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Bar Method – Combination of Yoga, Pilates and Ballet

May 29th, 2008 · 10 Comments ·


If you find free weights intimidating or the typical class is too boring, you may want to try Bar Method. When I read about Bar Method, on the first glance, I saw similarities between Bar Method and Yoga or Pilates and even ballet because of its focus in stretching and strengthening of the core muscles. But, after doing more reading and watching some video clips, I agree that Bar Method has its own unique features which may be loved by many women. If you haven’t heard about the Bar Method and want to get in shape, read on.

How Does Bar Method Shape The Body
The Bar Method’s intense strengthening workout changes the body in three ways:

  • It elongates each major muscle group.
  • It burns away body fat around these muscles.
  • It stretches tight muscles, including around the hips and lower back

Core muscle groups are targeted with slow burn exercise and muscle sculpting workouts.

What Does Student Do In The Class
The class is usually an hour long. It has 8 or 9 strengthening exercises excluding the stretching at the end of the class. The strength workouts use mainly body weight with controlled and small moves. Now, let’s look at what the students do in the class.

  1. Warm-up
    • Students work on the quads (thigh in layman term, our largest muscle group) to warm up.


  2. Push-Up and Shoulder walks
    • You will work the upper body with push-ups. Free weights are used to work on the shoulders and upper back.


  3. One-weight lifts
    • Triceps kickback is performed to firm up the flabby upper arms. Its principle is to work on the more neglected side of the body – area which you seldom see in the mirror.


  4. Stretch at the bar
    • You put one leg onto the bar and stretch. You reach your upper arms overhead and to the side. This stretch targets at the lower back muscles which are tight due of long hours of office work.


  5. Thigh-work
    • You lift your heels and bend your knees. Then, you move slightly up and down with your toe. This move is challenging, not only on your thighs, but also on your calves.



    Thigh work: High heel parallel

    Thigh work: Diamond Shape


    Stretch after thigh-work

    Another stretch

  6. Standing Seat-Work
    • You tighten your glutes, then lift one leg back and hold the position. This workout lifts the buttock, stretches the lower back and works on posture. The end results are to sculpt the legs to have long and straight upper thighs with a lifted butt.




    Foldover Seat, a modified version of Standing Seat-Work


    The stretching after Seat Work

  7. Pretzel
    • On the floor, you position one leg in front and the other leg slightly behind hips. Then, by using bar in front of you, you lift the back leg off the floor. Pretzel shapes the side of butt and it also trims down love handles (sides of the waist).



  8. Flat-back
    • You sit with your backs against the wall. Grip the bar with both hands and then raise your legs off the floor. This workout targets on your lower abdominal muscles. Bar Method uses the weight of your legs to shake these muscles up.


    • You scissor your legs in and out up to 150 times for five minutes, exhaling on every repetition. Doing this movement with feet off the floor challenge your already exhausted thighs, abs, arms and legs, moving their bodies into an aerobic mode that burns calories and fat.
  9. Curl
    • Curl is the modified version of typical crunch. You lie on the mat, then lift your shoulders off the floor. Hold the position as long as possible. Unlike sit-ups, Bar Method curl uses sustained holding power to work on the abds and stretch your back. Doing this exercise near to the end of the class allows warmed body to deeply stretch the back muscles to keep them limber.



  10. Back-dancing
    • After the intense abs workout earlier, now, you lie on the floor and lift your hips to music. It is fun yet you are working on the butt.


  11. Final Stretch
    • In this cool down exercise, you stretch your butt, backs and hamstrings while lying on the mat. The goal of this workout is to tone your hamstrings to be longer.



With the combination of basic strength training and aerobic, at the end of each class, you will probably experience an endorphin rush and exhausted. By challenging body strength and working different muscle groups together, students are trained to be strong.

The entire 60 minutes of class will make your heart rate elevated. Like other fitness class, music played are very motivating. In addition to body weight, light hand weights and medicine balls are used occasionally too to increase the difficulty of the exercise.


Is Bar Method different from Pilates ?

  • In terms of intensity, Pilates works the small muscle group whereas Bar Method works the large muscle group.
  • Pilates uses machines and mat work whereas Bar Method uses body weight.
  • Pilates gives bodies a slender feel whereas Bar Method focuses on strength and muscle “cut” definition.

I do not think Body Method is better than Pilates and vice versa. Each uses different approach and therefore produces different result.



How About Yoga, How Bar Method Different From Yoga?
The spiritual Yoga focuses in posing the body in arches, bends or bows. It increase flexibility and strength. Bar Method complements Yoga in a way it works muscles that Yoga may have missed. Bar Method work the muscles until they tremble because its objective is to shape the muscles until it is fatigued.

Just like Yoga, for beginners, it is common to have muscles shaking while holding posture while doing Bar Method.

What Makes Bar Method Stands Out

  1. The use of ballet bar and emphasis on stretching has made many students feeling like ballerina. However, no dance experience is required. You may think most workouts have small range of motion, but they are slow burning exercise which your quads or abs will scream for you to stop while you are holding the position. You will sweat.


  2. Bar Method uses multiple body parts in one exercise. Core muscles are involved to stabilize. Major muscle groups are first isolated, then pushed to exhaustion and then stretched. What it really differentiates is the area it zeros in. For example, our lower abs which are underdeveloped. Others include shoulders, triceps and lower backs. However, what makes many female students fell in love with Bar Method is its focus in butt and legs workout.
  3. Third, by working front and back of the body, muscles are stretch as the opposing muscles contract. This approach alternates between working muscles.

The end result is clearly visible change in appearance including lifted butt, narrow things, defined hamstring and flat abdominals. Bar Method enthusiasts believe that once muscles look longer and more defined, the body becomes leaner, frame becomes straighter and more graceful.

For now, Bar Method classes are limited to only few places in California, San Francisco, New Jersey. The founders are embarking franchising program to expand it to other places in United States and to other countries. So, if you do not stay in those areas, you either have to wait or check out The Bar Method DVDs.



Category: Fitness Classes

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10 responses so far ↓
  • Yin Teing // May 29, 2008 at 8:26 PM

    Interesting. Item #5, may help with posture. Strength and flexibility methods are there- and the strength exercises are not that intimidating. Probably only the cardio missing- but a jog round the block will do the trick. But this method is neat and can fit into home gym. Yes, definitely the muscles will scream- at the quads workout, push ups and sit ups. Minimal equipment like the bar (the portable one looks quite affordable) and resistance band. Thanks for the this article- hv not heard bout this method before. just that, if they are not like Les Mills who have new releases few month’s once, the routine may boring after a while

  • amit // Aug 3, 2008 at 4:11 PM

    im lookiing for good ballet workout for all body stresching extension, and for leg and lower back i have scoliosis so want imporve my health with ballet

  • NYC Pilates // Nov 8, 2008 at 1:33 AM

    I have to admit, when I first saw this post, I was very interested, being a dancer that works (as a receptionist) at a pilates gym on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. After reading, pondering, and thinking, I question that some of the exercises would be harmful to the back and sacrum. I’m sure that this method will make the body look amazing! Pilates, though, to me, supplies exercises that work my joints and lengthens my muscles. As long as a person attempts to stays fit and healthy, they are okay with me. :) I would love to know about the long term effects of this method is anyone has any feedback.

  • jbay59 // Dec 21, 2008 at 4:43 AM

    I can attest to the fact that bar method is VERY effective! I exercise ALOT….run miles on hills, do cardio barre, pilates, kettlebells (soooo good), and still make time for the bar method. It stretches your muscles and reshapes your body dramatically…there are things that alot of other exercises can’t seem to conquer that the bar method really does….tight butt, flat stomach, etc. If you’re like me, you do your research….and i really did mine on this one and have been doing the bar method for 2 years now. There are new dvds out now that closely resemble the older ones but are a little better! Try them…you really won’t be disappointed. The first time around you may think its no big deal…but if you really do the moves like they say…wait till the next day when you wake up and can’t walk

  • Gerard Cheong // Feb 8, 2009 at 7:24 AM

    I do yoga, pilates and ballet. Ballet gives my legs a workout that yoga and pilates does not. My legs are practically sore after each ballet class as the muscles contract and expand continously when doing the up and down ballet movements. Pilates, yoga and ballet actually complement each other. I enjoy barre work very much. Try it and you won’t regret.

  • Erin // Mar 17, 2009 at 7:04 AM

    As a former dancer and a current Pilates instructor, I find that this combination of exercises is exciting, fun, and effective!

  • whitney // Mar 10, 2010 at 4:01 AM

    does anyone know how/where to get certified in bar method?

  • Sandy // May 26, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    I teach yoga , Pilates and ballet and am very interested in trying this method and possibly teaching it.

  • Wayne // Sep 3, 2010 at 9:56 PM

    This bar method looks interesting. It could be worth trying it out over here in the UK when I next take a pilates class.

  • Max // Oct 4, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    Really great post on the bar method! Ballet Bar classes are great! I’ve been going to LITA for awhile now, and am obsessed. I feel more flexible and much stronger all around. BuywithmeNYC has a deal going on where you can do 3 classes there for just $25.

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