When a new fitness facility pops up in the neighborhood - and everyone is talking about it - you should check it out, right? For a few years I've had clients tell me the love The Bar Method. They emphatically talked about how it changed their body - quite literally - and was a phenomenal workout. Fast forward a couple years and I finally got my tush into The Bar Method's Lakeview location. OK, now I get what everyone is talking about.
The Bar Method is full body workout that combines isometrics and interval training. The heart of the "method" is in working the larger muscles groups in a way that helps to lengthen and strengthen muscles (thighs, bottom, back, arms and abs to name a few).
I walked into the super polished business at 3144 N. Sheffield Ave., for a 7:00am Friday class and was immediately greeted and shown where to put my things. The lobby was filling with other women waiting to go into the same class as me. I was encouraged to grab and hang from a tall ladder-like piece of equipment that was mounted against the wall of the lobby, as well as in the each of the studios. Before I showed up at The Bar Method, I understood that a great deal of focus was on lengthening the muscles, so it wasn't surprising to see other members grabbing onto the ladder, lengthening out their bodies and getting in a pre-workout stretch.
The Lakeview location has two studios that accommodate all levels of fitness enthusiasts from advanced to pre-natal and everyone in between. With ballet bars along two walls of the studio, The Bar Method might give some the impression that dance skills are required. While the Method helps with dance conditioning, no skills are required. In fact, the only thing The Bar Method has in common with ballet, or any other type of dance, is the bar. That's it.
Class was about to begin, and everyone in the lobby walked their sock-covered feet into the carpeted studio. Our instructor, Stephanie Griffin, asked everyone to grab a couple light-weight dumbbells for shoulder, back and arm exercises. I looked around and everyone seemed to know exactly what they were doing. Griffin put a lot of focus on posture and proper abdominal contractions.
After ten or 15 minutes the class dispersed to the wall, finding an area to workout alongside the bar. We went through a sequence of stretching and strengthening exercises that really challenged my thighs and bottom in a way that they hadn't been challenged in a while. Griffin put us through several intervals of squat variations. Each lengthy variation was defined by how we stood - with our feet close together, feet further apart, on the balls of our feet, etc. After a couple minutes, every inch of my legs was on fire. I looked around and saw other women shaking. A stickler for form, Griffin kept a watchful eye on the class' form, assisting anyone who needed help.
When the standing leg exercises were done, we moved onto the floor and began a series of exercises that primarily focused on getting into the big muscles of the bottom. As a newbie to the class, it was obvious that nearly everyone else in the room had a strong amount of muscular development in the areas worked. Like any good instructor, Griffin pushed a couple of the women in the room that looked like they could have been challenged a little more. The end of class was all about abs. For the last several minutes, Griffin pushed us through several core exercises to make the hour-long workout truly complete.
The Bar Method came to Chicago four years ago via co-owners, Catherine Wendel and Lis Settimi. Students of The Bar Method in San Francisco, Wendel and Settimi loved it so much they decided to open up their own franchise here. Today there are three Bar Method locations in Lakeview, the Loop and Highland Park. A fourth location is set to open early 2012 in Wicker Park. The Bar Method will spread the love to the suburbs, too! Griffin is excited to open a franchise in Naperville slated for the Spring of 2012.
Drop in and take a class at The Bar Method for $20. If it's something you know you want to do, sign up for one month of unlimited classes for $100 (new members only). The Bar Method also has gift certificates available - perfect for the holiday season! For more information on pricing, child care, parking and more, visit The Bar Method's website or give them a call at 773-935-2150.