This is a Test: Passing the Bar
Will the latest fitness craze really give you that lithe and toned ballerina body? Anne Vickman gives it a twirl.
â€śYou might wonder why your legs are shaking uncontrollably,â€ť says McKenzie Howarth. Sheâ€™s prepping me for the workout Iâ€™m about to try at her recently opened Bar Method studio â€” the first New England outpost of the buzzy San Franciscoâ€“based franchise. The idea is that intense isometrics (small, static movements), light weights, and stretching using a ballet barre will sculpt and lengthen the body. Thanks to the Black Swanâ€“inspired ballet craze and to fitness buffs who crave tighter rear ends and abs, studios offering similar versions of this regimen have been popping up everywhere: Pure Barre in Newton opened this spring, and local gym Equinox now offers ballet-barre workouts. And celebs like Drew Barrymore and Anna Paquin have been singing its praises.
Howarthâ€™s hourlong class works the whole body, and I hope to have an advantage: I run regularly and take aerial-arts classes. I also once danced in front of a crowd wearing Hammer pants during a recital when I was eight. How hard could this be? â€śEverybody is humbled by the Bar Method,â€ť Howarth assures me.
We begin with 15 minutes of leg lifts, followed by a series of extended bicep curls and tricep squeezes using two- and three-pound weights. After that, we target the thighs: I put my heels together, creating a slight V, then raise them up and complete more than 100 squatlike pulses. And slacking isnâ€™t an option: Howarth and her eagle-eyed co-instructor make hands-on adjustments to my form.
By the final set, my legs are indeed trembling. But shaking is good: It means Iâ€™m burning lots of calories, according to Howarth. My glutes and abs are also exhausted. But then comes the stretching… and relief.
I leave the class amazed that those minuscule movements made for such a beefy workout. Surprisingly, Iâ€™m not that sore â€” guess the running paid off. With several classes a week, Iâ€™d no doubt be on my way to a svelte dancerâ€™s figure (watch out, Mila Kunis!), but for now Iâ€™m happy just to walk out the door on no-longer-quivering legs.
$195 for 30 days of unlimited classes; 234 Clarendon St., Boston, 617-236-4455, boston.barmethod.com.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2011/08/this-is-a-test-passing-the-bar/