Carrying on the Legacy of Lotte Berk, Queen of Barre

Carrying on the Legacy of Lotte Berk, Queen of Barre

I am committed to making sure the classes we offer you at Barre & Soul are simply the best in the world. For the past decade I've learned from some of the foremost innovators who preceded me in teaching barre and yoga in the US. 

In our barre classes, I’ve worked to fuse all the collective wisdom of the American barre industry, with my own passion for empowerment, social equality and a mindful approach to fitness - to create what has become a phenomenal community of Barre & Soul studios.

This year, I decided it was time to dive deeper – and go straight to the source of where barre was born. Lotte Berk was a ballerina who fled Nazi Germany in the 1940s and then developed an unprecedented method of conditioning and strength training in the UK that was as much a social and community building experience as it was a fitness regimen. Its popularity grew throughout her life, and Lotte mentored her daughter Esther Fairfax in the details, style and philosophy at the heart of what we now call “the Lotte Berk technique”.

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Esther Fairfax has now been teaching her mother's method for 54 years. She lives a few hours outside of London and is in her early eighties. She is strong, vibrant and dedicated to carrying on her mother’s legacy. She continues to teach those interested in practicing the purest form of barre.

This summer, I had the honor of traveling to England, alongside our own Crissy Trayner, to spend time with Esther and become certified in the “Pure Lotte” technique, creating a direct connection from Barre & Soul to the source of where the barre phenomenon began.

The workout Esther presented was one of the most challenging I’ve experienced anywhere. I could see clear connections to the movements we teach at Barre & Soul. It was the essence of barre – no props, mats or weights. Just the elegance of precise form and movement - and body weight used as resistance to develop a lean, strong, flexible, agile body.

The trip was enlightening, as I understood more clearly than ever the differences between Barre & Soul and Lotte Berk’s original method.

Carrying on the Legacy of Lotte Berk, Queen of Barre

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Some elements that distinguish Barre & Soul were born from my personal passions – for example, a focus on mindfulness and feminist empowerment as much as physical training, postures and elements from the yoga tradition, and some are standard practice in US barre classes, like the use of light weights, and the fusion of calisthenics like push-ups and planks that invite another layer of full-body strengthening.

Barre & Soul will continue to offer our distinctive method that you have come to know and love! But my time with Esther Fairfax opened my mind to the importance of learning about roots, and continuing a legacy, and we look forward to sharing with you some of what we have learned.

We will be training more of our Barre & Soul instructors in the “Pure Lotte” technique, to help preserve the beautiful, powerful method Esther Fairfax’s mother began. I believe Pure Lotte deserves to carry on even in a world that is obsessed with innovation and change. I see it as a personal and professional duty to keep the legacy alive, and I can't wait to share this timeless method with you in our upcoming Pure Lotte workshops!

See you at the barre!
Andrea :)

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