Bar Method: Accelerated Workout

Burr Leonard
Year Released: 2008

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

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

The workout is led by Burr Leonard. Burr, a former journalist, began doing the Lotte Berk method in the 1980s, 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 Accelerated Workout, Burr is joined by background exercisers Catherine, Jane and Jen (who demonstrates modifications), all Bar Method teachers and studio franchise owners. Burr and Catherine use a portable barre, while Jane and Jen use a chair. The barre/chair is used mainly for balance (in other words, you don’t put your foot on it, pull on it, or hang from it in this workout). 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 the usual exercise stuff which mainly keeps a beat but was okay. 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, and includes some funny comments (“We’re making cute dancer’s butts!” she jokes during one exercise). 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 chaptering in Accelerated Workout is very similar to its companion Bar Method DVD, Change Your Body, but the exercises presented are slightly different in each. Accelerated Workout is generally regarded as slightly more intense, although I personally feel they are really about equal. The most noticeable difference is in the Glutes and Hamstrings section – Change Your Body has the pretzel, while Accelerated Workout features standing seat work instead.

Accelerated Workout is chaptered as follows:

Warm-Up and Upper Body (13:30 minutes): The warm-up consists of two sets of knee raises. The upper body is worked with shoulder press, side biceps curl with arms extended outward, front biceps curls and alternating pulses, and straight arm triceps squeeze with variations. All of the exercises are done using the “Bar Method tuck.” We then move to the floor for push-ups and and triceps dips (Jen demonstrates French press as an alternative). This section finishes with a stretch that incorporates a balance challenge.

Thigh Work (8:40 minutes): Heel lifts with feet in various positions, thigh work in plie position (tucks, holds, pulses), pulses on toes with feet together, pulses on toes with heels together and feet turned out.

Glutes and Hamstrings (8:20 minutes): Fold-over seat work and standing seat work. This kind of barre work is hard for me to “get,” but Burr’s excellent instruction here really helps me understand the proper positioning.

Abs and Stamina (13:35 minutes): This section begins with standing front leg raises and pulses, followed a set of standing crunches. It’s then down to the mat for hip stretches, and Burr next sneaks in another set of push-ups. C-curve style ab work follows. I like how Burr teaches this section, breaking down the techniques into little steps. Several of the sets are done propped up on the elbows (lifting them off the mat later is optional). Jen uses a pillow at her back for some of the sets.

Back Dancing and Cool-Down (3:30 minutes): A series of tiny seat tucks done while lying on the floor, first with legs together, then in a diamond shape.

Final Stretch (5:20 minutes)

When Collage sold this workout (they no longer do) they rated Accelerated Workout and Change Your Body as intermediate/advanced. I agree that neither one is a good choice for those new to working out. However, for an experienced exerciser who wants to try out barre-style workouts, these DVDs are both excellent choices given Burr’s clear, expert 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. Besides, you get a price break if you buy both! 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: Given the popularity of both Change Your Body and Accelerated Workout, I was very quite surprised to find no one had submitted a VF review of either one. So here you go! I’ve found my body responds very well to the isometric work of Lotte Berk/barre, especially my fussy knees. I own (or have owned or borrowed) a number of barre-style workouts, and it is Burr’s DVDs I reach for most often.

Instructor Comments:
Burr Leonard has been doing Lotte Berk/barre workouts for decades, and she 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 more relaxed and less scripted than in her earlier set of DVDs.