It’s February, and Valentine’s Day is two weeks away. In keeping with the spirit of the day, many Bar Method studios hold special “man” classes to which men can come free either by themselves or with their girlfriends or spouses. My home studio in the San Francisco Marina is holding three of these “man” classes on Saturday, February 12th, and I’m teaching the last one. I love teaching these special men-oriented classes. The Bar Method has the power to “up” a guy’s fitness level above and beyond what he gets from his usual gym routine of weights, abs and cardio, and it’s fun to talk about these benefits as the men make their way through the exercises. Two things I definitely don’t say are that they’re lifting their seats and ripping their arms. Men already have lifted seats, and many have ripped arms. What guys do get from the workout is stronger legs, tighter abs, more flexibility, relief from back pain, stability in their knees, a better functioning core, and – if they’re athletes – amazing sports conditioning.

Bar Method Seattle Owner Luke CurreirWith all these fitness benefits to be had by men, why aren’t Bar Method classes full of guys? One reason, in my estimation is that the classes are full of girls, beautiful ones at that. You’d think this would be a big draw, but no. Guys don’t like thinking they’re being shown up by more flexible, dance-y females. What’s more, they don’t like the idea of standing at a ballet bar wearing socks. The problem with this rational is that, one, we female students are actually in awe of guys who brave the class (but most of them never get this), and, two, the ballet bar and the socks are non-material details that don’t reflect the true machismo-like essence of the workout.

In spite of this general male mind-set, a small group of men do come regularly across the spectrum of Bar Method studios. Who are these unusual male students? Some are athletes who’ve found that the class makes them more competitive at their sport. Others are husbands whose back problems disappeared from the workout. A handful are runners who use it to strengthen, stabilize and increase flexibility their knees and hips, ultimately adding longevity to their running careers. My boyfriend Michael is among the atypical guys who come regularly simply because he likes the workout (see my blog “GUYS AT THE BAR” about his experience.) We studio owners are proud that these men are among our students, but the truth is, most of us could count the number of men who come regularly to each studio on the fingers of one hand.

Luke - Low Curl

But there’s always hope. Every Valentine’s Day lots of men come to our “man” classes; they work hard, they seem to get it, and every year I think excitedly to myself, “this is the year!” Then these guys don’t come back. One student from a “man” class I taught a few years back gave me an insight as to why. “I’d love this, “he said, “if I knew there’d be at least a few other guys in class.” Alas, it seems a chicken and egg type situation. The guys won’t come because their buddies aren’t there.

Maybe on the 12th, things will change…… 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day
Burr Leonard

5 replies
  1. Bob C
    Bob C says:

    My wife does the bar, and I do the videos at home. It’s not because men will be “shown up” by women. From the outside, the bar looks easy. Men don’t know it’s hard until they do it.

    Men don’t go because The Bar Method looks like women doing exercise for women’s bodies/needs, and ballet stuff. I’m a firm believer in the bar and it’s benefits. The benefits to men that you list are what I’ve experienced and keep me doing it. However, the entire image and marketing of the The Bar Method is for women. So as a man, it’s not surprising to me that men aren’t going.

  2. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Maybe Bar Method could try a regular Man class like the Pre-Natal classes. Get a small group together that knows that other guys will be there limit the women allowed? Once class where they know they won’t be the only one?

    My husband is a huge recreational hockey player and there was just an article in our paper about the “hockey workout”, which could have been describing a Bar Method class.

    Maybe it’s the advertising message.

  3. Bar Method Headquarters
    Bar Method Headquarters says:

    Dear Bob and Claudia:

    Thanks so much for your messages and insight. You both bring up good points about marketing our image and exercises to male students and informing of the benefits of The Bar Method. Your opinions have been heard and forwarded to our marketing team – hopefully your words will inspire more men to come to class.

    Thanks again,
    The Bar Method Headquarters

  4. Andrew Helegda
    Andrew Helegda says:

    This is a great workout. I feel like the program places a special emphasis on the lower body, and on the core. In addition, you do end up with a whole body conditioning at the end of the hour-long class. It sure is challenging, yet fun at the same time!


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