My Journey with The Bar Method- A Story Celebrating our 18th Anniversary

August 12, 2019

Today’s blog is a special one. This week, The Bar Method celebrates its 18th Anniversary. That is eighteen years of shaping the lives and bodies of people all across the nation. Eighteen years of community and confidence building. Eighteen years of stretching, tucking, shaking, and embracing. Here to talk about her journey with The Bar Method is one of our first Bar Method studio owners, Catherine James. Keep reading to learn about Catherine’s time with The Bar Method and experience our community’s growth from her own eyes.

My journey with The Bar Method is unforgettable. From taking classes at the Flagship San Francisco Marina Studio with the Founders of Bar Method – Burr Leonard and Carl Diehl, I learned from the very best. I have witnessed this life-changing business grow from 1 studio to over 120.  My life has been touched by so many inspiring women along the way, and it’s my daily purpose to do the same in my studios. I hope my story inspires you to take a leap of faith and go after your dreams too. 

When I reflect on my first Bar Method classes in 2003, I knew I found my tribe. These women were gloriously sculpted, strong, lean, and glowing with health!  The workout was safe, with zero impact. While I wasn’t a member of this tribe yet, I immediately started planning my path to join. Do I need those black yoga pants with the logo?  Do I have to be a Ballerina? These thoughts ran through my head, but I immediately felt so comfortable at the studio, I started to worry about these things less. Before being introduced to The Bar Method, I was addicted to running. In fact, I couldn’t get my leg on the barre in bar stretch for 9 months because my hamstrings were so tight from running! 

At 35 years old, I was single and constantly working.  My career was the center of my life and the only other bright spot was taking Bar Method classes and seeing my Bar Method friends! At a women’s retreat in the wine country, I had my ah-ha moment that has forever changed my life. Might sound cliche, but at this retreat my eyes opened to the reality that I have choices. I can design my life. Without children, a family, and being “tied down,” I can take risks! Worst case scenario is that it might not work. Not the end of the world.   

In 2007 I took my entrepreneurial dreams and love for The Bar Method to the next level. I hurled myself off the corporate ship and signed a license agreement with Burr and Carl to open Bar Method studios in the Chicago region. I was trained to be an instructor by Burr herself! Burr also trained me to be a National Evaluator and Trainer. I will always consider these experiences to be crowning moments of my career. I cherish those moments I spent with Burr and my Bar Method tribe.

Burr Leonard (left) & Catherine James (right)

We were pioneers of barre fitness and brought the very first studio to Chicago.  Always dressed in my lululemon uniform, people stopped me on the street and asked, “What is that logo?” (on my pants) Imagine that? This was the time of clients coming to class in sweat pants and college t-shirts. We didn’t even have grippy socks yet, and felt lucky just to have socks with the Bar Method logo. As I am sure you know now, there isn’t a color in the rainbow that we don’t have Bar Method socks for!

The original Bar Method sock

It’s now the back-half of 2019 and as I look back on my 16 year journey with Bar Method, I have zero regrets.  I only feel enriched passion and heightened endurance to continue on my path to mastery.  

As Bar Method clients, you know it is impossible to plateau doing our workout. Our ability to strengthen, stretch, learn, and develop grows without end.  We can always do a few more reps and with better posture. We can always stretch deeper and with refined elegance. We can always practice powerful mindfulness in class to focus within and tune out external noises. We can and we will!

I am proud of my fellow pioneers who launched Bar Method studios across the Country. We took enormous risks based on our sheer passion, devotion and our WILL to succeed.

Catherine James & team

Now I am 48 years old and I continue to feel strong, lean, flexible and healthy. Thanks to Bar Method, I walk with proud posture and purpose. I take class 5-6 times per week and I always find opportunities to tweak my form to grow and ignite new sensations in my body and spirit. The hour in class when my devices are locked away, I enter a sacred oasis. It’s an oasis for you. It’s our oasis of health, well-being, community and power.

About the Author

Catherine James has over 12 years of experience teaching Bar Method and evaluating & training teachers nationally.  Catherine opened 5 Bar Method studios across Chicago-land and now runs her very first one, Lakeview. Before Bar Method, she held executive roles in Management Consulting, Human Capital Strategy and Leadership Development. Catherine is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, and Tulane for Graduate school.  She is a proud mother to son, Will and her dog Jack.