THE SECRET BEHIND THE BAR METHOD’S HIGH QUALITY CLASSES

Kristen Williams edit

Kristen

Samantha Elizabeth edit 2

Samantha

Bar Method studios have grown to more than 90 in number, and the quality of our classes, to hear it from our students, remains as high as ever.  “I can always count on getting a great workout no matter who is teaching,” Samantha, a DC student, posted on our Facebook page. Fresno student Kristen told us in her post: “I’m in love with the concepts of bar method, also, the high standards that each location and instructor is held to.”

How does The Bar Method manage to keep growing and keep our teachers at the top of their game? We begin with a comprehensive training program, but our focus on quality really kicks in after our teachers begin teaching. That’s when The Bar Method’s unique evaluation and coaching system comes into play.

We developed our evaluation system five years ago when our family of studios was still small. I would travel around to watch classes and noticed something interesting. When left alone, teachers usually got better at some things, such as confidence and “flow.”  At the same time, even our talented and dedicated teachers could actually get worse at other things, that is, unless Sharon evaluating editthey received regular feedback. One special challenge exercise teachers face is that they must repeat similar instructions class after class. Over time, that good bit of verbiage gets put on automatic, and teachers can stop hearing everything they’re saying. On top of this, they could develop “tics,” phrases unconsciously said over and over such as “that’s it,” “great job” and “good!” Teachers could also develop blind spots in their teaching. One example is getting into the habit of never looking at a certain part of the room. Any student who happened to be standing there was therefore not getting noticed. This slippage is not the teachers’ fault! All of us need guidance in order to stay alert and focused. What’s more, I was happy to see that feedback could play a positive role as well. Constructive guidance helped teachers to deepen their understanding of the technique, hone their flow, sharpen their observation, and become more creative motivators. This last component of growth gave teachers an exciting opportunity to become masters of their craft.

Jen and Sharon at meeting Aug 14 2015 edit

Master trainer Jen Hertsenberg and Sharon

To these ends, every year, The Bar Method now sends a team of national evaluators to every studio to evaluate/coach, and give guidance to each one of our approximately 1000 teachers. Even though I founded The Bar Method, I’m evaluated the same as any teacher (and get just as nervous beforehand!). All of us get a score that is an average of what we receive on a list of skills. Those skills include how well we present the exercises, how well we connect to our students and help them with their form, how motivating and supportive we are, how fun and challenging our choreograph is, and how well we use the music.

Sharon Sabrina Lauren edit

Sabrina, Lauren and Sharon

As you might think, the evaluation process can be nerve-racking to studio owners, but they love the results. “We find evaluations an integral part of success,” says Atlanta studio owner Melissa White, adding that “We were all nervous. At the same time, as a studio, we came out better teachers.” Sarah Kuzniar, who co-owns three Boston-area studios, values the Bar Method’s evaluation system because it validates the feedback she gives her own teachers. “You guys reinforce what we’ve been telling them,” she says. ”To hear it from the outside is helpful.”

I want to say a last word about our 15 intrepid evaluators led by our VP of Teacher Development Sharon Demko and her team members, Sabrina Porter and Lauren Ford. Sharon and her evaluators go to great lengths to assure that every Bar Method teacher receives a thorough and supportive evaluation. They take red-eyes, fight through snow and traffic to show up at 6 am classes, watch teachers all day, then spend more time writing up their evaluations, coaching and giving guidance. Their work is the secret sauce that keeps our classes top-notch. Thank you, guys!

6 replies
  1. Michael Doud
    Michael Doud says:

    I cannot say enough about the team of evaluators and the HQ team that supports and encourages them. They are all sublime. I have not found that there is any other exercise studio or company in the nation that evaluates each of its teachers (including the founder) on 20 objective teaching metrics annually. Each teacher has their own flair and style, but what you will get in a Bar Method class is The Bar Method – a safe, powerful and ever-changing exercise class. Power to the teachers, evaluators and the HQ team.

    Reply
  2. Marla
    Marla says:

    There isn’t much I can say except it’s the best the I have ever done for myself. Everything that is written here is the truth. Every instructor is the best. Never witnessed anything like this and I’ve taken many ballet classes in my life. I am 68 years old and this has changed by body by 30 years at least. I attend the Roslyn Bar on Long Island, New York at least five days a week. Bravo to Roslyn the owners and every instructor.

    Reply
  3. Anne
    Anne says:

    I am a bar method student at the Ridgewood NJ studio. I have been a student there for 3 years. I work out 3-5 days a week there. I have gained so much strength and flexibility but have also noticed that my hips seem to be less flexible.
    Do you have any advice for increasing my hip flexibility?

    Reply
    • barmethod
      barmethod says:

      Hi Anne,

      We suggest that you do the following exercise at home:

      Kneel on a very soft carpet or mat in the evening two or three times a week, and assume a hamstring stretch position – the same stretch we do during the thigh stretch section of a Bar Method class. Hold the position for a moment, then slide your front heel forward a few inches forward until you feel a stretch in the hip muscles of your back leg (towards a split position, but there’s no need to press into a split). Keep your hips square and breathe deeply. Hold the stretch for a few seconds. Back up, and repeat on the same side. Do the same on the other side. This stretch will lengthen your hip-flexors over time.

      Reply
  4. Lila
    Lila says:

    I apologize that this question is not related to the post – not sure where else to ask it. I was wondering if you have already written somewhere/could write about using the Bar Method to manage Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I have been attending classes with the wonderful people at Bar Method Soho and Midtown in NYC on and off for almost three years. I was gone for a while but recently joined up again after being diagnosed with this condition and told that exercise 5-6x a week is critical, not necessarily for calorie burning but to manage the insulin resistance component. Like many women with PCOS I have a lot of extra weight around my midsection, and it’s hard to know what kind of results to expect from the ab work. The slow progress can feel like I’m not working hard enough, but maybe I need to adjust my expectations or look for different benchmarks. Any information on the Bar Method as it relates to PCOS/Insulin Resistance specifically would be so appreciated.

    Reply
    • barmethod
      barmethod says:

      Hi Lila,

      We have no expertise in your condition. However, we do know that ab work increases strength and tone in the abdominals, even when a student does not feel the muscles contract for the first few months. We have found that many students do not feel progress in this area for the first three months they take class.The reason for this is that the abdominals are thin muscles, making the muscle contractions difficult for students to feel at first. We encourage you to take The Bar Method at least three days a week for a few months. That consistency is likely to give you results you are seeking.

      Our best wishes, The Bar Method

      Reply

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