Bar Method : A Physiotherapy / Pilates perspective !
Susie Higgins Certified Body Control Piiates Instructor, Non practicing Chartered Physiotherapist ( U.K)
Kiki Laxton B.A ( Hons ) MBA, Certified Pilates Instructor( Pilates Foundation U.K)
The Bar Method has hit West Vancouver , so Kiki and I , always eager to experience new things, set it upon ourselves to find out what all the buzz was about.
The Bar Method takes its origin from the Lotte Berk Method. Berk, a German dancer in the 1930’s, was living in England when she suffered spinal injuries following a car crash. During her rehabilitation she developed a workout which combined exercises learned from her dance background and new exercises from her own physiotherapy rehabilitation program. She opened her own studio in London in 1959 and it developed lots of devotees. Several spin-offs followed, including the Bar Method created in 1991 by Burr Leonard, a Lotte Berk Method student.
The studio is beautiful; light and dairy with a bar and large mirrors all around – truly reminiscent of a dance studio. We took out our new client special, which allowed us unlimited access for one month. The teachers are enthusiastic and dynamic providing helpful tips and motivation. The classes follow a set routine which is sent out by head office every week. Each Bar Method Studio needs to adhere to this routine with room for only some modifications.
The sixty minute, non-impact classes claim to combine the fat burning effects of interval training with targeted isometric muscle training – small pulsing movements. The main muscle groups targeted are the deltoid, biceps, triceps, pectorals, abdominals, the gluteals, quads , hamstrings and calves.
From a physiotherapist’s point of view there are a few caveats when working with this method. Almost all exercises are done in a posterior pelvic tilt (think “grip your butt, grip it hard and tuck your butt under and tuck your tummy in). This instruction puts undue pressures onto the spine, the discs as well as your pelvic floor. Carrying this bad posture over into standing or sitting may create, or aggravate pre existing back pain from sacroiliac joints and irritable discs or old postural problems. That is why in Pilates we always try to find and work with that neutral pelvis and spine position. Ongoing research continues to show that exercising in neutral spine, as opposed to flat back, really is the most safe, and efficient way to retrain your core and pelvic floor muscles in an effective and functional way.
As with any new exercise regimen, my recommendation would be to seek advice from your physiotherapist before starting these classes, especially those suffering from pelvic, sacro-iliac and lower back issues as well as pelvic floor problems and recent postnatal woman (up to 4 months). Also take care if you have any pain in your knees and hips as there is a lot of squatting type exercises done in a posterior pelvic tilt.
Did I work hard in those workouts? Did I shake? You bet I did! I enjoyed my experience with the Bar Method , but prefer the fluidity of Pilates and its overall superior whole body training effect.
Comments or Questions? Contact either myself ,Susie Higgins, or Kiki Laxton at 604 982 0366.