“All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you something great will come of it,” Benjamin (played by Matt Damon) says to his son in the movie “We Bought A Zoo.” A first class at the Bar Method is one of those acts that can take a bit of insane courage, and just as Damon’s character promises, great things — in this case getting a more beautiful, healthy body — can come of it.

Jen's Class bicepsIt’s understandable that that walking into your first Bar Method class takes at least some courage. It has a reputation for being challenging, and friends are often so darned devoted to it that they can make you wonder. These friends are well-meaning, but their enthusiasm for the Bar Method can backfire and churn up inner cascades of self-doubting questions among the uninitiated: “Am I going to get addicted? Will everyone be, and look, better than me? Will I feel singled out when the teacher calls my name? Will I even get through the class!?”

If you’re wondering how you’d do in your first class, I want to reassure you that the overwhelming majority of new students of all ages and fitness levels have a positive experience. Bar Method teachers are skilled at making their new students feel safe and welcome, letting them know what they’re going to feel, explaining the benefits and mechanics of the exercises, and getting them into a focused workout “zone” that makes the hour go by fast. But don’t just take my word for it! Hear about the first day experiences of three students who almost never got there, and were glad they did.

Rachael, Summit, New Jersey

Rachael on right with her daughterFor a long time Rachael walked by the Bar Method studio in Summit without going in. A single mom in her mid-40s, Rachael “dismissed it as an option for me,” she says, “because the word ‘bar’ implied ballerina and that was something I certainly wasn’t.” One Thanksgiving, her daughter came home from college, and the two of them decided to give the class a try. “I changed three times before I left the house,” Rachael recalls, “not sure what to wear. I was sure I would be the only person there who would not be able to lift her leg to her ear. I was so nervous when I turned the corner into the studio, but everyone was so lovely and welcoming. As I made my way through the class, I was amazed at the extensive options given within each exercise…options for those who were advanced and options for novices like me. The instructor offered specific encouragement and suggestions to each student using their names! It was clear that each student was so involved in their own progress that no one had time (including me!) to notice anyone else.”

Mary Ann, Redmond, Washington

Mary AnnFor two years, Mary Ann’s California-based daughter called her to talk about the positive effects the Bar Method was having on her body. Then a Bar Method studio opened in Mary Ann’s area. She was placed on the mailing list but didn’t attend for another year. Finally Mary Ann signed on “and I might add without too much enthusiasm,” she admits, “because I was suffering from a lower back injury. However, once I began taking classes under the watchful eyes of Bev and Maika (the studio’s owners), I was nurtured with kind comments, disciplined corrections and happy faces. I got the message; this is working for me.”

Grace, Bernardsville, New Jersey

A busy mother of three young boys, Grace would not be dragged to a first class for a long time in spite of the persistent efforts of her best friend Margaret. “I can be a little sarcastic and a physical underachiever,” Grace says by way of explanation. At last Margaret prevailed. “As I entered the class,’ Grace remembers, ‘I was really impressed by the instructor’s desire to not just learn the names of students, but to engage and take a serious interest in each individual’s progress and development. Honestly, on that first day, I was a “D” student, but that did not matter. What struck me is how much and how often these instructors encouraged me and others and made constructive adjustments in order for proper form to be achieved. Also, every exercise is explained along with its function and benefits. It is fascinating to submit to this level of instruction. Not only did it stimulate my muscles, but a switch was flipped in my brain, too. This Bar Method became my Mt. Everest and I was hooked.”

Thank you, everyone, for you support this past year.

Happy New Year!


12 replies
  1. Lani Muelrath
    Lani Muelrath says:

    It’s exactly right – instructors at Bar Method are well trained in the graces of meeting the psychological and physical needs of newcomers. I’ve been to a lot of Bar Method classes at a lot of studios -in more than one state (one of them being Bev and Maika’s first studio in Seattle area) – and this has always been my experience of observation.

    Lani Muelrath

  2. Jennifer Vaccaro
    Jennifer Vaccaro says:

    I started Bar Method a few months ago and I’m officially addicted. I feel better, look better and the best part is the confidence I’ve gained about myself. Every class challenges me and it’s never is boring. The instructors make you feel welcome. They walk around class and make sure your form is correct and that you are doing okay. Thank you Bar Method for opening my eyes to another world of exercise.

    Jennifer (Denver,CO)

  3. Jen
    Jen says:

    Thanks for the blog!

    I’ve only been to two BM classes, but so far I really enjoy it, and I have the confidence to keep it up. I’ve not exercised regularly before, though I do fall in and out of month-long phases where I run 3-4 times a week.

    I do have one question though, I’m vegan, between 5”1 and 5”2, weight usually fluctuates between 105-110 (right now at 110). I’m not looking to lower the number, but I do want to tighten up to get a leaner appearance. I have a series of important media events to go to in 3 months, but I’m afraid that if I do BM 3-5 times/week, I could bulk up at that time, because that seems to be what most students are experiencing (Muscle hypertrophy, yes?).
    Is there any way to avoid that?

    Thank you!

  4. Bar Method Headquarters
    Bar Method Headquarters says:

    Thank you for your inquiry. There is no guarentee that you won’t build up muscle that makes you feel bulky in the 3-5 month time period. Students slim down in and around 6 months (some earlier).

    For more information on this subject you can also refer to the blog post titled:

    Fitness Tips: Why You Might Bulk Up Before You Slim Down

  5. Yoga Zürich
    Yoga Zürich says:

    Thanks for sharing this nice blog in very detail. This will be very much helpful for the people who are going for bar method class for the first time.

  6. Rushfit Review
    Rushfit Review says:

    Really digging the Bar Method fitness style. I particularly like that you use some weights as weight training will burn fat more than most realize.

  7. Paula
    Paula says:

    I am a 60 year old women that just recently started back to regular exercise classes three months ago. I would like to try the Bar Method, but it appears to be for the younger age group or for those already in shape. Any advise? Thanks

  8. Melanie
    Melanie says:

    Great article. I won a Bar Method gift card in a raffle about 2 years ago. I was so intimidated when I looked at the website that I made a friend come with me to my first class. But I was so pleasantly surprised both by the instructors and the other students. I am much larger than everyone else in class and don’t wear those cute little tight outfits and absolutely no one made me feel conspicuous or like I didn’t belong there. I can’t tell you how much that made a difference to me – and now Bar Method is my favorite workout (even though I can’t get to class as often as I’d like)

    I have to say thank you for training your instructors this way….

  9. Rosie
    Rosie says:

    I took the bar method class near my office almost three years ago when trying to tone up for my wedding. It was a wonderful experience but after the wedding, I fell off the bar method wagon. I want to return, but the nerves are there! I am going on a beach vacation soon so maybe that will motivate me 😉

  10. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    I started at the Bar Method with a friend who was a professional ballerina. I thought who am I kidding I’ll look like a fool but I was wrong. That was almost 3 years ago. I LOVE The Bar Method. I am 58 years old and I have FINALLY found an exercise program that I can stick with. I can se myself taking class into my 70’s and 80’s I also follow Bar Online when I am spending my winters in Florida. There is no studio near me.I LOVE the online challenges.


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