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The Bar Method Light at the End of the Tunnel: Meg’s Story
Our members and their stories are what make The Bar Method so much more than a workout. Meg Uttley has been a Bar Method member at multiple studios in Minnesota for many years and she shares how The Bar Method has impacted her life and brought joy and hope in even the toughest of times. In her words, Meg shares her Bar Method story.
When asked “What makes The Bar Method special?” several things come to mind that make it unique. The workout is designed thoughtfully. The instructors are trained in anatomy and physiology. You’re coached during class to get in just the right position and so much more. When I think of what The Bar Method means to me, it’s two-fold. First, it’s how my studio supported me, not just physically, but emotionally. Sometimes, in ways I wasn’t prepared for or expecting from a “gym.” Secondly, it’s how this workout has evolved with me over the years to always be exactly what I needed for my mind, body and soul.
When I started at The Bar Method, I was recovering from my latest hip surgery. Due to being a former athlete in both high school and college, my body has taken a beating over the years from competing. Try as I might, nothing seemed to fully heal my joints that were worn down from years of injuries and surgeries. Anything to get myself back on the court. I had accepted the idea that lifelong joint pain was the price I had to pay for playing the sport I love. Little did I know as I was looking for a “low impact” workout, I would stumble upon something so much greater in The Bar Method. I woke up the day after my first class, sore in places I never knew existed. I kept coming back. In just a few short weeks, I already started to feel relief from the joint pain that had previously been relentless. I was starting to see physical changes in my strength and on top of it all, I was having an absolute blast. The classes began to rack up and the months passed by until one day I found myself in not only the best shape of my life but feeling my best from the inside out.
Fast forward several years, I found myself in a similar place where I was in an immense amount of pain, except this time the pain wasn’t physical. Having a family was always a dream of mine and my husband’s. The months and years ticked by one after the other, with no luck. For anyone who has dealt with loss in trying to start a family, (sadly there are more of us than I realized), you know it can be a really dark time. Through all the loss, surgeries, shots, scans and diagnosis, it was hard to feel like myself. It was hard to feel hopeful. It was hard to feel powerful. It was even harder to love myself and my body; a body that I felt was letting me down. Where do you start to heal that kind of pain? For me, I started at The Bar Method.
In the months to follow, the studio became my haven. A place where I felt connection to and pride in my body. A body that may not be perfect, but was working so hard to have a baby. A body that was strong and capable of hard things. A body that I realized didn’t have to go through this alone. I slowly began to open up to my instructors and classmates. One day in the studio, I was brought to tears after receiving some tough news from my doctor. One of the instructors, Katie, was the first person I opened up to about what I was going through. Day by day I began to confide in others at the studio too, and while those days were far from easy, they were made far better with the support of The Bar Method community rooting for me and my family. As the end of 2021 approached, the studio had a bulletin board that was titled, “Hopes and Dreams for 2022”. It was filled with sentiments written by fellow classmates of beautiful, vulnerable, and silly hopes and dreams for the coming year. I walked past the board for weeks. I didn’t feel like my true hopes and dreams were something a gym could give me. But alas, one day after class I picked up a blank card and sharpie, jotted down one word, and quickly walked out of the studio.
The next month, our prayers were answered. I learned I was pregnant with a beautiful, healthy baby boy.
As I entered this new life stage of carrying a child, The Bar Method once again was there with what I needed most. It became a place to take care of my growing baby and prepare my body for a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. Over those 9 months the knowledgeable instructors modified workouts to keep me and my baby safe. Various class formats as well as live stream classes, offered the flexibility to workout through every stage of my pregnancy and even with morning sickness. That’s how you know you must really love a workout! I felt awesome because I knew I was doing something beneficial for both me and my son. Even in those early days, I was teaching him how to love and care for his body. I am so dang proud to say I took class up until the day I delivered. My last class was less than 8 hours before I went into labor. (Thank you, Hannah, for that wide-second thigh set!)
When my doctor cleared me to workout again postpartum, you can guess where I went. I headed right back to the studio. Despite being in a new life stage, The Bar Method still felt the same. It continued to meet me and my body exactly where I was with what I needed most. Putting on my workout clothes, throwing my hair in a bun, and hearing “up an inch, down an inch” was the first time I felt like me again and not just “mommy” after having our son. Barre helped me reconnect with myself after becoming the mother I’d dove full force into being. I could barely hold a plank, but it didn’t matter because the design of The Bar Method could be modified to make any of the exercises do-able but still challenging. I began to recover physically and regain my former strength and flexibility.
After my first class back the studio manager, Katie, mentioned she had something for me. I was surprised at the thoughtfulness of her mentioning it, but floored when I actually saw what she was holding. She reached out her hand and in it was a card, my card to be exact. “Hopes and Dreams for 2022”, with my one written word “Family”. All those days where I felt hopeless, she’d held onto and carried my hopes and dreams for me.
When I think of The Bar Method and what it means to me, there are probably thousands of stories I could tell but this one sticks out in my mind. This place has given me a workout that has met me right where I’m at—emotionally, physically and mentally—across a variety of life stages so that I can continue showing up as my best self. It’s a community that’s held my dreams close when they felt too heavy to carry on my own. This workout continues to remind me to embrace the shake of my muscles alongside the “shakes” of life.
My advice to someone starting out with barre is this: You WILL be sore after that first class. That is totally okay. You should know you did a great job by just getting yourself to your first class and trying something new. You already did the hardest part! Your job is singular, continue to show up. Give yourself a timeline to follow, maybe it’s two weeks or maybe it’s a month, but keep showing up to class for that time period. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel the difference inside and out in no time at all. I’ve been a part of The Bar Method community for years across a variety of cities and studios. I’ve seen the joy, transformation, and strength it has brought to so many men and women of every shape size, ethnicity, and orientation. When you keep showing up for yourself, you’ll discover a power you never knew you had within you.