The Key Differences – & Benefits – Of Yoga, Pilates & Barre
Yoga, Pilates and barre are all low-impact disciplines that are great options for at-home workouts.
They can all help to improve your flexibility, balance and posture while strengthening muscles to prevent or rehabilitate injuries.
However, while there are some similarities between these three training styles — for instance, you might find yourself doing planks in a yoga, barre or Pilates class — they each have distinct qualities. Find out more about each discipline so you can decide which one is right for you.
How to compare and choose between yoga, Pilates and barre
If you’re thinking about trying a yoga, Pilates or barre class and wondering which is the best discipline for you, it pays to know the key differences – and benefits – before you roll out your mat.
Feel grounded with yoga
Yoga is a total mind-body workout that requires flowing through a set series of exercises – called poses – while using the breath to focus the mind. The practice originated in India and each yoga pose has an English or Sanskrit name.
There are many different styles of yoga, from dynamic Vinyasa yoga to gentle and restorative yin, making it a great option for everyone.
Sweat instructor Phyllicia Bonanno’s Yoga with Phyllicia classes on the Sweat app are a gentle, accessible way to learn the fundamentals, with a focus on slower flows that help you find stability in each pose or posture. If you’re ready for a challenge, you can try Ania Tippkemper’s Yoga with Ania or Sjana Elise’s Body And Mind (BAM) programs which both follow a powerful and dynamic Vinyasa style of yoga.
Why you should try yoga
When you commit to at least one yoga class each week you’ll see improved strength, balance and flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, more energy, and improved breathing. Yoga’s restorative nature will have a profound effect on your mood, stress levels, sleep patterns, brain function, posture and energy levels.
Strengthen your core with Pilates
Created by German gymnast Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, the origins of Pilates are rooted in rehabilitation and building strength. Pilates consists of a series of controlled, sustained exercises that concentrate on form, rather than trying to hit a set number of reps.
The fundamentals of Pilates are based around stabilising the spine and pelvis, activating the abdominals, and using equipment, including resistance bands and rubber rings, to build in levels of resistance or tension.
In a typical Pilates class, you’ll perform a series of simple, repetitive exercises with an emphasis on muscular exertion in the abdominals, lower back, hips, thighs and glutes. You’ll find yourself focusing on smaller movements that require you to stabilise the back and core to complete the exercises.
No matter your age or fitness level, Pilates can be modified to suit everyone – even if you’ve just started working out. Sweat’s Pilates instructor Sara Colqhhoun’s Pilates with Sara program blends traditional and contemporary Pilates with elements of functional movement training to increase flexibility, core strength and improve full-body muscle definition.
Why you should try Pilates
Including regular Pilates classes in your fitness routine will promote plenty of physical and mental benefits, including stronger muscles in your back, core and hips, better pelvis and hip alignment, increased flexibility, better balance, and a greater range of motion.
Build muscular endurance with barre
Barre is the newest of the three training styles. Most barre classes are based on a movement style originated by dancer Lotte Berk, who began teaching it in London in 1959. Barre combines ballet-inspired movements (the barre that gives this training style its name is used as a support for some ballet exercises which are typically done in a barre class) with functional strength exercises.
Think of barre as a fusion of Pilates, classical ballet moves and dynamic stretching. You'll use just the barre (you can also use a sturdy chair) for support, and your body weight or small pieces of equipment such as ankle weights or small, low-weight dumbbells to add resistance. You’ll do a muscle-burning number of reps — the goal is to work the muscles to the point of fatigue.
Sweat instructor Britany Williams will challenge you in her Barre with Britany program, and build your strength and endurance. You’ll stay within the working zone of your muscles with minimal rest, learning new positions and proper form while simultaneously keeping up with your workout! It will get your heart rate up, but as barre is low-impact, it’s great for all fitness levels!
Why you should try barre
As a low-impact exercise, barre delivers similar benefits to both yoga and Pilates, including enhanced flexibility, improved posture and body alignment, and activated core muscles. The key difference is that a barre workout teaches muscular control and endurance specifically in the hips and shoulders while integrating core stability by working your muscles to the point of fatigue.
Yoga vs Pilates vs barre: Which is right for you?
Whether you love the flow of yoga, the control of Pilates or the technical aspect of barre work, you can’t go wrong by incorporating these low-impact exercises into your training. Commit to at least one of these classes each week and you’ll see improved strength, balance and flexibility.
Add yoga to your routine and you’ll enjoy a host of wonderful mood boosters, like less stress and better breathing, while Pilates has the unique benefit of improved posture and body alignment. And if you’re looking for something that’s still low-impact but delivers a little more burn, you’ll love the challenge of barre.
You’re far more likely to stick to something if you enjoy it, so try a couple of classes to find the exercise that works for you. You might be surprised at what gets those endorphins flowing!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.