Few people (if any) decide to become a Bar Method instructor haphazardly. Many of our instructors say that they were drawn to the opportunity to teach barre even though they knew it would require serious studying and training. After experiencing the cathartic atmosphere in the studio, the inclusive community between members and staff, and the transformative results of the workout as a student, many now-instructors say they had to integrate the magic of the method into their lives in a bigger way. Such was the case with Michelle Chuang, a Bar Method instructor from our Newport Beach studio who says that despite her full-time job, the opportunity to teach at The Bar Method had a magnetic effect on her.
I recall it was the Summer of 2010 that I discovered The Bar Method, a fitness studio located in an affluent retail center by the coast. Besides being impressed by the studio’s location and operation, I was instantly captivated by how physically challenging the exercise was.
Before discovering The Bar Method, I had never been disciplined with a fitness routine. In fact, I used to think that I was blessed with flat abs, only to learn that was the farthest from the truth when my metabolism started to slow down, and my abs unified as one. 😉
The Bar Method technique is unique because it targets specific muscle groups, and by applying isometrics movements, it contracts the muscle intensely to strengthen. After each strength exercise, stretches are incorporated to help elongate the muscle groups to achieve sculpted muscles like a dancer’s body. Most significantly, I am drawn to the beautiful choreography and movements, combining strength and grace into its form.
Shortly after my first class, I signed up for the “unlimited” membership. However, although I had endless opportunities to attend class, I seldom made it into the studio due to work travels.
I worked for a Fortune 100 company back then, heading up field marketing for a large sales organization. While my job fulfilled me professionally, I was burnt out and exhausted. I traveled extensively and my personal life was deteriorating. I was living out of a suitcase most of the weeks. My commitment to a healthy diet depended on whether airport eateries offered a staled salad of the day or not. On the weekends when I was home, I would be stressed over the upcoming trip I needed to prepare for. When I did make it to my barre class, I began to realize that my hectic professional life was a stark contrast to the serenity I would encounter in the studio with an ocean view. The vibe at the studio enlightened me. It was the fact that all the ladies were so happy and in such a positive mood, it made the world seem like a better place. I thought to myself, “whatever they are having, I’d like to have a double of that.”
That’s why when the opportunity to audition for a Bar Method instructor, I submitted my application without hesitance. “Could this be my opportunity to be as happy as they are?” I pondered as I prepared for my audition. After going through six months of training and endless practices plus community classes, I was finally certified. My interest in becoming a barre instructor was never because I wanted to change my career focus. But simply because I wanted to be immersed in the lively, positive environment where women come together to support each other—a dynamic that I saw every time I set foot into a Bar Method studio.
After I became an instructor, I had the privilege to learn more about our students. The Bar Method client community is a group of diverse, strong and incredible women. Through the years of teaching, I’ve gotten to know more about my students and their life stories. I’ve been inspired by a retired chief executive that cultivated a life-long career but still believes that the best years of her legacy are ahead of her. Instead of settling for a retirement lifestyle, she took on a public office role to help drive positive change in our community. I was moved by a young woman who has Crohn’s disease and is unwilling to let her illness define her, and she is often the first student to take on a challenging option during my Bar Express classes. Many more clients at the studio have touched my heart deeply by the values that they live and carry out every day.
The stories of these women motivate me, and I find myself sincerely humbled by their resilience and determination towards life. They are disciplined in achieving their goals by putting themselves in control of their lives and prioritizing their well-being, both mentally and physically. Through their actions, I have discovered that it is not our life that leads our way, but the path we choose defines how we live our lives.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi once said, “Water is fluid, soft and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is the paradox: what is soft is strong.” This is true of The Bar Method, where power and grace come together as one to build strong people resulting in an even more powerful community.
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