My At-Home Barre Setup

Vancouver beauty, life and style blogger Solo Lisa stretches at the Bootykicker portable barre.

This post is for the fellow Bar Method enthusiasts working out at home and trying to figure out an optimal setup! As I mentioned in my last post, I recently upgraded what I use for livestream classes. Before this, I was MacGyvering with whatever I had around the condo: a chair instead of a real barre, throw pillows instead of risers and mini mats, an old yoga mat that wasn't cushy enough for my joints. That was okay for the short term, but over time these improvised solutions didn't support me in trying to get into my best form. I could feel myself holding back (not great for maintaining strength and trying to get stronger), and the limitations of my equipment were starting to create bad muscle memory habits and imbalances. The new gear definitely helped me achieve a more intense burn in tilted seat, a more balanced posture in foldover and arabesque, and a deeper ab contraction in curl work.

Solo Lisa stands behind the Bootykicker portable barre.

Bootykicker portable barre

Before the Bootykicker, I used a chair with a curved back as my makeshift barre. It was well-balanced and roughly the right height, but I only had a 6" clearance in the middle of the chair back where I could prop my leg up for stretch. Any further to the left or the right and my ankle would slide right off the sloped side. The curved back also made getting into proper form for foldover or arabesque tricky; my hands had to be in exactly the right place so that one shoulder wouldn't feel higher than the other. Oh, and did I mention that the edges of this curved chair back were squared off? Wow, did it ever dig into my Achilles tendon during stretch.

My husband bought me the Bootykicker as an early birthday present after I'd read about it on a barre fitness subreddit. It has only been a few weeks but I already love it. No more awkward hop-shuffling to shift my leg forward during stretches, no more bruised Achilles tendons, no more crooked shoulders! It's also the perfect solution for those of us living in small spaces, as it folds up flat for storage and doesn't require drilling holes into the wall.

Solo Lisa does arabesque in releve at the Bootykicker portable barre.

If you're considering buying a Bootykicker, here's what you need to know:

  • It's regularly $99.99 USD, but on sale now for $79.99 plus shipping and handling. The latter costs about $50 USD per unit. There are no additional customs or duties when shipping to Canada. All told, my husband spent approx. $178 CAD on it.
  • The assembly instructions are rubbish (and I say that as someone who writes instructions and manuals for a living!). Don't waste your time trying to parse the grammatical errors and bad diagrams. Just watch the assembly video.
  • It takes me less than a minute to pop it up and take it down.
  • The height and length are not adjustable.
  • It's best used on a hard smooth surface. The rubber stoppers at the bottom give it grip and stability.
  • The weight racks at the front also give the Bootykicker a lot of stability, especially if you rack heavier dumbbells.
  • The Bootykicker is rated for 250 pounds of downward pressure. It's great for any moves where you exert force straight downward on the barre or hold onto it for balance, e.g. stretch with your leg propped up, foldover, arabesque, most thigh work and standing seat exercises. It's stable enough for any moves where you lightly pull away from the barre, e.g. waterski exercises, toe taps in tilted seat.
  • However, because it's not mounted to the wall, I don't recommend doing any exercises where you pull away using your full body weight like chair or zinger. The backs of the legs lift up and wobble slightly during exercises where I push downward on a diagonal (heel lifts in a push-up position).
The Bootykicker portable barre is folded up and propped against the wall.
Other at-home barre props, including a blue pilates ball, yoga stretching strap, foam physio mats which function as risers and mini mats, and a tri-fold extra-thick exercise mat.

Mats and risers

It didn't take long for my wrists, elbows, and knees to feel the difference between the Bar Method's cushiony carpeted studio and my hardwood floors. I started off with an old yoga mat, then bought a slightly thicker yoga mat, and when that still wasn't enough, I sprang for a 1.5" tri-fold mat similar to ones used for martial arts and gymnastics. It's lightweight and faster to set up than a yoga mat I'd have to unroll—all I have to do is carry it into the living room by the handles and unfold. The smooth surface is a cinch to wipe clean too.

For riser and mini mat substitutes, I ordered 2 large foam balance pads and 1 XL one. If you can't decide which size to order, I suggest going for the large. The height of the large foam pads is very close to the height of the mini mats and risers in studio, and because they're made of a high-density foam with very little give, they feel a lot more supportive. I'm usually a "one riser and two mini mats" girl, but I can achieve the same level of mid- to upper-back support with two large mats depending on how I staircase them and how they hit my back.

The bargain buys

At less than $20, adding these items to the mix was a no-brainer:

  • During the height of quarantine, instructors suggested using a towel stuffed into a pillowcase as a ball substitute during high curl. That was okay in a pinch, but a real pilates ball is so much more supportive and only $14.99. For reference, the balls they use in studio are 7" in diameter.
  • The best deal I found on weights was at Canadian Tire of all places. When I bought my neoprene dumbbells back in March, they worked out to $1 per pound. My 2-, 3- and 4-pound weights came to less than $20 total. The price seems to have gone up since then, but not by much.
  • My stretching strap is an old yoga strap that came with two foam blocks (free is definitely less than $20!). But if I were to buy one today, I'd probably go to Winners; there were a whole bunch of yoga straps in the fitness section the last time I was there.


  1. "The backs of the legs lift up and wobble slightly during exercises where I push downward on a diagonal (heel lifts in a push-up position)." Yes!!! I find mine a little imbalanced where one of the back legs lift up but the other doesn't. Not sure if it was installed incorrectly or what.

    Also, even though it takes less than a minute to set up, I'm still v. lazy and I leave it "open" if I have multiple barre days in a row haha.

    Great post!!

    1. I think it's just the way it was designed because mine wobbles in the exact same way! If I had the space, I would totally just leave it set up all the time too.

  2. Nice blog and absolutely outstanding. You can do something much better but i still say this perfect. Keep trying for the best.
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  3. This is a great article on setting up a home gym! When preparing such a space, do not forget about the importance of a quality interior. If you want to freshen up the walls and give your gym a new look, I recommend going to this wall painting company. They provide professional wall painting services to help create a stylish and aesthetically pleasing environment for your workout.


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