The Bar Method: A Progress Update

Back in January, when I tried the Bar Method for the first time in 5 years, I was so out of shape I couldn't even hold my plank during warm-up. It was a humbling experience, to say the least. After that class, I kept returning thanks to the $80 one-month-unlimited new client special Bar Method had gifted me (blogger perk FTW!). When it expired, I bought a monthly membership.

To be honest, up until that point I'd kind of been in denial about the fact that my body was changing as I was leaving my twenties behind. I had noticed that in the last 1-2 years I was increasingly lethargic and reaching for looser-fitting clothes that wouldn't cling to my stomach. Pencil skirts and skinny jeans that were formerly form-fitting became uncomfortably snug seemingly overnight, and then utterly impossible to do up.

It's surprisingly easy to shrug off these changes and live in a complacency cocoon of takeout, couch time, and Netflix, and to donate or consign old clothes that don't fit and shop for new ones. But it's quite another to be puffing through a fitness class you once did when you were 25 and not be able to do more than 3 reps without stopping. Once I realized how bad the situation was, I was filled with determination to get fitter.

The first few months felt especially challenging because I was starting from my own version of Fitness Level Ground Zero, but these things definitely helped:

The instructors are awesome. They'll correct your form when you're not doing an exercise correctly, call you out when they think you can do more, encourage you when you're shaking and your muscles burn and you're convinced you can't possibly do one more rep, and provide modifications and advice if something isn't working.

I mentally pep-talked myself. I'd tell myself in my head, "Do as much of the class as you can without stopping." Or, "Do 3 more reps before you pause." Or I'd channel Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and think, "You can tolerate anything for 10 seconds. 10 more reps. Go."

I set out to improve from class to class. Instead of feeling frustrated over not being able to do everything at once, I would do what I could and aim to be just a little bit better than I was last time. So what if my core was so weak I couldn't keep up with the rest of the class during the mat exercises on the floor? I was able to more reps than I did last week, and that was something to be proud of.

I worked up to going to Bar class 10 times a month. I was so out of shape that at first once or twice a week felt like more than enough. It wasn't until May that I hit my goal of going to at least 10 classes a month, and I was so proud I tweeted about it!

I could feel my muscles getting firmer. Even though the results weren't visible yet, I could feel them underneath the layer of skin and fat.

I measured progress by how much more I could do, not by numbers on a scale or a measuring tape. Well, to be honest this one is kind of easy for me as I don't own a scale or a measuring tape so I don't know how many pounds or inches I've shed so far, if any. Nowadays I can hold my warm-up plank and do more reps without stopping. During class whenever the instructor says "30 more and you're done," I'm now thinking to myself "Okay, you can do this!" instead of "Oh f*!#, 30 more?!"

So do I look different? I'd like to think so; I feel firmer and leaner, and on non-bloated days I can see faint shadowy indentations in my stomach that might be abs poking through. My mom remarked I looked "skinnier" when we went for dim sum a couple months ago. "Skinnier?" I said, raising my eyebrows.

"Not like you're starving yourself," she corrected. "Just fitter."

July will be the third consecutive month I've hit my goal of 10 classes a month. Let's see where I'm at during month 6 of 10 classes/month, shall we?

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