On the front lines of communication when it comes to feedback and questions from students across the country, Bar Method studio owners really know their stuff. We recently caught up with Jessica Bowman, Owner of Bar Method Solana Beach, about a blog post she recently published for her client community that talks specifically about the infamous “tuck” you experience in a Bar Method class.
As Jessica shares in her post on her blog Barre Boss, “People who ‘do barre’ typically know that all barre classes are not created equally and understand the subtle (but important) differences between the various programs. However, even if you’ve been taking The Bar Method or another barre fitness program for several months or years, you may still be confused about some of the terms instructors use to help you achieve proper form.” She went on to guess (and we bet she’s right!) that at some point during your Bar Method journey, you’ve probably stopped to ask yourself, “what the tuck?”
Jessica went on to perfectly explain, “The Bar Method tuck is really just a stance that maintains spine neutrality during weight-work and muscle isolations. In this stance, students recruit their bodies’ three core muscle groups, those in their upper backs (shoulder stabilizers), their torsos (abs), and under their spines (glutes). The ‘Bar Method tuck’ thereby keeps these stabilizer muscles working to protect students’ spines and also to enhance the effectiveness of the exercise at hand.”
As Jessica notes, a good example of this is in the warm-up weight work. Instructors will tell you to “drop your tailbone, draw your abs in and grip your glutes” to achieve stability in your back to perform the targeted weight work (bent-elbow lifts, biceps curls, lat pulls) properly.
The term “tuck” takes on a different meaning when it’s used in choreography (i.e. in thigh or seat work when you’re told to “tuck for the last 20”). In this context, the instruction means to grip your glutes repeatedly to the specified tempo in order to isolate and contract the glutes against stability coming from the front of the body. In this example, your glutes are the muscle group being targeted and worked as opposed to providing stability like they are in the previous example.
In both cases, she states, “you can potentially over-tuck resulting in overstretched hip flexors, poor upper back posture and lower back strain. To prevent this, use the mirrors in the studio to check your low back alignment and be mindful of whether or not you are simply engaging your glutes or tucking your tailbone under you in a way that creates unnecessary resistance in your glutes. Oftentimes very flexible students won’t realize they are over tucking which is why it becomes very important to workout under the guidance of highly trained instructors.”
From her experience as a studio owner, Jessica wisely notes that an outsider comparing a Bar Method workout with another barre class might not see that the students in both classes are using entirely different muscles. She says, “This skill is called ‘differentiation,’ or the power to use one muscle without unconsciously engaging another. Bar Method teachers are highly trained to help their students learn this important kinetic ability.” As Bar Method Founder Burr Leonard explained, Bar Method is not “all about the tuck” but rather “all about the technique”.
Have questions about your tuck or specific positions in class? Drop a note in the comments!