Linda before classThere are clear advantages to working out at home. You pay nothing, you get fit your way, and you save travel time. Most of all, you enjoy the unbeatable convenience of exercising at home. At the same time there are some downsides associated with home-workouts that are worth talking about. First, there’s the well-known fact that most people find it a struggle to stay challenged day in and day out without being egged on by a teacher. DVD workouts can help by providing someone on video who can motivate you.

“DIY” workouts can also subject you to some less commonly known risks, especially if they’re your chief means of staying fit and even if you use DVDs. At home, you can be tempted to pick and choose among an infinity of vaguely-recalled routines or pieces of DVD workouts, and these choices might not always be the safest and most results-oriented ones you could make for your body. In any case, there’s no one at home to check your form.

Linda Greenberg, a recent Bar Method convert, is a good person to ask about what happens when you work out at home over the long term, something she did regularly for 40 years. Staying motivated certainly wasn’t one of her problems. At an early age, Linda came to understand that she possessed an abundance of determination. “If I believed in something,” she realized, “I could do it well.” Linda, 57, was born and grew up in San Francisco and always loved to work out. When she was a teenager, she spent her monthly $25 allowance on training sessions at her local Jack LaLanne, and during college at UCLA and Wharton School of Business, she biked, ran and lifted weights. By her mid-20s, she’d become a five-mile-a-day runner, and that’s when she ran into her first setback: her knees started to bother her.  Not being one to give up easily, Linda pushed through the pain until age 30, when she finally gave up her long runs.

With a vengeance, Linda launched into a search for a perfect exercise routine that did not include running. She watched exercise channels and combed through fitness magazines for good exercise routines. She tried Pilates, but it was a little too mellow for her. She hired a personal trainer, but that turned out not to be the answer either. “He was this crazy muscle-bound macho guy,” she remembers. “We did a lot of squats and lunges, militaristic things like burpies. I expected him to take out a whip any minute. Why did I keep going back? To prove to myself how strong I was. I actually dreaded going, but I went for about a year. It was a kind of masochistic thing. I ended up putting on a bunch of weight and built bulk, the exact opposite of what my intention was.”

After that experience, Linda decided to forego assisted exercise and step up her home workouts, which she’d been doing all along, to two hours every other day. “I bought a Bowflex and committed myself to “hitting every hit every part of my body with 30-to-100 reps while wearing 5-pound ankle weights,” Linda says. Therein, for the next two decades as she built a successful career in the home loan industry and raised twin daughters (now 16,) Linda exercised on her own.” “It’s just what I did for years and years. I’d get on some music. My dog would be there. My husband would come in and think I was crazy with the weights. He would call me ‘Lucy.’”

Linda in round-back 6-24-11 edit 1-5 200Finally last summer, Linda suffered a game-changing ill effect from her workouts. She developed bursitis in her hips, a painful injury that brought home to her the extent to which she’d been overdoing it. “I’d been doing massive reps with massive weights,” she admits, “pushing my body. It was so stupid. I had to go to the orthopedist. He said it was because I was working too hard on the weights.” Ironically, Linda’s extraordinary willpower, which had first enabled her to exercise by herself, had ended up derailing her. She resolved to find some guidance, and her search led her last September to the Bar Method.

Linda in kneedancingLinda now takes four to five Bar Method classes a week and uses the treadmill two days a week. She began to see changes after a few months. “My body is leaner now. My muscles have elongated for the first time ever instead of bulking up.” she says, “My kids say, ‘mom, you have no butt left.’ I’ve dropped some inches and feel better.” Another plus side to exercising at the Bar Method, Linda found, is its friendly environment. “I love all of the instructors,” she told me. “They’re enthusiastic, and they push you, but not in an offensive way, and I’ve made friends here. It’s a community.” Three months ago, Linda lost her mother, and her Bar Method classes became an unexpected source of support. “To be around cheerful people with upbeat music has helped me take care of me first while I’m taking care of all this other stuff.”

Does Linda have any plans to return to her home workouts? “I don’t miss anything,” she told me. “For the last 40 years I was bulking up when I wanted to be elongating. Finally I have the right combination of contractions and stretches.” As for the future, Linda declares with her usual hutzpah, “I’m going to do the Bar Method until the day I go.”

16 replies
  1. Lani Muelrath
    Lani Muelrath says:

    I love reading about your journey, Linda. Being wedded to the joy of being fit, trim and energetic are self-motivating yet finding the way to achieve this with doable time investment is another matter.

    Your story is a great example for others who may labor under the belief that they have to know themselves out with hours of workouts each week to achieve what they want. It’s thrilling to see what you’ve been able to achieve and oome up with as a good match.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    Lani Muelrath

  2. sara_sagacious
    sara_sagacious says:

    “There are clear advantages to working out at home. You pay nothing, you get fit your way, and you save travel time. Most of all, you enjoy the unbeatable convenience of exercising at home.”
    I totally believe these sentences

  3. Emily
    Emily says:

    The studio i go to only has barre classes 2 times a week both morning and night. Would going to the 10 am and 5:45 pm class on both tuesday and thursday be effective? I love the barre class and i am seeing quick results so naturally i want more. Or should i just do the home videos 2 times a week in addition to the morning classes. If so what days?

  4. Bar Method Headquarters
    Bar Method Headquarters says:

    It would be better to do the class 3 – 5 times a week, one per day. When you do two classes in a day, the second class doesn’t produce significant gains, so I suggest doing two classes and two video classes.
    -Bar Method Headquarters

  5. Bar Method Headquarters
    Bar Method Headquarters says:

    @Matt Very true! One must be consistent in their home exercise regimen. We recommend doing the Bar Method 5 days a week, with 2 days of rest to make sure not to overexercise.

  6. Bar Method Headquarters
    Bar Method Headquarters says:

    @Deirdre The Bar Method trains teachers for individual studios only, so to apply to train, talk to your studio owner.

  7. Negin Anvar
    Negin Anvar says:

    I love this site and reading all the blog entries. Learning so much.

    I don’t live anywhere near where there are classes. I don’t even live in the U.S. Would the DVDs give me similar results – leaner body and elongated muscles – over the long-term? I am patient. I know it takes time. 3-5 times per week over the course of several months, correct? I am tired of bulking up. Will the DVDs, by themselves, help?

    Thank you.

  8. Gregory Brown
    Gregory Brown says:

    I love reading this story as I myself workout at home and have had great success. I started my program at home because I did not like going to the gym and feeling as though everyone stared at me. I always felt out of place. Although we have different backgrounds, your story is very inspiring.

  9. Tina
    Tina says:

    I love this story. I recently started a new job where I work 10 hour days and am working on a Master’s Degree. A lot of my old workouts were on VHS, and I haven’t had a VCR for about 5 years. I have never enjoyed working out from home. I like classes that motivate me and have a gym membership as well as a Bikram Yoga membership. My problem is that I am short on time and live 20 miles away from the gym/yoga studio.

    After work, I am hungry, so I need to go home to eat. I can’t quite get it together to bring enough food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Once I am home and after I eat, I don’t want to make the long trek down the hill to work out. Not only that, I do have 2 barre studios available to me, but the times don’t work with my schedule. I decided to make the plunge once I noticed the prices for a monthly membership (which doesn’t work for my schedule). I bought a Fluidity bar (ballet barre) and a few barre-based workouts. Obviously, bar method is the best. It has been a month now, and I am working out 4 to 5 times a week and loving it. Working out from home can be awesome if you just can’t make it to the gym or studio.


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