Work­out reg­i­men in­spired by bal­let

The Bar Method of­fers low-im­pact ex­er­cises

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - HEALTH & FITNESS - NANCY ARCAYNA “Be Well” spot­lights health and fit­ness top­ics and ac­tiv­i­ties. Reach Nancy Arcayna at nar­cayna@starad­ver­ or call 529-4808.

No bal­let slip­pers, tu­tus or fancy foot­work are re­quired. And no dance ex­pe­ri­ence ei­ther. But you’ll still get a bal­let-in­spired work­out at The Bar Method stu­dio in Moili­ili. Com­bin­ing dance con­di­tion­ing with in­ter­val train­ing, the work­outs in­cor­po­rate in­tense iso­met­ric move­ments that en­gage and elon­gate tar­geted mus­cles. Many of the ex­er­cises are done at a bal­let barre, a waist-high hor­i­zon­tal bar that is used for sup­port and bal­ance. “Not only will you tone your mus­cles and slim down, but you will also gain range of mo­tion, flex­i­bil­ity, bal­ance, co­or­di­na­tion and tremen­dous stamina,” said Danielle Bouloy, in­struc­tor man­ager and trainer for the lo­cal Bar Method fran­chise. Bouloy spent the past 15 years teach­ing dance, theater and fit­ness classes. She be­came a cer­ti­fied Bar Method in­struc­tor in 2012. At last count, the fit­ness chain had 82 lo­ca­tions in the U.S. and Canada.

The Bar Method work­out was de­vel­oped by bal­le­rina Lotte Berk af­ter she in­jured her back. She com­bined dance-con­di­tion­ing train­ing with re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ther­apy. Ellen Burr Leonard, founder of the Bar Method, took the Lotte Berk Method and made adjustments to the ex­er­cises us­ing in­put from phys­i­cal ther­a­pists.

‘The Bar Method tones and sculpts your mus­cles to build def­i­ni­tion, and it also burns calo­ries and fat to cre­ate a slim­mer and sleeker sil­hou­ette,” Bouloy said.

A new stu­dio opens in Kailua next month.


A bal­let barre and mir­rors wrap around two sides of the 1,000-square-foot stu­dio. Stacks of cush­ions are avail­able to use as props dur­ing floor ex­er­cises.

There’s also a spa­cious lounge in the front and a clean shower/chang­ing area with lock­ers in the back.

The work­out

The one-hour work­out — done in socks, no shoes — runs through a lot of small iso­lated move­ments that work the en­tire body. The low-im­pact rou­tine fo­cuses on proper spinal align­ment, bal­ance and en­gage­ment of ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles. My mixed-level barre class be­gan with a warmup of planks and pushups and a se­ries of arm move­ments. Next we used the barre to work the legs and glutes. We fin­ished with a se­ries of core ex­er­cises at the barre and on the mat, and ended with a nice stretch.

Most of the ex­er­cises are done us­ing your own body weight for re­sis­tance, but light hand weights be­tween 1 and 2 pounds are em­ployed for some of the arm work. Don’t let the small weights fool you: You’ll feel mus­cle fa­tigue with­out any added help.

A squishy ball the size of a can­taloupe was some­times placed be­tween the legs to in­crease the dif­fi­culty of lower-body ex­er­cises. Many of the stand­ing ex­er­cises, like squats, are done on the toes.

The in­struc­tor cor­rected my form more than once, which I ap­pre­ci­ated. Don’t be afraid to ask ques­tions or for mod­i­fi­ca­tions. For ex­am­ple, if you have back is­sues, you may want ex­tra cush­ion and sup­port when do­ing some of the floor work.

Don’t be alarmed if your mus­cles start trem­bling; that’s a good thing. It means they are work­ing to the point of fa­tigue — some­thing you’ll be re­minded of through­out the class.


As you build lean mus­cle mass, you‘ll con­tinue to burn calo­ries even when you’re not in class, ac­cord­ing to Bouloy. And since the Bar Method was de­vel­oped with the help of phys­i­cal ther­a­pists, it may help with re­cov­ery from in­juries and re­lieve neck, back and other joint pain, she said.

User re­view

Erin Choy has been tak­ing classes for about 2-1/2 years. “Classes are al­ways dif­fer­ent and an ef­fi­cient use of my time,” she said. “The se­quenc­ing is the same — warmup, arm work, thigh and seat — but the moves are dif­fer­ent and the chal­lenge is al­ways there.”

The 57-year-old Honolulu res­i­dent said she is much more aware of her pos­ture and feels more toned. “My fam­ily calls me a Bar Method ad­dict,” she said.

Onaona Thoene, a 31-year-old Kaimuki res­i­dent, spends much of her day sit­ting at a desk. “Since tak­ing barre, I don’t have lower back pain from sit­ting at work and my pos­ture has im­proved,” she said. Thoene says the strength that she gained in her legs has helped im­prove her hik­ing and run­ning.

Jen­nifer Lit­ten­berg, 43, of Ka­neohe, has been tak­ing two classes each week for about a month. She said she al­ready has no­ticed im­prove­ment in her flex­i­bil­ity and pos­ture. “I think the most chal­leng­ing thing for me has been that I have had to leave the ego at the door and just be in the mo­ment in the class,” she said. “It is a much harder prac­tice than I had first imag­ined. I am lov­ing the chal­lenge.”

Meghan Prout, right, works her arms dur­ing a mixed-level barre class at The Bar Method stu­dio in Moili­ili. Be­low, par­tic­i­pants per­form bal­let moves at the bar.


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