Thursday, June 14, 2012

DC Bar Method

I have never been one to turn down an opportunity to hang at the bar.

Had I known that this was the bar in mind, however, I might have reconsidered:
Stretching out my muscles post-class.
Just kidding.

I loved this class.  It kicked my butt three ways to Mars, but I loved it.  To date, this was the hardest class I have taken, and I hope I can go back again as soon as possible.

Margo, my now-dubbed exercise-class-partner-in-crime, joined me as we took on the world of barre-style fitness at Bar Method DC downtown earlier this week.  They offer free classes every once in a while, and Margo and I jumped at the opportunity as soon as one became available online.  

Bar method is quickly becoming one of the most talked-about, trendy, intense ways to strength-train and lose weight.  It involves using poses, small movements, and stretches focusing on your arms, shoulders, legs, back, and abs for a full-body muscle-strengthening workout.  The instructors are enthusiastic, loud, and play upbeat music to keep you going throughout the workout.  Though the moves don't look as intimidating or grandiose as some of the ones you see in hardcore strength training classes (Body Pump, for example!), they are incredibly difficult, and amazingly effective.  Muscles I didn't even know I had were burning like I had fire ants in my blood.  As I write this entry almost 24 hours later, my legs are still aching, my abs are still groaning, and my shoulders are still smarting.    

Let me put it this way - this class is not for the timid or unsure.  

While in one, it's impossible to go anything less than 100%.  Why?  Because the teachers memorize your names before you start the class, and then proceed to call you out, compliment you, and come over and fix your body/posture throughout the entire session.  Suffice it to say I got called out by our awesome instructor, Kate, a lot.  A lot.  I even had to stand at the ballet bar in front of her (and the class) at one point so that she could monitor me closer, hahaha.  I'm not embarrassed about it, though!  It was my first class, I have the flexibility of a plank made out of solid steel, and I basically had no idea what I was doing the entire time.  I'm sure that if I go back, I'll continue to be called out to push harder and to adjust my movements to get the ultimate workout, and I'm totally okay with it.  Because if I'm not there to push myself to the best of my ability, why even go in the first place?  

One of the interesting aspects of bar method is the encouragement from the teachers to make sure your muscles are shaking. And shake they do!  During the leg routine, my thighs and calves were trembling like my body was the East Coast earthquake of Summer 2011.  And that was the goal!  I was engaging muscles I don't typically use on a normal basis, and the trembling was a sign that I was doing the moves correctly.  It's a crazy concept, but true.

Another cool thing the bar method incorporates is a heck of a lot of push-ups, which are actually a welcome respite from some of the tougher intricate moves required by the class.  Yep, you read that right - this is a class where push-ups are a respite.  It's not easy.  It's not meditative or calming like yoga.  It's intense, and it will push you very hard, but in a very good way!
Post-class!  In all honesty, I can't believe I was able to lift my left arm as high as I did in this picture.
After just one class, I already feel like my muscles are tighter.  I can see how people who attend these classes frequently can shape and tone their bodies in record timing.  People rave about these classes and the results they get from them, and with good reason!

The one drawback is the classes are quite pricey, so it would seem hard to commit on a long-term basis.  But on the flip side, perhaps spending a fair amount of money on these classes would be a good way to keep me tied to going on days when I'd rather lay on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother re-runs with my cats (I'm really cool, I promise).

So, are you ready to start trying out some of the moves for yourself to see if you're ready for a class?  Fitsugar recently posted a great article with some awesome at-home barre workouts.  Check them out!

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