Bar Method: Change Your Body

Burr Leonard
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Athletic Stretch , Ballet/Barre, Lower Body Strength , Total Body Workouts, Upper Body Strength

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VFer Sandra, who wrote an excellent review of this workout below, was kind enough to lend her DVD to me, so I thought I would add my thoughts. I tend to have a love/hate relationship with barre workouts: I'm a pear shape, and I long for the great results that so many others with my body type seem to have gotten from these types of workouts, yet barre workouts also tend to contain many exercises that I don't like, such as floor triceps dips, quad work, bent-over seat work, all-4s work, and c-curve abs.

I tried The Bar Method years ago when the original two workouts were released, and although I owned both TBM Fat Free and TBM Designer Sculpting for awhile, I didn't really click with either of those workouts. I also didn't really click with the instructor and founder, Burr Leonard, so I was interested to see if things would be different with this new workout. Burr instructs CHANGE YOUR BODY live, and she is accompanied by three background exercisers, all of whom are Bar Method instructors and one of whom (Jen) shows modifications for many of the exercises.

The Main Menu for Change Your Body offers options for Play All-Select Workout-About Burr Leonard-Web Link. In the introduction to the routine, Burr recommends using 2-4 pound weights for the arms work. You will also need something to use for a barre (two of the three background exercisers use a high-backed chair), a mat, and a strap for the stretching at the end.

Like most barre workouts, Burr begins with a high knees march as a warm-up. This is very brief, however, and she moves right into the arms work with weights. The moves here include alternating shoulder raises, various bicep curls/pulses, and single straight arm tricep work. Following a stretch for the triceps, you'll put down the weights for push-ups (held and pulses) and triceps push-ups on the floor. After another stretch on the floor for the arms, you'll move to the barre to stretch the hips and hamstrings.

Now it's time to start the leg work. Burr sets you up at the barre, starting with legs parallel, on your toes, and coming about halfway down. Most of the moves are performed on the toes, but you'll constantly switch up between parallel feet, feet turned out, isometric holds, slow repetitions, and quick pulses. Just when you think you can't do any more, you'll finish with a standing quad stretch and then stretch you hip flexors and hamstrings on the mat.

Seat work is next, starting with the pretzel. Burr asks Jane to demonstrate this so that she can meticulously explain positioning. Several variations are performed on both sides, and then you'll return to the barre for bent over leg lifts. Following this, Burr states that we need to get the heart rate up, so she performs front leg lifts while standing sideways to the barre. (Note: my heart rate barely reached my target zone for this workout.) The final seat move consists of a wide plie with heel lifts; again, you'll perform variations on this until your legs feel ready to fall off!

The core section starts with a hold of elbow plank. Burr then performs three separate series of c-curve abs work. For the first series, she is lying back, holding her arms out to her sides in an "L" shape; for the second series, she leans back on her elbows; and finally, for the last series, she is again in a more upright position, this time with her palms at her chest. I found this work to be quite challenging and also a bit straining for my back, so I use my squishy ball behind by low back to provide some support (Jen shows a modification with a pillow).

Following the core work, Burr comes to a reclined position for "back dancing," a series of quick pelvic tucks to work the seat. These are performed at various tempos, first with the feet hip-distance apart, then with the feet further (about mat distance). The 4.5 minute stretch segment is performed mostly lying, starting with a happy baby pose stretch and then moving right into a crossed legs stretch. Next, Burr uses the strap to perform reclined leg stretch for the hamstrings. Finally, she comes to seated for a neck stretch on either side to finish. I clocked the total time for this workout at 51.5 minutes.

This is a TOUGH workout, but because Burr interspersed stretch breaks throughout, it felt very doable, and the time went by very quickly (the upbeat music helped with this too). Burr's instruction is excellent; she provides plenty of form pointers making this DVD appropriate for those who are new to barre workouts. However, because this routine is quite challenging, it is NOT appropriate for beginning exercisers. I am a daily exerciser (I generally consider myself in the high intermediate range, depending on the workout) who has had some prior experience with barre workouts, and I found CHANGE YOUR BODY to be sufficiently taxing. Time will tell whether this workout will actually provide body-changing results, but I believe that it certainly has the potential to do so.

Instructor Comments:
I definitely liked Burr better here than I did in Fat Free and Designer Sculpting; I think that she seems more natural as an instructor now and much less formal/scripted than she did in those earlier workouts. Also, as noted above, she does an excellent job providing form pointers throughout this workout. What I didn't like so much here were the background exercisers--unfortunately, they seemed very stiff, stilted, and they almost NEVER smiled! :(

Beth C (aka toaster)


This is an excellent bar workout, and targets the arms, chest, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and abs. I do not work up a sweat when I do this workout, and the exercises are not killer while doing them, but the next day, I always get DOMS. I normally work out with heavy weights, and usually use Cathe for strength, so it was a surprise for me to feel the DOMS from Bar Method: Change Your Body.

The workout begins with lifting bent knees to the front, similar to the Lotte Berk or Physique 57 workouts, and moves into a few upper body exercises, for shoulders, biceps, triceps and chest. Even though the dumbbells are light for these exercises, the way that your arms are angled and the way that you use small pulses, work deep into the muscles. There are some push-ups, but with variations, such as holding still in a lowered position.

The exercises at the bar are varied, and work the legs well. There are variations of squats with toes lifted, with small pulsing moves and these definitely fatigue the quads. There are some leg lifts to the front and back. There are stretches in between exercises.

The abs work consists of some planks, and some exercises which require deep contraction of the muscles, and small pulses while in the contraction. If done correctly, these exercises work well to strengthen and flatten the abs.

I have a lot of bar style workouts, and this workout has become my new favorite. I like that it is under an hour in length. If done 2 or 3 times per week, I believe that this workout would be effective in shaping and toning the legs, abs and arms.

Instructor Comments:
Burr Leonard has a lovely, calm, upbeat personality. She is inspiring because she obviously practices what she preaches, and has an amazingly fit body at a mature age. Her voice is very nice, and her instruction is clear.



This workout has been very thoroughly broken-down and reviewed, so I'm just giving my impressions. I've had this workout for 10 months and did it very regularly for 4. During those 4 months I alternated it with riding my recumbent bike and lost 20 pounds.

This workout starts with a brief warm up followed by upper body work. Dumbbell work for biceps and triceps, pushups and triceps dips--this workout *feels* easy when you are doing it, but it gives me triceps DOMS (soreness) for several days! Every time. Something Burr Leonard does is very effective!

The lower body work is easy to understand (I have an easier time with form in this, than in the Accelerated workout). I enjoy the chance to stop and stretch (and I even pause and stretch for longer, especially after the pretzel segment).

The ab work is challenging...if you are focused on form. I really have to concentrate and listen to Burr's directions so that I am engaging my core correctly. If not, I feel nothing and it's a waste of my time.

The stretch segment at the end is great. I love the use of the strap. Overall, this is my favorite barre dvd.

Instructor Comments:
Burr is very articulate and precise in her instructions. She's not a party-in-a-box or particularly high energy, but I like her approach and detailed explanations.



This is a 50-minute total body “barre” (Lotte Berk style) workout.

The workout is led by Burr Leonard. Burr, a former journalist, studied the Lotte Berk method and during the 1990s operated several Lotte Berk studios. Burr says she consulted with physical therapists and physiologists in refining her version of these exercises before founding The Bar Method in 2000. Go to her website, for more information about Burr and The Bar Method (and check out the cute picture of Lotte Berk and Burr from 1991!).

In Change Your Body, Burr is joined by background exercisers Catherine, Jane and Jen, who are Bar Method teachers and studio franchise owners. Jen also demonstrates modifications. Burr and Catherine use a portable barre, while Jane and Jen use a chair. In this workout the barre/chair is used mainly for balance. Besides a chair or barre, you will want a mat for floor work, a strap for leg stretches, and a set of light dumbbells (2-4 lbs.). Jen uses a pillow to help modify the moves in the abs segment.

The set is bright and pleasant. Music is typical exercise stuff which mainly keeps a beat (although the Back Dancing tune was fun!). Burr instructs live, and she mirror-cues. There is less set-up time than in Burr’s earlier DVDs from 2003 (Designer Sculpting and Fat Free) and Burr presents in a more relaxed, less-scripted manner. However, the quality of her instruction remains superb (and in this type of exercise, technique is everything!). Burr stretches at the end of each section (some barre workouts skimp on this).

The DVD is chaptered as follows:

Warm-Up and Upper Body (11 minutes): After warming up with a short set of knee raises, the upper body is worked with alternating front straight arm raises, pulsing and full range biceps curls, straight arm triceps extensions, push-ups, and triceps dips (Jen demonstrates French press as an alternative). This section will look very familiar if you have done other LB-style workouts.

Thigh Work (8:30 minutes): Heel lifts with feet in various positions, pulsing thigh work (which also includes holds and tucks).

Glutes and Hamstrings (9 minutes): Pretzel (for the first side, Jane demonstrates the moves while Burr instructs on proper technique), followed by fold-over seat work (rear leg lifts).

Abs and Stamina (13:45 minutes): This section begins with standing front leg raises, followed by plie heel lifts and tucks. We then move to the mat for stretching, followed by forearm plank and a seated spinal twist. Next is C-curve style ab work, which I personally find difficult, but the way Burr teaches this section (along with Jen’s modifications) make this part doable for me and will hopefully help me build up strength to do more advanced C-curve work.

Back Dancing and Cool-Down (3 minutes): A series of tiny seat tucks done while lying on the floor.

Final Stretch (4:20 minutes)

When Collage sold this workout (they no longer do) they rated Change Your Body and its companion, Accelerated Workout, as intermediate/advanced. I would agree these are certainly not appropriate videos for someone who has never worked out before. However, for an experienced exerciser who wants to try out barre-style workouts, these DVDs are excellent choices given Burr’s top-notch instruction and more moderate pace (some barre workouts out there, like Cardio Barre and P57, move much more quickly).

As best I know, as of the date of this review Change Your Body and Accelerated Workout are available only through The Bar Method (either the website or at the studios). Do you need both? I would say yes, since they do have different exercises (and Accelerated Workout is considered slightly more advanced). Do you need this set if you already own Designer Sculpting and Fat Free? Again, I would say yes, because although there are similarities between the two sets there are also enough differences that a barre aficionado will enjoy owning all four.

Bottom line: I love Change Your Body, and I know many other VFers do also based on General Discussion threads. I was therefore quite surprised to find no one had yet submitted a VF review of CYB. So here you go! Like many others, I’ve found my body responds very well to the isometric work of Lotte Berk/barre, and is surprisingly kind to my fussy knees. Of all the DVDs in my barre collection it is Burr’s workouts I reach for most often.

Instructor Comments:
Burr Leonard has been doing Lotte Berk/barre workouts for decades, and is her own best advertisement for The Bar Method. Now over 60 (she was born in 1947) she is lean and strong, and appears at least 15 years younger. Her presentation feels less scripted than in her earlier set of DVDs, but IMHO she is still the best Lotte Berk/barre instructor out there.