Barre class—a total-body barre and mat workout based on classic ballet movements—is one of the hottest fitness trends out there, and for good reason: It promises a long, lean, sculpted bod without the bulk, making barre super popular with Victoria’s Secret models and regular folk alike. And while it’s its own brand of tiny-movements torture—the classes' ubiquitous "one inch up, one inch down" refrain couldn’t be more deceptively simple—there’s probably no better workout for serious booty-lifting—it may even surpass the glute-busting of spinning classes and the toning of yoga. We gritted our teeth through a gazillion tucks, pliés and relevés to find the best barre classes in L.A.
L.A.'s top barre workouts
Small and intimate, the Barreworks vibe is welcoming and just lets you get your sculpting on, no fuss, no muss. Instructors are friendly and energetic—not to mention that one, Sami Dedolph, is a fitness model, so her sleek muscles are very aspirational—and they'll all keep you going through the seemingly endless reps. The best part? There’s none of the attitude of some of the other studios. Be prepared to walk out with shaky legs… and your ego intact.
Pricing: $25 for one class, $240 for 10-class pack; $150/month for unlimited classes with auto pay. New clients can get one month of unlimited classes for $100. First class is $10.
Three words: It’s Britney, bitch. And the Backstreet Boys. Even the Spice Girls. Yes, music is but one component of the total barre experience, but in this case it was, as Scary Spice once sang, everything. This is among the most dance-y of the barre classes, with more choreography than hard-core movements. That said, all of the instructors are upbeat and run the classes like a pointed-toe bootcamp, keeping the energy level high and the heart rate up.
Pricing: $22 for one class, $199 for 10-class pack; $189/month for unlimited classes. New clients can get one week of unlimited classes for $45, or one month of unlimited classes for $99.
Consider it the Tiffany’s of barre classes: Lululemon for sale in the lobby, a hushed, deliciously scented space, the lockers and showers often missing at other barre studios. (Other locations include the Hamptons and Dubai.) More importantly, helpful and engaging instructors who are attentive to newcomers, while still making sure the regulars—the most flexible and most, um, enhanced students we saw all week—are hitting their goals. The only downside? Carpeting on the studio floor, which may skeeve germaphobes out.
Pricing: $31 for one class, $270 for 10-class pack; $250/month for unlimited classes. New clients can get one week of unlimited classes for $31.
The most beautiful of the barre studios we visited is located in an airy sun-drenched space with great views of Downtown L.A.—the better to bathe their lithe, attractive students in flattering light. Owner/instructor Audra Skaates is an enthusiastic, super positive teacher, gently correcting students’ form while delivering encouraging mantras. Just leave extra time for parking and actually finding the place—it’s on the fourth floor of the Santa Fe building so you need to be buzzed in.
Pricing: $25 for one class, $199 for 10-class pack; $159/month for unlimited classes. First class is $20; new clients can get one month of unlimited classes for $100.
With more than 400 studios in North America, Pure Barre is the biggest barre chain in the land, and it’s easy to see why: The studios are clean and spacious, the classes run smoothly and efficiently, and the sleek teachers and clientele speak volumes about the results. The moves aren’t easy—these classes are particularly thigh-burning—but smiley instructors keep you engaged with attention to your form and shouts of encouragement.
Pricing: $27 for one class, $230 for 10-class pack; $240/month for unlimited classes. New clients can get one week of unlimited classes free, or one month of unlimited classes for $125.
The Bar Method is the other big fish in the barre class sea, with locations nationwide and a loyal following: Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston and Kirsten Dunst are among the celebrity fans. And it’s easy to see how these ladies got their sculpted limbs, because a few minutes into class, Everything. Was. Shaking. Even body parts you didn’t know could shake were shaking. Cheery instructors encourage you to embrace the shake (because that’s where change happens, people!) and keep things moving so you don’t have time to think too hard between exercises.
Pricing: $28 for one class, $225 for 10-class pack; $250/month for unlimited classes. New clients can get one month of unlimited classes for $99.
Owner/instructor Marnie Alton is the reason to take this class, an intense combination of cardio and ballet: Not only is her perfectly sculpted physique a walking billboard for barre, but she is also one of those teachers that has eyes on the back of her head, calling out adjustments from across the room and sensing precisely the moment when you are about to quit so she can come over and change your mind. Her meticulousness is tempered by her kind persona—she also seems to know every students’ name and offers hugs at the end of class. Cool feature: Colored lights in the studio change according to the intensity of the workout, adding to the high-energy vibe.
Pricing: $28 for one class, $260 for 10-class pack; $250/month for unlimited classes. New clients can get one month of unlimited classes for $99.
Pop Physique is housed in a small warehouse-like space, with the prettiest wooden ceiling—good thing too, because you spend a lot of time on your back, cursing your glutes as you suffer through yet another round of hip bridges. But you’re in good company at these packed classes filled with women working hard to get that perfect balance of sleek and strong. Instructors makes sure the energy level stays high, even as your body is screaming "What the tuck?".
Pricing: $25 for one class, $240 for 10-class pack; $150/month for unlimited classes with auto pay.
This class is about form, not cardio, and Dailey Method acolytes have the long, lean figures to show for it. Instructors here are equal parts calming and detail-oriented, adjusting students throughout the class—a sweat-free combination of ballet, yoga and Pilates—and making it clear that this method is about getting the form correct before you invest in all those reps. The studio is clean and bright, making it easy to relax into the tiny little pulses… who are we kidding, they still suck. But the studio is pretty nonetheless, and Intelligensia is right next door so you can reward yourself with a coffee treat post workout.
Pricing: $28 for one class, $220 for 10-class pack; $185/month for unlimited classes with auto pay. New clients can get one month of unlimited classes for $79. Child care is available.