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Group X

Setting the Barre High

Barre Classes

In 2013, Pittsburg Steelers tackle Steve McLendon admitted he had been taking ballet classes for years. He wasn’t taking them for fun — the dance style helped him improve balance, strengthen and tone his muscles, leading to better performance on the field.

Thanks to the popularity of barre, others like McLendon have been reaping the benefits of ballet-style Group X. 

Barre delivers a total-body workout utilizing a ballet barre and ballet fundamentals. Studios have been popping up all over the U.S., and an increasing number of clubs are starting to incorporate barre programs into their offerings. That includes Merritt Athletic Clubs, which has multiple locations in Baltimore, Maryland.

“We are always looking for new trends,” said Devon Dohony, the regional group fitness director at Merritt Athletic Clubs. “A lot of our competition is now small studios, and a lot of them offer barre. We are a health club and one of the higher-priced clubs in Baltimore, so when I am looking for a new program, I really want to add value to the membership.”

Here, Dohony shares how Merritt Athletic Clubs adds value with barre.

Be different.

Instead of offering a traditional barre class, Dohony wanted to try something unique. “When I was looking at barre and seeing the trends, I thought it would be great to bring barre in, but put a little twist on it,” she said. “So it is not your typical barre class.”

Merritt Athletic Clubs enlisted the help of Soul Body to bring their SB Barre program to the clubs. Dohony explained SB Barre incorporates traditional barre elements, but also includes components of strength and toning to attract fitness enthusiasts. “It is really tailored to the athlete, versus the typical barre participant,” she explained. “Traditional barre is amazing, but for Merritt Athletic Clubs, for our membership, this offers a different type of workout.”


According to Dohony, the barre program has been a hit. All classes are typically full, even requiring a wait list. In order to accommodate the high demand, Merritt Athletic Clubs began to offer another barre program, SB Body Barre.

“SB Barre uses a fixed barre, so we hold that class in our mind/body studio where we can fit between 18 and 22 people,” said Dohony. “Because we kept dealing with maxed-out classed, we worked with Soul Body and they developed the SB Body Barre program, which is built for the group fitness environment because you use a body bar — that way you can have up to 35 to 40 people in a class.”

Make it short.

As Merritt Athletic Clubs continuously strives to meet member needs and add value to the membership, Dohony is getting ready to add yet another barre program, SB Power.

“The creators of Soul Body just developed a 30-minute HIIT style barre class,” she said. “We are going to put it in the lunchtime hour, for our people that want to get in and out with an express format. It is something completely different, and I think it is going to excite a lot of the members.”

Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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