Bar Method 101
I get a lot of questions about what to do before your first bar class. If you happen to be wondering, here are my $0.02:
- Sign up in advance. Classes fill up. To be safe and ensure a spot in class, register and reserve a space either online or over the phone. How disappointing would it be to schlep all the way over to be turned away? What an awful first impression. Avoid it.
- Get there a bit early. It’s stressful enough trying something new without being late. Leave plenty of time to account for finding parking, train delays, walking past the studio 4 times, whatever. Plan to arrive about 15 minutes before class starts. That way you’ll be able to get changed, talk to your instructors about any injuries you have, and chill out for a few minutes.
- Dress the part. That doesn’t mean you can’t come in if you aren’t in head-to-toe Lulu. It just means that you wear pants to the knee (leggings/crops recommended so the teacher can see your positioning), a shirt that covers your stomach, and socks. That’s it.
- Hang your pride on the key rack. You’re going to hear your name a lot. The teacher will touch you. Probably also a lot. That’s okay! You don’t really know what you’re doing yet, but why would you? Unless you are rain man you wouldn’t expect to pick up a new instrument and immediately play anything pleasing to human ears. This is the same thing. Keep in mind that every single person in class gets adjusted (teachers included) and that none of the other students care what you’re doing - everyone is focused on their own workout.
- Shaking is a good thing. Contrary to what you’re told in other forms of exercise, this is safe and actually what you’re going for. It just means you are working hard and your muscles are tired as hell. You might even get a compliment for it.
- Do what YOU need to do. Inflexible? Zero upper body strength? It’s truly not a big deal. Take the modifications you need to take to do the exercise in good form rather than gritting your teeth to fit in. Don’t worry about being the lone person stretching at the stall bar. Doing things in bad form doesn’t help you or anyone else. You’ll get stronger and more bendy very quickly. And again, the rest of the class doesn’t care. I promise.
- Ask questions. Perhaps not in the middle of class (as a teacher this is so distracting), but definitely after. If anything actually hurt, say something! It should be hard, but shouldn’t ever be painful. If you didn’t feel anything in an exercise, that’s worth asking about, too. Both are likely an easy tweak but no one can fix it if they don’t know it’s bothering you.
- Give yourself a break. It will take you some time to get the hang of class. There are enough exercises that you’ll probably do something new to you for months. Know that you will get better and that like everything else, there’s a learning curve.
- Measure your success against yourself. Sure, there are other people in class. But it’s about your own progress, so don’t compare yourself to the person whose leg is behind their head. Maybe they’ve been taking for a year. Who knows? Who cares? Use them as inspiration, not a yardstick for how good or bad you think you are. If your own leg is an inch higher than it was last week, that’s a triumph. High five yourself!
- Enjoy it. Lame, yes. But I have to say it. This isn’t supposed to be a terrible slog. It’s hard (so.damn.hard.) but on some level it should be fun. Smile. Laugh when things seem impossible. Make eye contact with the other students - one will probably give you a sympathetic “oh, girl.” look. Everyone in there is dying. But they come back for a reason, and the sense of camaraderie is one of them.