Self: Tighten, Tone and Transform Your Body
The Bar Method, a new fat-burning and strength-building workout, comes to St. Louis.
I have a tried-and-true fitness routine I stick to and enjoy; weight lifting followed by occasional cardio. I prefer to pump iron than to spend time on a treadmill—mostly because I believe that building lean muscle pays off more in the long run. And I hate to sweat. But once in a while, I try to mix up my workout routine. So when a coworker told me about a new fitness concept, which she claimed would “kick my butt without making me sweat,” that recently debuted in St. Louis, I decided to trek to Chesterfield
to give it a try.
The concept is called The Bar Method and in somewhat simple terms, it combines free-weight interval training with the muscle-shaping technique of isometrics and the conditioning and strengthening movements of ballet. The result is a total body workout that builds and tones lean muscle and increases your heart rate, but doesn’t have the fast paced intensity of an aerobic cardio workout. Sculpt muscle and shed fat without
breaking a sweat? Um, yes please!
The first complete Bar Method studio to open in St. Louis, the gym is located in a carpeted, dance-studio-like space, with mirrored walls and a ballet bar. I was skeptical about a workout that promised major body sculpting but was done in socks and used a ballet bar and two-pound weights. But all my apprehensions were put to rest once I met owner and Bar Method enthusiast Jessica Prasse and began the 60-minute class. We started with a warm-up followed by interval training using two to five-pound free weights to work triceps, biceps and shoulders. All exercises are performed while in the “tuck” position—a position that involves tightening your core muscles, mainly glutes, abs and back—in order to maintain posture, coordination and maximize the effectiveness of the workout.
After upper body, it was on to lower body and legs—a muscle group I rarely work—with a variety of leg lifts and squat-like movements that work the hamstrings, glutes, waist, thighs and calves in between intervals of deep stretching. Using the ballet bar through many of these movements, these exercises concentrate on using your own
body weight as resistance with more repetitions, thereby burning calories while simultaneously building lean muscle. And fluctuating between bursts of intense movements like leg lifts and curls with slower, elongated positions keeps your body in a maximum caloric-burning state. At several times during the hour, my legs started to shake, but I was told that’s a good thing—it means you’re working the muscles correctly and in a new way. I also knew it meant I would be sore the next day. The class ends with mat work; working your abs and glutes and what Prasse calls the best part, “back dancing,” major tightening and contracting of the glutes, followed by a cool down.
I love that I was able to burn some serious calories sans sweating, have fun and immediately head back to work. And yes, while the class did totally kick my butt, I felt strong and energized all day. However, that wasn’t the case the next day—more like sore. But in a good way.
Where To Go
The Bar Method St. Louis
1048 Town & Country Crossing Dr.
Town & Country
Photo credit: Photos by Emm a Birge-Osborne