by Nisim Frank
The Bar Method has been one of the fastest growing workouts nationwide. Friends who can do it seem to have unreal flexibility, flat stomachs, and toned arms. More than that, there is an air of relaxation that Bar Method enthusiasts have about them. Simple strong movements that engage your core muscles while stretching you out seems a lot easier than it actually is. Recently, I took a Bar Method class with good friend and instructor Rebecca Hidalgo and as a Soul Cycle regular, I expected it to be a breeze. Within three minutes, I was shaking, awakening muscle groups that a cardio class does not get to. Hidalgo, calling every person out by name as if they were life-long friends, corrected my form while giving the class pointers on how to improve - no matter what level you may be on. I sat down with Hidalgo after class to talk to learn more about Bar Method. We chatted about how she first started adding it to her workout regimen, how patience is a much needed virtue in Bar Method, and her advice to first-time skeptics and season veterans.
Nisim Frank: What was your inspiration behind starting with Bar Method?
Rebecca Hidalgo: I started taking Bar Method classes in high school- my aunt who loves trying new types of workout routines recommended I try it, being that I had been training in dance for many years. It's by no means a "dance" workout, however it does employ elements and forms of ballet, which I found very fun, safe and effective. What I found appealing about this type of workout was that the instructors were motivational, however very attentive to my form (and everyone's) when giving corrections. This was important to me because it helped me to be more aware of my body and the specific muscles I was supposed to be working and feeling in each exercise and stretch.
I went to Bar Method classes more frequently my senior year of college, being that the Brooklyn studio opened up not too far from where I live. I was also still recovering from ACL/meniscus surgery, and Bar Method was a great supplement to my physical therapy, being that it can be very rehabilitative and has specific modifications in every exercise for certain injuries. I found myself going almost every day and really seeing and feeling results (more toned arms and shoulders, flatter stomach, increased flexibility, etc). The atmosphere of the studio really attracted me as well, it's very warm and welcoming to people of different ages and body-types. I auditioned to be an instructor, got chosen, went through months of intense and rewarding training, and the rest is history!
NF: Can you give three pointers for somebody who is just starting the Bar Method class?
RH: Patience in two ways. First, be patient with getting to know correct form. To some people it comes easier, for others it takes a little longer.
The Bar Method is an extremely mindful workout which requires focus and body-awareness. As instructors, we do our best to help you get into perfect form, both verbally and with hands-on adjustments. Sometimes for newer clients, they are simply not used to engaging certain muscles isometrically while working their alignment and posture at the same time. And that's okay! Even extremely seasoned clients (and instructors) sometimes need a reminder or adjustment. That's what makes Bar Method such a great workout, you are constantly learning how to engage new parts of your body, constantly improving your form and being constantly being able to challenge yourself further...which brings me to....
1. Be patient with results. We recommend coming 3-5 times a week to see and feel results, however everybody's body works differently and has different capabilities. If the person next to you can take the splits options during stretches, that doesn't mean that you are a worse student. There are days where even I (and I'm pretty flexible) choose not to take certain challenge options or stretch options because my body is telling me "not today". Listen to your body and your own capabilities. Especially for your own safety! Also, when it comes to your own personal goals, whether they be weight loss, toning, increased flexibility--again, everybody's body is different and will show results in different ways/take different amounts of time to do so.
2. Ask Questions! As instructors, we are happy to help when it comes to whatever question you have about the class, your own personal form, etc. Don't be embarrassed if after a few classes you still aren't understanding a specific exercise, please let us know! One of my favorite things about being an instructor is working with clients individually for a few minutes after class if they want to work on the form of a spe-
cific exercise we did in class that day. No detail is too small for us to be able to help you with.
3. Have fun. If you're struggling in the last set of thigh and your legs are shaking like a leaf (a good thing by the way), do whatever will make you feel like a superhero in those last 10 or 20 reps. Maybe that means sinking 3 inches lower, maybe that means smiling, maybe that means closing your eyes and letting the music pump you up. Have a positive mindset going in and you will feel super accomplished afterwards.
NF: Any nutritional advice to support yourself before/after the workout?
RH: Definitely eat something before class- something that will give you fuel however not something too heavy. We do quite a bit of abdominal work and quick breathing, so let's just say that I deeply regretted the one time I ate a whole Chipotle burrito before class. ::laughs:: As for any workout regimen, you need to supplement your workout with a relatively healthy diet in order to feel or see results. Again, this is going to vary from person to person. What you eat before class will also depend on the time of day--if you're one of our 6AM warriors, you're most likely not going to wake up at 5AM and make yourself an omelette, coffee, and juice. Maybe a granola bar and yogurt is your vibe, or a smoothie. In any case, whatever fuels you at that time. Also remember to hydrate yourself! You are welcome to bring a water bottle into class with you, so hydrate before, during, and after class.
NF: For somebody a little more experienced who has gone 5-7 times, whats the next step in Bar?
RH: The great thing about Bar Method is that it never gets easier- the workout is what YOU put into it. As your form improves, you will be able to take more challenge options offered in class. If you've been coming frequently, I would say the next step is to set a personal goal as to how you would like to proceed and improve. Mixed Level is our basic Bar Method class-- That is to say, anyone can take it whether it is your 1st or 100th class. If you would like to focus more on your form and have a slightly slower paced class, maybe try out a Level 1 class. We offer Level 2 classes, as well as Bar Move (a faster paced, more cardio-based version), which require that you have taken 20 or more Mixed Level classes. Maybe set a goal for yourself to work up to being able to take a Level 2 or Move class!
NF: I took your class and love that you know everybody by name- How is the community aspect of it?
RH: Knowing everyone by name is very important for us at The Bar Method. Giving clients individual attention is an extremely helpful way not only to help them be more aware of their bodies, but to motivate them as well! Community is very important for us as well--fitness is a very personal journey, and being able to trust the people helping guide you along the path is necessary. The studio is also a great place to meet fun, welcoming, and like-minded people from all walks of life.
NF: What is a good supplemental workout to do with Bar?
RH: Bar Method is a great workout on it's own, however if you're someone who likes to do different types of exercise, it is also well paired with running or cycling. The reason for this being that Bar Method uses isometric movements and stretching to tone and elongate your muscles, as well as to improve posture. If you enjoy high-cardio workouts such as cycling or running
barre workouts will help to stretch out the muscles that tend to shorten and bulk up during those routines. It will also help with your alignment, which will make the way you approach other exercises a lot safer for your body.
NF: Any advice you've learned from your students?
RH: The more I get to know my students, the more I am able to see how I can help and challenge them further. I learn something new about someone every time I teach a class. It is extremely heartwarming for both me and them when I see someone accomplish something physically that they were maybe not able to do a month ago. My students (and fellow instructors) have taught me a lot about patience and progress.
Rebecca Hidalgo is a 23 year-old New York City-based actress, dancer, multimedia performer and creator. She loves that moment when your subway transfer is directly across the platform and is a proud cat mom. Follow her on Instagram at @r_dalgo and book a class at The Bar Method in Brooklyn at 267 Pacific Street.
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