By Jason Bayus, Bari Studio
In recent times, there has been a shift in our culture’s view of the ultimate male physique. The aesthetic preference for a bulky, muscle-bound visage has veered to a more agile, lean, and ripped look. Men are beginning to focus on increasing the functionality and longevity of their bodies, and finally realizing bigger doesn’t necessary mean better. Mega chains in the fitness industry, like Equinox and David Barton, have already caught on to this trend and are rigorously trying to come up with new classes that appeal to men and create this physical result. Well, for those who are open minded and serious about achieving this look, there’s been a solution around for quite a while now. In fact, most women have already been reaping its benefits for years.
Women have been flocking to “dance and rhythm based classes” like those at the Bari Studio, because these include all the attributes they’re looking for: emphasis on proper form, core strength, lean muscle mass, and they’re fun! You can’t ask for a more efficient and effective combination, particularly for the typical time-pressed New Yorker.
So, men … what’s the hold up? Well, let’s begin by debunking a few common myths:
Myth 1: “These classes don’t use heavy weights. I don’t want to lose muscle mass or get weak!”
You’re NOT going to lose muscle mass, unless you’re eating poorly and burning more calories than you’re taking in. It’s true these classes often use 3-10lb weights, but that’s because we want our clients to focus on proper form and work different angles and rotations that you can’t do with heavy weights. You’re limiting your movement patterns when you solely lift heavy weights and usually only access the larger muscle groups. Ignoring the vital smaller, stabilizing muscles increases risk for injury and doesn’t promote total body control. That’s why this type of class is an excellent precursor to any lifting regimen. You’re also able to use a much wider range of motion, which is amazing for your joints and level of flexibility. (This explains why most hulks walk around like Frankenstein and can’t touch their toes.) We’re not saying drop the barbell completely, but the benefit you’d get from stepping back and using your full range and entire muscular structure can be life-changing.
Myth 2: “Those classes can’t be that hard.”
THINK AGAIN. They can actually be quite intense. I’ve seen professional male athletes crawl out of the room after their first class. If you’re only used to lifting heavy weights at low repetitions and doing little cardio, you’re in for a wonderful but rude awakening. All of the exercises are challenging, compound movements that focus on strengthening the entire body from the core outwards. You sweat like crazy because it feels like you’re using every fiber of your being to complete each rep. You’re also exposed to a lot of moves you’ve never done in traditional male workouts. That new stimulation alone can do wonders for the physique.
Myth 3: “I can’t dance, so I don’t belong in those style classes….”
There’s a lot to say about this misconception. First, not all of these classes have dance in them, but many do use rhythmic movements and may expect you to “shake what your mama gave ya.” That’s right, you may be asked to loosen up and move those hips — and for good reason! Unfortunately, the culture in the U.S. has discouraged men from moving their hips and spine in any sort of fluid or rotational motion, especially to music. That’s silly and very unnatural. The spine is meant to be flexed and manipulated in all directions; which is just what you need to balance a sedentary work day. It keeps the spine and surrounding ligaments and muscles healthy and more resilient to injury. Besides, the ladies love a man who knows how to move. Look what it did for Elvis and Ricky!
There are a million reasons why guys shouldn’t feel intimidated to take this form of class, and the benefits far outweigh any initial hang-ups! But don’t take my word for it — take a class and experience it for yourself. What do you have to lose?
Ohio native and professional dancer Jason Bayus first turned celebrity trainer working as one of Tracy Anderson's master trainers in 2009. Also a former premed student, he's been simultaneously helping to find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease at Mount Sinai, and is starting a non profit, Sweat For Cause, to help raise funds for such research. Now you can find him teaching packed, sweat filled classes at Bari with awesome music and moves you've never seen before. He specializes in injury prevention and pre- and post-natal fitness. His classes at Bari incorporate a mix of Pilates, yoga, plyometrics, and the latest in scientific research.