I’m that girl who loves recommendations. Whether I’m shopping on Sephora or looking up a restaurant, I always read the reviews and ask people for recommendations. When Kristine couldn’t stop raving about Bar Method, I knew that I needed to give it a second chance, especially since there is a location just a few blocks from our apartment. Six weeks and 14 classes later, I couldn’t be happier that I took her recommendation. The Bar Method Brooklyn has helped me stand taller, lose inches, gain strength, and most importantly, feel part of a community.
Based off the workout created by Lotte Berk, a German dancer, in the 1930’s Bar Method combines ballet bar and dance conditioning into one class. In 1959, she opened her first studio in London, sharing the Lotte Berk Method with students. In 1971, one of her students, Lydia Bach, bought the rights and brought it to the United States. Bar Method, as we know it today, was started by Burr Leonard, one of Lydia’s students. The Bar Method is based on the Lotte Berk method but has been improved and optimized based on input from physical therapists, ensuring that each exercise is not only effective but also safe. I had the chance to take a class at the flagship location in San Francisco, last week with Kristine! Since this first studio opened in 2001, they have grown to over 80 studio locations, including my local Brooklyn studio.
While there are many studios in New York City that I enjoy, the Bar Method Brooklyn is very different than most NYC studios. As soon as you walk through the doors, you are greeted by a spacious, bright, airy space as well as very friendly staff. The staff makes it their goal to know each student on a personal basis, whether it’s by asking about their family or latest travels. I think part of this community is because the owner, Katie Muehlenkamp, was born and raised in Brooklyn. She knows how important community is in Brooklyn and wants to build that same community at her studio. On my first visit, the staff asked me about my current fitness routine so they could better explain how Bar Method can supplement the routine and which moves would be most beneficial.
This Bar Method location has two studios, a full locker room and shower area, as well as child care facility. Child care is offered for an average of two classes per day, a very welcome benefit for local parents. The studio is far more spacious than most, featuring wall-to-wall carpeting as well as a wall of windows which allow light to stream into the classroom. The carpet still looks brand new since every student is required to wear socks during the class. The studio can easily accommodate up to 30 students, providing plenty of space for stretching and moves at the bar.
The class itself is 60 minutes in length, including a warm-up and cool-down section. You will use two sets of hand weights, a lighter and heavier set, as well as other props such as balls, straps and mats. During the class, the teacher and assistants make things simple by providing you with the props you need for each move. Another Bar Method signature is the personal adjustments and attention they provide to each student. During class, expect to be adjusted or provided verbal cues no less than two times even if you are a Century Student, who has attended over 100 classes. The teachers want to ensure that every student gets the most out of the 60-minute class by having perfect, precise form.
Most people wear tanks, leggings and grippy socks for class though you can wear regular socks as well. The class begins with a dynamic warm-up that gets your joints lubricated and blood flowing. After the warm-up, you will move directly into upper-body that changes each day. Most days it includes moves that work the biceps, lats and triceps including arm curls, tricep extensions and tricep dips. Each class also includes 60 push-ups, which are spread between each section of class. As of this morning’s class, I am finally able to do all three sets of 20 pushups on my hands and toes, a huge improvement from where I started six weeks ago. Following the upper-body sequence, the class moves to the barre where you’ll spend around 20 minutes doing moves that will humble you and make your thighs, calves, glutes and abs quiver. In between each set, there is time for a deep stretch that helps lengthen and release the shaking muscles. The stretching sections are 30-seconds to one minute, providing ample time to lengthen and relax the muscles. Finally, the class moves to the center of the room for 10 minutes of ab work and glute work on the mat. This section often includes curls that engage the deepest ab muscles, helping to smooth and strengthen the core. Once the core work is is complete, students are rewarded with a final stretch and cool down session that leverages a strap to help students get deeper into each move.
After the 60-minute class, I may not always be sweating but I always walk out feeling taller, stronger and leaner. Over the past six weeks, I have averaged two classes per week in addition to running three times per week. The Bar Method has started to change my body, most noticeably my posture and legs. I lost an inch from my waist during the six weeks and a half inch from each thigh. While this was a nice side effect, I was more excited by the way Bar Method improved my running. The perfect complement to running, many of Bar Method’s exercises strengthen the knees by strengthening the surrounding muscles in a low impact way. My new found core and leg strength has allowed me to feel stronger during hills and speed work as well as run three half marathons and Reach the Beach within a five week period without injury.
Want to try Bar Method Brooklyn for yourself? Book a class via ClassPass or, sign up for their new client special. The special is $99 for a month of unlimited classes!
*Thank you to Bar Method Brooklyn for you support and partnership. I was not compensated for this review though I was provided a discounted media partner rate.