Difference Between Barre and Pilates: Which is Better?

by Shafi Khan

There's a lot of confusion over the difference between Barre and Pilates, two low-impact workouts that are often seen as interchangeable.

Pilates and barre are both low-impact workouts that focus on the core. They are different, but both offer a range of benefits including increased muscle strength, improved posture, weight loss, stress relief.

If you are confused about which type of workout is right for your body type, read on to learn the difference between barre and pilates.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is known as "the mind-body-spirit workout" because it focuses not only on muscle strength but also flexibility, posture, endurance, and breathing techniques. Pilates targets the core muscles like the abs, obliques, glutes, and lower back.

Pilates is also known for helping to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles in women. The pelvic floor refers to the group of muscles that support the bladder, bowel, uterus in women, and rectum in both sexes. A strong pelvic floor can help with incontinence issues due to pregnancy, childbirth, and aging.

What is Barre?

Barre workouts are often considered a type of Pilates because they target the same core muscles like the abs, obliques, glutes, and lower back. However, barre is more focused on improving muscle strength than flexibility or breathing techniques.

Like Pilates workouts, barre classes typically start with a short warm-up followed by challenging exercises focusing on the core.

Barre workouts use a ballet barre for support just like you might find in a dance studio or gym, hence the name "barre."

Dancers often do plie squats, hamstring curls, and calf raises to strengthen their muscles. However, Pilates generally doesn't incorporate strength training exercises.

Difference Between Barre and Pilates: Which is Better?

Equipment Cost

The major difference between barre and pilates is the equipment used to perform the exercises - with Pilates you use exercise balls or mats while doing various strengthening movements which can help improve flexibility as well as strengthen your muscles at the same time. But it can be advanced up to bigger machines such as Pilates reformers and towers.

On the other hand, Barre simply uses body weight, a barre, and mat, resistance bands, and sometimes an exercise ball.

Focus Areas

Pilates is a form of exercise that focuses on core strength and posture. This implies that the majority of its workouts focus on the abs, pelvic floor, and other small muscles that contribute to good posture. Because many of the motions utilize the whole body, Pilates still has an impact on the arms, legs, and glutes.

In contrast, Barre focuses on the legs and glutes which separates it from Pilates or other forms of yoga. It was created to develop and tone muscles without adding weight. While it works both the core and arms, the majority of the focus will be felt in the lower body. It was originally created for dancers, and that emphasis has remained.


Barre classes are often taught in ballet studios which was the original purpose for this type of exercise program. Barre classes tend to focus more on toning and strengthening muscles while Pilates tends to be performed at a slower pace with an emphasis on stretching.

Pilates, on the other side, is usually performed in the gym with special classes or you can do it at home using mats or larger apparatus like reformers and towers.

Workout Time

Both Barre and Pilates take around the same time, however, Pilates can be slightly longer depending on the type of class. Barre classes last around 30 minutes, while Pilates is usually an hour-long or more.

Which is Better?

There is no right or wrong here. It really depends on your preferences and goals for choosing to do Pilates or Barre workouts. Both can be fantastic forms of exercise and helpful in improving flexibility, strength, and posture over time with the help of a professional teacher who can modify movements to fit your specific needs.

There are many different types of barre workouts, but the majority of them emphasize toning and strengthening your muscles.

Pilates is much more diverse in its approach; it contains both strength training and stretching elements. It's not unusual to see Pilates studios with special classes for seniors or people with limited mobility. The intense focus on breathing techniques may be helpful for those with breathing disorders like asthma.

Surprisingly, you may practice both methods to build a well-rounded fitness plan that is enjoyable and beneficial.


Both types of workouts are beneficial for improving strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. Some people may prefer one over the other based on your preferences.

Both methods can be used to help build a strong core, improve posture, and provide you with an enjoyable workout experience.

We'd recommend trying different classes to see what you prefer.

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