Barre is not just a studio fitness trend, it’s one of the fastest-growing fitness trends in the industry. The American Council on Exercise noticed a rise in popularity of barre classes after the release of the movie Black Swan in 2010.
And according to the 2018 International Fitness Industry Trend Report, the US is the global leader by a wide margin when it comes to barre, where 56% of US operators report offering it, whereas in other regions, adoption levels are in the high teens.
With the boom of barre across the US and the globe, here are some explanations as to why barre workout studios are growing to fast.
Barre is a ballet-inspired workout that also uses movements from Pilates, dance, and yoga, emphasizing isometric movements and static stretching. And all of these workouts are designed to be performed on a waist-level bar– which is why it’s called barre. Barre workouts effectively shape the body with toned and lean muscles through high reps of small range-of-motion movements set to music in an exciting group format.
Although the fitness trend of barre in the US may seem relatively new, this form of exercise has been around since 1959 when barre creator Lotte Berk opened the first studio in London. And barre certainly wasn’t popular then– in fact, Lotte Berk was a German-Jewish dancer barred from performing (pun intended) in Nazi Germany.
When Lotte fled to London and opened this barre studio, her intention was to fuse ballet barre training with rehabilitative therapy methods specifically designed to tone muscles women use during sex. Yup– barre was originally created to improve women’s sex lives! Even from the beginning, Lotte would talk about her love affairs while she taught and named exercises such as “The Prostitute,” Naughty Bottoms,” and “The Sex.” It’s even been noted that she used to tell her clients, “If you can’t tuck, you can’t f*ck.” And this is also why it was not very popular when it was first created– Lotte Berk was radical and it was an exercise decades ahead of its time.
One of Berk’s students, Lydia Bach, brought barre to the US and opened a studio in Manhattan in 1971. A strong community formed around barre over the 40 years that followed, which has led us to the barre scene we have today.
Because of its ties in ballet– a historically feminine sport –and knowing now that barre originated as an activity to improve women’s sex lives, it’s no surprise that barre classes are overwhelmingly female. However, barre workouts can be valuable for everyone. If marketed well, men can see the benefits of barre too. The exercises are great for any gender of any age– plus, they can always be modified!
Barre classes are available almost anywhere– in nearly every state and city, and many suburbs. It’s not just an East Coast or West Coast urban trend. You really can find barre studios everywhere. And why? Because unlike a typical gym or studio with lots of pricey equipment– such as $10,000 treadmills and $2,000 spin bikes –a barre studio simply requires proper flooring, barre railing, and a sound system, which is much easier to justify financially.
If you’re considering adding barre classes to your studio, then your head is in the right place. Because barre doesn’t require a ton of space or equipment, the cost of doing business is relatively low compared to other fitness niches in the industry. The essential equipment is the barre itself, and if your studio doesn’t already have a barre attached to a mirrored wall, you can purchase a free-standing bar.
You have the option of including yoga mats for some barre exercises, or small 5-pound weights, exercise balls, and resistance bands. However, even these additional pieces of equipment are low cost, and, if you’re already running a studio business, it’s likely you already have them.
Perhaps the costliest investment into offering barre classes is hiring a barre instructor. But the investment can be very profitable. At some studios, a single barre training session can cost up to $25 per person. Bringing in a barre instructor for some weekly classes can attract participants who want the barre experience but don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars each month to attend a full-time barre studio.
Barre is a great investment for studio fitness owners. Due to its low cost of business, its history, its accessibility, and its effectiveness, barre offers an excellent opportunity to grow your studio.
As a barre studio owner, there will be many business costs that need to be covered. But whether you decide to run a barre studio as a franchisee or open your own studio, those costs will vary. We’ve broken down the costs of running some of the major barre studio franchises and the costs of starting your own studio business so you can compare.