Health
Health

The Bar Method Burns Like a Mother

| by Fit Bottomed Girls

bar-methodYou know which athletes are bad asses? Ballerinas. (Um, did you see Black Swan?) And you know what exercise professionals are ridiculously strong? Those who teach fusion ballet classes. Like those who teach The Bar Method. Read on for a three-part review on these workout DVDs that combine ballet bar fitness (although at home you can just use a chair as a “bar”) with isometrics, dance conditioning, interval training and physical-therapy techniques. Yeowsers!

The Bar Method Beginner’s Workout

I’ve done hard ballet-type workouts before, and I know they’re no joke, but I still get hoodwinked every time I set out to do one. The moves looks so simple and graceful and easy—but they burn like a mo fo. This beginner’s DVD was seriously perfect for a ballet-fitness newbie. The 37-minute workout gives great instruction on exactly what to do and how to do it, is encouraging and is challenging but not so impossible that you feel like it’s out of reach. Through different series of push-ups, a version of tricep kickbacks that are so targeted that I swear you develop a new muscle (okay, maybe it just feels that way), lots of leg work while standing on your toes and some floor glute work that will have your biscuits burning, you definitely get a good strength workout. And because the instructor, Joey Decker, also provides a number of stretch breaks (these feel awesome, by the way), you also get a good dose of flexibility training.

Joey does seem to have had one too many shots of espresso in this DVD, but he definitely has energy and enthusiasm. I just wish he slowed down now and again—especially in the cool down where, for him, a deep breath only takes about three seconds. The music is pretty basic but goes bizarrely absent in one section of the DVD. Not sure if that was a screw-up or planned, but it’s odd. All in all though, the 37 minutes fly by, and with a DVD menu that breaks down the workout into its respective areas worked, it’s a fabulous beginning ballet DVD.

FBG Rating (Out of 5):

Instruction: ★★★
Long-Term Likeability: ★★★★
Music: ★★★
Fun Factor: ★★★★
Meets Expectations: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★

Fit Bottom line: One of the best beginning ballet workout DVDs we’ve reviewed!

The Bar Method Dancer’s Body Advanced Workout

For those of you who want to be challenged, the Dancer’s Body Advanced Workout is your ticket to Burn City. Instructor Marnie Alton delivers a no-holds-barred (get it? Ha!), super-advanced workout that lasts a whopping 62 minutes. While the length is a little too long for my taste (I’d rather have two 30-minute workouts to choose from or—better yet—three 20-minute workouts to mix and match, but that’s just my personal preference), like the beginner’s DVD, it does have a menu that breaks down the moves for the different muscle groups, making this DVD more convenient for any busy lifestyle. And Marnie is just the right mix of enthusiasm and get-to-business that I really like in an instructor. Plus, her directions on form and cuing are “en pointe.” (Again with the lame ballet jokes!)

With a push-ups section that goes on for what seems like hours, the “water-ski thigh-work” section that will make your legs feel like they’re about to fall off, and the uber ab move called the clam, you will definitely be challenged in new ways with this DVD. All you need is a chair, a strap and a small pillow for back support (unless you’re like Marnie who is super human). This advanced workout is definitely not for the weak of ballet heart.

FBG Rating (Out of 5):

Instruction: ★★★★★
Long-Term Likeability: ★★★★★
Music: ★★★
Fun Factor: ★★★★
Meets Expectations: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★1/2

Fit Bottom line: Expect to feel challenged and like your extremities are about to fall off. In a good way, of course.

The Bar Method Pregnancy Workout

Now this is a difficult one for me to really review because, well, I’m not pregnant. But I’m gonna give it a go for all the expecting Fit Bottomed Mamas out there. And, like the others reviewed, I’m giving it top marks. First of all the instructor Lee Potter is in her third trimester—WITH TWINS. And despite this she’s not only doing a workout that is as challenging as the beginner’s workout, she’s funny (making really witty diaper and bonus baby jokes!), graceful and totally encouraging (even breathing hard during some exercises—so refreshing to see!). Along with her are two other Bar Method aficionados who are also pregnant and show more intense variations as they are earlier in their pregnancies and are sporting smaller baby bumps.

Lee leads you through a 45-minute-long series of gentle, safe yet challenging moves, including free-weight work, thigh exercises, standing seat-work and abdominal strengthening exercises performed while propped up on pillows. And, just like the other DVDs, the time goes by quickly with stretching worked through the DVD for recovery and relaxation. Not to mention a fabulous cool down that includes deep breathing and smiling at your baby. Too sweet for words.

While I can’t personally vouch that this DVD delivers on its promise to improve the childbirth process and help you snap back in shape after baby, I can say that this is a fabulous prenatal workout that will definitely help you to increase or maintain your fitness during pregnancy. Let’s just say it’s worth bellying up to the bar for!

FBG Rating (Out of 5):

Instruction: ★★★★★
Long-Term Likeability: ★★★★★
Music: ★★★★
Fun Factor: ★★★★★
Meets Expectations: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★

Fit Bottom line: If you’re prego, you MUST try this one. It’s safe, effective and the instructor makes it really fun for mom and baby!

Wow! That’s a lot of stars for a workout DVD series. Guess who will be making this list next year? —Jenn