Barre Fitness was started by Lotte Berk, a German ballerina living in London. After a lower back injury, she decided to combine her dance conditioning routine with her physical therapy exercises. She opened her first studio in 1959 in London. Lydia Bach, an American student of Berk’s, brought the workout to the United States in 1971, when she opened the first Lotte Berk Method studio in New York City on the Upper East Side. Over time, instructors began branching off to create their own variations of the workout.