When we say that The Bar Method is unlike any other fitness program or workout you’ve ever experienced, we mean it. We practice what we preach at our studios, and believe that fitness and well-being come from a holistic approach that combines mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. And although COVID-19 has inflicted unforeseen change and circumstances throughout the world and within our Bar Method community, those founding principles remain unshaken. Bar Method studio owner Joanna West explains how there is no time like the present to take an honest look at your overall well-being and approach to health; she also shares where and how The Bar Method fits into this approach.
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The definition of “fitness” is changing. And as a Bar Method owner, besides COVID-19, I can’t help but worry that muscle atrophy and mental decline are real threats to our fragile foundation of health during quarantine and social distancing.
Well, it’s time to take our power back. The silver lining of this dubious time is allowing ourselves to get back to the basics. Nothing gets as simple as taking care of our muscles with instructors that genuinely care for your well-being.
The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot to get your muscles back to where they should be. Like nutrient-dense food, you can’t expect to be healthy after one good meal. I think of it as a dial and not a switch. If you eat well enough and move enough the right way, you are golden. Only have five minutes? Do heel lifts and calf stretch in the kitchen while you’re making dinner. You can do our Bar exercises anywhere, and the knowledge you gain of how to do specific exercises can help you with other activities that you enjoy. The point of Bar is getting into proper “form.” It allows our brains to slow down, listen inward, and with surgical precision, make that neural connection deeper and more robust to the targeted muscle. With practice, you can recruit and isolate more quickly, getting to the discomfort, the “hard” place faster, which is a good thing because that’s where the transformation happens without hurting your body.
The more we “know” ourselves, the more we know how it feels to be healthy. But healthy muscles aren’t the only benefits you will gain. The interval training (thigh, stretch, seatwork, stretch, etc.) is cardio in disguise. The twists and stretches we do in class aids in keeping your insides moving. Weight-bearing exercises don’t just mean lifting weights when your body weight is sufficient to prevent osteoporosis. Pro-tip: I’m able to stay in Foldover longer because I imagine my bone cells fortifying my hips and legs while most of my 140 lbs. are on my standing leg.
Photo taken on the first day back in the studio on June 15, 2020
For some, The Bar Method may seem like an unnecessary extra at the moment, but in reality, it’s just science. Disuse of your body results in the atrophy of your muscles, nerve cells, and bones. They are either being used or not. There’s no gray area. Modern culture focuses heavily on aesthetics when, in fact, we should be pivoting to full-body health as defined by the WHO. There’s no better time to prepare ourselves than now. While there are other similar methods out there, what makes The Bar Method stand out is our impeccable instruction and passion for perfect form. Each exercise is so well defined and yet personalizable, that even though Foldover for you may look different than me, we are still working the same muscle groups. And the better we train our bodies to achieve that form, the better aligned our bodies become. We see you. We want to dial into your mental state. Trust me, getting to watch you grow and improve is what keeps us passionate about teaching Bar. We now know that apps at home are not able to replicate the effectiveness of a studio class, but with The Bar Method, you can use what you’ve learned in every class and still get your daily dose of the perfect combination of stretch and strength at home until your next health tune-up at the Bar.
Notice there is no mention about your outside appearance because if your insides feel good, YOU will exude it, and that’s the epitome of wellness. And when we feel good, we are more likely to be open and accepting. We are evolving, and The Bar Method is leading the way. It goes way beyond aesthetics. Our superpower is our humanness, and it’s time to lean back into that. It’s simply training to be better, more aligned humans, no matter what ups and downs lay ahead.
About the Author
Joanna West is a Bar Method fanatic turned studio owner. After discovering The Bar Method in 2008, she opened up her own studio in Long Beach, California in 2011. After originally pursuing a career in the medical field, Joanna and her husband decided to start a family, and Joanna found herself at a pivotal point in her career and life. As she became more involved with The Bar Method, she realized that much of the Bar practice intersected with her background in healthcare, and also aligned with her belief that health is the most important investment you can make for yourself. With all of the stars aligning, she decided to open her own studio. Nine years later, Joanna and her husband, Brian, and two little boys, Alexander, and Will, have become a staple in not only the Long Beach community but The Bar Method community, too!