Exercise & Fitness

Kansas City Fitness Trends that Work

In a world of trendy exercise programs, these local fitness programs will really make your body work as they make you look great.

Kansas City Fitness Trends: The Bar Method      

As we grow up, we come to realize that the gym class exercise regimen does not work for everyone’s body. But there are actually exercise programs that do actually tone every body no matter its age, size or level of previous activity. The Bar Method is one such style of exercise, which utilizes no impact motions to lengthen and tone muscles.

The Bar Method, located in Leawood (5215 W. 116th Place) and Westwood (4722 Rainbow Blvd.), may seem like a fitness craze. With celebrity clients like Drew Barrymore, Anna Paquin and Ginnifer Goodwin, the Bar Method system may also seem like an inaccessible, Hollywood trend, but the Bar Method is alive here in the metro.

“This ballet bar workout is a non-impact workout built upon isometric contractions of the muscles, which help students achieve a dancer-like body,” Owner Hoddy Potter says.

The Bar Method also promotes stretching after the workout, not before, in order to lengthen the muscles after they have been warmed up. Through a specific framework, Potter and her instructors vary the workout to keep students interested and challenged but still responsive to patterns.

“The Bar Method is results-focused. It is zero impact, so it is a life sport,” Potter says. “And our teachers train for a lot longer on the program in order to teach the Bar Method. It was also invented by a physical therapist, so it is really beneficial without any of the drawbacks of other workout methods.”

The Bar Method was originally based on the technique of Lotte Berk, a German dancer who fled the Nazis and came to London. Burr Leonard, who opened a Lotte Berk exercise studio in Greenwich, Conn., began noticing right off the bat that her students were having trouble with their knees, backs and shoulders, so she had a physical therapist rework the moves into the modern Bar Method.

Potter sees the same success stories in her studio that Berk and Leonard noticed.

“We have a range of students here from 16- to 70-years-old. Mostly women, but some men,” Potter says. “We have students in their 50s and 60s who change their bodies through this method. As long as students don’t eat super poorly, everyone sees changes in their bodies. It is a really results-focused program.”

More information about The Bar Method can be found at barmethod.com.


Kansas City Fitness Trends: Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga (910 W. 39th St.) is another hot workout regimen, really hot. This isn’t your typical yoga class. 26 yoga postures are practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees over the course of 90 minutes. This allows for the blood to become more oxygenated and the stretching and compressing motions help to flush out toxins.

“All levels are welcome in our class,” director Angela Moulin says. “Beginners join advanced students, which serves to inspire beginners and the advanced students find it very humbling.”

Bikram Choudhury, who became the youngest contestant ever to win the National India Yoga Competition at the age of 11, developed Bikram Yoga. At age 20, he was injured by a weightlifting accident, so, with the help of his guru, he created a 26-posture series that restored him to health.

Bikram Yoga is probably one of the more intimidating forms of yoga and exercise in general. Attempting yoga is difficult enough without practicing it in 105 degrees, so Moulin and the other teachers help students in very focused ways.

“We try to reach out to people before and after class, so we know their personal health situation. We also promote hydration. Besides that, we open the doors in the summertime and we pass out lavender towels at the end of class, which some people find motivates them through the class,” Moulin says.
Hydration is a large part of getting through a Bikram Yoga class. Any pains, nausea or tiredness felt during the postures is usually caused by dehydration. Moulin says this class causes students to, at least, hydrate more and more frequently. A feeling of heat is also produced by bad lifestyle habits, such as a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, so improving lifestyle habits helps the student get through the class and ultimately, see results.

“We, the teachers, do as much as possible for the students by keeping communication open. We also watch and instruct, rather than taking part in the class ourselves,” Moulin says.

Besides sweating your way to health, Bikram Yoga on 39th Street is also good for stargazing.

“When Jack Black was in town with his band, he was tired of sitting in his hotel room, so he came over and joined us for a class. He had never taken a class before,” Moulin says. “He was a very good student, and afterwards, he offered to sign autographs, which was great, because everyone was too afraid to ask.”

More information about Bikram Yoga can be found on kansascitybikramyoga.com, along with videos of the class.