Derived from ballet training, barre classes build strength with reduced risk of injury.

The Bar Method: A Fitness Routine for Strength and Alignment

When asked to recommend an exercise program, I always tell my patients about the Bar Method, a ballet-inspired barre workout which combines dance conditioning with strength training and flexibility exercises. The Bar Method is my own preferred conditioning routine. I like it because it is low impact but yet it works every single body part so you get focused results. Plus it’s efficient and convenient – I can do it before work and get out not looking like a wet rag doll!

Doctors also like the Bar Method because it is not injury-prone. The founder developed the exercises with physical therapists so the exercises are safe, therapeutic, and results-oriented. In fact, I recommend this to my patients who’ve had injuries before and are scared to start working out again.

Another thing I like about the Bar Method is that it is not intimidating. You know exactly what to expect from the sequences, so you can get good at it and you feel good while you’re doing it too. I’ve never liked stretching in my life, but at Bar you work at stretching each target muscle so you don’t bulk up; you just get tighter and leaner. I always leave feeling taller, stronger, and more at peace.

And over time you see progress and improvement, which is encouraging. When I started I couldn’t do the splits stretch, but now I can. It only took four years! The classes are also multi-generational – my teacher is 64 but looks like she’s in her 40s. It’s really inspiring.

Another thing that really sets these classes apart is the focus on alignment and total body awareness. You’re always watching yourself in the mirror to see what you can do better, while the teacher comes around and adjusts you. You’re focused on yourself, not on what others are doing, so it’s very calming. It hits everything – it hits the mind because you’re concentrating so hard, it hits the heart because it’s heart-centered, and it hits the muscles because they’re burning.

You leave feeling more content and centered – and you actually want to come back!

Lisa Chui, MD is the program director for Physician Health and Wellness and is an internal medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco.  A native San Franciscan who attended Lowell High School and the University of California at Berkeley, she graduated with honors from medical school and residency and currently resides in San Francisco with her husband. Dr. Chui keeps fit with the Bar Method, relaxes by playing the piano, and encourages her patients to make choices that maximize their health and wellness.