As a Bar Method Instructor, This Is What I Have Learned During Covid-19
May 28, 2020
I never believed in hiding to tell the truth.
Nor have I been one for shrinking behind closed doors or omitting myself from a challenge, with one single exception: public speaking. At university, I read every syllabus prior to enrolling in classes. If there was an oral exam or a verbal component, I opted out. For the mandatory classes, I often showed up on the day of the speech and would experience a full-blown panic attack, run to my car, and literally flee. Until Bar Method, absolutely nothing (not even a Master’s program in clinical mental health, which I convinced myself was my calling) could break my overwhelming phobia of public speaking.
Years later, a random series of events led me through the doors of The Bar Method Dallas (Park Cities), where I was greeted by one of the most physically stunning women I’d ever met. Her name was Crystal and she was the studio manager. The studio was impeccably clean; the floors sparkling and the walls adorned with hushed-tone brushstroke art. I felt my body sigh. Thus began my incredible journey with The Bar Method: from front desk staff to social media manager to instructor to all of the above. I quit my master’s program, spent over 200 hours practicing on the mic alone in the tiny hours of the morning until I was mildly comfortable hearing my own voice, went to training, began teaching full-time, and never looked back: even when those close to me shook their heads in confusion. The fact is, it’s nearly impossible to verbally convey the magic of The Bar Method to those who have not had the fortune to experience it.
Enter: Covid-19. Things began to feel a little shaky. Even for someone whose taste buds are not news-cycle compatible, no one escaped the all-consuming nature of what soon became a global pandemic. The studio, which always felt like a very clean, very happy, well-scented home full of glamorous, successful, generous people began to shiver when we walked through its doors. Every business shuttered. We were the very last, and even then, we only bowed because the mayor mandated a county-wide shelter-in-place policy. Our clients called the studio, called the owner, called the instructors, emailed, DM’d, and texted begging us to teach outside, to find some way to continue to bring both the workout and the community to them. Even in these uncertain times, what we missed most was each other: we are family in the truest sense of the word. Through running social media for @barmethoddallas, I’ve noticed so many similar stories from clients, instructors, and studio owners across the country: an almost desperate desire to connect with one another—a feeling of ache from missing their closest tribe.
Of course, as it was, little time existed from the start of whisperings about Covid-19 to the closing of businesses across the country. Fortunately, we were as prepared as was feasible. We had spoken with one of our beloved members who works for a webcam company. Through her sheer kindness and tenacity, she set us up to start to live stream classes within a day of closing our doors. Having never run a livestream as part of our class offerings in the past, it required some major adjusting. We had the set-up, we had the clients, but we had no idea how to teach to a virtual audience. Nearly everything we’d taken for granted in the past became a challenge. Managing the audio. Creating a schedule. Keeping our staff safe. Maneuvering our bodies to demonstrate. Deciding whether to demonstrate. Managing the music. Managing the audio. Managing the music. Adjusting clients. Maintaining client safety in every exercise. Every day, every hour, every class time held a new mountain to summit. And it changed every day. We grew frustrated. We found solutions that caused other problems. But we still taught. Every day, we logged in to Zoom at 9:15 a.m. to greet each client by name. To date, we’ve yet to teach a class with less than 75 people signed up.
And in the teaching, we learned. In the teaching, we connected. In the teaching, we grasped the extent of just how deep our connection was to our clients and to one another. So many stories of love washed through our inboxes. Generosity, both of heart and of finances, astounded us as we attempted to wrap our heads around our obligations as a small business. We watched our clients improve as they learned self-adjustments. We watched their bodies change and their confidence grow as they did so. We laughed together before class began, we saw one another’s homes and spaces, and virtually met one another’s children and puppies and partners. We messaged one another, we all waited for Sally’s (one of our beloved clients) greeting sign that changed daily — it always contained a positive message she’d hold up to the screen before class. We found ways to encourage one another without physical touch. We worked even harder to perfect our verbal adjustments and to give genuine, personalized compliments. We learned. We connected. We grasped the extent of just how deep our connection was to our clients and to one another.
As I write this, it’s May 1. We have been closed for over seven weeks and we miss our clients’ smiles every day. We don’t have a firm date for the re-opening of our physical studio as I write this, but we can say with certainty that our community is as strong – if not stronger – than it was when we began. And that’s the way we plan to stay.*
*The Bar Method Dallas just announced their studio re-open date: May 20. They are operating under limited capacity, but booking classes and offering virtual classes as well. For more information on this studio, visit their page at: https://barmethod.com/locations/dallas-park-cities/
Sellers’ Covid-19 @ home workout playlist (via Spotify)
- Believe — Meek Mill f/ Justin Timberlake
- I Took a Pill in Ibiza — Mike Posner f/ Seeb
- Know No Better — Major Lazer, Travis Scott, Camilla Cabelo, Quavo
- Text Ur Number — DJ Envy f/ DJ Snake
- Blessings REMIX — Angel, French Montana, DaVido
- Lay Your Head on Me f/ Marcus Mumford — Major Lazer
- Yikes — Kanye West
- Open — Rhye (stretch)
About the Author
Sellers Grantham, an instructor at The Bar Method Dallas (Park Cities), owned and operated by Lisa Hennings.
Originally from South Carolina, Sellers attended Furman University and graduated with a degree in Health and Exercise Science. She then attended the Neiman Marcus Executive Development Program and worked as an assistant buyer prior to being recruited to work as a celebrity PR for Oscar de la Renta in New York City. Later, Sellers made her way to London where she ran a yoga retreat in the South of France. Prior to finding The Bar Method, Sellers attended Southern Methodist University’s Masters program in Clinical Mental Health. She now teaches at The Bar Method Dallas (Park Cities). She is engaged to an incredible man and together they parent two extraterrestrials that masquerade as dogs.