How The Bar Method Enhances Sex, Part 1

Sex and the CityI was putting away my mat after taking class a few months ago and a student approached me. She was pretty and looked like she might have been a lawyer or worked in the corporate world. “Have you or anyone ever written about how great the Bar Method is for sex?” she asked me. Out of habit I gave her my usual answer: Yes, it’s great for sex, but we’ve always played down that feature. “Thanks for your answer,” she said, “but it really is.”

As the student walked away, it hit me that for 20 years I’ve been giving that same stock response to questions about the Bar Method’s connection to sex. My habit of side-stepping this issue started with my Lotte Berk Method trainers in 1990. That year I was studying in New York City to become a Lotte Berk Method studio owner, and my trainers wanted me to keep my approach to this subject consistent with theirs. “People might ask you about sex,” they told me. “Focus on other benefits.”

I went with their advice during my ten-year term as a Lotte Berk Method licensee.  Now that license has been expired for ten years, and it’s about time that I formulate by own policy on this subject.  So here it is: The Bar Method-type workout is absolutely great for one’s sex life, and let me tell you why:

First, exercise itself has been proven to increase sexual potency. According to researcher Mark Stibich “Studies have shown that women who frequently exercise become aroused more quickly and are able to reach an orgasm faster and more intensely.” Exercise gives you an especially powerful boost if you do workouts that focus on stamina, muscular endurance, strength and flexibility. Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise credits exercise with “physical improvements in muscle strength and tone, endurance, body composition and cardiovascular function (specifically, enhanced peripheral blood flow),” which he says says “can all enhance sexual functioning.” Why? Paige Waehner ACE explains.  “Sex also requires you to hold…er…occasionally unusual positions for short periods of time,” she says, plus, “Being limber can enhance anyone’s sex life by making it a bit easier to get into your favorite position with a minimum amount of fuss.”

Lotte Berk dancingDo The Lotte Berk Method/Bar Method techniques have any advantages over other exercise forms in this arena? Most definitely! They build a fantastic degree of stamina; they make you more flexible; and most distinctively, they focus on strengthening and stretching the muscles around your pelvis pretty much during the whole class. The Bar Method’s “narrow V” thigh exercise, for example, strengthens the “pelvic floor” muscles, according to Physical Therapist Heidi Morton. Then of course there are all the glute and abdominal exercises such as “water-ski thigh,” and “water-ski seat,” and the other “seat” exercises, plus the curl work, which students perform with their pelvis locked in place by means of all its surrounding muscles. Finally we come to “back-dancing,” an exercise that looks almost embarrassingly sexual, but more about that later.

Considering that sex is probably our greatest natural high, you’d think these benefits would be worth mentioning. Even so, over the past 20 years, the hundreds of press articles written about my Lotte Berk or Bar Method studios have pointed out only the Method’s ability to make you look sexy. Nowhere in my memory has there been anything written or said about its effect on sex itself. The most direct reference to sex in connection to the Bar Method that I could find appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in July of 2002. The writer speculated on what would happen if the “Sex and the City” characters moved to San Francisco. “Samantha,” the article said, “would be in to various trendy California pursuits like… the Bar fitness method.” Nothing, however, on how much more fun Samantha, um, might have had later…

This reticence hasn’t always been the case. In the early 70s, the press was all over the news that an exercise technique was improving people’s sex lives. Why then did my Lotte Berk Method trainers in 1990 tell me to zip my lips on this subject? The answer goes back a half a century to the workout’s inventor, Lotte Berk, who expressly and unapologetically designed the workout to enhance sex.

Next week: The rise and fall of Lotte’s sexual revolution (and why we can finally start talking about it again 🙂

5 replies
  1. Lani Muelrath
    Lani Muelrath says:

    What an absolutely provodocative and charming article. And you still managed to be demure, even as forthright as your article was about sex! Can’t wait for part 2 – I did NOT know that about “unapologetically designed to enhance sex…”!

    Lani Muelrath

  2. Linda Love
    Linda Love says:

    I have a confession to make. I was doing fine with my 2 Change Your Body and The Advanced Bar Method dvd’s when I bought 3 new dvd’s from Gilt Groupe and I have to say, The Dancer’s Body Advanced Workout had me hooked and crooked for a month. I tried to keep up with the instructor and she is very good (is she human?). I’ve since gone to something else for a while, but will try the new sculpt dvd’s in a few weeks. What was I thinking? Thanks.

  3. Kristen R.
    Kristen R. says:

    I am SO glad you are talking about this! I noticed the benefits to my sex life almost immediately after starting Bar Method, and I have always exercised. The Bar Method definitely does something other workouts don’t to specifically target strength and flexibility needed for sexual pleasure.

    Also somewhat related: I tried absolutely everything to cure my postpartum urinary incontinence (could not jump, run or sneeze without urinating) and read an article from a woman named from Katy Bowman that argues kegels are not the answer: strengthening your glutes pull the hammock-like pelvic floor so it is tightened up to hold more weight and stress. I know for certain Bar Method cured incontinence for me as well, as I had done nothing else but that and suddenly, the incontinence was gone. I was so fed up with it I was looking into surgical options. I am so glad I didn’t!

    Looking forward to part 2!

  4. Bonnie Strong
    Bonnie Strong says:

    I was puzzled when I started reading this post because I remember from my dance history days that Lotte Berk was errrr… quite outspokenly liberal in the sexuality department. As a sex educator I feel strongly that it is as important a component of health as food and exercise… So I’m looking forward to the next installment!


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