Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Took The Bar...And I Passed!

I recently took a class at The Bar Method and I survived to tell you about it!

The Bar Method, similar to Physique 57 (which Kelly Ripa attributes for her rockin' body), is only offered in major cities. It's a blend of ballet, yoga and pilates and there are many exercises performed at the ballet barre.

I've wanted to take a class at The Bar Method for months. While visiting my sister in the East Bay, I made a reservation to drop into the San Ramon studio. Classes are 60 minutes in length and the drop-in fee is $24.00, which is definitely on the high side for a group exercise class.

Nevertheless, I arrived at the studio a few minutes early and was greeted by two super toned girls who gave me a tour. The Bar Method is a franchise so any location you visit will be pristine and well appointed. The San Ramon studio did not disappoint. They have on-site child care (provided free which is a great benefit), lockers and showers. The place is absolutely pristine. There are two rooms for classes, each has ballet barres lining the perimeter and both are completely mirrored.

There were nine of us in the class. We started the class with light weights and did a quick sequence of shoulders, triceps and biceps. So much for the age-old theory of working the large muscle groups first. The instructor then had us drop to the floor for push-ups. Throughout the exercises, she walked around giving feedback and making adjustments. I felt like she spent a LOT of time correcting my form.

We then moved on to the bar and did an intense series of legwork with arabesques and plies. This part of the work-out was grueling. I was shaking beyond belief.

After about 20 minutes of legwork, we moved on to abs and spent an ungodly amount of time on crunches. Class finished with bridging and stretching.

I wasn't trashed at the end, but I definitely felt like I had spent a disproportionate amount of time on my belly and my butt, and not so much time on the rest of my body.

A friend of mine talked with me last week about the possibility of opening a Bar Method location in Sacramento so my visit to the San Ramon studio, was, in part for research.

In all honesty, I don't think that Sacramento is quite ready for The Bar Method. For starters, the drop in fee is way too high. I don't know of many people who could or would pay so much for a group exercise class. The whole energy of The Bar Method felt very cold to me. The facility was cold, the instructors were cold, the participants were cold. Cold doesn't bode well in a community oriented place like Sacramento.

Although I don't think The Bar Method is a sustainable business idea for Sacramento, I do think that there is much to be learned from the exercises - particularly the regime on the ballet barre.

The Bar Method is consistently ranked as the number one "butt kicking workout in the Bay." When I got out of bed this morning, I could see why. My gluts were so sore I could hardly stand it. So, butt kicking, yes it is, but I'm not sure that having my butt kicked is the best way to exercise. For the money, I'd rather go to a Reformer class or a yoga class - and at least walk away with a great sense of balance - both physically and emotionally.