“Lift, lift, lift. Faster!” chirps the cheerful voice of Sarah Stabio, owner and instructor at The Bar Method Stapleton. The class of 15 sock-clad women silently obeys their gentle drillmaster, raising their legs higher and higher as their faces flush and their breathing labors. Within 20 minutes of class starting, legs are shaking uncontrollably across the mirrored room.
The Bar Method is an exercise studio that offers a unique blend of yoga, Pilates, ballet, and physical therapy. It makes use of a ballet barre for stability and stretching, but as part of a small, national franchise, The Bar Method has a specialized approach. Founder Burr Leonard based her methods on classes she took from Lotte Berk, a German ballerina with a legendary status in the world of barre fitness.
The class focused on repeated, small muscle movements, sometimes using light weights or cushions, with balance and core strength being key aspects of the hour-long workout. According to Stabio, the idea is to “work a group of muscles to exhaustion, and then stretch them out. The flip-flopping of that allows anyone to do this workout five–six days a week.” The upbeat music and highly personalized instruction help keep the students going through the quietly intense class.
The studio represents the culmination of a year-long journey for Stabio. A longtime student of The Bar Method in Cherry Creek, she grew tired of the commute from Stapleton. When she looked into opening her own studio, she learned a rigorous six-month teacher training was part of the deal. “I did not set out on this path to be a teacher. I always wanted to be the owner and I loved the workout,” said Stabio. “I definitely was a fish out of water at training.”
Stabio quickly took to her task, however. She remodeled her Conservatory Green basement, equipping it with the padded carpet, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and sturdy barres necessary to teach free classes as part of her training.
Like many students, Daphne Manns has been coming to The Bar Method classes ever since the beginning of the basement days. “It’s a very positive atmosphere,” said Manns. “They’re really attentive and make sure you’re doing it right without injuring yourself.” She also finds it a “great seat workout”—Bar Method code for “good for the tush”—and says she has much better posture as a result.
Despite the intensity, the cheeky shirts sported by students (e.g., “Will Tuck for Tacos” and “Shake It Till You Make It”) give a hint of the playful culture that Stabio encourages. Stabio opted for a dedicated childcare room over showers, and has built a horizontal climbing wall there to encourage fitness in the younger set.
The Bar Method keeps mall hours due to its location and also sells high-end workout clothing and gear. The studio schedule and pricing can be found at http://denver-stapleton.barmethod.com/.