to recognize what those benefits are and determine whether they actually align with your goals!

Do you guys dig light resistance exercise classes like these? Do you practice at home, or in a studio? I want to hear about it in the comments below!


“What Is Pilates? | The Origin, History and Method of Pilates.” Club Pilates, 17 Dec. 2018, www.clubpilates.com/what-is-pilates.

“What Is Yoga?” Yoga Alliance, www.yogaalliance.org/About_Yoga/What_is_Yoga.