The Bar Method

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Raise the exercise bar. The Bar Method is a body sculpting workout that involves the use of a dance studio bar and conditioning exercises. Invented in 2001 by a journalist and lawyer who both had undergone dance training, advocates say that the intense pace of Bar Method interval training quickly and safely reshapes the body, burns fat and elongates muscles. Leaner and longer looking limbs? Fantastic.

How does it work?

The fat burning properties of the bar method are a result of the interval-based training regime, which demands the use of intense bursts of energy. To provide these energy resources, the body converts stored fat into glucose, ready to be delivered to muscle groups that need a boost.

Periods of fat burning are alternated with deep stretching exercises. These are designed to strengthen and firm up muscles by targeting all major muscle groups and are also said to improve posture. In combination, the stretching and aerobic endurance routines are meant to result in a ‘Bar Method body’; sculpted arms, flat abs, a lifted posterior, and elongated thighs, with results noticeable within months.

Unlike yoga, The Bar Method focuses purely on improving fitness and physical wellbeing by improving muscle alignment, stamina and (naturally, having been based on ballet and classical dance) grace. It is also different from Pilates, as only your body weight is utilised and many stretches originate from a standing rather than sitting position

A typical Bar Method workout lasts an hour and begins with a warm up, free weight exercises and push-ups. You then move on to the bar itself, undertaking intense leg and bum exercises, before working on you abdomen at the bar and on mats. Muscles are worked through resistant stretching before additional stretches begin the elongating process. Research has shown that to get the best results from The Bar Method, you should attend classes three to five times per week.

Is it for me?

The Bar Method is claimed to specifically target muscles that play a part in changing the shape of the body, so if definition is what you are after, you may want to give it a go. The workout was designed under the guidance of physiotherapists to ensure that it is safe for your joints, so if you carry out the exercises properly, you needn’t worry about cartilage damage. If you have existing injuries, careful exercises following a doctor’s consultation may be able to help strengthen muscles and ease pain in the long term. As the Bar Method is non-impact, it should not put any strain on arthritic or osteoporosis effected bones.

Bar Method experts claim that if you tend to bulk up during other muscle building exercises, the Bar Method will help to ‘trim down’ your body over time. Although at first as muscles become denser they will appear ‘fuller’, the stretching methods used are meant to result in a more compact shape after 3-5 months.

If you like to feel the burn and get your heart racing through energising work outs, the purposeful movements of The Bar Method may be a little too sedate for you. If you prefer working out at home, you will also need to buy extra equipment and DVDs before you can practice The Bar Method on your own. The Bar Method is safe for pregnant women, and specialist classes are often held at larger studios.

Good to know

The Bar Method is based on the technique of Lotte Berk, a German dancer who fled the Nazi’s during WWII and came to London with her British husband. After injuring her back, Lotte had the idea of combining her ballet bar routines with her physical rehab therapy to form an exercise system, and opened a studio offering classes in 1959.


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