I was planning this post several weeks ago, before knowing that the franchised barre studio where I’ve been teaching for the past year and a half was closing. The New York City Soho studio closed its doors last night. (Update: I am now teaching at The Bar Method Noho!) I thought about holding back on posting this, but this seems like the best time ever to explain the benefits of a Bar Method workout and what it means to me.
As a former Cardio Queen (marathoner, triathlete, spin class addict), I could have never predicted that I would turn to barre and it would become such a constant in my life. A few years ago, I was struggling with feeling lethargic, I was struggling with maintaining my weight in spite of an active and healthy lifestyle and I wasn’t recovering from my workouts the way I used to. I was far from being overweight for my size, but I felt heavy and weighed down. I consulted a functional doctor and with some testing and analysis, we reasoned that some of what I was experiencing was hormonal partially caused by my cardio-heavy lifestyle. The doctor recommended I cut back on my cardio in favor of gentle, lower-impact exercise or even high-intensity interval training.
This was a really hard pill to swallow because I was so attached to my exercise routine both mentally and physically. I loved yoga and other low impact exercises like barre, but I couldn’t see doubling up on that to replace my cardio addiction. It was around this same time that I started training to become a Bar Method instructor and I was naturally taking more and more barre classes. Slowly, my cardio habit was transitioning into a barre habit (more specifically, a Bar Method habit) and running became something I still do – and love – just not as often. What was most surprising to me were all the benefits of the Bar Method workout I started to experience for myself.
Benefits of a Bar Method Workout
Workouts like running strengthen your heart to pump more blood and circulate oxygen more efficiently. Strength-training, or anerobic exercise, helps burn fat. Barre workouts combine aerobic and anaerobic exercise so you improve cardiovascular health and build muscle. Even without running nearly as much as I used to, I felt even stronger as a runner and the hills in Central Park became a little more achievable.
Running puts a lot of strain on joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments. Strength training is ideal for joint stability, flexibility, balance and coordination but alone it can impede flexibility. Developed under the guidance of physical therapists, The Bar Method is non-impactful making it safe for the joints and effective for building muscle strength and flexibility. As a runner and cyclist, my hamstrings were always tight and the range of motion in my hips was non-existent. Over time, my flexibility has improved tremendously and I can now even do the splits – something I thought was completely out of my reach.
Weight Loss Benefits
If you track your calorie burn, aerobic exercise hands-down burns more calories per hour than strength training, but you’ll see less afterburn. Weight lifting will give you a metabolic spike for an hour after but you’ll burn fewer calories during your workout. However, you can burn up to an additional 25% of the calories you burned during the workout as your muscles try to recover. Muscles burn calories so the more muscle tone you have the more calories you’ll burn. The calorie burn you see with barre is similar to strength training. With the Bar Method’s interval format, you’ll effectively burn fat and build dense muscle which will increase your metabolic rate. As a result, I’m leaner and have more energy than ever.
All of this aside, you can probably tell this was more than a workout to me. It was a second family, a sanctuary from the city grit, a place where I could spend 1 hour focused on only myself and walk out feeling lighter, accomplished and more at ease. It’s where I learned that I can do more and be more than I ever imagined. At a time when I had started to give up on my body, it’s where I became stronger – in body and mind. As a coach and a teacher, it’s where I could empower women to be their best. The benefits of a Bar Method workout are like nothing else I’ve ever experienced and I will forever be better because of it.
As for the studio closure, this isn’t goodbye. I’m hoping to guest teach this Summer at other local Bar Method studios and hopefully find a new Bar Method home in the near future. Watch my Instagram for more updates.