The Bar Method’s Next Chapter

You may have noticed something different today on The Bar Method’s website.  Today we are redefining our future.

When we think of The Bar Method, two words come to mind: strength and grace. It is the juxtaposition between these two qualities that defines who we are. We are strong and powerful, and at the same time poised and graceful.  These words perfectly summarize the essence of our brand and our community of clients, teachers and owners.  They speak to both the graceful outer strength of the long, lean sculpted muscles and the graceful inner strength of someone who is centered, composed and empowered.

We believe all women possess the drive to never give up. That women are fearless — constantly pushing boundaries and defying expectations.  Working for progress, not perfection.  Our workout is intense and challenging and as a result; it transforms your body to give you toned, sculpted muscles and makes you strong like never before.  At the same time you are left with a feeling of elegance and poise that makes you feel beautiful on the inside and out.

Today we reveal the true colors of our brand while reinforcing our authentic DNA and heritage as one of the pioneers in barre fitness.  The core of who we are is rooted in our relentless focus on the quality and consistency of The Bar Method technique and delivering a workout that is safe and effective for anyone and every unique body.  Our mission extends beyond the ballet barre, inspiring women (and men) to become the best versions of themselves.

Today we share our new website with you that brings to life our new brand and improved functionality, including a 14-day free trial for Bar Online.  We’ll continue to roll out the new look and feel across local studios and more in the coming months.

Here’s to the next chapter and celebrating the true meaning of graceful strength.

 

The Bar Method Atlanta’s Bar Star, Jennifer Jones

At The Bar Method, it’s part of our job as instructors to motivate and guide students to reach beyond their perceived limitations but the truth is, that process is often reciprocal. As we watch clients shake and sweat to stronger, more powerful versions of themselves, we are inspired to reach for the greatest version of our authentic selves in the process.

One of those people is Jennifer Jones, a student at the Bar Method East Cobb location, who we originally featured as Bar Star in the studio in July. Through setbacks and triumphs, through babies and rainy days, this relentless girl shows up at the crack of dawn to put in work at the barre. And in return, she’s discovered the limitations that she once saw for herself were only imagined boundaries standing between her current self and the strongest, healthiest version that she could be, the version she is today!

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Bar Star, Jennifer Jones, and family.

 

We hope that by sharing a snippet of her barre story with our Barre Life Atl friends, her story will inspire more people the way it has inspired us.

TBM Atl: What’s your favorite love-to-hate exercise and why?

Jennifer: I. Love. Chair. Really, I love every thigh exercise, but especially chair. Why?  Because it’s hard and it takes every muscle working together to do it right.

TBM Atl: What are some of your successes inside and outside the studio as they relate to barre?

Jennifer:  On New Year’s Day of 2016, I had a baby. It was a grueling delivery, twenty-one hours of labor, plus 3 hours of pushing. I lost a lot of blood and my blood pressure dropped very low. They had to inject my thighs with something to help a blood clot and, for a while, even that wasn’t working. There was talk of a blood transfusion and the doctors had worried looks. I was scared. I wasn’t allowed to get up or walk. I couldn’t move over to our new little girl. I hated that feeling- weak, dependent and incapable. I thought I would never feel strong again, let alone get through the ordeal.

But I did get through and six weeks after the delivery, I was cleared for workouts. I jumped back in that day at The Bar Method. Starting over was hard, really hard. I hadn’t been able to workout in months and I felt that same weakness that I felt in the hospital bed months before. But the wonderful teachers pushed me and my fellow students believed in me.

I realized that I have a much higher physical limit than I ever realized; everyone does actually. If you can get passed the mental aspect of it, which Bar Method helps you to do through great instruction and encouragement, then you can do just about anything! I’m very thankful for this hour where I can focus on me and my limits so that I can be a stronger mom and wife.

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Thanks for being a shining example of the strength that can come out of struggle, or out of our determination to become stronger from struggle, rather. Keep putting in the great work and we’ll see you at the barre, Jennifer!

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If you’d like to challenge yourself and your perceived mental and physical limitations, book a class at The Bar Method East Cobb or The Bar Method Lenox today!

“I love barre, need something else for cardio?” Clearing up the misconception.

When it comes to weight loss, there’s a lot of information out there. And when you start comparing the sources that rely on the most timely, unbiased exercise science out there, to those that rely on outdated information; one quickly realizes there’s just as much misinformation to sort through.

One of the most common misconceptions that I hear from students goes like this- “I love my barre workout but need to add something else for cardio in order to lose weight.”

Wrong.

 I want to educate people that in fact they can get everything their body needs in a one-hour class at The Bar Method, three to five times a week. But to make that assertion, let’s first back up to where this way of thinking originated. For a long time, there were two primary schools of thought regarding exercise and weight loss.

  1. The first belief system said that the only way to lose weight was to melt fat off through strenuous cardio, like a spin class or running. If you’ve ever taken a killer aerobics class- in that moment where your face is beet-red, your clothes are drenched and you’re flirting with unconsciousness- it’s hard to imagine anything else being more effective at shedding pounds. Sure, you’re incinerating mega calories in that moment, but when we’re trying to achieve lasting weight loss, it’s important to look the other 23 hours in the day. *Note that this belief exploded in the 80s when step-classes and aerobic exercise videos were all the rage.
  2. The other says that by building lean muscle mass, you’ll burn more fat overall because you’re burning fat while you’re resting; it raises our resting metabolic rate (RMR). Muscle mass is built through strength-training, which can include lifting weights, resistance training or using our own body weight and good old-fashioned gravity, like we do so often in barre.

The correct answer? Well, it incorporates a bit of both- cardio does burn more calories in the moment, but it’s most effective when you’re also building lean muscle through strength training. Recent studies show that you can get better results, both aerobic and strength gains, from three strength training sessions a week than you can from an hour of cardio, five days a week. This means that, in terms of fat loss, strength training is the best way to add lean muscle and burn calories on an ongoing basis. It also ensures that we don’t lose your muscle mass while we exercise and eat for fat-loss.

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Ever heard the term skinny-fat? The number on the scale is dropping and you may be able to zip those skinny jeans but without adding lean muscle, it also means a saggy butt, flabby tummy and loose-feeling skin. Probably not the outcome you were working so hard for, right? You’re losing weight, not necessarily fat. 

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How Barre hits the Weight Loss Spot

In a one-hour class at The Bar Method, our heart rate is elevated to that sweet spot just under our anaerobic threshold. Here, we’re burning fat but cortisol levels are lower than they are after an aerobic class, allowing the body to more effectively release fat stores, especially those around our waist. We’re enjoying the cardio benefits of an anaerobic workout in class, but energy continues to burn for several more hours as our bodies work to repair and build the muscles we exhausted in class.

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Did you know that women lose an average of 5% of our muscle-mass every 10 years after age 35. Since the presence of lean muscle increases our resting metabolic rate, this is one reason it’s easier to pack on extra weight and can be more difficult to shed it as we age (it’s not just in your head). This only means that strength-training becomes increasingly important as we outsmart the aging process and keep our metabolisms revved through the decades- not to mention the benefits of strength training on bone density, posture and mental health as we age… but that’s for another post.

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I say all of this to tell you that, you can get everything your body needs in a one-hour class at The Bar Method, three-five times a week (consistency is key). However, there are so many benefits to moving in general that, if you find any form of exercise you love- dive in headfirst! If your body and mind are craving the “high” that comes after a long run- then, run, Forest, run! Paddleboard, climb, spin, lift, down-dog and, of course, barre- with wild abandon. Movement is life and, aside from the cardio or fat-loss benefits of an active lifestyle, it just makes the journey a lighter, brighter, happier one.

But for me, personally? I’ll see you at the barre.

Want to experience the unique blend of cardio and strength training that come from a one-hour class at The Bar Method? Book a class at The Bar Method Atlanta, either at our Lenox (Buckhead) or East Cobb (Marietta) locations.

Four Questions with TBM Atlanta Bar Star: Cara Kinzey

Every month at The Bar Method Atlanta, we spotlight a client who has made a extraordinary transformation through barre; either mentally, physically or both. We originally featured client, Cara Kinzey, as our “Bar Star” in October, 2016, but want to share her with our BarreLifeAtl.com friends, in hopes that you’ll be as inspired by her story and outlook as we are.

Four Questions with The Bar Method Atlanta- Bar Star: Cara Kinzey 

 

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The Bar Method Atlanta client, Cara Kinzey

TBM: How long have you been taking classes at The Bar Method Atlanta?

Cara: I started The Bar Method about six months ago in April, 2016.

TBM: What was your biggest motivator for starting The Bar Method?

Cara: When I started The Bar Method, I was the worst case scenario for you guys. I was recovering from a massive stroke I’d had a few years back. Lifting my butt/legs/arms in the air and moving them in some type of coordinated fashion has been awesome physical therapy. My balance and posture are 100% improved and I feel worlds better. Thank you for that!

TBM: What is your favorite love-to-hate exercise?

Cara: My favorite “love to hate” exercise is arabesque with the ball behind the leg (or what I refer to as “ball gate”). I know if I keep it up, I’ll learn more proper technique and will eventually conquer arabesque one day!

TBM: What are your successes inside and outside of the studio as related to The Bar Method?

Cara: When I started at The Bar Method, my primary goal was to overcome balance issues that remained from a previous medical issue. I had been regularly working out on an elliptical, but realized I needed to do something more to help strengthen my core and to build muscle tone throughout my body. I tried a Bar class on a whim just to see what it would be like. I decided to try the classes for 30 days and was hooked!

It was quickly obvious my posture and flexibility were not great, but the instructor was very encouraging and gave me simple corrections, which I now know were baby steps. Each class seems difficult in a different way and you can start to feel/see changes as a result of your efforts after only a few weeks. My flexibility, balance and posture have all improved about a 1000% and I am still improving! My body has changed a lot already, but will always be a work in progress.

Kudos to all the instructors.  They are patient, encouraging and like to have fun in class. Any time at the barre is a good time. I totally enjoy it.

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We’re proud of you, Cara! And we look forward to watching you achieve every goal you set out on- both in class and beyond.

 Want to experience The Bar Method difference? Book a class at The Bar Method Lenox or The Bar Method East Cobb today.

What is The Bar Method’s Method… and What Makes it Different?

Drive through any area of any town that’s moderately busy, active and trendy and you’re likely to see more barre studios than you can count on one hand. While each may have slight variations in their names and color schemes, most seem more the same than different. They’re not.

I’m here to tell you that not all barre studios are created equal and, in many cases, the actual bar may be the only similarity. In this post, I’m going to break down four ways The Bar Method is different from the rest.

It’s in the details. From the moment you walk into The Bar Method, our goal is to help you leave the outside world at the door. If you take only one hour of your day (or 45 minutes for Bar Express), we work hard to make your time here dedicated solely to restoring and strengthening your mind, body and spirit.

Inside The Bar Method Lenox or East Cobb, you’ll notice a calm, spa-like environment with lots of natural light and soft, comfy surfaces. From the bathrooms, which are stocked with nontoxic, naturally derived Sally B’s Skin Yummies products, to the complimentary hot tea and coffee bar and our boutique filled with a consciously curated collection of Lines we Love, we believe it is the personal touch and unmatched quality that separates us from the pack. And when we ask clients why they chose us and keep coming for years, this is usually the first reason they give (after the amazing results they get from taking class regularly of course).

Let’s get Personal. If you’ve taken more than a handful of classes at The Bar Method, there’s probably been a day where you felt like the teacher just Would. Not. Let. Up. You’re probably right.

Our classes are small by design, so that one instructor can give each student the attention they deserve. On our best days, that special attention is appreciated; but when we’re a little off, it can feel like we’re being singled out. Stick with it.

Your instructor will let you know when your form needs a little tweaking and when you’re making progress in your practice. We want every class at The Bar Method to feel like a personal training session- and why do people hire personal trainers? To be motivated, pushed just beyond their limits and even constructively corrected when they begin to slip.

Stick with it, and I promise, those “squeeze your shoulder blades in and down” and “grip your glutes” comments of today will become the “terrific posture” and “now you’re in the muscle, great job!” comments of tomorrow. You’ll thank yourself because you earned it, and your body will thank you, as it reaps the greatest benefits of your time at the barre.

Physical Therapy is at our Core. For more than a decade, The Bar Method has worked alongside some of the best physical therapists in the business to create a workout that is not only safe for clients recovering from injury, but one that utilizes that knowledge to help you tap into the muscle you intend to work (which btw, is usually underworked) and OUT of muscles your body typically, and erroneously, recruits to get the job done. The Bar Method is a completely non-impact workout, but we go further than others to minimize joint impact with padded, plush carpet in the studios. Remember, no bare feet on the carpet! 😉

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You’ll notice that teachers offer various modifications for students at different experience levels and for those nursing injuries. Don’t worry that your workout will be compromised because of modifications; the key is to stay consistent without causing any further injury that will keep you out of your workout game long-term.

Another physical therapy component at The Bar Method is our focus on the entire core. Many workouts and other barre regimens target the abs, obliques and middle back, which are great but what about the upper back, your glutes, and thighs? These areas play a huge role in your overall strength and resistance to injury and are often forgotten as part of the core. At The Bar Method, we give the entire core love… tough love, but love nonetheless.

Advanced Teacher Training. Did you know there are barre certifications out there that take only a day to complete? That’s great news for anyone who wants to become an instructor ASAP. But it’s not great for anyone hoping to experience a safe and effective barre practice (i.e.: all of us).

Every instructor at The Bar Method undergoes training for up to six months, working closely with coaches and evaluators to perfect their form, increase their understanding of anatomy and physiology, and their teaching performance. Only when evaluators feel an instructor-to-be has advanced to a teacher level, do they earn The Bar Method teacher certification.

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But the certification process is only the beginning of education for The Bar Method instructors. Ongoing teacher training in the studio and continuing education classes ensure that The Bar Method instructors are teaching with the latest industry knowledge and body science information as their guide. Because the more we know, the better we do. And you can bet we’ll continue striving to be the best barre studio in town, to help you be the best you!

Want to experience The Bar Method difference? Book a class at The Bar Method Lenox or The Bar Method East Cobb today!

 

 

 

It’s a Big Deal

I am always so excited for this time of year to approach and this year is no different. It’s a time of giving and receiving and I encourage everyone to find ways to spread the love to yourself while loving on others this season! Be on the lookout this month!  I will talk about easy ways to Join the Club here in Atlanta!

xoxo,

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Barre On-the-Go: Three exercises you can do almost anywhere

With the holidays around the corner, one thing is certain- time is about to become more valuable than ever. Between the kids’ activities, holiday parties and traveling, our fitness can often take the back burner during this time of year. However, it’s often when we’re the busiest that our minds and bodies will benefit most from exercise.

Here are three very effective barre exercises that can be done from a hotel room, your den, even your office. Pay close attention to your form in each of these to avoid injury and to get optimal results from your workout.

1. A classic push-up is one of the most effective exercises to target almost every muscle in the body at once. Here, I give you a variation that can be done on a chair, while you build the strength to do them on your knees or on the balls of your feet.

Place your hands directly under your shoulders (both side to side and forward and back), grip your glutes (seat muscles), press your shoulder blades down and apart on your back. Press down and up.

Be sure to follow your push-ups with an elongating stretch called a “puppy stretch”. Come onto all fours, walk your hands out in front of you. Press your chest to the floor while you leave your tailbone up in the air. This will stretch your chest muscles. Hold this for a few breathes, then slide your seat back onto your heals and come into a child’s pose with your palms turned up to the ceiling and your arms straight. This position will stretch your lat muscles along your back.

2. Don’t let the small motion of this thigh exercise deceive you- it’s the control and repetition that are making major changes in the shape and strength of your thighs. Embrace the shakes and quakes as they mean you’re work is paying off!

Follow this with a quad stretch. Stand tall, reach back for your right ankle with your hand, soften your standing knee, grip your glutes, bend forward from your waist and squeeze your shoulder blades in and down to upright your spine. Don’t forget to change sides!

3. Pretzel is a fabulous “triple-threat” exercise- targeting your seat, obliques and strengthening your posture at once.

Follow this work with a sequence of stretches: Cross your legs in front of you and place the foot of the leg you worked on your opposite thigh, slowly work your top knee down toward the carpet and place your hands on the floor behind your hips. Lift your chest. Gently sweep your bottom leg out to the side and straighten it. Hinge toward your straight leg while you sweep your opposite arm up by your ear, keeping it nice and straight. Turn your gaze up to the ceiling. Inhale slowly and deeply, exhale and turn to face your thigh while you reach for the instep of your foot.

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At the end of every workout, I like to sit in a moment of reverence. To do this, you may want to sit comfortably on the floor or a on a pillow with your legs crossed at the ankles, hands at heart-center and eyes gently closed.

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During this time, focus on keeping your breath slow and even. Let thoughts come into your mind and leave without expanding on any one in particular. For a few moments, just be. Let your heart swell with gratitude for the time you’ve dedicated to be the best version of yourself.

 

The Mind-Body Connection: 5 Ways The Bar Method Cultivates Mental and Emotional Strength

Each of our fitness journeys tell a story that is uniquely our own. Some of our stories might read like a lifelong love affair and some teeter between love and hate (note: you just have to find what you love, but that’s another post). For many of us, our fitness story began when a wedding, a class reunion or… wait for it… bikini season (!!!) was looming.

Superficial as these motivators may be, it’s the starting that counts and looking our best is a massive confidence-booster. However, in the 20 years that I’ve been teaching fitness classes, the most rewarding transformation I ever witness can’t be seen with the eye but rather felt in the hearts and minds of my clients.

Here are the top five ways that I’ve watched The Bar Method transform students’ mental and emotional health:

Meditation through Movement

For a moment, imagine a person meditating. It’s likely that you envisioned someone sitting cross-legged on a pillow with eyes closed, maybe with their palms resting on their knees. But meditation comes in many forms, and exercise, especially the type that requires moving through an intense posture rhythmically and continually, may be the most surefire way to achieve a meditative state, even when we’re most distracted.

That moment at the barre when our quads are screaming, shaking and quaking- that’s when the noise in our mind is most silent. It’s when our focus is solely on the movement at hand and that focus is the essence of meditation. I should note that the more practiced we are with the exercise, the easier it is to achieve this meditative state, as self-doubt and comparison dissipate to make room for mindful movement and mental clarity.

Power Posture

Over time we store resentment and stress deep within our bodies. We tighten and hunch our shoulders when we feel inferior, clench our jaw when we’re angry or irritated and tighten our hips to suppress emotions of fear and sadness. At The Bar Method, we learn to release these tensions while gaining control of the core muscles that tighten with emotional buildup.

We’re also reminded to assume the confident and aligned posture of a dancer. The more we practice this, the more it becomes muscle memory and your natural stance. There is a breadth of research that proves assuming a posture of power is directly correlated to self-confidence, increased energy and contentment.

Controlling our Emotions, not the Other Way Around

You may hear your teacher say, “remember to breathe through the movement” a dozen times in class. This is partly because many of us unknowingly hold our breath when pain sets in… and oxygen is, well, essential for life… but mindful breathing also creates mental clarity to regain physical strength and control. We’re reminded to check our breathing in class so often that it becomes a go-to during stressful or painful times outside of class. Again, that which benefits the body also benefits the mind.

Confidence Building

Someone very wise once told me, “if there’s one piece of advice I can give for building self-confidence, it’s to finish what you start.” This sage advice applies to almost any area of life but naturally barre class was the first scenario to come to my mind.

When your glutes are on fire and you haven’t one more pulse in you and hear a resounding “last 20”, you tap into a source of strength you didn’t know existed. Hopefully we’re competing with our own performance and not with those around us; either way, we discover a well of strength that exists below our mind’s perceived limitations.

We realize this power reserve is not only available for physical challenges but in work, relationships and any area of life that requires us to push through just a little harder, for a little longer.

A Chemical Reaction

Ahhh endorphins. Nature’s perfect drug that triggers happy, even euphoric feelings sans the comedown or addiction of many “happy pills”. The best part about endorphins is that they’re an inside job and we can, to an extent, do things that put our brains into hyper-drive producing the stuff. One of the best ways to ramp up your endorphin production- you got it: exercise.

When we exercise, our brain releases endorphins that reduce our perception of pain, both physical and emotional, and cause a positive feeling, similar to that of morphine. They also reduce stress, boost self-esteem, fight anxiety and depression, and improve sleep. Ever walked into class mad at the world and left on a cloud? That’s just the reward we get for getting our butt to the barre on the days it’s the hardest. For those are the days we need it most.

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