The Community

Brentwood’s New Bar Method Exercise Studio

July 30, 2010
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These days I do most of my teaching at studio openings. I enjoy being part of these events. Typically the studio owners are excited, nervous and sleep deprived. They’ve been up half the night stuffing mats, blowing up balls, folding towels, checking the sound system and plugging in the front desk computers, printers and credit card machines. Usually the walls in the reception room look empty because the photos haven’t been hung. To make up for this, there are colorful bouquets of flowers on every conceivable surface from well-wishers. The whole place looks and smells new.
Burr and Martine in BrentwoodMy role is to welcome the students and give them a great class. Before the class I stand at the front desk and learn each student’s name as she or he signs in. My knowledge of everyone’s name gives me the ability to teach a fast-moving class and connect with many individual students at the same time. I can remind someone by name to relax her shoulders, which usually produces a quick laugh from the student because she knows she has this problem and I caught her at it. I can fine-tune students’ form with phrases like, “Amy, great tuck. Now press your ribs forward a bit more. That’s perfect.” My goal is to give every student both adjustments and praise, even including the other master teachers in class. That way, the effect is a positive one, as if my students were beautiful members of a dance company being coached by their choreographer (me). We coalesce, and for one hour we are a group with a common purpose.

The three classes I taught this past Saturday at the Brentwood, California Bar Method studio opening all felt this way. Brentwood is a residential community in West Los Angeles just north of Santa Monica and east of Pacific Palisades where many film stars and other celebrities live. During the morning, for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger walked by our front door and waved cheerfully at the desk sitters inside.

From the courtyard resized 600The Brentwood studio is nestled in a tiny, two-storey cluster of shops that share a central courtyard with potted flowering plants and little trees surrounding a small, stone fountain. You can sit and have lunch at one of its two patisseries or just hang out on benches and at the outdoor tables.

The location is not far other Bar Method studios, so some of my students on Saturday had already taken the Bar Method for years somewhere else nearby or were Bar Method teachers and owners of other LA studios. Some were students who hadn’t taken class regularly because they lived a bit too far away until now. There were also people who’d taken other bar fitness classes, some skeptical members of the press, and a few brave souls who were new to it all and were willing to jump right in on opening day.

This kind of mix is a blast for me to teach. I can explain the basics of technique to first timers, watch the faces of the skeptics as they feel muscles they didn’t expect to feel and are surprised by how fast the class moves, as well as shooting a few respectful pointers to the experts.

Mimi by Burr 7 10 10 crop resized 600The Brentwood studio owes its existence to Mimi and Mark Fleischman, my sister and brother-in-law. Together they introduced the Bar Method to Southern California by opening their first studio in West LA in 2003 and their second one in West Hollywood two years later. Mimi and Mark’s teachers have a reputation for being dynamic, dedicated and charismatic and their desk sitters tend to be outgoing writers, actors, and comedians from the entertainment community. Their busy studios and wonderful team are an inspiration to the entire Bar Method family.

Congratulations, Mimi and Mark!

Read my post on opening the New York City Soho Bar Method exercise studio.

Find Bar Method Exercise Classes near you.

Sample and buy Bar Method Exercise DVDs.