Ben Performing Thigh WorkAt the Bar Method, we are dedicated to the proposition that some of our students will be men. We supply our studio rooms with larger weights than women would use and in most facilities provide men’s changing rooms and lockers. We make sure our exercises and stretches are designed to be entirely doable for students with tight hamstrings, and we train our teachers to use instructional cues that are “gender-neutral ( no “ponytail,” “high heels,” “bra-line,” and “ladies” for example) to make sure guys don’t feel as it they’re in a chick flick. Even so – and this is no secret – the overwhelming majority of Bar Method students are women. When you do see a man at the Bar Method, he’s usually the only member of the opposite sex in the class. I was curious to get some insights from a man’s perspective on why more men don’t come, so I asked Ben Winslow, one of our most regular male students, to shed some light on this issue.

Ben is one of the fittest people I know. A graduate of the infantry officer school and a lieutenant in the army, he put himself through college and became a successful litigator. For the past 38 years, he has run his law firm in the San Francisco Marina while pursuing the sporting activities that he loves: biking, swimming, running, golfing, endurance training, and competing in amazingly challenging triathlons. Ben, who turns 68 next month, has completed many “Escape from Alcatraz” triathlons, (a harrowing 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz, followed by an 18-mile bike ride and an 8-mile run), bike races and other competitive events. .

You’d think these activities would be enough to satisfy the most hard-core athlete, but Ben is unusual and not just in his love of physical challenge. He also has an uncommonly open mind. About a year and a half ago when two female lawyers in his firm told him about the Bar Method and asked him, “Why don’t you come with us?” Ben didn’t hesitate. He liked the workout so much that he got his wife to go to the Bar Method studio in Marin County where they live. Over the past year he has made a habit of walking from his office to the studio three-to-five times a week between business appointments to take class.

Here’s what Ben told me about what it’s like to be a male student at the Bar Method:

Ben Performing Armwith with Sharon DemkoWhat first attracted you to the Bar Method?

As you get older, you’re stooped over. Old guys get stiff. I don’t want to be a person who can’t tie my own shoes.

What do you like about the workout?

I like the discipline. I like the routine of knowing what’s going to follow what. I like knowing what we’re going to do next and how many reps so I can do my maximum effort. And the instructors are great, well trained, friendly. They greet you by name. It may help I’m the only guy.

What results have you gotten from the class?

I’ve become a much better golfer. My golfing friends say ‘Wow, you’re really turning your body when you swing!’ I’ve strengthened my core, gotten more limber. Bike riding I don’t have back pain anymore. I used to get an achy low back. In general I have no more low back issues.

I think my body’s changed. I’ve always been very thin and lean. I’m now more muscular with more developed abs and biceps. I like the look you promote which is long and lean, not chunky and muscular. I have more spring in my step. More energy. I always go to guys (touching his toes) and go ‘hey, can you do that?’

Ben Peroforming Round BackDo you ever feel intimidated by what the women in class can do?

It all evens out. I can do more pushups. They can do other things.

Why don’t other guys want to come?

I tell a lot of guys to come and run into the same thing all the time: ‘It’s a chick thing.’ ‘Let me get this right: you get a fabulous workout. You’re around 30 beautiful women. I don’t get it.’ If guys come and try it once or twice, they’d see that it takes a lot of muscular ability, strength, and coordination. If you apply yourself, it’s hard. You’re sore after you do this. These days with more enlightened men, I think they’re missing out on something.

What could guys get out of the Bar Method that they can’t get elsewhere?

Guys will go down to Gorilla Gym and work with a personal trainer, do that. Personal trainers charge a hundred an hour. I look at them and think they’d get much more out of the Bar Method. If you really want to change your life, you go to a class like this.

9 replies
  1. linda graham
    linda graham says:

    I wish we had a studio in charleston s.c. I used to train in ballet when I was younger and this method has much of the things I remember

  2. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Wow. If this guy is in his late 60s and Burr is also in her 60s I want what they’re having. Oh wait, I can! Youth in an exercise class.

    Thanks Bar Method

  3. Custom Built PT
    Custom Built PT says:

    Nice post, discipline is must if you are really serious about fitness.
    One must schedule a routine for fitness training.
    Those who are new to physical training, group fitness programs are best for them

  4. Charlotte Bieri
    Charlotte Bieri says:

    I think its great that he is in there! I have been trying to get my brother to do Pure Barre with me for months, I think he would really enjoy it. Thanks for sharing the male perspective, I plan on sharing this article with him!

  5. sarita
    sarita says:

    Hello! Just tried Burr’s SS1, and loved it. I have all the Bar Method DVDs, as well as several other high quality DVD workouts in the same genre. I just have to say, there is only one Burr! For me, she is incomparable:)Thanks for being such an inspiring instructor.

  6. janet wilson
    janet wilson says:

    Just a warning to Canadian customers. I was charged $106 in shipping and duty to have the portable barre shipped to my address in Ottawa ON from ABC Dance, not happy, we’ll see when it arrives today.

  7. Bar Method Headquarters
    Bar Method Headquarters says:

    Hello Janet,

    We received your feedback about the extra shipping fees to Canada regarding your portable barre shipment. Our apologies about any confusions regarding shipping, as we do not handle those fees here directly. ABC Dance partners with us to offer our customers a 10% discount on all Bar Method products. However, we are not responsible for shipping fees so please take caution in the checkout process to make sure to be aware of all additional international shipping costs. We hope you still have a chance to enjoy your product, and continue to see results with our workout DVDs.
    Bar Method Headquarters


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