The Community

Why Triathlete Ben Winslow is Hooked on The Bar Method

April 5, 2011

Ben Performing Thigh WorkAt the Bar Method, we are dedicated to the proposition that some of our students will be men. We supply our studio rooms with larger weights than women would use and in most facilities provide mens changing rooms and lockers. We make sure our exercises and stretches are designed to be entirely doable for students with tight hamstrings, and we train our teachers to use instructional cues that are gender-neutral ( no ponytail, high heels, bra-line, and ladies for example) to make sure guys dont feel as it theyre in a chick flick. Even so “ and this is no secret “ the overwhelming majority of Bar Method students are women. When you do see a man at the Bar Method, hes usually the only member of the opposite sex in the class. I was curious to get some insights from a mans perspective on why more men dont come, so I asked Ben Winslow, one of our most regular male students, to shed some light on this issue.

Ben is one of the fittest people I know. A graduate of the infantry officer school and a lieutenant in the army, he put himself through college and became a successful litigator. For the past 38 years, he has run his law firm in the San Francisco Marina while pursuing the sporting activities that he loves: biking, swimming, running, golfing, endurance training, and competing in amazingly challenging triathlons. Ben, who turns 68 next month, has completed many Escape from Alcatraz triathlons, (a harrowing 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz, followed by an 18-mile bike ride and an 8-mile run), bike races and other competitive events. .

Youd think these activities would be enough to satisfy the most hard-core athlete, but Ben is unusual and not just in his love of physical challenge. He also has an uncommonly open mind. About a year and a half ago when two female lawyers in his firm told him about the Bar Method and asked him, Why dont you come with us? Ben didnt hesitate. He liked the workout so much that he got his wife to go to the Bar Method studio in Marin County where they live. Over the past year he has made a habit of walking from his office to the studio three-to-five times a week between business appointments to take class.

Heres what Ben told me about what its like to be a male student at the Bar Method:

Ben Performing Armwith with Sharon DemkoWhat first attracted you to the Bar Method?

As you get older, youre stooped over. Old guys get stiff. I dont want to be a person who cant tie my own shoes.

What do you like about the workout?

I like the discipline. I like the routine of knowing whats going to follow what. I like knowing what were going to do next and how many reps so I can do my maximum effort. And the instructors are great, well trained, friendly. They greet you by name. It may help Im the only guy.

What results have you gotten from the class?

Ive become a much better golfer. My golfing friends say ˜Wow, youre really turning your body when you swing! Ive strengthened my core, gotten more limber. Bike riding I dont have back pain anymore. I used to get an achy low back. In general I have no more low back issues.

I think my bodys changed. Ive always been very thin and lean. Im now more muscular with more developed abs and biceps. I like the look you promote which is long and lean, not chunky and muscular. I have more spring in my step. More energy. I always go to guys (touching his toes) and go ˜hey, can you do that?

Ben Peroforming Round BackDo you ever feel intimidated by what the women in class can do?

It all evens out. I can do more pushups. They can do other things.

Why dont other guys want to come?

I tell a lot of guys to come and run into the same thing all the time: ˜Its a chick thing. ˜Let me get this right: you get a fabulous workout. Youre around 30 beautiful women. I dont get it. If guys come and try it once or twice, theyd see that it takes a lot of muscular ability, strength, and coordination. If you apply yourself, its hard. Youre sore after you do this. These days with more enlightened men, I think theyre missing out on something.

What could guys get out of the Bar Method that they cant get elsewhere?

Guys will go down to Gorilla Gym and work with a personal trainer, do that. Personal trainers charge a hundred an hour. I look at them and think theyd get much more out of the Bar Method. If you really want to change your life, you go to a class like this.