Have you ever asked yourself who started the original barre workouts? Have you ever thought about when and where the concept first surfaced? Have you ever found yourself thinking about a French toilet whilst doing squats?!? If the answer is “yes”, then read on.

An idea is born

You’d be some way off the mark if you thought 1980’s Jane Fonda stumbled upon the idea of the first barre workout and slapped it down on VHS for general consumption. The concept actually had its first incarnation in 1959 in the basement of a London studio and was devised by a woman named Lotte Berk.

As a dancer who had fled Nazi Germany for the UK, Lotte Berk hit upon the idea of developing her dance training into a number of workout exercises. During the 60´s her classes gained the attention of celebrities such as Brooke Shields, Joan Collins and Brit Ekland. To complement the workouts, Lotte gave her exercises names such as “The French Lavatory”, “The Peeing Dog” and other such aptly named positions.

Lotte Berk

Lotte Berk points out where students practicing “The Peeing Dog” should do their business.

But how did these basement sessions grow into the barre workouts we have today? That’s where a woman named Lydia Bach comes into the story

…. read on

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