Bar Method Beginner's Workout

Burr Leonard, Joey Decker
Year Released: 2010

Categories: Ballet/Barre

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The Bar Method Beginner’s Workout presents a 37-minute total body “barre” (Lotte Berk style) workout, led by Joey Decker. There is also a separate 18-minute instructional segment demonstrated by Bar Method creator Burr Leonard.

In this DVD all of the participants use a portable barre. However, the barre is mainly for balance, and in the Using Equipment and Alternatives section of the DVD Burr explains how to substitute a high-backed chair. You will also want a set of light dumbbells for upper body work, a strap for leg stretches, and a mat for floor work. A small mat or pillow is optional for abdominal exercises (I use a small inflated ball). Joey and his crew stand on small mats during the barre work, but Joey notes this is not needed if you are working out on carpet. All of the participants are barefoot.

The set is spacious and bright. The music is fine, and is well-balanced with Joey’s voice.

The main DVD menu is chaptered as follows:
-About The Bar Method (1:25 minutes)
-Play Workout (37 minutes)
-Select Exercises (chapters from the main workout; see below)
-Learn Bar Method Positions (Burr’s tutorial) (18 minutes)
-Using Equipment and Alternatives (1:24 minutes)
-Find Bar Method Equipment (1:25 minutes)
-About Burr Leonard

The main workout is led by Joey Decker. He instructs live and he mirror-cues. There are four background exercisers, all female. At times they will demonstrate various modifications to an individual exercise (no one person is the designated “modifier”). Joey often moves among them as they continue with the exercise reps, providing further form pointers. As in all Bar Methods, stretching is incorporated throughout the workout.

The main workout is chaptered as follows:

-Warm-up & Upper Body (9:33 minutes): After knee raises to warm up, the upper body is worked with alternating front raises, biceps curls, and straight-arm triceps lifts. During this section Joey encourages you to move at your own pace, and not necessarily in time to the music. We then move to the floor for pushups (first half-range, then full range), followed by triceps dips (or French press as an alternative).

-Calves & Thighs (7:38 minutes): Standing calf raises, followed by pulsing and holds in first position plie, then feet together with heels raised, and finally feet apart with heels raised (also adding in seat tucks here).

-Seat Work (6:00 minutes): Standing seat work. This exercise can be difficult to figure out, but Joey does a good job explaining the positioning to get the benefit of these moves.

-Abdominals (6:20 minutes): A small mat or throw pillow is optional for lower back support in this segment (I use a small inflated ball). This section features C-curve style pulsing ab work, with the elbows helping to support the torso (kick stand position), or hands holding onto the legs, or arms lifted off the floor (more advanced).

-Back Dancing (2:45 minutes): A series of tiny seat tucks done lying supine with knees bent and seat raised slightly off the floor.

-Final Stretch (3:08).

A separately filmed tutorial is presented by Bar Method founder Burr Leonard. It is chaptered the same as the main workout. Burr covers the set-up and execution of each exercise in deeper detail.

Bottom Line: This DVD is titled “Beginner’s," so not surprisingly there is a strong emphasis on barre basics and proper form in both the main workout and the tutorial. It is therefore an excellent choice for exercisers new to barre work. Unlike earlier barre DVDs specifically directed to beginners (the Lotte Berk set and Burr’s own Designer Sculpting and Fat Free), the pace of Beginner’s is brisk with little down time between exercises. That being said, this DVD is definitely not for beginners only! The effectiveness of barre workouts is dependent on proper technique, and the better the technique the more challenging the workout. In Beginner’s Workout Joey is sweating, and at several points the background exercisers are visibly shaking. I believe any barre aficionado, no matter what their level, will enjoy having this one in their workout DVD collection.

As of the date of this review, I believe Bar Method Beginner’s Workout is only available from the Bar Method website (, where you can also see workout clips.

Instructor Comments:
Joey Decker is a dancer and choreographer, and also the owner of the Bar Method studio in Burbank, California. To my knowledge this is his first workout DVD. Before the Beginner’s Workout was released, there was some VF buzz about his presentation, that it would be “theatrical” or “flamboyant.” Rest assured that Joey’s instruction is crisp and very clear, and while animated he is nowhere as dramatic as some of the other barre instructors out there! Burr Leonard founded the Bar Method in 2000, and before that operated Lotte Berk studios. I think she is the best DVD barre instructor period!