What is the Difference Between Barre & Ballet?

Both use a barre. The barre is literally a bar: it's a horizontal wood or metal barre that is held on to during both barre and ballet classes. Both barre class and ballet class involve many isometric contractions. (Think relevés or rising to your toes up and down repetitively). Both promote good posture, alignment and an engaged core.

That's about it.

While barre fitness has its roots in ballet (it was invented by an injured ballerina when she had the idea to combine ballet workouts with rehabilitative therapy), it is very different, and quite frankly, much more approachable if you're a newbie to the boutique-studio type workout.

Though fitted clothing is recommended (so that instructors can be sure you have the correct alignment and body positioning) in a barre class, it is rarely required. In some ballet studios, a very strict rule of a tight bun, black leotard and pink tights are required. Many adult or beginner ballet classes are more relaxed though, with even yoga pants allowed but ballet shoes are always a must. Check the studio's website for details or call to find out to avoid a studio faux pas.

Many barre studios allow bare feet, but some require special grippy socks. Know before you go so that you don't have to miss out on class, or fork over another $20 on the spot. There's so many cute versions now that are a far cry from the hospital-issued grip socks or toddler grippy socks that may come to mind. Check out my favorite pair: these are cute and functional. They are great for yoga, barre and Pilates but not ballet. Repeat: grippy socks will not suffice in ballet class.

You'll never see a yoga mat in traditional ballet classes, but they are a part of almost every single barre class I've been to (or taught). If not at the beginning, definitely the last part of the class will be spent on the mat, targeting the core, booty and finally (ahhh) the cool-down stretching.