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Bridal Fitness on Paper - BarWorks Monday, August 29, 2011

Ballet fitness - Barworks As a former dancer myself, it's great to see more and more people embracing dance as part of their regular fitness routines. Workouts like Zumba have begun to revive an appreciation for dance as an exercise, rather than just an art form. While Zumba is definitely on my "to do" list for reviews in the future, today, I'm going to be reviewing another dance-centric workout routine utilizing what is commonly known as The Bar Method. No, I certainly DO NOT mean pole dancing. My husband likes to call it my "Pole Class" because he knows it bugs me (I'm a bit of a feminist when it comes to the pole dancing classes, sorry) =P The Bar Method utilizes a horizontal ballet bar, like one that you would find in a typical dance studio, and relies on basic ballet practices in order to tone the major muscles groups for a full body, anaerobic workout.

For the purposes of this review, I'll be referring to my experience in BarWorks, a fitness class modeled after The Bar Method, that is currently offered by YogaWorks in both beginning, intermediate & advanced levels. YogaWorks urges those that enroll in a BarWorks class to "Leave your ballet shoes at home, but get the same effect workout as a dancer in this engaging class. With the support of a ballet bar, increase balance, core strength and flexibility using simple and precise moves. BarWorks combines the best of yoga, ballet, and Pilates using specific alignment principles from the YogaWorks method. Alternating movement and stretching, you will use your own body weight as a natural tool. Build the elegant, lean muscles any ABT dancer would be jealous of."

Based on my own experience, dancing is great for the body because it requires a blend of both balance, strength and flexibility that few other sports or exercise activities require. Many women who work out regularly, including myself, will tell you that one of their concerns while lifting weights and resistance training is bulking up too much. Most of us don't want to end up looking like a bodybuilder, with bulging biceps and monstrous thighs. The Bar Method's combination of strengthening and stretching work helps keep you long and lean, like all of those amazingly elegant ballerinas that we've all admired at one point or another. Haven't you ever noticed how tall ballet dancers always seem to be? It's not because they're all technically that tall. It's because of their incredible awareness of their posture and body placement that is instilled in them through their dance training. You're not only focusing on lifting that leg, but keeping it long and reaching up out of your core.

BarWorks - Dance Fitness

Overall: Three and a half diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
3.5 out of 5 diamonds
I have a feeling that this will be more of a "love it or hate it" kind of class for some.

This workout will have you feeling the burn within minutes, and will keep you on your toes the entire time. Literally! BarWorks at YogaWorks is a relatively new type of fitness class that utilizes basic dance principles. If you have any sort of interest in dance, I would definitely recommend trying a bar-centric fitness class like this one. You don't need any dance experience in order to be successful in this class, but I do think that some will find this class a bit painful if there isn't a little more appreciation or interest in the art form itself.

Cost & Equipment Three diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
3 out of 5 diamonds
Because fitness classes like BarWorks aren't as commonly offered as yoga or Pilates, the standard rates tend to be on the higher end of the scale. This class also uses several pieces of equipment; however, most of these items are provided by the studio itself.

The cost to attend a BarWorks or other dance fitness class will vary depending on where you go, and but most appear to cost between $18 and $30 each. The rates are a bit higher than say, a yoga class, because this type of fitness class is a little more difficult to come by, therefore increasing the demand.

Many of the pieces of equipment utilized in BarWorks are the same items used in your typical Pilates class. At BarWorks, we typically use a mini Pilates ball for abdominal and thigh work, a D-Ring Yoga Strap for stretching, and a Magic Circle and wooden yoga block (some other classes will use hand weights) for arm exercises. You'll also want to bring your own yoga mat with you, but there are no dance shoes or dance-specific equipment required - you'll work out barefoot.

Time Commitment: Four diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
BarWorks is a great class to throw into your regular fitness routine to spice things up and challenge your body in a new and different way.

BarWorks is one hour long - working through the warm up, arms, glutes and thighs and abs. It is a strengthening fitness class, and there is no actual dancing going on, so it's not the type of routine that will get you breathing hard. I definitely sweat though! Like Pilates or Yoga, I would still pair this class with cardio exercise if your main goal is weight loss. I haven't done BarWorks for very long, and I do it along with too many other fitness routines to be able to tell you exactly how effective it really is, but I am certain that you'll walk out of the class feeling like it was time worth spent.

Level of Difficulty: Three diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
3.5 out of 5 diamonds
Keeping in mind that this is a strengthening class, BarWorks is definitely a challenge! Your muscles will be shaking and you'll be feeling some serious burn throughout the entire class.
From minute one with the warm up, you will feel your muscles working in BarWorks. The class typically begins with some arm exercises away from the bar using your wooden yoga block or weights that basically have you keeping your arms up and moving until you can't hold them up anymore. You move to the bar next, where you do a series of plies (or squats, basically) while up on your toes, and then a ton of leg lifts (inspired by ballet's arabesque position). My butt and thighs were literally shaking by the end of this exercise series, and boy does it burn like a "you-know-what." Then, you move into abs, which is performed down on the floor on your yogamat, using the pilates ball. Again, your abs feel like they're on fire. The class typically finishes with stretching both on the floor and using the bar, and I was definitely spent by the end!

BarWorks works not only because the actual moves themselves are challenging, but also because of the pace at which you are doing them. The class is performed to popular music (instructors play anything they want, basically), and as you do in dance, you have to keep in tempo with the music! It's always tempting to try to rush through a workout because you just want to get it over with, but you won't get away with that in BarWorks. Many things are done at a slower, ever-more-challenging pace, and it makes it nearly impossible to cheat any of the exercise moves being asked of you.

YogaWorks offers two levels of BarWorks classes. I've had the opportunity to take both Level 1 and Level 2 classes now, and they both seem to use the same basic exercise moves. The main differences between the two levels lies in the number of repetitions of each exercise and the more difficult modifications made to the exercises themselves.

Effectiveness: Four diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
3.5 out of 5 diamonds
BarWorks isn't an aerobic workout. It's a strengthening one, so it can be very effective in improving strength and balance, as well as flexibility.

If you don't actually enjoy what you're doing or you're just not focused for whatever reason, BarWorks is definitely easy to give up on for the sake of your burning muscles! However, I'm the type of girl that enjoys the burn in a real way - it's like your body's way of telling you that you're doing it right! You'll walk out of the class knowing without a doubt in your mind that you pushed your muscles to the brink - my legs felt like jello afterward!

Enjoyability: Five diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
I personally love this class, because I frequently miss my high school days filled with dance practice and ballet classes!
I stopped dancing when I went to college, which has left me a bit too intimidated to walk into an actual dance class at this point. However, I love BarWorks because it's sort of a grown-up, fitness version of dance class. It gives me the opportunity to get my "fix" of dance while getting a good workout. I also enjoy the fact that I'm not asked to "perform" at all...You're never put on the spot, asked to memorize or perform anything in front of your peers as dance class almost always requires.

If you're curious about a specific workout and you'd like for me to review it, please do leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at Sarah - at - apaperproposal - dot - com.

Insert Comment | View Comments (4)




The Perfect Palette (ga)

Aug 29, 2011 11:09 AM

Thanks for sharing, Sarah :)

xoxo, chrissy
The Perfect Palette

chandra ~ oh lovely day (LA)

Aug 29, 2011 2:15 PM

I do the Bar Method (did it to prepare for my wedding, during my pregnancy, and now to get rid of the baby weight) and I love it. It is difficult but not too difficult, and can totally change your body.

Erika {Borrowed&Bleu} (Orlando, FL)

Aug 30, 2011 8:21 AM

Another insightful look at fitness! :) I haven't tried The Bar Method, but I've done ballet-type routines and you're right - you feel the burn right away!

Jessica (Sonoma County, CA)

Aug 30, 2011 11:25 AM

Great review! I need to find a good studio near me.