The comparison between barre, Pilates, and yoga is quite common. All three forms of exercise have similarities but also some notable differences.

At the end of the day, trying to decide between three transformative exercise programs is a great dilemma to have. 

Whether you’ve tried one or two of these programs before or you’re brand new to all three, this article will answer common questions about barre vs. Pilates vs. yoga and help you determine which is best suited for your fitness goals. 

Let’s get started.

What is the difference between barre, Pilates, and yoga?

Barre, Pilates, and yoga are all types of low-impact workouts, typically done in group class settings. The difference between all three is their origins and the types of movements executed to perform the workouts. 

Let’s take a look at each individually to get a better understanding.


Barre is a type of workout that incorporates ballet-inspired movements. Barre was created in 1959 by Lotte Berk, a ballerina from London who suffered a back injury and set out to combine her rehabilitative program with her ballet barre routines to form a new exercise program.

Barre classes focus on challenging the body’s balance and building strength. They require just the ballet barre (a waist-level horizontal bar ballerinas use for stabilization) to execute the fitness routine. The barre is used as a point of support and stabilization during exercises, and a chair can be substituted if you’re doing an at-home barre class. Some classes will incorporate dumbbells as resistance to help increase muscular endurance and strength. 

Barre workouts require participants to execute movements while in certain ballet postures, such as first position or second position, which are ballet-specific ways to position the feet while standing. 

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Pilates was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. Joseph was a physical trainer who worked with the German army during World War I to train troops in wrestling and self-defense. He developed Pilates primarily as a method of injury recovery for dancers, but it has grown in popularity in the fitness industry ever since. 

Pilates is a type of low-impact workout that incorporates light resistance training by performing small, repetitive, intense movements with a strong focus on the core muscles that helps build strength and develop balance.

Pilates workouts can be performed in a number of different ways: they can be done with no equipment on a mat or blanket or using specially-designed apparatuses and equipment. The special equipment ranges from smaller, portable pieces such as resistance bands, mats, and a circular contraption known as the Pilates ring, to larger pieces of equipment such as the Pilates Reformer, Chair, and Cadillac. 

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Yoga is a mind-body practice that focuses on the synergy of movement and breath. Originating in India and dating back to 2700 B.C., yoga is said to have been developed as a spiritual development practice to train the body and mind to self-observe and become aware of each other. 

Yoga uses a combination of fluid movement and isometric poses to challenge the body’s flexibility, strength, and balance. It also incorporates deep breathing exercises such as deep belly breathing which are proven to relieve stress and calm the nervous system

There are many different ways to practice yoga. The different types of yoga include yin, flow, vinyasa, hatha, ashtanga, and more. They all use the same basic foundations of the movements but vary in intensity and execution. Yoga can also be practiced at room temperature or at elevated temperatures (called hot yoga).

While barre and Pilates workouts incorporate added weights such as light dumbbells and ankle weights, yoga focuses primarily on body weight alone.

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How Are They Similar?

Yoga, Pilates, and barre all offer a full-body workout that challenges a variety of muscle groups. All three workouts focus on balance and strength and provide excellent exercises for your core, upper body, and lower body.

They have both physical and mental benefits such as improving posture, toning muscles, and decreasing stress levels, in addition to improving your overall physical fitness.

Both yoga and Pilates share some overlap between the Pilates and yoga principles, including the principles of relaxation and breathing, which are key areas of execution and focus in both practices.

Is Pilates or Barre Better for Weight Loss?

The honest answer to this question is neither. Pilates nor barre are better for weight loss. Pilates and barre are excellent workouts for building muscular endurance and strength as well as bettering your balance; however, neither of the two are exercises that primarily burn fat. If weight loss is your main goal, these types of physical activity shouldn’t be the focus of your exercise program. Instead, go for an exercise program that incorporates high-intensity cardio and weight training. 

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Does Barre Burn More Calories Than Pilates?

The number of calories burned in a barre class vs. a Pilates class is comparable, but will vary from person to person based on a number of factors, including their body composition, weight, and exercise intensity. 

Both activities are relatively the same in intensity and heart rate, which means you can expect to burn similar amounts of calories in the same duration of exercise. 

Is Pilates or Barre Better for Abs?

When it comes to abdominals, Pilates has a stronger focus on core strength and core stability work than barre. Having a strong core is essential to help prevent injury, reduce back pain, and improve balance, stability, and posture. If you’re looking to focus on your mid-section, we recommend going with a Pilates class. 

Is Barre or Pilates Better?

There is no universal “better” when it comes to comparing barre and Pilates. Each person will have a different answer since it’s really about which activity you enjoy doing more. The level of enjoyment and ranking of one workout over the other will depend on personal experience with each type of exercise, the instructors, and the classes themselves. One barre class can be completely different from another, and the same goes for Pilates. 

The best thing to do is try each and decide for yourself which you enjoy better. But at the end of the day, variety is the spice of life, and it’s important to mix up your workout routines. Incorporating both can be a great way to keep yourself motivated and engaged in your fitness journey.

Which of the Three Is Better for Your Goals?

If your goal is to work on balance, muscular strength, and endurance, try barre classes or Pilates classes. If your goal is to work on flexibility, yoga will take a greater focus on this as well as incorporate balance, muscular strength, and endurance. All three are fairly low-impact activities, but yoga will be the lowest.

The Best Approach to Achieving Your Goals

The best approach to achieving your fitness goals is to try all three forms of exercise and find out how you like to move your body best. Introducing new ways of working out helps prevent plateaus, maintain a consistent fitness routine, and progress your physical health and fitness level. 

In summary, one form of exercise isn’t better than the other. Focus on variety and never limit yourself to just one thing. That’s why lululemon Studio offers a wide variety of live and on-demand fitness classes. From barre, Pilates, and yoga to kickboxing, strength training, and so much more, lululemon Studio has over 10,000 workouts to choose from with new ones running live and being saved to our workout bank every day. 

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