Barre-Fusion®: The History Of Barre Workouts

In teaching a barre-method, you should know a bit about the history – how barre-workouts came to be. Understand what has made them successful.  Barre-workouts were born much the way the Pilates Method® was: a need for smart, safe and efficient training. Your focus should be more on alignment and technique than on entertainment.

In 1959 a woman named Lotte Berk opened a Rehabilitation Exercise studio in London. Berk combined her ballet training with rehabilitation therapy after she suffered from a back injury. She used strength training, dance and orthopedic back exercises to lengthen, firm, and shape the muscles women (and many celebrities) from all over the country. (1)

Lydia Bach studied with Berk in London and in 1970, bought the rights from Burke, enabling her to bring the method to America, where she renamed it The Lotte Berk Method®. Bach felt that Lotte didn’t have sufficient overall stretching or upper body weight lifting, so Bach added those movements to the sequencing. 30% of Burke’s original key movements are found in The Lotte Berk Method®. The program developed through refinements added by Bach through the years of research and experimentation. (2)

In the early 1980’s, Callan Pinckney created Callanetics, which is a system of exercise involving frequent repetition of small muscular movements and squeezes. She worked for Lotte Burke during the 1970’s in London. She adapted the exercises she learned from Berk and made them her own by making the movements completely non-jarring and more gentle. She applied movements she learned while studying ballet with the Moshe Feldenkrais and The Alexander Technique. (3)

In 1981, Burr Leonard, the founder of The Barre Method® took her first Lotte Berk Method® class in New York.  She opened up her own Lotte Berk Method® studio in 1992.  A couple of years later after opening several more Berk Method® studios Leonard enlisted a physical therapist to rework some of the exercises, in order to make them safer and more efficient.  In 2001 she opened the first Bar Method® studio in San Fransisco, CA.  As of February, 2015, there are now 53 Bar Method® studios around the world.

The Bar Method® is a one-hour, non-impact total body workout. It starts with a warm-up, free-weight exercises and push-ups and then moves on to intense, isometric leg work at the bar, followed by abdominal work at the bar and on mats. Every exercise includes active stretching to elongate the targeted muscles.”  (4)

In 2001 Carrie Rezabek Dorr opened her first Pure Barre® studio in the basement of an office building in Burmingham, MI.  There are now more than 200 Pure Barre® studios across the country.

In just 55 minutes you will achieve a full-body workout concentrating on the areas women struggle with the most: hips, thighs, seat, abdominals and arms. The Pure Barre technique is low-impact, protecting your joints by avoiding any bouncing or jumping. Each strength section of the workout is followed by a stretching section in order to create long, lean muscles without bulk. The technique works to defy gravity by tapering everything in and lifting it up! “ (5)

After teaching willPower & grace® for 6 years, Colorado instructor Melissa Davis expanded her fitness education to study barre exercise programs.  The willPower Barre-Fusion® program was Melissa Davis’ brainchild, born in 2012.  Her earliest rendition of willPower Barre-Fusion® quickly became the most popular class at the willPower FIT STUDIO, as it was a smart, intense, non-cardio compliment to wP&g.  After 3 years of development and collaboration with The willPower Method® founder, Stacey Lei Krauss, we present to you, willPower Barre-Fusion®.

Why have we “ditched” the barre? Read on!

Learn More!



1:  Lotte Berk

2: Lotte Burke Method®, USA

3: Callenetics®

4: The Barre Method®

5:  Pure Barre®


willPower Education Team

willPower Education Team

willPower Teacher Trainers and Development Coaches guided by program creator, Stacey Lei Krauss. This Team develops tools to enhance your professional skills and fuel your motivation.

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