Review of Les Mills Barre workout class

It’s time for a review of Les Mills Barre, one of the newest Les Mills group fitness programs, which has only been around for a couple of years. It’s a good one, and the reason I’m writing a full review on it is because this workout feels amazing on the body, and I want more people to know about it.

I’ve taken Les Mills Barre in person once and done the rest via Les Mills On Demand, a streaming web service, where you can access more than 800 workouts, including several Les Mills Barre releases (or editions, if you will). I would highly recommend Les Mills On Demand for all of the variety. And because we don’t have any gyms nearby with Les Mills Barre offered, Les Mills On Demand is currently the only place I can get the workout.

Quick background on Les Mills

Before we dig into the review, let’s do a primer on Les Mills. Les Mills is an international group fitness company based out of New Zealand, and they have some amazing group fitness programs, including the three that I am certified to teach — BODYPUMP, BODYATTACK and CXWORX (soon to be renamed Les Mills CORE).

I am not certified to teach Les Mills Barre, but I am certified to teach a different barre program not from Les Mills, called Bootybarre, and I teach this barre class twice a week. It’s quite different from Les Mills Barre.

Now the thing with barre workouts is that they can be completely different depending on where you take them. There are studios like Pure Barre and The Bar Method, which have their own style of barre, very focused on small isometric moves and a lot of time spent at the bar. Then there are tons of local studios featuring their own unique version of barre as well, using all sorts of equipment and styles. When it comes to Les Mills Barre, as usual with Les Mills, you’re getting a well-rounded and quality workout. And here’s the big point of differentiation — you don’t actually use a bar at all. The entire workout is done standing in the middle of the room. Bar-less barre, folks.

Review of Les Mills Barre workout class

Review of Les Mills Barre workout class by A Lady Goes West

Let’s get to the full review …

Here’s what the Les Mills website has to say …

LES MILLS BARRE is a 30-minute ballet-inspired style of training that works to shape and tone your whole body. We begin with a warm-up, followed by a sequence of cardio-esque training, building to a cardio peak. We then move into ballet strength, using light weights, and finish with targeted balletic conditioning to complete your full-body training.

I agree with that!

What is Les Mills Barre?

Here’s what you need to know from a third-party (me!) …

The workout is just under 30 minutes from start to end. You begin with a warm-up, each track is a different focus with a different song, you end with some core work on the ground and a short stretch. It’s cohesive, although there are tiny breaks between the change of songs. You do need some very light hand-weights, probably anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds and a mat. 

The class is done in the bare feet, although you can also wear grippy barre socks (like these, my fave) or dance shoes. If you’re totally uncomfortable without anything on your feet, sneakers are okay, but you may struggle with gliding your foot across the floor, which is an important part of the class. (Side note: If you find you have foot pain, having never worked out in the bare feet before, lower your relevé, take breaks and consider building up to do the full workout.)

The moves go well with the music, and this is where the Les Mills company really excels. There’s nothing like the feeling of both your intensity and flow being perfectly suited to the tunes you’re hearing.

What is different about Les Mills Barre compared to other barre workouts?

  • There is no bar, the entire workout is done in the middle of the floor.
  • The workout is very based in ballet, with a lot of technical terminology and classic ballet moves like leaps and turns. It’s slow and graceful, then quick and powerful.
  • You move around a lot, it’s not just standing still in one spot next to a bar.
  • There are little breaks between each track and section, but the workout flows seamlessly from beginning to end.
  • The moves go perfectly with the music.
  • It’s only 30 minutes.
  • It can be done anywhere.
  • There’s no cheese. It’s a bit more serious, yet still fun. 

What type of moves do you do in Les Mills Barre?

I’ve taken a ton of different kinds of barre classes, and Les Mills Barre is the most rooted and based in ballet that I’ve seen. It’s not a ballet class, it’s a workout — but it has the essence of a ballet class, rather than a fitness class.

The moves include first position, second position, and the other classic foot positions as you’d find in ballet. Then there are pliés, grand pliés, arabesques, tendus, ballet lunges, glissades, échappé leaps, turns and even more. The instructors use these names for the moves, yet show you how to do them step by step, so you don’t have to be familiar with the terminology.

Each song begins with a few basic moves and then more difficult variations are added on. You also pick up some light weights as well to add to the challenge.

What is the format of Les Mills Barre?

In a 30-minute class, there are eight tracks, and the music, moves and focus change for each track. The tracks are as follows …

  1. Warm-up — setting up the correct posture and introducing positions
  2. Deepen — getting deeper into the work
  3. Extend — long lines
  4. Peak — cardio peak with more difficult moves to get the heart-rate up
  5. Strengthen — using small hand-weights
  6. Power — using small hand-weights
  7. Escape — another cardio peak with larger jumping moves to finish
  8. Burn — core/back section done on the mat with a very short stretch

The class can also be done in a 45-minute format, with additional bonus tracks added in between the ones above.

How hard is the Les Mills Barre workout?

Les Mills Barre definitely requires balance, coordination and core strength, yet, because there are so many options in the class, it would be possible for a beginner to attempt it. The workout is delivered in layers, so instead of adding on each time, you can keep the moves more manageable for your individual abilities.

If you take the highest of levels (which usually includes turns and jumps), it’s a very difficult workout. However, there are ways to keep the workout much easier. And of course, because the workout is just under 30 minutes, it’s not too taxing. I find that it feels GREAT on the body, and leaves me feeling stretched, strong, graceful and elongated — definitely not beat down or defeated.

And the former dancer in me absolutely basks in the opportunity to try my hand at turns and leaps again. It’s fun, challenging and makes me so happy, and I definitely have to WORK at it.

Can a beginner take Les Mills Barre?

It would be helpful to have some dance or ballet training, but is absolutely not essential. So yes, a beginner can take the class. However, I would highly recommend visiting the Les Mills website and practicing some of the basic ballet moves at home first that are detailed on this page at the bottom.

Or you can sign up for Les Mills On Demand and try some of the demos, because the better you are able to perform the moves, the better the workout will be for your body. If you are just trying to play catch-up the whole time, you won’t get as good of a burn. And as with any group fitness program, you will get better the more you do it — so don’t give up after one try. 

A review of Les Mills Barre class - by A Lady Goes West -- September 2019

What are the benefits of a Les Mills Barre class?

It’s a barre workout without the bar, so you’re forced to stabilize and really work your whole body to balance to do all the moves without any support. You’ll challenge your flexibility, coordination and overall strength, with some cardio too. And although you don’t use heavy weights, the small hand-weights are effective enough to make one Les Mills Barre workout count as part of your resistance work for the week.

Also, the workout is not too tough on the body, which is nice. While there are some light jumps, you can easily remove the impact and still have a great workout. I happen to think this workout is quite empowering too — as you get a chance to feel both strong and graceful.

How often should you do a Les Mills Barre class?

As with any workout, you don’t want to do it every single day. You’ll see great results from two to three times a week, and I’d recommend putting a day off in between, or doing cardio or yoga on the days in between, with perhaps some heavier strength in there one day too.

Where can you take a Les Mills Barre class?

You can only find Les Mills Barre at a facility that pays for the Les Mills license and has Les Mills Barre certified instructors. You can search for a facility near you here. Otherwise, you can find Les Mills Barre on Les Mills On Demand, which you can access at home or on your phone for a virtual barre class any time. Here’s a special link to get 21 days totally for free to try Les Mills On Demand.

Here’s a snapshot of a class from Les Mills On Demand …

A review of Les Mills Barre class on Les Mills On Demand - by A Lady Goes West -- September 2019

Les Mills Barre class details

  • Duration: 30 minutes (although there is a 45-minute format)
  • Attire: Wear tight-fitting clothing, like leggings and a tank top. You don’t need shoes, but you should wear grippy socks or regular socks. I recommend this brand of grippy socks.
  • Equipment: Mat and a set of small hand-weights, maybes 2 to 5 pounds.
  • Format: Warm-up, cardio, weights, turns, core, stretching, both standing up and on the ground, in the middle of the room with no bar.
  • Difficulty level: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely hard, I’d give it a 7.

If you want to try Les Mills Barre today, head on over to Les Mills On Demand, and you can get 21 days TOTALLY for free, using my special link here. Thank you so much! Happy barre-ing!

Other posts you may like …

Questions of the day

Have you ever taken a Les Mills Barre class?

What’s your favorite way to work out?

Have you tried Les Mills On Demand yet? You should!

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6 Comments

  1. I really liked Les Mills Barre! I’m glad I’m starting to see more people talking about it. I haven’t seen any live classes near me, but the On Demand version was awesome. It was quick but effective and I loved that it didn’t require a barre, so I could do it right at home. I feel like it incorporated a lot of ACTUAL ballet moves, which I don’t see too much of in barre classes believe it or not!

    1. Hi Dominique — it’s by far the most based in ballet class that I’ve seen for barre, and I also like that there’s no bar, which is way more convenient. I’d love to see this program grow, so here’s hoping. Glad you’re a fan too! Have a great day!!

  2. Is there NOTHING that Les Mills wont put his stamp on? The donald trump of fitness, charges unqualified instructors a monthly fee to use his ” routines” please mr. Mills, stay out of our lane

    1. Hi Pia, Sounds like you’ve had a poor experience with a Les Mills workout? I’m sorry to hear that. We’re all entitled to our own opinions, but the Les Mills company creates REALLY safe and effective workouts, and if you try Les Mills Barre, you’ll see many of the instructors are former dancers too. Also, Les Mills instructors go through training weekends, have to submit full videos and stay up to date with education, so they are qualified to teach. Not sure why it should matter that Les Mills keeps adding more programs, all that means is that they will reach more and more people to get them exercising and feeling good. Seems like that’s a win for everyone. 🙂

      1. Thanks for taking the time to reply. I’ve been a certified barre instructor for 7 years so my comment was coming from a different perspective, not as a student. Once again, thanks & I wish you the best. If you ever want to take my barre class, lmk.

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