Few fitness fads can claim as many die-hard devotees as the Bar Method's ballet-inspired program does. (Ten years after the national franchise opened its first studio in San Francisco, it's still somehow carrying the "hot trend" moniker.) But while this body-sculpting workout based on the Lotte Burke method promises a ballerina-esque physique, don't expect any Black Swan-inspired body torture—the program has long-term health payoffs for clients of all ages and fitness levels. We stopped by one of the Bar Method's studios to assess the popular workout for ourselves.
The full-body program involves a series of targeted ballet bar and floor exercises, and draws from the principles of isometrics, dance conditioning, interval training, and physical therapy. Each of the Bar Method's 39+ studios features a similar urban loft aesthetic (think airy and modern, with exposed brick walls and hardwood floors). Add in luxury locker rooms stocked with fancy beauty products, and the overall effect is spa-like.
Classes are challenging, but move quickly in tightly controlled intervals, resulting in an hour of exercise that's more energizing than exhausting. And since the toning exercises are coupled with plenty of stretching, the usual post-class soreness experienced after trying a new class was nonexistent—instead I felt rejuvenated.
The classes work your thighs, glutes, abs, and arms, eventually lead to a tight derriere, lean legs, improved posture, elongated muscles, flat abdominals, and sinewy arms. While substantial fat loss may require additional cardio, Amy Duffey, owner and instructor at the Bar Method's New York studio, assured me that the "Bar Method body" was possible for anyone who committed to the program on a regular, three-classes per week basis.
Every Bar Method class is suitable for all fitness levels. It's an especially great toning alternative for yoga and Pilates fans that want to kick their workout up a notch. If more substantial weight loss is your goal, consider pairing the workout with a calorie-burning cardio regimen.
Where to Go
Scheduling varies by location, but studios offer multiple time slots, catering readily to busy brides. For a complete list of locations, click here. Or, you can partake in the sculpting workout at home, via the Bar Method's extensive DVD collection.