A Pure Barre enthusiast tries The Bar Method…

I’m a loyal consumer. When I find something I like, I’ll revisit it for months, even years (I’ve turned many a mexican foodie onto Poquito Mas…  where I once went on a burrito binge that lasted 7 days, back in 2005! To this day I have not yet had a better wet burrito).

But back to the point: any good fitness enthusiast knows that the key to staying fit is C-H-A-N-G-E! And when change is just a 10-minute bike ride away from your home, as is The Bar Method’s Marina Del Rey Studio  from mine, it’s got to happen. Any work out that’s within walking, biking, jogging, and/or roller blading distance gets extra points because if you’ve got desk job/commute booty like I do, the extra cardio is welcome (gotta burn off the burrito somehow, right?)!

Now before I lament the wonders of my first Bar Method class, I must first tell you about Pure Barre. I work in the valley and was easily convinced to break up the long, often depressing, drive home to join my girlfriends at Pure Barre in Brentwood. Pure Barre (PB) Brentwood’s location is PERFECT,  just a quick 5 minutes west off the 405, and with a 5:15 session I could make it right after work.

My first PB class was life changing challenging. This ballet/pilates inspired work out used light weights in the warm up, introduced push ups (of all kinds) to my spaghetti arms, and had my thigh and butt muscles shaking, twitching, and burning like nothing before them. I was awe-inspired by PB’s svelte dancer looking teachers and my first, the beautiful and hip Wendy (who is now opening her own Pure Barre study in Culver City btw) had a soothing voice that made me WANT to push through the pain. I was hooked. I signed up for their introductory package that day, but could hardly walk the next. This PB was HARD, but I felt sexier and stronger after just one class.

The months to follow had me attending at least two classes per week. I began to master the tuck, a curling under of the seat beneath the spine to engage the abdomen and protect the lower back. I developed girl crushes on favorite teachers (Heather is gorgeous) and found myself counting with the instructor, pushing my heals higher, and singing along to the playlists. Each week the choreography changed, so basically I’ve spent the last 6 months sore.

While falling in love with PB Brentwood, I did a little research about the other ballet bar based exercises out there. I discovered The Bar Method , started by Burr Leonard, a disciple of the famous Lotte Berk. It appears that this bar regime, established in 2000, has been around longer than PB. To my delight there was a studio right up the street from my house! I was so obsessed with PB that I’d trek up to Brentwood from Marina on the weekends – but maybe I wouldn’t have too. With a Bar Method studio around the corner, I could take my booty to the bar without having to battle weekend beach traffic.

Yet, I wasn’t quite ready. As mentioned, I am a creature of habit and it often takes a little extra mental energy to break familiar routines. Afterall, I’d have to be up to meeting new instructors, and acquainting my self with the Bar Method’s completely different choreography. Sounds easy right? Well just like most modern women, my day to day life consists of a gazillion carefully balanced responsibilities. While I dream of having time to try out the unlimited options available to us fitness aficianados here in Los Angeles, it’s not always possible with a crazy schedule.

Well there’s nothing like a sunny weekend day in greater Los Angeles to warm in one the desire to try new things! It was a beautiful Sunday, that I decided to break free from my comfort zone (or should I say bar?) and attend my first Bar Method class in Marina Del Rey.

Because I’d been attending PB for months, I expected the Bar Method’s studio to be the same. I was pleasantly surprised. Like PB, The Bar Method MDR is housed in a strip mall. Unlike PB Brentwood, however, The Bar Method’s studio is beautiful! Each client gets her own locker AND there’s a spacious changing room wherein to slip on your socks.  I had assumed correctly that like PB, I’d benefit from the grippy socks to help keep balance when at the bar. In addition to the awesome acoutrements of the Bar Method’s pristinely kept studio, the interior exercise space had a padded floor, tons of room, and ballet bars of different heights! Wow! A blessing for tall girls like me. Oh and did I mention that The Bar Method is a few dollars cheaper per class than is PB?!

As for the work out, it seemed harder than PB overall. However, whether that’s because I’ve grown used to the routine of PB or because Bar Method is more challenging I’m not quite sure;  but time will tell. Bar Method called for longer rep sets and had me do so many push up variations that I was still feeling it almost 3 days later (modifications were encouraged for those not able to hang).  Bar Method’s abs section was also more difficult and the lovely teacher gave individualized instruction throughout the entire class. PB’s instructors don’t give individual instruction after the first half of class unless you’re really struggling.

While Bar Method’s repetoire seemed more challenging overall, PB wins on the thigh and seat portions. It seems that PB is more booty and thigh focused, which is EXACTLY where I need the most work. However, the Bar Method’s teacher did assure me that classes of varying levels are available in case I wanted to kick it up a notch.

While I’ll always love my PB (the first tuck is the deepest, haha), I’m excited to take advantage of  The Bar Method’s Marina Del Rey Studio ‘s introductory offer of unlimited classes for $100 and will likely have more to report in the next 30 days! Here’s to getting the ballet dancer’s body of my dreams!

14 Comments

  1. happ33grl

    I am about to try out Bar Method in MDR as well! So glad it is right around the block and going to kick-start my strengthening routine since I only do cardio nowadays. Let me know how it works for you!

    • I did enjoy Bar Method, but after my introductory month I switched back to PB. Both routines, however, are definitely the best place to start for strength training in my opinion. Beats a traditional weight lifting regime any day! Enjoy Bar Method, it will kick your butt!

      • happ33grl

        May I ask why you switched back to PB?

      • I switched back to PB for a few different reasons:

        1. It seemed to me that The Bar Method’s regime focused on upper body more than lower body. It also seemed that PB’s butt and thigh sections were more intense overall with a longer portion of the class dedicated to these areas – areas that for me need the most work. I can hardly walk after every PB class.
        2. I wrote the Bar Method studio about something and they never got back to me. Having worked in Customer Service for several years with Red Bull North America, I expect a reply from a small local studio such as Bar Method MDR. Seems silly but I like to feel loved! The ladies of PB have always treated me like a VIP and I get the feeling they do that for everyone.
        3. While the Bar Method teachers were VERY impressive with their ability to remember names and dole out focused advice through each class, I just didn’t feel the warmth. Bar Method MDR brought back memories of snobby ballet studios from childhood, so I realize it may be MY issue haha.
        3. PB is right next to my Yoga studio – Core Power Wilshire. Not only that, but they’re both in the perfect location to break up my commute south from the valley.
        :) Hope that answered your question!

  2. SHF

    You should try The Dailey Method!

  3. Michelle

    I am a PB fanatic myself and have been curios about The Bar Method. Thank you for the review!

  4. I’ve tried Purre Barre, Bar Method and TDM…I completely agree with you that BM are kind of snobby. I feel that Purre Barre is more relaxed and fun but still a great workout. TDM I took my second class today…the exercises are completed in sets of 3. I’m not as sore after the class as I am with PB or BM. Next stop Xtend Barre.

    • Steph Mignon

      I totally agree with you that at first glance TDM doesn’t seem as challenging at PB or BM or even Pop Physique. Yet the thing that seems to separate TDM for me is the focus on spine alignment. I had some back and hip pain before I started TDM, quite possibly the result of improper spin alignment during the other regimes, and it’s totally gone. In fact my back and posture feel more lifted and lighter than ever! I haven’t been to a PB class in awhile, but I’m anxious to check it out again to see if it’s as “tuck” centric as I remember.

  5. Dori

    I’m interested in beginning a home barre exercise regimen. I’m tall 6’1″. How high of a bar should I be looking for?

    • Steph Mignon

      Hi Dori! This is a great question!!! In fact, you’ve inspired me to write a blog post about this very question (should be up by the end of the week). Until then this I’ve heard that most barres should be around 42′ but I believe that is for the average person. In your case I’d suggest an adjustable barre. I found some pretty amazing ones here: http://www.custombarres.com/ Thanks for being the inspiration for my next post! And good luck with starting your at home regime. My Mom just bought fluidity barre and I took a “before” picture of her. Here’s to hoping she sticks to it!

  6. Kimmie

    Hi!

    I’ve been doing barre exercises for 4 months now and I love it! It can be pretty costly though so I have been looking into getting my own barre at home. I’ve been looking to find the perfect barre for the exercises, but I really can’t find any good free standing barres other than the Fluidity barre (Pure Barre offers a door mounted barre, but doesn’t look very stable).

    For the exercises where you pull the barre, the other types of free standing ones won’t work because those would tip over. So Fluidity barre would be nice to do exercises like that, but I really enjoy Pure Barre’s flat back exercises with the leg up towards the barre like this: http://www.littlemissrunshine.com/2013/04/pure-barre-round-back-flat-back-if-you-cant-feel-it-try-try-again.html. I’m worried that the Fluidity barre wouldn’t hold up for that exercise because the hand that isn’t supporting the leg pushes against the barre (basically lifting the whole barre), and my back would be pushing against the pad that says Fluidity (which is only supported by plastic jointed metal in the back). Is the pad hard enough to lean against? I think even if the pad was hard enough, I feel like the one little metal rod that is holding it up would fall out.

    I read that your mom just got a Fluidity barre, and I wanted to ask your opinion about the Fluidity barre being sturdy for the kind of flat back exercises I want to do. I just don’t want to spend $400 plus and next thing I know is that I broke the barre.

    Thank you!
    Kimmie

    • Steph Mignon

      Hi Kimmie,

      It sounds like you are off to a great start with your barre program! I think it’s smart that you started off by taking classes FIRST, and now you’re ready to transition to cutting costs and adding an at home regime to your fitness program.

      I asked my Mom about fluidity barre and she loves it. She said that it is possible to do “flat back” type exercises. Because she lives several hours from me, however, I’m not able to verify this myself just yet, but from what she described it does sound like it would work. If you do try it, please email to let us know how it went!

  7. Ex-ballerina

    I would like to thank you got your review of different barre methods. As an ex- dance, I often get filled with fear over the complete lack of regard for spinal alignment in most work out videos. And, the same for many barre workouts. i wasstruggling and since you reviewed TDM, I feel ocnfident in my decision to try it over other workouts out there.

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