Have you tried a new class or vegan restaurant yet this month? I challenged you two weeks ago to expand your horizons and join the Well Together challenge with Tina from Carrots ‘n’ Cake and I as part of a campaign with Harvard Pilgrim. Originally, I thought I was going to show Tina what my workout routine was like and she would show me hers, which is CrossFit. I invited Tina to join me at The Bar Method in Boston for a class on Friday afternoon to experience my latest fitness obsession.

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Tina, Sarah (Bar Owner), Me

I was excited and a little nervous to hear Tina’s thoughts. Would the CrossFit junkie be able to tuck, pulse, bend and stretch while feeling a burn? I do think that going only once to a barre class is not enough to form a conclusive opinion on the workout itself because once you learn how to hold your tuck, the movements get more challenging. Also, it takes a while to figure out what weight for arms you should use in the beginning. As luck would have it, the class was one of the more challenging that I’ve experienced.

Originally when I proposed the idea of Tina joining me at Bar Method, she said she had taken a barre class before. I asked, “But have you taken The Bar Method?” To which she said no. There are so many Bar classes out there right now, I don’t even know if I should say barre or bar! In Boston we have only 2 exclusive bar studios, but there are tons in Los Angeles. When I was there for my video shoot, I was excited to try a new studio.

2012 10 29 18 40 18With the help of Yelp and some serious time/location consideration, I opted to try PopPhysique, founder of the cardio butt school, in Studio City (near where my brother works) the day after my shoot. I arrived 5 minutes early and was the only person in the studio! I was nervous I’d be the only student which should have made me feel special but I would have felt awkward. I didn’t know what weight I should use so I grabbed 3 different sets. I ended up needing all three so I’m glad I did.

The workout itself was very similar to The Bar Method. I of course wore my heart rate monitor for a comparison and burned 274 calories. My Bar Method workouts burn between 200 and 350 calories depending on the routine.

2012 10 26 10 55 57

What I didn’t like? The mats were a really grimy and the instructor was a little boring. She played pretty good music but the flow of the class was not as structured as Bar. There was no “second to last” warning. They didn’t have risers for tight hip flexors and the portion of class where your hands push up into the bar was not as challenging.

What I did like? For the back dancing portion of class, basically 4 minutes of hip lift, the teacher gave me a good pointer for form which allowed me to get a better burn. The language she used helped me keep the movement out of my back and into my glutes. The arm portion was also a little longer and more challenging including planks and extra exercises.

Overall, the lesson that I learned is that studios specific to bar (i.e. Exhale, Bar Method, PopPhysique, Physique 57) are all pretty similar with what they do in class. The differences and personal studio preference depends on the music, instructor, studio and price. The movements are very similar. (I actually burned 370 in Physique’s hour long class but it was my first barre class so the review I think needs an update.)

Classes at big box gyms like Equinox are not the same, at all. They lack the specific structure that goes into planning a routine where students take classes 5 days a week. The instructors all teach essentially the same class so you are not working the same muscles on back to back days. Unlike large group exercise classes at a gym, the class varies little depending on the instructor.

There was no shower at PopPhysique which was disappointing since I was headed to a couple of meetings afterwards. At least I didn’t sweat too much and had baby wipes in my bag!

Sorry to be all preachy about Bar on you guys. I just have found that people think the workouts are the same as the classes offered at their gym and really they are very different. Try Bar with my super awesome coupon code!
Have you tried a new class this month yet? What’s keeping you back if you haven’t!?
I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn!

PopPhysique Compared to Bar Method

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  • NYC Fit GIrl

    Looks like fun class! THere are lot’s of different bar classes in NYC but I have not tried any. It’s weird I am a CrossFit Junkie myself and I feel like bar method might be boring for me but I think you just convinced me to try it 🙂

  • Cecile

    Hi Sarah,
    You talk alot about bar method and the calories you burn there, but have you noticed a significant change in your body since doing these workouts? I do strength training a few times a week but wondering if it would be worth using some of that time for bar and if I would get some different toning from it.
    Thanks 🙂
    P.S. I am a huge fan of your site- thank you for being so inspiring!

    • Sarah

      Hi Cecile,

      So I have noticed that I am smaller for sure. I am more defined and I have lost weight. Now, I will admit I was trying to lose weight for a video shoot I did however, in the past, when I would do this, I would gain back the weight quick. This time around, I have not. I haven’t changed too much regarding my diet so I’m convinced it’s my fitness. I think that the less cardio intense workouts, the less my appetite has been. I’m not longer STARVING all day. I have a consistent routine that I rarely miss, which was always hard at the gym unless I had a program. I do best when I can do that same thing 4 days a week. I lack motivation on my own to push myself sometimes so classes are great. At the gym, I couldn’t find enough classes that were well structured at convenient times. Bar filled that void. My abs are flatter and more defined, arms smaller, waist smaller. So yes. I’ve noticed a difference. Not sure if it’s “bar” or the fact that it’s become such a routine.

  • Jeanette

    Glad you had fun at your bar/barre class! 🙂 I think the bar method is great for fine toning and tightening. I studied classical ballet for 15+ years and there is nothing tougher than a good barre workout! There are some fun bar-inspired videos online that you can do at home too if you aren’t able to make it out to a class. Thanks for the informative post, Sarah!

  • Viviana

    I think we talked about POP Physique on Twitter 🙂 Glad you tried it! I also liked Bar Method better -- but like you, I am interested in trying new things so I am glad I can say I made it to POP Physique too. Bar Method is the best Barre studio in my opinion, maybe a tossup with Pure Barre (but a little cheaper) and definitely better than Xtend Barre (more cardio infused).
    Thanks for the good read as always!

  • Nichole

    Hey Sarah,

    Thanks for your post. I’m a bar method-aholic, but just moved to Santa Monica where I have a Pop Physique within walking distance, and 2 Bar Methods that both require a car ride. I’m wondering if you find Pop and Bar equivalent? I feel like I’m cheating on Bar even asking, but it would be lovely to walk to and from my workout! Thanks!!!

    • Sarah

      Pop Physique I believe gives you a free class for new members. Try it out and see if you like it. I think pop physique depends on the teacher where as at bar method -- the teachers all teach the same routine (at least at mine) for the most part. I understand how you feel though. Is there parking at the bar methods? I did not like pop physique as much BUT if you will go more, maybe you should give it a shot for a month and try the different instructors.

  • Nichole

    Thanks for getting back to me! I moved to Santa Monica in April, and am challening myself (for mind, body, and environment) to life without a car for a year. I am directly across from an organic co-op, a mile from the beach, and I work from home, so it’s working out perfectly. I adore Bar Method and what it does for my body. The Brentwood studio is closest, at 2.4 miles away. Santa Monica Pop Physique is one mile away. Have you been to either of these locations? I know a lot of the class is a reflection of the music, instructor, and atmosphere of the studio, which is why I am looking for “expert opinions” like yours! So if you’ve been to either or both, can I pick your brain? Do you think Bar is worth the extra 3 miles round trip on foot (I will be getting a bicycle soon!).

    Thanks so much for getting back to me! You’re very sweet to help!

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