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Bar with Riggins(Quick note about this picture. You have no idea how hard it was to get this picture. No whispers from the peanut gallery. I know it isn’t great form but you try getting Riggins to sit in a position where you and he can be seen in a skinny mirror, your only full length mirror, hold up dog biscuits to keep his attention AND hold an iPhone at an angle where you can get the action all while attempting basic thigh work. It’s not easy. After seeing it I thought I should retake it after moving the Lucy bag in the background aside — then I thought “nah … good enough.” Side note – wouldn’t it be awesome if Riggins could come to class? How much more fun would it be doing push ups and plank knowing that there was a chance a cutie dog could be licking your face at anytime? I once did a Bar Method video work-out at my sister’s house amongst chaos, Riggins continually trying to lick the salty sweat off me and my oh so helpful nephew deciding I didn’t look enough like the ladies on TV so helped by pushing my leg up higher.)

I was having a discussion with a New York friend the other day and we decided that extreme love and loyalty for a specific exercise routine is a left/right coast thing. It’s not like you go to Des Moines and meet up with a group of women that will just die if they don’t get to their Physique 57 class. Only us coasters would be crazy enough to spend oodles of cash on an exercise routine then spend hours on hours demanding to others that it is the best and better than whatever pilaties class they are loyal to.

My exercise class of choice is Bar Method. I realize it can be confused with the good kind of bar. After all that’s how it is spelled (Bar not Barre). No confusing once you are there. This is work out time not drink up time. Before I list off the reasons my loyalty stays with Bar Method let me set the scene.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating. I’m not an athlete. I do a lot of athletic things but they never come easy and I’ll never grab a fist place ribbon in anything. Every 5K, triathlon sprint, hike up a hill I do I have to push myself to make it happen. When I went to my first Bar Method class years ago I went with a good friend. A very flexible good friend. The studio, Pasadena, was new at the time so most of the room was new or new-ish to this style of exercise. At the time I was VERY active. I ran more than 1/2 dozen 5K’s a year. I’d finished 2 triathlons. I considered myself relatively in shape. Famous last words before entering a Bar Method class. During thigh (still the hardest part of class for me) I literally started to black out/throw up (if you don’t think you can do both of those at the same time you haven’t taken a Bar Method class). I actually had to step out of the studio and sit down with my head between my legs. One of the owners (at the time I didn’t realize who she was) came out to make sure I was okay and the super sweet guy behind the desk assured me that the rest of the class was easier (he lied but it was nice of him to say). I took a deep breath and returned to class. After class as my friend and I were walking back to our cars I made the vow that this silly little exercise class would not be the end of me. I would do it until I conquered it …. I’m still going to class 3+ years later.

So why I like it:
* When I had high blood pressure, enormous amount of life stress, and overall was a mess I was told by a number of doctors, including a very sweet doctor in the ER, that I needed to do yoga. Here’s the rub. I hate yoga. That’s a bit harsh. I don’t HATE it. I’ve actually had a very good time at yoga classes when I’ve gone with friends (including the same friend who took me to Bar). I’m just NO good at it. I can’t mentally get into the ohm-ing/meditation part. Even worse, I’m the least flexible person you know. I can’t even do downward facing dog correctly. My heels won’t go all the way to the ground. If that is difficult for me imagine what the rest of yoga class is like. Bar Method gives me that meditative time out my stressful life needs. As much as I’m sure I’d love the verbal group excitement of a class like Zumba I wasn’t lookimg for rambunctious fun. I spend the entire time in Bar Method methodically breathing. I’m talking about the giving birth labor type breathing for the entire hour. This gives me a meditative type calm. Well as meditative as I’m going to get anyway. It also has just enough stretching to piss me off but not make me feel like a loser. Which is the PERFECT amount. With Bar Method I feel like I get a sprinkle of yoga and therefore it’s benefits without making me hang my head in shame due to lack of ability.
* It really does change your body for the better. While swimming I chant two things over and over in my head. one is the lap number I’m on and the other is “lean and long.” Running does not make me lean and long so I’m always trying to find things that will. Bar Method is definitely a lean and long look. While doing round back (sit in a lounge position against the wall w/ your arms up pushing against the bar and one leg at a time lifted as high and straight as possible as you go through a series of leg lifts and such) I will often look at my leg and be impressed with the “lean and long” look. It keeps me going through that horrific exercise! I also love the swimmer without the heaftyness arm/shoulder look I get. I adore swimming. I miss swimming. I wish I was swimming right now. I have a list of things I will do once I get a job again and have money … swimming is on that list. What I don’t like about swimming is after a week I look like a linebacker for the Ravens. No man likes a women whose shoulders are broader than theirs. Bar Method gives me the fit upper body look without looking like I need to throw on some gear and hit the field. I’d like to say I lost a zillion pounds but I haven’t. I’ve gotten fitter, no doubt about it, but I’m not a tiny petite doe. Others have lost weight so look to them for that. I blame traveling over the past year. I missed a number of classes and on top of that feasted on wine and nachos for comfort while on the road.
* I love feeling like a ballerina even if it is for a few minutes. Those few minutes only happen when I put on my ballet shoes and anytime I “point my toe strongly.” Pointing my toe is really the only ballet I’ve ever mastered. All in all I have the grace and flexibility of an elephant. No worries. In my head I’m magnificent!
* It’s never easy. I’m always hurting. I know it isn’t the best thing for your body to do the same exercise all the time. Your body gets use to it and you are only working those specific muscles the same way over and over. I figure my hiking and other activities work well sprinkled in between my Bar Method classes. Not to mention I’m always hurting after class. Sometimes not hurting a lot but always hurting somewhere! Although every class is similar and follows the same outline each is different and those little differences, when done correctly, can really hit different muscles and/or work them diffently. That means ouch. The good ouch.
* The people are nice. That’s all I have to say about that. Nice people are cool.
* The teachers are extremely helpful. I need help. Serious, serious help. I hate doing something and knowing I’m doing it incorrectly but not knowing how to fix it. The teachers at Bar Method will help you fix your form. What’s the point of paying hard-earned cash, getting in some stretchy pants, driving to a studio, and going through the motions if you aren’t going to benefit from it because you are doing it wrong? One time I was walking back to my car and a woman stopped me. She had just been in class with me and asked if I benefited from the exercise. When I told her I had she said she didn’t feel anything and felt like she needed to go to the gym now to get a workout. Since at that moment every muscle in my butt and legs were still shaking I responded, “you are doing it wrong.” That leads me to my final point …
* The classes are as hard as you want them to be. The teacher will be there to help and push you but really it is up to you. You know when you can feel it and when you are cheating yourself. I’m not saying that is bad. Maybe rhythmic breathing for an hour is all you can emotionally do today. Fine. Tomorrow be ready to get your booty kicked!

So I know you love your Zumba, your Cardio Barre, your ExtremeSpin, your Antigravity Yoga, your P90X and on and on. I love my Bar Method.

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