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Exercise That Holds a Long Term Fascination
Why does the Bar Method workout get more and more interesting the more you do it? Variety cannot be the reason. Class by class the choreography and music do vary, but the exercises stay pretty much the same. You can grow to love your Bar Method teachers, but this relationship isn’t what ultimately keeps you coming back. The ingredient that gives the workout its staying power – and has kept my attention for almost 30 years — is the precision with which it targets and sculpts your muscles.
My first experience with this kind targeted a workout was in 1981 when I was introduced to the Lotte Berk Method. I had tried other types of exercise, and none of them had made much of an impact on my body. Among them were classes at a health club where I had been doing squats, kicks and yoga poses to target my thighs and glutes. The problem was that these moves were not specific enough.
In contrast, my first Lotte Berk Method class felt like someone was doing laser surgery on my body. It didn’t just work my thighs. It worked each individual quad. I got my derriere kicked in my hamstrings, gluteus maximus and gluteus medius. There was a whole exercise just for the transversus abdominis, then several more for the other abs. The class managed to get to all these muscles, and more, in just one hour. I walked out knowing I’d just undergone the fastest body change of my life.
Now, decades later, I am still engrossed in the fun of figuring out how to hit these muscles more precisely. The Bar Method has developed out of discoveries I’ve made and is now more focused than its predecessor on getting into muscles right away. Accordingly, advanced students can now develop an obsession with perfecting their form.
During reverse the push-ups, for example, long-time students can fight harder to keep their hands directly under their shoulders. Beginners usually lean their bodies forward of their hands, thereby taking most of the weight off of the muscle. Advanced students struggle to get through the exercise with their shoulders and hands lined up, knowing that more sculpted arms is the payoff.
Long-time students also acquire extraordinary control over their bodies. If you’re a beginner, try holding onto the standing seat position when your working leg is pressed out to the side of towards the center of the room. This exercise targets is the gluteus medius, a beautiful and sexy-looking muscle that’s often under-developed unless you’re a dancer or a specialized athlete. Beginners will compensate for their lack of strength by using their waists and backs to try to get their leg out there. Long-time students, meanwhile, have the overall body control to keep their hips level and square.
These long standing Bar Method students look lean and sculpted because they’ve gotten involved in mastering the technique’s precise positioning and are using it to get deeper and deeper into their muscles. At age 62 I am still working on it.
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