I keep hearing girls raving about the results they see from attending their barre classes, so I decided to try it out for myself. I attended as many barre studios in Austin as I could over the past month to see what all the hype is about! I’m a barre newbie, so my only expectations were based on what I’ve heard people say over and over: it’s a hard workout, and you’ll see results fast! I like both of those things.
If you’re unfamiliar with barre workouts like I was, here’s a good article that describes them in depth. In a nutshell, this is my best description:
It’s a ballet-inspired workout class that uses a ballet barre and small, isometric movements to isolate muscles and fatigue them in a different way than large movements from a typical strength-training class would work your muscles. There’s a lot of emphasis on the small movements (a phrase I heard over and over this past month: “down an inch, up an inch..”) and posture (lots of “tuck your booty!” and “straighten your leg!” followed by me thinking: OH MY LORD, lady, I am freaking trying!!!), as well as working a muscle to exhaustion. Most studios would spend 3-6 minutes on any one small body part (like quadriceps) until that muscle was shaking. I seriously thought I might jack hammer my way through the floor at one point because my legs were shaking so hard!
Over the past month, I attended workouts at 8 different barre studios to figure out which one I’d like to make my “home” studio. First of all, I’ve literally been sore for a month straight..haha. And, (big surprise here..), I found out that Austin has a lot of great places to do a barre workout and I couldn’t pick just one! I do have three studios that really stood out to me, though.
Note: I was not sponsored or compensated by any barre studio to write this post. All opinions are my own. I tried out as many barre classes as I could in the past month so that I could share my honest opinion with you and find the studio that I think is best. Enjoy!
I chose the downtown location of barre3 for my first (ever!) barre workout. They don’t require sticky socks like most other studios, and I didn’t want to spend $18 on a pair of socks just in case I hated the workout and never wanted to go to another barre class in my life. (That wasn’t the case, by the way.)
The class is performed on a hardwood floor using the typical equipment (mat, ball, light weights, and resistance band) and the electronic music was loud and pulsing. The class was fast paced and I got my heart rate up in addition to feeling a severe burn in my muscles. The instructor didn’t give me much individual feedback, though…it was more as if she had memorized a script and was reciting it during the hour-long class.
This was a fun way to be introduced to a barre workout. While barre3 didn’t have the “boutique” feel of other studios in Austin (it felt more like a chain – because it is!), I got in a killer workout and was sore for three days.
115 Sandra Way, Suite 103
Parking: free and available in nearby parking garage
Coming from a class at barre3, I was surprised by certain things at my Bar Method class. First of all, the instructor made sure to know each person by name, so I was a little startled the first time she said into her microphone, “Kelsey, try to keep your back straight and tuck your hips under.” Socks are required, but the workout is done on a padded carpet floor. It was rainy day when I attended, so I liked the cozy feeling of walking into a workout class and sitting down on a soft floor to stretch before the class started.
I happened to enjoy the personal attention the instructor gave in this class – I’m a little bit of a perfectionist when it comes to workout form and technique – but if you’re in the mood to blend in, it could be a little uncomfortable. I was also impressed with the Bar Method’s locker and changing room – they offer plenty of shower space, which I quickly realized is something that most barre studios in Austin don’t have. It’s a nice little perk in case you have to run straight to work from class!
1611 W. 5th St, Suite 125
Parking: free parking in connected parking garage
MOD Fitness (South Lamar)
I wanted to like this one so much! MOD Fitness has two locations, one on S Lamar and another on N Burnet. Being a south Austin resident, I attended a class at their south location. The studio is an adorable little house that has been renovated into a workout studio.
First, let me say the things I loved: this is a small, boutique studio, and the instructors are well trained, give individual attention when needed (although they don’t call you out by name like at The Bar Method), and offer an intense workout. MOD Fitness classes had one extra move done that I didn’t experience at any of the other studios in Austin, and it left my legs SO SORE!
However, as much as I wanted to love the cuteness of this studio, I just couldn’t enjoy the workout because the ceilings were so dang low! The room felt dark and cave-like and smelled a little funny. When I raised the ball up over my head, it almost touched the ceiling (and I’m 5’6 for reference). I like a big, bright, airy workout facility, and I didn’t get that at MOD fitness south location.
In all fairness, I should tell you that I tried out the north MOD fitness location and had a different perspective. Read on for that one.
2401 S Lamar Blvd
Parking: very limited; with additional parking one block away at CVS pharmacy
MOD Fitness (Burnet)
After having a great workout but not loving the facility at the south location of MOD, I didn’t want to give up on this studio…it seemed to have so much potential! So I drove up to north Austin one afternoon for a barre class to see if the two studios were similar, and I was so happy to find that the Burnet location had a much bigger, airier, brighter workout room with taller ceilings. It’s still in a renovated house, just like the S Lamar location, so don’t expect the 20 foot ceilings you’d see at a Gold’s Gym.
I loved the cute fireplace at the side of the room; the design of this studio is darling! The workout, just as I expected, was insane and I left exhausted and sweaty. Some people say they don’t sweat in barre workouts, but I definitely do!
4406 Burnet Road
Parking: only a few spots available behind the studio; additional parking one block away near Ramsey park
After finding my equipment and a place to sit before class started, I started talking with another client next to me, a former Pure Barre instructor from California who had recently moved to Austin. She doesn’t instruct any more and only takes the class, but she told me that Pure Barre is the only workout she does…and this woman was in great shape! I was impressed with her sculpted muscles even before she told me that she has three young kids. And everyone else in the room was quick to agree that once you start Pure Barre, you don’t want to stop. It’s kind of its own little club.
The instructor gave a good amount of individual attentions to all of the ladies in this class, and liked the workout – my legs were shaking hard! I didn’t like the window-less room in the Westlake location, but the workout was amazing (particularly that upper body portion).
3267 Bee Caves Road
Parking: plenty available in parking lot
Todd Pilates and Barre
This is primarily a Pilates studio, so the instructors at Todd seemed to be among the most knowledgable about human muscle anatomy and how to protect the body from injury. While instructors at other studios would only talk about pushing the body as hard as you can, the instructor for class at Todd Pilates and Barre was quick to offer modifications. This is something that any yogi would appreciate.
I was also impressed with how many ladies showed up to the 6 am Friday morning class. It was packed!
4032 S Lamar Blvd #700
Parking: plenty available in the parking lot
The Barre Code
In full discolure, I have to give the story behind this one:
This studio (which ended up being one of my favorites in Austin!) and I had a rocky start. I signed up for a 6 am class. It was my first one at the studio, which meant I had to get there 15 minutes early to sign the waiver. Plus I had to go straight to teaching orchestra from class, so I packed a bag full of my makeup and hair supplies and a change of clothes and some breakfast (I figured I could stop for coffee somewhere on the way to work). This means I had to get up at 5:15 am, which isn’t easy for me! And then…after finding my equipment and a spot in the room and stretching while I waited for all the other girls to arrive, the owner at the front desk popped his head in the room to let us know…he couldn’t get ahold of the instructor. She didn’t show up! (*WAIL!*)
Like I said, this studio is actually one of my favorite in Austin, and part of that is due to how humbly and kindly they handled this situation. The owner was extremely apologetic, refunded my class, gave me an additional free class, and gave my $15 of merchandise credit. I went the next week to the same 6 am class, and the instructor, who was wonderful, baked us granola bars to say sorry. Listen: I get it. I’ve slept through way too many workouts in my life to count. I just appreciate someone who is able to apologize when they make a mistake, and The Barre Code did that!
Although there are no windows in the workout room, there are high ceilings and plenty of mirrors, and the floor was a padded, grippy sort of mat, so I really liked the overall feel of the studio. My instructor was so sweet and encouraging, and the workout was killer! Sticky socks are required, just like at most barre studios.
2300 S Lamar Blvd
Parking: plenty available in parking lot
Define Body & Mind
My final barre workout of the month was one of my favorites! I took a lunchtime class at Define Body & Mind, a studio that, in addition to barre, also offers indoor cycling, yoga, and classes that combine cardio, pilates, yoga, ballet, and core strengthening. Similarly to Todd Pilates, this class seemed to be more focused on strengthening without injuring. There was more yoga in this class than any other class I took all month; but don’t get me wrong – it was still very challenging and left me sore the next day!
809 S Lamar Blvd
Parking: plenty available in parking garage under studio
After this fun little project of exploring the barre studios in Austin, I can say that my three favorites, in no particular order, are:
1. The Barre Code
2. Define Body & Mind
3. MOD Fitness, Burnet Location
Because I’m a south Austinite, I doubt I’ll make it up to the MOD Fitness Burnet location very often. But if you live up there, be sure to check it out!
This morning I’m off to stretch it out in a yoga class, because I’m so so sore from all this barre! Haha!