The Bar Method is one of the OG barre studios in the game. Like Pure Barre and Barre3, it utilizes a franchise method, so studios are everywhere. Sadly, there is only one studio in Manhattan because they CLOSED THE MIDTOWN STUDIO! I am extremely sad about this since it was <5 minutes from my office. But I’ll pull it together to review the workout for you.
Note that I am basing my review on numerous Bar Method classes–I did the intro month in my previous city and I’ve taken drop-in classes in my hometown and in the late Midtown NYC studio (RIP, we will plie together in your memory) . The Bar Method is a great studio for anyone new to barre, former dancers, or those recovering from injuries. While it’s definitely a workout, it’s a little less fast-paced than some of it’s competitors. Here’s a brief rundown of what distinguishes Bar Method from its peer set:
- Personal attention – The Bar Method requires that teachers know the name of every. Single. Student. In their class. Every time. I don’t know how they do it; I can barely remember my own name when I’m in the middle of a tough workout. Since the teachers know everyone’s names, they often call out adjustments mid-class in addition to manually adjusting people, so there’s a good chance you’ll hear your name at least once. I personally find this helpful, but keep it in mind if you’re more of a wallflower in class and don’t like to be singled out because you need to move your left tricep a quarter inch to the right.
- Focus on form – Of all of the studios I’ve attended, this one has the greatest focus on form. As noted, the instructors will call out adjustments, even super minor ones. This can be annoying, but it’s definitely a great studio for those who have never done barre before or those recovering from any sort of injury, as instructors ensure that students are doing the moves correctly. I’d imagine they have a super intense training program, which is respectable.
- Focus on strength (particularly in arm work) – Like Physique 57, this studio has a variety of weights that students can use for arm work, and they encourage students to push themselves to a higher weight when the set is no longer challenging. The class also has a ton of push ups (two sets in class, often up to 30 per set).
Other positives include: Less of a corporate feel than some other chains (cough cough Pure Barre); nice facilities with lockers and showers. I haven’t been to the Soho studio yet, but according to Yelp photos, it’s absolutely gorgeous:
Spa or studio? It’s unclear.
Peep the exposed brick and the instructors’ questionable hoop earrings.
Despite the tricked-out studios and personal attention, there are a number of things I dislike about the Bar Method:
- Structure of the class – This class has two relatively long stretching sections, but only does one seat exercise per class (meaning you only get to center seat or side seat work, not both). I’d rather them cut down on the stretching in order to work glutes longer. I want an ass that won’t quit.
- No break between classes – it seems as though during peak times, classes end and start at the exact same time, so there’s no 5 to 10 minute break between classes. As a result, getting in and out of the studio can be like fighting your way into a subway car during rush hour.
- Countdowns – I’m all for calling out when we’re on our final 10 reps of something because I know to push myself extra hard. Bar Method will call out “Final 30,” which is both discouraging and also means I can take at least 2 more breaks.
- No cardio – this can be a plus or a minus depending on how you look at it – plus in that you don’t have to wash your hair after class and can head straight to drinks or brunch; minus in that you don’t always feel like you’ve gotten a great workout after class. You’d definitely need to supplement this with cardio if you’re trying to get right for the summer.
Overall, the Bar Method is a good full-body toning workout and introduction to barre, but for a complete exercise routine, you’ll probably want to supplement it with some cardio.
Drop-in classes in NYC are $37.