Bar Method Bethesda Client, Rennie K
After being a gym rat for more than a decade, in 2013, I did the unthinkable and I stopped working out. Completely.
When I got pregnant in November 2012, I was 10 lbs. over my ideal weight. I kept up the good fight for several weeks, lifting light weights and using the elliptical at my gym. But pretty soon, round ligament pain got in the way and I decided to skip my workouts, at least for a little while. That turned into the remainder of my pregnancy.
I was tired and uncomfortable and while exercise would have most likely helped, I turned away from it. When I was cleared for physical activity again after a difficult c-section at 6 weeks postpartum, my enthusiasm for the gym was almost nonexistent. I’d gained well over the 25-35 lbs my doctor recommended, and with a newborn at home, I couldn’t muster the motivation to push myself physically. I weighed more than I ever had in my life and felt lost and hopeless-like I’d never get back to anything resembling my pre-baby body.
Then my husband got transferred from NYC to DC and everything changed.
The Bar Method Bethesda is right around the corner from our new apartment, so I thought it would be worth a try. From the first day I walked in the door, I was immediately moved by the friendly and helpful instructors. It felt like they genuinely wanted me to succeed. Which was crucial because I could barely stand the sight of myself in the very mirrored studio.
I literally avoided making eye contact with my reflection for the first few weeks. I was so upset with the way I looked and how hard it was to get through the hour-long workout. I wore the same oversized t-shirts and stretchy black pants that got me through my pregnancy and did my best to hide in class.
But the motivating instructors always found me. I would pause more than once during weight work, could barely get through plank and pushups on my knees, and came out of thigh and seat work more times than I could count. But between those teachers, the empowering group atmosphere, great music and something I can’t even describe (March Madness stickers? Magic?) I just kept coming to class, 3-5 times a week.
Soon, a breakthrough: I held plank on the balls of my feet for a full set and didn’t come out of the first set of thigh. Elizabeth suggested I try one pushup on my toes and I did it. Then I did five. Now I don’t go down to my knees for anything.
Before Bar Method, I was dreading my evening at the White House Correspondents Dinner in a dress that didn’t cover my arms. Just two months into my new workout, I left my shawl at home. My shoulders and triceps were beginning to look more toned already. And my posture was better than ever. I walked tall among the celebrities, more confident than I had in a very long time.
Today, 5 months into my Bar transformation, I’m beginning to feel like my old self again. I can hold even the full, dreaded chair during thigh work and, on a good day, I can do the “L” for all three sets of round back. I’m rewarding myself with cute new workout clothes and haven’t worn a baggy t-shirt in months. I even think about Bar Method during the day, the way you do when you have a crush on someone or fall in love. This is a workout that’s made its way into my psyche and I look forward to it more than I ever did the gym.
I still have a long way to go. I want to be able to lift my feet for most of flat back, get lower in thigh work and do truly full-range pushups on my toes. I want to lose those last few pounds and feel good in all of my clothes again. But I’m getting there and I’m excited. If this much has changed for me in 5 months, imagine what the next 5 will bring.
I’ve just hit the 100 classes milestone, and while I’m proud of the accomplishment, the overwhelming emotion I’m feeling is hope. Bar Method took me in when I was at my lowest in terms of confidence and strength. I’m still a transformation-in-progress but that’s OK. I know that Bar Method will help me reach my goals, inside and out.
And when it comes time for baby number two, it’ll be a whole different story. You’ll see me, with my bump, at the Bar!
My Bar Method Success Story, Part 2:
It Just Keeps Getting Better
It’s now been 18 months since I started The Bar Method and it’s given me more than I ever thought possible.
One year after sharing my first transformation story – a.k.a., how to dig yourself out of post-pregnancy hole – I’ve lost another 25 pounds.
I’m finally below my pre-baby weight, but I’m also charting my progress beyond the scale. These days, it’s just as much about measuring my strength, flexibility, and hard-earned muscle tone. Nothing like “chair” to help you feel good in a sleeveless dress, am I right?
Bar Method has also rewarded me in a rather unexpected area: my riding. I grew up riding horses and competing in the hunter/jumper world. But living and working in New York City after college forced me to take nearly a decade off from the sport I loved. Moving to Bethesda in 2014, I got back into riding and, as time went on, I was pleasantly shocked to see that I’d actually improved in the saddle. (Big shout out to thigh work for making the equestrian horror that is nude-colored pants almost tolerable!)
Today, I’m stronger than I was as a teenager, and it’s completely thanks to Bar Method. My leg and core strength, balance and coordination were all built up at the barre, class by class, week in and week out.
What’s more, the unique and challenging workouts the instructors put together have helped me improve mentally, too. There’s nothing like a killer class to hone your focus and confidence, and you take those things out of the studio with you. I never dreamt I could get back to successfully competing the way I used to, but thanks to Bar, I am.
For all the progress I’ve made, I’m still excited to look ahead toward what’s yet to come. A year ago, my goals in class were modest: getting through plank on my toes and taking some options where I could.
Now, it’s the little things that excite me, like achieving an earthquake-level shake, completing pretzel under the bar without putting my foot down, or a Level 2 pushups-plank-pushups sequence without taking a break.
I’m still working on that last one some days, but that is precisely the beauty of Bar Method. You always, always have room to improve, to strengthen, and to impress yourself.
Nothing keeps me more motivated in any kind of exercise like progress, and I’m pretty sure I could do Bar for years to come and continue to be able to see change and advancement.
So, here’s to the next 18 months. And beyond.