After her husband’s work brought her to Baltimore in 2015, Ally Vitale knew she wanted to pursue her dream of opening her own fitness club. As a former Pilates and yoga instructor, who also attended Bar Method classes on the side, she was torn about what to focus her studio classes on. After much brainstorming, however, the choice was clear.
“My husband and I sat down and re-toyed with the idea of what I wanted to do, and we decided that the best option for me was to [do] one thing that I love really well, and I picked the Bar Method,” says Vitale. “Bar is what made me feel the best about my body.”
Started in 2001 by Burr Leonard in San Francisco, CA, the barre-based program focuses on toning and sculpting the body. Taking inspiration from moves that help to strengthen the bodies of dancers, this workout regimen targets the arms, legs and abdomen to provide a full-body fitness experience every class. There are now more than a 100 Bar Method studios across the U.S., mostly in major cities like New York, Chicago and now Baltimore.
Located in Anthem House, Vitale’s boutique studio features two carpeted studio rooms, a spacious locker room stocked with Aveda shower care products, available child-care during classes and free 90-minute parking. Classes offered are either 45 or 60 minutes and are available throughout the day.
“We want you to work hard and feel like you’re getting the most out of your 60-minute workout, but we also want to ensure our workouts will not hurt anyone who tries them,” says Vitale.
Bar Method instructors are required to attend a rigorous 6-month training session that teaches them anatomy of the body. If a client is sore or needs to adjust their workout, all instructors are trained to provide specialized exercises and tips to release tension and tenderness in the muscles.
“If there’s an exercise that we’ve taught for years and years that seems to be bothering clients in the long run, the Bar Method will alter the exercises for their clients,” says Vitale. “The Bar Method is a community—the instructors, clients and myself all work together to empower and grow each other.”
WE TRIED IT
Before class began, I set up shop close to the instructor in the front. One of the instructors, Kate Greenberg, gave me a soft mat and two light weights. As the time neared the top of the hour, other women filled in and claimed spots in the studio room. Classes at the Bar Method begin promptly, and start from top to bottom—arms, core, legs. The clock hit 6:00 p.m. and Haley, the class instructor, started the music. We jumped right into arm curls, bringing the weights up and down to the beat of the music. We moved quickly through the moves and did not have much time to rest in between exercises, which kept up my heart rate. Planks and push-ups burned through the last bit of arm strength I had left, which, conveniently enough, was the last arm-centric workout of the class.
Next, Haley instructed us to find a place at the bar. Each place was marked by a small, soft, grey mat. Getting into releve, we squeezed the mat between our legs for a serious glute burner. Discovering flexibility I didn’t even know I had, I and the rest of the women swung our legs up onto the bar for stretches. As we were bending forward to touch our toes and contorting our bodies like professional dancers, I could feel my leg muscles being pulled in ways they were capable of, but most definitely not expecting. The small class size (about 15 people) allowed Haley to provide adjustments and suggestions to better complete the exercises in the safest way possible.
At this point, we had already done some extensive core workouts, but we really focused on the abdominal muscles closer to the end of the class. Haley told us to spread out in the room with long black mats. Lifting our legs into the air, we all listened intently to Haley’s easy-to-follow instructions on how to perform the various moves. Each time we did a different move, she would change the music so that the beat would match the rhythm of the repetitions. Oddly motivating, this also helped keep the entire class in sync.
My normal day-to-day gym routine is cut-and-dry: I do cardio for 30 minutes and then do some weight machines. I’m not a gym devotee — far from it — but I thoroughly enjoyed this fitness class and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in trying something new, but also really wants a full-body workout in a swift 60-minute time frame. For people who aren’t gym savvy and need the motivation of a class setting, this is the perfect class for you.
The Bar Method
900 East Fort Avenue, Suite 107
Baltimore, MD 21230
Image courtesy of the Bar Method Baltimore Instagram.