Barre DVDs – The Pain and the Glory

As previously established, I am easy prey for the workout DVD that promises miracle results. Especially if they are endorsed by Kelly Ripa. Kelly Ripa’s physique sort of frightens me, yet I am inexorably drawn. I long to be lean and lithe; I instead tend toward short and stocky. But I am strong, and willing to work hard, and remain eternally optimistic that smaller jeans are just one DVD away.

Earlier this summer we had dinner with a few couples, and the ladies’ conversation turned to barre DVDs. It seems I own them all, even a few no one else had ever heard of. I have The Bar Method, The Dailey Method, The Lotte Berk Method, and Physique 57, not to mention an assortment of other DVDs (Pilates, Tracy Anderson) that incorporate some form of barre technique. I do not do any of these DVDs with obsessive regularity, so I can’t attest to the likelihood of miracle results, but I’ve given them all a go and have a few opinions I am happy to share.

The Bar Method

The Bar Method is a solid video. The instructor is very clear about technique, the music is noninvasive, nothing to complain about. Except that it’s LONG. I am not sure I have ever gotten completely to the end of this video because by 45 minutes in everything is falling apart. The workout starts with the classic Lotte Berk warm up, moves through the various Berk moves, and spends a lot of time at the barre. If you like to pretend you are a ballerina when you work out, this may be the one for you. The instructor, Burr Leonard (that’s one odd name), offers a lot of useful verbal cues and counts clearly, which helps when your head is between your knees and you are praying for the end to come soon. I may have to get the Dancer’s Body DVD next, because you know, that next video might just hold the key…

Lotte Berk

This is actually a set of four DVDs (at least the one I have), each about 20 minutes long. You could do them all together and make a hard-core full body workout out of it, or you can do one or two and survive to walk another day. The instructors are a little interesting… one proudly announces that she doesn’t have a trace of osteoporosis, which is wonderful for her, but becomes less impressive news on repeat viewings. These video appears to have been filmed in the same studio as The Dailey Method, Tracy Anderson, Body By Bethenny, and Bar Method, interestingly.

These are solid videos. I like that they are short, and add well to my regular workout or fit nicely into a crazy day, like when I am super-busy or have a sick kid at home. I do feel they are effective, and there’s nothing dangerous being ventured – always a concern with the unsupervised nature of home workout DVDs.

Physique 57

Physique 57 is the hot new thing. Brad Goreski does it, and if the gay stylists are doing it then hot damn it’s what I ought to be doing! Except he goes to class in person, and I am entirely certain the whack-job gym coach who teaches these DVDs is not up there beating him into submission. I cannot stand this DVD. For one thing, aside from the instructor’s grating personality (and Ed Grimley yoga pants), the last quarter of the video is devoted to extremely advanced ab exercises with no legitimate modifications offered. A person could get easily injured trying to keep up. I hate these videos.

The Dailey Method

I have to say, The Dailey Method may be my favorite. It’s quite a lot like the Bar Method, but about ten minutes shorter. And those ten minutes make all the difference. Jill Dailey, the creator, has a pleasant voice and continually offers not just verbal cues, but encouragement that sounds like she actually means it. The Dailey Method starts with the classic Lotte Berk warm up, moves into planks, then arms, followed by lunges, “thigh dancing” (a Lotte Berk classic involving hip thrusting from a kneeling position), “seat work” (a nice way to say butt clenches) and then abs and back. One of the video students is modifying throughout the series, which helps. But don’t be fooled: just because I like this one, doesn’t mean it isn’t HARD. Because it is damn hard! The express workout is about 35 minutes which is something I can reasonably work in every few days.

The nice thing about having this library of barre DVDs is that even if they don’t vary a whole lot, at least the formats change and I can mix it up a little based on time, my mood, or which body part is bothering me most that day. All I really need is a chair, some light hand weights (even cans of soup will do), and a yoga mat.

If there’s one DVD I would absolutely, positively tell anyone and everyone not to bother wasting a penny on, it’s Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis. As I’ve written about before, this blast of torture offers not a single verbal cue, not a single iota of advice on technique – just a bunch of eating disorder coaching set to the house music of an insane asylum.  Tracy recently put the entire universe of post-partum mothers on blast for failing to take care of themselves like she has, having lost the weight of her recent pregnancy and regained her sinewy self-tanned anatomical package in just six weeks. In the name of telling her to shove it, please pick one of these other videos instead. They offer much of the same, done much, much better.

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2 Responses to Barre DVDs – The Pain and the Glory

  1. Africa says:

    Hi I just read your reviews. I’m very interested in barre workouts now that I’ve taken my first class! I think I just wanna start out with the bar method thanks for your great reviews. However lastly I must say I am currently about to finish up on my first 90 days of doing Tracy Anderson’s metamorphosis and I love it, try not to be so hard on her I’ve most definitely seen great results from her program as has a lot of other women and I’m pretty sure most of us don’t have eating disorders. Just suffice it to say that every workout is not for everyone 😉

    • Elizabeth says:

      Glad it was helpful! The Bar Method is a really well made DVD. I am sure TA is very effective, but my big complaint is that there is no cueing, form direction, or really any direction at all. I don’t enjoy having to keep my eyes locked on the screen to stay on track! But more than anything I really worry about safety – I have a serious back injury and thankfully years of Pilates has taught me considerable body awareness so that I know what movements to avoid. Even isometric exercise can be dangerous, and DVDs (read: no instructor observing) can be very risky if they don’t carefully detail proper form and technique. Safety factors a lot into my recommendations. But I am glad you got good results, especially because TA isn’t cheap!

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