Bar Method Super Sculpting

Burr Leonard
Year Released: 2011

Categories: Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Ballet/Barre

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About six months ago, I started using The Bar Method: Change Your Body, a workout that was both more enjoyable and tougher than the original Bar Methods that I had tried years ago. About a month ago, a friend gave me The Bar Method Super Sculpting II Workout, another great routine and a step up in difficulty from Change Your Body.

SUPER SCULPTING (sometimes called "Super Sculpting I") is the predecessor to Super Sculpting II, but in some ways, I think that it may actually be more challenging. Like SSII, Super Sculpting is led by Bar Method founder Burr Leonard, who is joined by three background exercisers, Chelsea, Keryun, Mike, and Tera. The backgrounders show various modifications, and Burr frequently uses all three models to provide examples of proper form. They are working out in a different studio from Change Your Body, one that it is brighter, airier, and more interesting (to me).

This DVD also offers additional features. The Menu Main provides options for About The Bar Method - Play Workout - Select Exercises - Learn Bar Method Positions - Using Equipment and Alternatives - Finding Bar Method Equipment - About Burr Leonard. Choosing "About..." provides a short introduction by Burr explaining that The Bar Method is interval training designed to produce quick changes in the body by targeting previously unused muscles. She recommends using ANY of The Bar Method DVDs 3-5 times per week. The segment on equipment reviews use of a chair rather than a ballet bar and discusses the other equipment used in this DVD, including a small ball (a playground ball will work fine).

The "Select Exercises" options brings up a submenu with eight separate chapters of the workout. I have listed each of these below, providing approximate times and brief descriptions.

The warm-up consists of the usual Bar Method knees up/march in place, this time adding an arm press down. Burr moves right into the arms work with with weights. Shoulders come first, starting with a tiny shoulder pulse into a full shoulder press, an open-close move, and then a final set of pulses. Next are bicep curls, again doing pulses, full curls, and then repeating the pulses. For the back, Burr moves the elbows behind the body and pulses them in to work the lats. Putting one weight down, she performs one-arm triceps moves, including pulses in, L-shape, and lifts. Coming to the floor, the are three sets of eight push-ups, varying the tempos, and then two sets of 10 reverse push-ups for the triceps. Stretches for the arms and a standing hamstring stretch (optional into standing split) finish this segment, which was problem the toughest Bar Method arms work I've done so far.

For virtually all of the moves in this segment, Burr and company use a rubber playground-type ball between the mid-thighs; I found that my 8" "squishy" ball worked quite well. The calves work begins with heel lifts on one foot, both legs turned out; this is followed by heel lifts in a plie position. The thigh work starts with the feel in a parallel position, heels up, pulsing the body up and down. Burr then changes to a side-facing position, lifting one leg up and kicking it out (in some of the other Bar Method DVDs, she calls this "cardio" work). After a thigh stretch, Burr stays facing to the side with the heels up, legs in a diamond position for more dips and pelvic tucks--these really work the hamstrings! Coming down to the mat, she stretches the hip flexors and then moves into either a half or full split to stretch the hamstrings.

SEAT WORK (8 mins.)
This section focuses on the pretzel, a seated move for the glutes that is one of my favorite barre exercises. Here Burr incorporates the upper body by holding the ball with the opposite hand (I actually found it easier to hold a small, 2 lb. weight). The pretzel movements include lift up - push back - L-lift - pulse - stretch. Each move is accompanied by a corresponding arm movement.

Burr calls this section "aerobics"; it's basically a very fast set of heel lifts (again using the ball between the thighs) that really does get the heart rate up due to the quick pace. She concludes with one set of 20 push-ups, again performed at a good tempo.

ABDOMINALS (10 mins)
As usual, Burr includes a section of c-curve abs work. Most of this segment is performed with the ball between the thighs. Burr starts in a c-curve position, supporting the body on the elbows, and she performs many variations, including pulling the abs in, crunching the upper abs up, and lifting the elbows. The final moves are performed with the ball behind where the belly button would be, the back in a straight position.

BACK DANCING (4 mins.)
Burr adds a few variations to the usual back dancing, which is basically lying on the back, knees bent, feet on the floor, and performing small pelvic tucks to lift the hips and target the glutes. Here she has the heels touching, ball between the thighs, and so she includes an inner thigh squeeze with the tuck of the seat.

Burr features her usual reclined stretches, including a reclined twist, a version of the Figure 4 stretch, and reclined leg stretch using a strap. She finishes by coming to seated for a wide-legged seated stretch.

As a high intermediate exerciser, I found this workout to be tough but doable. At 60 minutes, it is a bit on the long side (Change Your Body clocks in at only 52m, and even SSII is just 57m), but the time does go by quite quickly. Also, the day after doing this DVD for the first time, I could feel a pleasant soreness in my glutes all of the way down the back of my thighs--this is EXACTLY the area that I want my barre workouts to target (unfortunately, some overwork the front of the thighs). Give all of the above, I would high recommend THE BAR METHOD SUPER SCULPTING to experienced exercisers looking to challenge their muscles in new ways!

Instructor Comments:
I generally like Burr; I find she cues well and gives good form pointers. Although she may seem a bit scripted at times, I didn't find her any less natural in this DVD or in SSII than in Change Your Body (as a reviewer on Amazon complained). However, she does say "give it to the ball" several times here, which was a little weird. ;)

Beth C (aka toaster)


This is a one hour, total body “barre” (Lotte Berk style) workout. The DVD also includes an instructional segment. Both are led by Bar Method creator Burr Leonard.

Note: Sometimes at VF this DVD is referred to as “Super Sculpting I” in order to differentiate it from Super Sculpting II, a separate Bar Method DVD. However, it is officially titled "Super Sculpting."

Equipment needed includes a barre or high-back chair (for balance only), a set of light dumbbells (2-4 lbs each), and an unweighted 7” play ball. Burr recommends underinflating the ball, so that it can squish down 1-2 inches. I used my mini FitBall, which is very squishy and has a slightly sticky surface, and it worked quite well. Optional equipment includes a pillow to support the back during C-curve ab work, and a small mat to stand on during barre work (unnecessary if you are working out on carpet). All of the participants do this workout barefoot.

The set is bright and spacious (it is the same set as Dancer’s Body and Beginners). Burr instructs live and she mirror-cues. The music is okay, not especially memorable – it is just mainly there to keep the beat. (As an aside, I think this is a good thing – I’m starting to feel a dread doing the Fluidity workouts with that same perky tune looped over and over!) There are four background exercisers, three women and one guy. They take turns demonstrating modifications to the various exercises. Burr occasionally leaves her post to move to one of them to provide additional form tips.

The Super Sculpting DVD is chaptered as follows:

About the Bar Method (1.5 minutes).

Play Workout (the main workout) (one hour).

Select Exercises (workout chapters, see below).

Learn Bar Method Positions (17.5 minutes): This is a tutorial led by Burr which covers proper positioning for the exercises in this workout. She also provides additional form tips and explains the purpose of each exercise. This section is chaptered by exercise group.

Home Equipment and Alternatives (1.5 minutes): How to substitute a high-backed chair in place of the portable barres used in this workout, and household items that can be used in place of the weights, ball and mat.

Find Bar Method Equipment (1.5 minutes): How to order the equipment seen in the video.

About Burr Leonard

The main workout is chaptered as follows:

Warm-Up and Upper Body (17 minutes): Knee-ups. Light weights for shoulder presses (a couple variations), a kind of isometric rhomboid pinch move, biceps curls (with option of standing in second position plie), straight arm triceps lifts and L's. Down to the floor for stretching, then push-ups (Burr does them on her toes!) and dips (French press shown as an alternative).

Calves and Thighs (12 minutes): Calf raises, first one-legged then both legs. Pick up ball and place between legs at mid-thigh, parallel feet with heels raised, squeezes on ball then pulses up/down. Next, turn to side and hold one leg out straight in front, little presses. Next, heels raised and together, legs turned out in diamond shape, lean back and do pulses & tucks.

Seat Work (8 minutes): Seated pretzel. Burr holds the ball in one hand out in front of her and mimics the leg raises and presses with her arm (she says this helps tone the back).

More Thighs & Push-Ups (3.5 minutes): Another set of standing thigh work with the ball, followed by more push-ups.

Abdominals (10 minutes): All C-curve work, very similar to previous Bar Methods. For the first set the ball is between the thighs (a mat or pillow is optional for back support), and Burr does a series of sharp exhales then little curls. The second set does use the ball at the back. Ball is removed for third set -- with legs raised and ankles crossed, Burr holds the ball and taps the opposite knee for oblique work.

Back Dancing (3.5 minutes): Ball is between thighs and Burr incorporates little squeezes along with the seat tucks.

Final Stretch (5 minutes).

Bottom line: I like both Super Sculpting and its companion, Super Sculpting II, quite a bit! Burr was already my favorite barre instructor. She does not sacrifice proper form for speed, but she still keeps things moving with little down time. She also looks fabulous -- lean and strong, and very comfortable on camera. In Super Sculpting her presentation is very informal, as I imagine she would lead a class of students rather than filming a DVD. During parts of the routine she is slightly breathless, so we know she is working hard too! There are touches of humor ("Join me in the shaking!"). Burr also provides great encouragement when a particular exercise starts getting hard. I like it when she tells me during thigh work that I am stronger than the exercise -- it makes me hold the position longer instead of bailing out!

Intensity-wise, the two Super Sculpting DVDs are more difficult than Beginners, Change Your Body and Accelerated, but not as hard as Dancer’s Body. Someone in a GD thread referred to the Super Sculpting workouts as a nice “bridge” to Dancer’s Body and I would agree.

As of the date of this review, Bar Method DVDs are only available through their website,

Instructor Comments:
Please see above. Burr is now in her mid-60s. She began taking Lotte Berk classes in the 1980s, and in the 1990s operated several Lotte Berk studios. In 2000 she founded The Bar Method, which reflects her own refinement on the Lotte Berk exercises.