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The new Bar Method that’s made for brownstone Brooklyn


Photo: The Bar MethodWilliamsburg was first. But now brownstone Brooklyn, from Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill down into Cobble Hill, is becoming a magnet for boutique fitness studios.

The latest to set up sweat-making shop where brands like Xtend Barre, Pure Barre, and Brooklyn BodyBurn have recently settled? The Bar Method, which officially opened on December 1 on Pacific at Smith Street, and it’s catering to locals by offering a community feel and child care.

Bar Method has two franchise locations in Manhattan and more than 80 altogether. It’s known for smart, safe riffs on canonical Lotte Berk moves (Berk is the godmother of the barre), and traditions like getting to know your name on the spot in class—and using it (nicely!) when you’ve fallen out of a move.

Another signature? Pretty studios that have loads of natural light and elbow room. This one is 3,053 square feet, and has two rooms for workouts, plus a locker room (with showers on the way), and an amenity you just don’t see in New York: a child care room.

Photo: The Bar MethodOwner Katie Muehlenkamp, 37, was born and raised in Brooklyn, and doesn’t have the typical dancer-turned-barre-instructor resume. “I spent most of my adult life working at nonprofits and in politics, including the John Kerry campaign,” she says. She started teaching at the Bar Method’s flagship studio in San Francisco, then joined the brand’s Franchise Company, helping other studios around the country to open. “I’ve wanted to open my own studio and move back for years….Brooklyn’s always had a strong sense of community, and I’d like to think The Bar Method is now a part of that,” she says.

During class you’ll use weights for an upper-body strength training sequence—I must have attended triceps day, because the extensions and dips were surprisingly extensive. At the barre, it’s a mix of balance-required, ballet-inspired moves that work your abs, legs, and glutes, and fine-tuning challenges like kneeling seat. (You place one knee on a tiny pillow and your goal is to hover and pulse the other bent knee over the floor next to it, only by squeezing your glute.) Full-body moves—even if they’re push-ups or forearm planks that you hold for a minute—become your friend, because they help break up the focus on your tiny, tired muscles.

Brooklyn founder Katie Muehlenkamp worked at The Bar Method brand flagship studio in San Francisco, trained with the method's creator Burr Leonard, and helped franchisees open their studios before creating her own in Cobble Hill.Muehlenkamp’s a draw and her classes fill up fast. She has a firm, friendly way of teaching, the subtext of which is: I’m not going to let you slide. A second teacher in her Saturday morning class, which looked to have over 25 students in it, circled the room making corrections, too. The can-do attitude was palpable.

“The Bar Method changed my life for the better. I’m physically and mentally stronger, and I felt like I was part of a supportive, inspiring community at the studio where I was a student for many years,” she says. “I can’t think of anything better than working to create that for others here.” —Melisse Gelula

Bar Method Brooklyn, $32, 267 Pacific Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, NY, 11201, 718-522-3350, www.brooklyn.barmethod.com

(Photos: Reminisce Photos for The Bar Method Brooklyn)