I suspect the reason Luke has been bugging me (ever so sweetly) to write a testimonial is because at 74 I have the dubious distinction of being by far the oldest regular Bar Method member in Seattle, and most likely even in all the Bar Method system. My first reaction was, “well, I don’t really have anything different or interesting to add to the inspiring stories everyone has already shared. ”
But I guess what I can add is my perspective based on my age and my desire to be a healthy role model for my 17 teen and adult grandkids, especially the girls. I kind of feel I’m somewhat of an experiment to see how far and long a person can push their old bod to do this amazing workout.
I have always been athletic but didn’t start real organized workouts until my mid-40’s when I fell in love with dance aerobics. It was intricately choreographed, joint pounding, heavy duty with great music, and we hard core people limped out of every class thoroughly drenched in perspiration with an endorphin high. As much as I loved it there was a point where I had to admit that I had “aged out” and my body just couldn’t take the punishment anymore.
I had developed chronic hamstring and knee injuries, pain in my feet and low back and muscle spasms. During those years I had tried all kinds of fixes to keep going including acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, Rolfing, physical therapy and finally Egoscue Therapy where I had to lay an hour a day in a special contraption to “realign my body” in addition to doing assorted other exercises. It may well have helped after a long period but it was way too boring and I couldn’t maintain the daily discipline to find out.
I was in a real funk after I’d had to quit aerobics and for the next year I tried pilates, yoga, NEA, spinning and Jazzercize, anything that didn’t desecrate my joints further, but nothing ignited my passion, challenged me enough or gave me a sense of accomplishment enough to stick with it for any length of time and my hamstring, knees and feet were so painful that I couldn’t even enjoy a good walk.
Around that time I met a lovely woman at the dog park (thank you Norma!) and she began raving about this workout she was doing that was changing her life and invited me to go. I don’t know what possessed me to agree to go, especially way out to Redmond (I didn’t even know where it was). As I was walking into my first class I thought, “this is going to be some wimpy, boring class but since I’m here . . . .” Well, I was in shock, I was blown away! It was sooo hard, sooo challenging and I knew I had found what I was searching for. I signed up for unlimited immediately after my first class and have been coming every day I’m in town and possibly can. With Maika, Bev, Quyen, Pam, Sam, Lilani, Maria, Anna and all the fantastic instructors (whom I consider to be my very own personal trainers) there are so many class time options that it’s a cop-out not to make it a priority to get to class every day possible. I can’t imagine my life without the Bar these days.
I honestly believe that exercise is the closest thing to the Fountain of Youth and I think the Bar Method is the best choice for all ages and the exercise of the future (because it works!) not just the “latest big thing”. To get the optimum benefit from your workout it is essential that you make it a real priority in your life and attend class at least four times a week. The following are some of the reasons I (and many other smart people) have chosen to spend my valuable time and energy coming to the Bar Method and why I LOVE it:
The warm, welcoming community Luke, Bev, Maika and Kevin have created and the kind words of encouragement they give to each of us (and the fact that they’re all OCD about keeping the studio spotless); the high quality training each instructor receives making them all excellent, which is highly unusual; the energy and encouragement we give each other when we’re all “feeling the burn” and our muscles are screaming–I’ve always needed that group energy and someone to crack a whip to go the extra mile and stick with a workout; the way we’re always working way more muscles than we even know in each exercise; the way the “regulars” proselytize when talking about the Bar; the friendly people I meet here and the friendships I’ve formed; the way so many of my injuries have disappeared and I haven’t created any new ones; how fun it is to work out with so many beautiful, dedicated young women my grandkids’ age and imagine, if they keep it up, how strong and fit they will be and how this will so enrich their senior years; how the way my old bod has strengthened and streamlined; my shock and amazement when I saw my arm definition after wearing long sleeves all year and finally in July being too warm to care about exposing my always-before flabby arms (my grandsons now call them “my guns”); the fact that my formerly poochy abs are now flat, though not 6-packs (maybe next year?!); the fact that Mother Nature is not very kind (actually downright cruel) to aging bodies is a bit depressing (particularly crepey skin) but the Bar’s toning and building muscle helps a lot; the way headquarters has stringent requirements for all franchisees and continues to oversee all studios to keep such high standards; the Bar Method’s founder Burr Leonard’s Blog where she answers all our exercise questions and keeps us informed of new research; the way Burr keeps us safe by having exercises approved by physical therapists and modifies her program as new data comes out; how I’m more flexible now than ever and my “old age” aches and pains have minimized; the way no matter how many classes I take I am still being corrected; the way classes never get easier we just keep digging deeper; how I eat so much healthier because after working out so hard I think carefully about what I put in my mouth; how I don’t have to do any other exercise but walk my puppy to stay fit and when I do my occasional tough hike I find I have surprising endurance; that my posture is so much better thanks to Maika and Bev constantly “realigning” me; how as many old gals shrink, I’ve actually grown an inch (thanks to the stall bar); the cheerleading we get and the reminders, as we’re dying, that “you can do anything for a short time” (and they’re right); that we only compete against ourselves; how the Bar nourishes not only the body but the soul; that I no longer have to make a decision whether to go to class–I’m addicted, I just go; how during that special hour we forget about our crazy, busy lives, go inward and realize that we’re so much more than we know; the way I walk out of class taller and ready to take on the world!
My hope is that more women of my generation will be brave enough to give it a try. It will change their lives, as it has mine!