Workout Wednesday: The Bar Method

Ballet and yoga come together for a muscle-sculpting exhaust-fest.


The last dance we went to? It was in high school and before that, it was Dance, Dance Revolution. Oh, and does doing the Hokey-Pokey at your uncle’s wedding count?

So you’re not exactly smooth on the dance floor, but you’re always ready to applaud that healthy and lithe dancer look that you somehow can't ever achieve, no matter how many laps you swim and run.

Not to step on your toes, but we’ve been struggling with the same thing. So we made a move and decided to try out The Bar Method, the latest workout to hit Honolulu, which incorporates elements of yoga, ballet and dance conditioning to turn your body lean, healthy and strong.

Now that’s something we’d pirouette for.


What it is:

Incorporating the ballet ‘barre’ (that handrail you see dainty ballerinas practicing on in pictures) into fitness routines is part of a new dance-obsessed trend. The Bar Method is a California-based studio that emphasizes muscle-sculpting, targeting the muscles that play the biggest role in overall body shape. (Psst, Colbie Smulders, Drew Barrymore and Kristen Bell are fans. Nbd.)

The Honolulu studio, which opened in January, follows the brand’s strict rules and standards in everything from décor (the entryway is a comfortable, inviting foyer) to dress (no pants below the knees allowed) to certification (all instructors get evaluated yearly and must pass a rigorous training process) in an effort to maintain a high-end experience.

Our reaction:

“Ballet? How hard could ballet be? I was in ballet when I was 6 and it was seriously no biggie…”

How wrong we were. Turns out our bodies have gotten a bit floppier since our elementary-aged selves slipped on those en pointe shoes.

Sweat Meter:

At our first session, there was a lot of sweat, for sure, but even more so, there was a lot of shaking. That’s right, while the spurts of cardio gave our stamina a break now and then, (hello, interval training!) our muscles weren’t so lucky. The instructors aren’t kidding when they say there’s a lot of strength training and if you’ve been neglecting your calves, they’ll be burning within minutes. The tiniest movements—think tiptoeing over and over—turn on the fire when you add weights, repetition and speed.


Instructor Elaina Olson says that in order to see the quickest, best results, you’ll want to go to at least three classes a week. For the experts in the class, it certainly seemed to pay off: They were bounding through the moves with sleek, sure, totally-not-shaky muscles, while still getting a good workout.

Get ready to be sore the next day. While we’re not sure if we burned as many calories as we would have taking a Zumba class, the TLC given to lengthening and strengthening muscles made achieving that lean dancer shape feel not too far off.

You’ll definitely feel yourself banging against the wall of your muscles’ abilities, so the first session can be frustrating. The routine incorporates lots of stretching, thank goodness, so with that helping you recover, (not to mention a whole lot of practice) you’ll feel your muscles start to respond better—and be able to push further—sooner than you’d think.

Don’t think you’ll be performing Swan Lake. While the class incorporates techniques and moves that make dancers svelte, the focus is on making a work of art out of your body—not out of the movements. Repetition of simple, albeit challenging, movements is the name of this game, so if you had visions of pirouetting across the room, ditch those at the door. This isn't a creative indulgence; it's a no-nonsense workout.