Health & Fitness

By Amy O'Connor

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I was a little nervous as I headed to my first class at The Bar Method Soho. My midsection had been growing increasingly convex and jelly-like from lack of use, and The Bar Method is known to challenge the core muscles, aka abs. It turns out The Bar Method is a great way to wake up everything that can use some toning and tightening up: abs, legs, arms, tush, the whole kit and caboodle.

The Bar Method is thus named because many of the exercises make use of a ballet barre as well as light weights and a mat for floor exercises. Derived from the Lotte Berke Method, the Bar Method consists of a series of exercises that combine isometrics, interval training and dance conditioning to quickly and safely burn fat, carve muscle and reshape your body without stress to the joints. Instructors Amy Duffey and Kristin Kelleher partnered with Kristin’s husband, Tim, to open The Bar Method Studio in April. Amy and Kristin exemplify the physique that results from The Bar Method workout: muscular, lean arms and legs, completely flat abs, enviably high, tight tushes and the elongated, perfect posture of a dancer.

Amy Duffey and Kristin Kelleher, Photo credit: Jeri Hines

The studio itself is a picture of modern elegance: one enters into a spacious lounge with plush suede benches, chic pendant lighting and a complimentary water and coffee bar. There are large spotless locker rooms with showers, fresh towels and other amenities. Classes are held in 3 spacious, carpeted, air conditioned studios all with windows looking out to Soho. Do not, however, let the stylish surroundings lull you into thinking you won’t break a sweat, The Bar Method is a challenging series of isometric contractions that work muscles to fatigue, followed, thankfully, by deep, elongating stretches.

Photo credit: Jeri Hines

I took a class on a holiday weekend expecting to have only a few witnesses to my many grimaces as my slumbering muscles protested being called to action, but the class was full with 25 Bar Method regulars. The routine started with knee raises followed by lifting 2-3 lb. weights to work the fronts and backs of the shoulders. Lifting light weights multiple times becomes surprisingly taxing rather quickly. We did push-ups, tricep dips, calf raises and thigh work all with The Bar Method “tuck” which requires engaging the abs and makes each exercise a full body exercise. There are also exercises for the abs on mats and others that target the posterior, which made me so grateful for the wonderful stretches with straps that close the class. While Amy Duffey, who has taught the Bar Method for over ten years, told me that the workout is always challenging even for her, the classes are appropriate for all fitness levels and one can expect to see and feel results within a short period of time. Another bonus is that the workout doesn’t strain the joints and therefore can be practiced for years to come. My muscles were sore for a few days after class, but I am looking forward to the lithe, sculpted shape more classes will bring.

Photo credit: Jeri Hines

The Bar Method Soho is located at 155 Spring Street, 2nd Floor. Classes can be purchased individually or in packages. There is a new client package with unlimited classes for 30 days. For more information go to

Originally published October 2010



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