Review: The Bar Method

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“I’m going to take this free bar method class tonight,” I told a coworker on the subway last night.

“Nice! A drinking class?”

Well, not quite. Although I did want both a huge glass of wine and a huge bottle of water after the Bar Method class I tried.

Jess from Fit Chick in the City was nice enough to put together a free class for her readers at the Bar Method’s Soho location, so I gave it a try with Ashley. (Check out her review! And also Missy’s  review of why she didn’t like it.)

In last night’s heatpocalypse conditions (major fire in the East Village, power outage at Penn Station, etc.), it took forever for me to get down to Soho from Midtown. I arrived late at the studio, but they checked me in, gave me a free bottle of water and showed me to the locker room. For this girl who’s used to New York Sports Club (a decent, but no-frills gym), I thought the locker room was really nice – it reminded me of a spa.

I quickly got changed and headed into the studio. I felt really self-conscious from the second I walked in. The class had already started, so they had me step up and down 40 times to warm up before I could join in. I think most of the other women in the class had done Core Fusion or other similar classes.

(Core Fusion and the Bar Method are both based on the Lotte Berk method, which targets specific areas for toning and strengthening. My workouts with Joel always focused on using your large muscles to burn the most fat.)

Since this class was such a departure from what I’m used to, I was doing almost every exercise wrong and had to come over to be corrected. You can see some of the exercises we did here. The instructors (there was one teaching and one assisting – although I think there’s probably usually only one instructor usually) focused on getting into a very precise form and then making small, controlled movements.

Part of the class was done at a ballet barre (bringing back childhood memories of having two left feet), where we did plies and stretches against the bar; other parts were done with a playground ball between our legs. I had tried the Physique 57 DVD the night before, and thought “I don’t need the ball, I can just pretend” — um, yeah. You need the ball. It takes it to a whole new level. Your thighs work really hard to control it.

The class was really difficult for me, but it was definitely a good workout — it worked my muscles in a totally different way than I ever work them. Thanks to Jess for putting it all together! Things like this make me thankful both for NYC and for the health blog community. (End cheesiness.)

Like Soul Cycle, it’s pretty expensive – $35 a class. Two classes equals about what I’m paying a month at NYSC, so I’d probably only do it every once in a while or if there was some kind of special.

What’s your favorite ass-kicking class? Do you usually work out large muscles or target muscles like we did in this class?

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