Pure Barre vs. barre3: which one is better?

Sharing my thoughts on Pure Barre and barre3, the differences between them, and which one I like more. [Hint: it’s pretty much a tie.]

Hi friends! How’s the morning going? It’s been a good week over here. I taught bootcamp, went to choir (our concert is soon and I’m pretty pumped about it), and babysat for EJ and August last night. The mornings have been frantic as usual, and after a particularly crazy morning, it was so nice to get in a barre class before heading to a meeting.

After class, I was thinking about the differences between barre3 and Pure Barre, and which one I gravitate towards, depending on how I’m feeling. Since I’ve taken both formats for years now, I thought I’d write a post comparing the two barre methods if you’re considering giving them a whirl. (Also, fellow barre lovers: I’d love to hear your thoughts on your favorite barre studio and why!)

Barre3 vs. Pure Bare. Which one is better? fitnessista.com

Pure Barre vs. barre3: which one is better?

What’s the difference between Pure Barre and barre3?

Details on Pure Barre:

Pure Barre is a classic barre format, focused on small, pulsing movements, long lines, and isometric holds. The class begins with a warmup (usually marching with pointed toes and arm variations), a short core sequence (crunches, planks) and push-ups. After push-ups, you complete your weights segment (usually a set with a heavier set of weights and then lighter or no weights) before heading to the barre for leg work. The leg work has two sections. The first section includes quads, inner and outer thighs, and then a short stretch. Next, you’ll do glute work, followed by a short stretch. You’ll have an ab section (this can be anything, from seated work, floor work, or work at the barre), a back strengthening exercise, and finally, some type of hip bridge work to finish out the class. There’s a nice juicy stretch and you’re done!

The tools you use: weights, mat, barre, small playground ball, and a double resistance band tube. [Note: they also have other formats including different tools, but for this class, I’m focusing on the classic workout.]

The movements for Pure Barre are always different, but the cueing and language is always the same. You know that when they start a count of 10 that it’s the end of that set! (It feels like SWEET RELIEF when they say, “Last 10!”) The class is very music-driven (you match the beat of the music) but doesn’t have a cardio element.

Something I LOVE about Pure Barre:

This workout is always challenging for me. Also, I love how they’ve remained true to the class barre format over the years. I love classic barre -it’s one of my true workout loves- and I always leave class feeling challenged.

Something I don’t like about Pure Barre:

There are a lot of crunches in the ab sections, so if you have DR or are pregnant, this part could be tricky to modify without some extra guidance. (My favorite DR-friendly exercises are here, and my free postpartum core guide is here.)

Details on barre3:

barre3 is a mind-body workout that combines the elements of dance (ballet), Pilates, and yoga. Each class begins with a 3 deep breaths (usually reaching up overhead), a cardio warmup (this is always different but might be something like squat taps and hamstring curls with various arm movements), some type of yoga stretch (whether it’s a crescent lunge with a twist, moving figure 4 stretch, or warrior 1 to warrior 2) and then a plank hold. From there, you head to the barre for leg work (emphasizing the quads, inner, and outer thighs). After leg work, you have a short stretch, followed by combo work in the center of the room with weights, a cardio segment, and back to the barre (or to the floor) for glutes. After glutes work, you’ll stretch, move onto core work on the mat, followed by a short savasana and 3 deep breaths to close out the class.

The classes are always different but include a focus on breath, many modification options, and a reminder to be true to your body and how you’re feeling that day.

The tools you use: medium squishy playground ball, long resistance band, weights, gliders (occasionally used by instructors

Something I LOVE about barre3:

I love, love, love the mind-body element of barre3. There are hints of yoga sprinkled throughout class and the instructors always do an awesome job at providing options and modifications. Also, they have childcare! This is HUGE and can make or break a studio for me. (When the kids are on break from school, I usually ride the Peloton, take Les Mills On Demand classes, and do barre3.)

Something I don’t like about barre3:

I’m not in love with the cardio section. It just feels long and redundant to me (sooooooo many sumo squats with different arms and step taps). I know that participants probably love to get their heart rate up (and it’s so good for the brain and body to move laterally) but I’m just not super into it. Thankfully, it’s a very short part of class.

Which one do I like better: Pure Barre or barre3??

To be honest… it’s a tie. I genuinely love them both and have made both studios a consistent part of my routine. It really depends on what kind of mood I’m in. I know that Pure Barre will always leave me feeling shaky and challenged, and that barre3 gives me that happy heart and zen vibe.

Barre lovers: which studio is your favorite? I’ve heard awesome things about Xtend Barre. There are so many out studios there! Physique57 is another one of my faves.




Focus On Barre Workouts

How to add barre into your routine

Get more out of your barre workout

Les Mills Barre Review

A full barre and Pilates workout you can do at home

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  1. Tracey Giannola on March 11, 2020 at 8:33 am

    I’m an instructor at The Dailey Method so I might be biased, but I love our format/style. It definitely a bigger focus on the mind-body connection and really isolating your muscles to focus on small movement. I previously went to The Barre Code for a couple of years – which I loved! But now when I’ve taken a class there (after learning to teach) I feel that they move very quick and focus more on going from move to move than what muscles you are working, etc. Love Pure Barre – always super challenging! And I’ve only done one Barre3 class which was amazing and I loved that as well! It’s so fun to try out different barre workouts and see every studios style!

  2. Liz on March 11, 2020 at 9:35 am

    I am not a huge fan of Pure Barre, I much prefer Barre3. I like workouts that get my heart rate up more, and Pure Barre just doesn’t do it for me. I also find the environment of Pure Barre to be more cliquey and less inclusive, but that could just be a factor of my specific studio. I like Xtend- it is more cardio/dance focused. I also REALLY enjoy flywheel’s barre class. They have a specific arm/ab class that is TOUGH!

  3. Lindsay on March 11, 2020 at 9:36 am

    I’m a Pure Barre lover. I describe it as a well-oiled machine to people. I love that you know exactly what to expect out of it, but it’s still different every time. I also think the set structure helps keep the class flowing. Some other barre classes are more loosely defined, so it seems like we waste time moving on to the next step or getting props set up etc.

  4. Katie on March 11, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    Pure barre lover through and through! I actually taught it for 3 years and love it so much I pay for my own membership now 🙂 hopefully when life slows down I can go back to teaching. The amount that goes into teachers getting trained is incredible and the three classes they offer compliment each other so well. Great low-to-no impact workout that saved me during marathon training!

  5. Stephanie on March 13, 2020 at 10:23 am

    I tried Pure Barre a few times (and I tried a few months at a local-to-me barre studio that’s the same format and the same workshop, except the barre babes who opened it didn’t want any part of the franchising fees…) and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the scratchy carpet or the dark mirrored room. I didn’t like the warmup that seemed redundant and the exact sequencing of every part of class.

    Barre3 however is my love language, as much as any barre format can be. I love the combination of isometric holds, small movements, and larger movements and the brief cardio flushes throughout. I love that even though the same work is done, instructors have more chance for personalization and creativity. I love the underlying yogic message to take care of yourself and to cultivate the mindful wisdom of knowing when to take the risk of moving bigger or upping your weights and when to pull back a bit and take care of yourself. I love leaving class feeling strong and sweaty and glowy and peaceful and quietly, calmly confident. And I love the sense of freedom and acceptance and wholeness I would feel after class. I was only able to afford a membership at one of the b3 studios by me for literally 3 months, and even though I had to drop it after June 2019 I have thought of b3 *specifically* every! single! day! since!!! And now that money is slightly steadier, I built the at-home online b3 subscription into my budget. I prefer group settings more than anything else, but if I can even do b3 online twice a week I will feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. Even in half an hour of an online workout the other night, I still felt like I got a good workout and I felt calm for the rest of the evening and slept a bit better than I have in weeks.

    Sigh. Barre3. Deep, deep love. AS DEEP a love as my Les Mills workouts–those I take and those I teach. It might not come any time SOON, but one day–once I have been able to afford a membership there for a year or so–and once I start to dive more deeply into that work on a consistent basis–(dare I say it? Is it like cheating on Les Mills to say it out loud?!?!?) I want to get certified to teach b3.

  6. Jessica on March 15, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    I’m obsessed with barre3, I think pure barre is a great workout but I honestly don’t like how modifications and listening to your body are not encouraged. Plus I think pure barres music is . Barre3 leaves me feeling replenished not depleted but also challenged

    • Kristen on April 15, 2020 at 9:50 am

      Yes! I’ve been to both classes, in person and online, and as someone with chronic pain (scoliosis and torn hip labrums – hooray!), Barre3 has saved my life. They are much more encouraging (Andrew <3 ), the modifications I sometimes have to use still make me feel strong, and I love the zen element. No doubt Pure Barre is an awesome workout, but for me, it's for those who are already athletes and want to mix things up. They are less forgiving in terms of modifications, less encouraging, and very cliquey, at least in my neck of the woods. If you're a beginner, not an athlete, and are in chronic pain/recovering from injuries, I recommend Barre3.

    • Anne on August 14, 2020 at 7:34 pm

      Couldn’t agree with you more; I didn’t pick Barre3 for the cardio, love my walking and Peloton for that. Pure Barre did have some good spectacle to it, however felt like I was being rushed through it, not getting the B3 control and didn’t care for using momentum vs control. Sometimes this also has to do with the instructors. At b3 all instructors very on top of my form and made certain I didn’t damage myself doing movement’s in a wrong manner. At Pure Barre that was a hit and miss.

  7. Jacque on April 29, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Thank you for this comparison. It, along with the comments that follow, are just what I needed to decide which is the best place for me to begin. I need cardio. I like modification options. I appreciate a mind-body approach. Barre3 for me!

  8. Jen on November 24, 2020 at 5:24 am

    Barre3! I found the instructors to be more relaxed and have more personality in general. I feel like PureBarre was more about how you’ll look in the end, not how you feel — and for me, that was a deal breaker — especially with a history of body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Barre3 is always talking about who you are as a person, doing what you can and being your personal best….and yes, very ‘zen’ (which I love, although sometimes I skip that part…lol). I was contemplating bringing PureBarre back into my life when I got an email to sign up again, but after this I am more convinced to stay the course I’m on. I also felt, at the end of a PureBarre workout, not fully “worked out”….usually after a Barre3 workout I feel like my body has been probably strengthened and the cardio gets the sweat flowing and heartrate up.

    I do wish all of these barre places would add more online workouts than they do….I mean, how hard can it be to add 1 video a day?

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