We’re celebrating 20 years of barre excellence the best way we know how: by giving center stage to the people who make The Bar Method what it is today. Our members—whether they are veteran students of The Method or newcomers—are the heart of The Bar Method, the definition of powerful and epitome of strength. Today we’re celebrating Ann Marie Hodges, a longtime member of The Bar and current member at The Bar Method-Madison. Ann Marie walked into a studio in 2006 and never looked back. Ann Marie shared with us her Day 1 experience (spoiler alert: she could barely walk down the stairs afterwards) and what has kept her coming back for 15 years.
The Bar Method: Tell us about your first Bar Method class. Were you familiar with barre already? What was your previous fitness experience like?
Ann Marie: I took my first Bar Method class in 2006. We were in San Francisco and had just purchased an apartment so that we could go back and forth from the east coast and have our own place in SF. I had walked by the studio on Fillmore many times, but had no idea what type of exercise it was. I wasn’t at all familiar with the routine or the name. I had done Zumba, yoga, gyms, and dance exercise classes, but never stayed with anything for too long.
I went into the studio and booked a class. And I never looked back. I remember the instructor, Jen Hertsenberg, calling out my name many times to comment on my form and ensure I was doing it correctly. We have laughed about that over the years since. I was a bit perturbed that she kept singling me out but over time I realized that was one of the benefits of this exercise—personalized care! Now, even after over 15 years, I look forward to hearing my name!
The Bar Method: What made you come back for your second class? And then your third, fourth, and fiftieth?
Ann Marie: When I left my first class, it was on the second floor of the studio and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to walk down the stairs, let alone walk home to my apartment. But for some reason, I looked forward to going back…I signed up for a membership and became addicted!
The staff was exceptional—from the moment I walked into the studio, you felt that everyone knew you and always cared about you. We have become friends over the years. And the same goes for the other clients. There was never any judgment, always encouragement to get me thru the classes. At that time, I was probably 57 years old and many of the clients were young women but I never felt out of place!
The Bar Method: Describe the energy and vibe at your studio—what do you love about the instructors and your fellow members?
Ann Marie: I am now in the Madison, New Jersey studio on the east coast and have brought many of my friends with me. Prior to that, I was taking classes in the Summit studio. But then the Madison studio opened. Since I live in Madison, I switched over and already knew the instructors since they all started in Summit.
I have taken classes at many Bar Method studios over the years in addition to Bar Online. When traveling, I have taken classes in in Westfield, Montclair, D.C., Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Marina del Rey, Brentwood, to name a few. The classes are consistent and you know what you are in for! The Madison studio is truly exceptional. Everyone is amazing. Gina Striffler expects the best from her staff and she gets it! She is a phenomenal business woman. Just to see how she handled this last year during the pandemic tells the story! She and her staff NEVER missed a beat.
I have never been a “joiner” or felt the need to have an exercise “buddy” but Bar people truly have something in common. The community is supportive, giving and inspiring. Madison is more than a place to exercise. Everyone looks out for each other and I have developed some wonderful friendships. There are always hugs and smiles and attention to details. If an exercise is problematic, you can count on the instructor to stay at the end of class to help out!
The Bar Method: How have you seen The Bar Method evolve since you started years ago?
Ann Marie: Totally have seen the studios evolve, it’s never static or boring! Club Bar benefits have been added, there are multiple modifications available, physical therapists know all about the exercises, new class levels have been aded to accommodate every individual, live-streaming from the studio.
Instructors know how to describe in detail what part of your body is actually being worked on…and what you need to do to get the most out of the exercise. Their study of the physiology of the body is amazing. I have taken Pilates, Barre, and Pure Barre classes and there is absolutely no comparison!
The Bar Method: How would you describe The Bar Method to a person who has never heard of it before?
Ann Marie: Using your own body strengths to get thru class….isometric, cardio, weight lifting, very small controlled movements. It truly sculpts the body. If you are committed, you see results in a short period of time including toning, slimming and creating muscle definition. Working in the muscle then stretching immediately after allows for changing the muscle while it is warm, but it does not create bulky muscles.
The Bar Method: Tell us about your life outside of The Bar Method—what do you like to do for fun?
Ann Marie: Travel, reading, walking, cooking, tennis and golf. Being with friends is very important and over time, I have created very dear friendships at The Bar Method. We continue to get together outside the studio. In order to be able to socialize and go out to dinner or for a drink, we know how important it is to remain active in our barre classes. My husband has commented many times that he was surprised that I have not gotten bored with The Bar, but the exercises change and each instructor brings her own personality to the class so there is no room for boredom! I have had him take a class in SF and he knows how tough it can be. He says he can see how I have “re-sculpted” my body.
The Bar Method: What’s your favorite Bar Method exercise?
Standing seat and kickstand curl!
The Bar Method: What else should we know about you?
Ann Marie: Twelve years ago, I was told that I needed knee surgery for a slight tear in my meniscus. I went for PT and the therapist was familiar with The Bar Method and also happened to be an instructor in one of the San Francisco studios. She helped me modify my exercises in order to continue with The Bar Method. I continued to build strength and haven’t needed to have that surgery. THANK GOD! I know how important it is to move my body and work to stay strong and flexible!
Finally I have to say that The Bar Method-Madison is truly unique! Having attended classes in many studios, it is clear that the vibe in Madison is unparalleled. You CANNOT help getting caught up in the dynamic energy of that studio! Gina Striffler and her staff have created a community in my town that has never been seen before.
Experience the magic of The Bar Method for yourself. Find a studio near you.