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How Local Pilates and Barre Studios Get Men to Try Out Classes

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Welcome to Racked's Fitness Week: five days of workout coverage, so that you can start your New Year's resolutions off right.

Anyone who has ever tried a Pilates or barre class knows how challenging and effective those exercises can be, regardless of gender. But getting male students in the doors of so-called "girly gyms," well, that can be tougher than reps of side planks.

Which is ironic, noted Catherine Calabrese of Potomac Pilates, since Pilates started as a man's sport and a rehabilitation tool by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900's. Potomac Pilates offers up to 10 classes per day with the newly designed Allegro II Reformer, and among its offerings are classes specifically designed for the male physique. These classes — which women can take of course — focus on stretching, flexibility, core work, and upper body exercises. And taking Pilates can help men strengthen their core, eliminate back pain, and serve as a complement to other sports.

"We have the male client who is the complete yogi: tall, thin, lean, we have that guy. And we have guys who run and train for triathlons. They're looking for stretching and flexibility. Those are the two extremes. And we have guys that come in with their wives and girlfriends because they force them to," Calabrese said.

No matter why they attend, Calabrese said male students find Potomac Pilates classes to be a challenge. It's sometimes even more challenging for male students than female students because the class involves muscles men may not be used to using. "They leave sweating bullets, the women walk off to do their errands and groceries," she said. According to Calabrese, many male students get hooked after only a few sessions because they have so much increased flexibility and range of motion.

For some male clients, trying barre is all about strength in numbers. "We have been exploring this and are still looking for the best way to engage the male market. Currently, we have "bring on the men" classes a few times a year where clients can bring their male friends to take class with them," said Michelle Garcia Davidson the owner of Pure Barre DC in Dupont Circle. "We follow class with refreshments to make it a little more festive. A lot of men are more inclined to take this class because they are guaranteed that at least half of the class will be other men."

And like Pilates, Davidson says her newbie male students are definitely challenged by barre class. "They always seem to be surprised by the difficulty and effectiveness of the workout."

At Biker Barre in Capitol Hill, location can be an incentive for men to try out barre class. "While we don't specifically market our classes to men, we definitely find that having the barre studio right above the bike studio encourages men to try us out. Most that do come back, and lots bring friends," said Biker Barre co-owner Jane Brodsky.

And there is one way to make sure that there is definitely another guy in your class at Biker Barre: just look at the instructor's name. "Biker Barre is an amazing place for men to try out the benefits of barre, because we actually have male teachers at the studio," Brodsky said.
· Potomac Pilates [Official Site]
· Pure Barre DC [Official Site]
· Biker Barre [Official Site]
· All Fitness Week 2014 posts [Racked DC]
Image via Potomac Pilates/Facebook