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Barre History and Lotte Berk

Ballet fitness is nothing new.

Pilates and fitness trainers have been delivering ballet based exercises for decades to help with injury, rehabilitation and general fitness. However it was Lotte Berk who, back in 1959, created true combined ballet and rehabilitation moves into a class form.

Berk realised the benefits that could help others as well as herself after suffering from a back injury and using her ballet barre exercises to support her recovery. Lotte Berk’s small basement studio in London was where Barre began and was eventually spread to the United States by one of her students. And the rest is history...

Fitness instructor doing a barre class

Barre became extremely popular in the United States and developed into many different methods worldwide. Today there are hundreds of Barre exercises which have been developed with a combination of fitness, pilates and yoga.

After the turn of the century, Barre was needing a fresh new look so new studios opening across America, especially those in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, began trying to appeal to a younger hipster market. So began the boutique barre studio, where many teachers have found themselves becoming experts to deliver some of the best classes in the industry. This is a significant shift in barre history.

It has only been in more recent years (from the mid 2010’s) that we have seen this develop further in the UK. Barre classes have become hugely popular through celebrities that show an aspirational, toned, fit and healthy body taking part in them. These include Madonna, Jennifer Anniston and Natalie Portman.

Lotte Berk posing for a barre photo, founder of barre history
Lotte Berk (1913-2003)


Fancy giving barre a try? Come join us in the studio for one of our signature Pose Barre classes and see what all the fuss is about!

No tutus or experience of ballet necessary! Pose Barre is the ultimate toning and bodyweight workout for everyBODY. It can be adapted for all fitness levels, and capabilities. Spend time perfecting your skills with a number of weekly scheduled classes.

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