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The Plié Police

Lauren Murrow | November 18, 2014 | Story Beauty

Weeknights in San Francisco, just as happy hour is getting into full swing, you’ll find a clan of spandex-clad women lined up at the bar—the ballet barre, that is. “My husband says, ‘I feel like you know half the city,’” says Kiesha Ramey-Presner, an instructor at the Bar Method. “I told him, ‘that’s because half the city takes barre.’”

The culty workout blends elements of Pilates, strength training, yoga, and ballet—set to the pounding bass of Beyoncé and Sam Smith remixes. “Now you can work out and look graceful at the same time,” explains Elaine Hayes, an instructor at Mint Studios. But that’s not to say that every barre devotee is chasing ballerina fantasies: Each studio claims to have a few die-hard guys pliéing in its crew as well.

The Bar Method
3333 Fillmore St. (Near Chestnut St.), 415-441-6333
Price: $25 per class or $100 per month (first only, then $175)
On the Playlist: Sam Smith, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
“People come here from Pop Physique or Dailey Method saying, ‘oh, I’ve done barre before.’ Not if you haven’t done Bar Method. In my class, you will hear your name called out, and you will be physically adjusted—maybe a lot. That can hit people in a good way or a not-so-good way. This isn’t a class where you’re going to quietly do your own thing in the corner. But I’ve seen clients lose 30 pounds.” —Kiesha Ramey-Presner

Mint Studios
766 Brannan St. (Near Gilbert St.), 415-863-3935
Price: $25 per class or $250 per month
On the Playlist: Calvin Harris, Ariana Grande, Pitbull
“We don’t focus on small, isometric movements like other barre studios. We teach flowing movements that involve the full range of motion. We encourage you to shake your booty and be a little sassy. This isn’t a spiritual practice like yoga. You’re here to tone your body and burn calories.” —Elaine Hayes

592 3rd St. (Near Brannan St.), 415-735-1928
Price: $24 per class or $100 per month (first only, then $175)
On the Playlist: Disclosure, Beyoncé, Maroon 5
“I’ve visited some barre studios that have attitude, but we’re not snobby here. We try to harness the energy of the group. I’d say we’re in the middle compared to other barre classes in the city: We’re not super-slow-paced, and we’re not total cardio. You do sweat, a lot. I know I’ve done my job when people look a little defeated at the end of class.” —Nini Gueco

Pop Physique
2744 Mission St. (Near 24th St.), 415-776-4678
Price: $20 per class or $100 per month (first only, then $150)
On the Playlist: Drake, Michael Jackson, Lana Del Rey
“Before I started teaching, I found Pop Physique to be more challenging than Cardio Barre and Bar Method. I came here for the intensity. We do a lot of thigh and seat work, which is what we call it when you’re working your butt—though we never use the word ‘butt.’” —Shannon Weller

3471 Mt. Diablo Blvd. (Near 1st St.), Lafayette, 925-284-5400
Price: $22 per class or $100 per month (first only, then $150 to $220)
On the Playlist: Jasmine Thompson, Weiss, Alex & Sierra
“I used to teach at a barre studio of another method, but I opened my own studio because I wanted to do it differently than everyone else. My clients have a range of ages, abilities, and weights, and we use physical therapy props to isolate specific muscles. this isn’t the kind of class where you can just brush on some powder and go out to lunch afterwards.” —Diana Pecci

Pure Barre
3727 Buchannan St. (Near Beach St.), 415-921-1196
Price: $25 per class or $100 per month (first only, then $165)
On the Playlist: Beyoncé, Sam Smith remixes, Nicki Minaj
“We tend to focus on our core in the warm-up, and we target the abs, hips, thighs, and upper body. your muscles are going to shake and burn afterward as much as after any other workout. And though we make corrections, we try to spin them in a positive way, rather than breaking people down. That’s not always the case at other studios.” —Juliann Witt

The Dailey Method
121 Spear St. (Near Mission St.), 415-882-7404
Price: $22 per class or $100 per month (first only, then $200)
On the Playlist: Faul, D’Mixmasters, Andain
“Sure, I have 20-year-olds in my classes, but I also have a 66-year-old retired NBA player who attends religiously. He says that it helps his golf game. We’re in a society where everything’s all about ‘the harder you go, the higher you jump, the more you lift.’ But Dailey Method barre is high intensity, low impact—and your muscles still feel all jittery after an hour-long class.” —Katina Griffin

Maiden Lane Studios
80 Maiden Ln. (Near St.), 415-274-9940
Price: $25 per class or $200 per month
On the Playlist: Kaskade, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez
“Some barre classes in the city are more classical and some are more dance-y, but here we really highlight the posterior—glutes, hamstrings, and hips—since a lot of our clients sit in office chairs all day. What really sets Maiden Lane apart is the intimacy, since our classes are capped at 12 people.” —Kelsey Wiedenhoefer

Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco

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