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Meet Joanna West of The Bar Method Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joanna West.

Joanna, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was a typical 26 year old, starting a career in healthcare, and going to the gym (Bally’s on El Centro in Hollywood) because that’s just what people did. But after my “personal trainer” told me to do a quarter mile of lunges, I thought there had to be something else. Keep in mind this was before the boutique fitness boom and my spark was born, that feeling of purpose, after taking my first (private) class at The Bar Method in Weho. I knew then that The Bar Method had tapped into something very special. Everything was so well thought out and it checked off all the boxes I needed to feel fit…that was the moment I fell hard.

I’ll be the first to tell you that “fitness” is not where I thought I would end up. Being waitlisted to medical school, but not having the stamina or desire to keep trying, I was lost. I’m no one special. I just happen to have come across The Bar Method at a time that I was searching for something that provided structure and guidance for a life I could thrive in and not just to get by.

Now fast forward 13 years, what initially was a need to shift careers to start a family, has now become my saving grace in this unprecedented time. Being a studio owner in Long Beach has shaped not just my life, but of my husband’s and two young boys. The vibe of this city is relaxed and vibrant, exactly what we wanted when planting our roots. I would also say that Long Beach is going thru a period of reinvention and contributing in even the smallest ways has been super rewarding. Being able to share The Bar Method for the past 8+ years has been a testament that the residents of LBC and its surrounding neighborhoods possess the resolute belief that our health is the most important thing.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I had a business partner and in the beginning, I think we both truly believed our passion for Bar would overcome our differences. But four years in, that clearly became not the case and something needed to change. I was negotiating that break-up while being on maternity leave with my second son and figuring out how to turn around a struggling small business on my own. I would definitely consider the hardest period in my life. And 1000%, Bar was there to help with my mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It was during this time that I found my ability to lead and cast away thoughts of self-doubt. I was building my armor one steel plate at a time and I would not be the same without that experience. Things happen for a reason and it’s up to us to either take charge and make it a positive one or let it control us to become a negative reason when looking back.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about The Bar Method Long Beach – what should we know?
Let’s just say we are the first workout to incorporate body strengthening, elongating principles and increased mental fortitude, literally. Getting into “form” is part of the process. It’s allowing our brains to slow down, listen inward, and with surgical precision, make that neural connection deeper and stronger to the targeted muscle. With practice, you can recruit and isolate more quickly, getting to the discomfort, the “hard” place faster, which is a good thing because that’s where the transformation happens. There are other exercises that gets you to the hard physical exertion place, but it can also hurt your body. We become more aware of our bodies and the emotions we are feeling. We learn to trust our gut, make healthier choices, and our intuition becomes clear as day. We build YOU as a whole.

Mindfulness is having its moment and about time! The definition of “fitness” is changing. There are lots of options now that focus on the mind and body. Before, the only way to describe The Bar Method was that we have a long-standing tradition upheld on three components. STRENGTH + FLEXIBILITY + CONNECTION. And even though we’ve been around for 19+ years, there was no discourse to describe what Bar truly provides. We hadn’t thought of needing to work on these things until now. We are evolving and The Bar Method is leading the way. It goes way beyond aesthetics. Our superpower is our humanness and its time to lean back into that. It’s simply training to be better, more aligned humans. And interestingly enough, I feel as though I’ve come full circle. Helping people was my initial goal and now I do just that with The Bar Method.

In times of crisis, those who have a strong sense of self and whose character is emotionally and mentally mature will RISE. I’m super proud of the staff members that helped me turn our studio into a virtual one overnight. I’m so humbled by the support our clients have shown us by continuing their memberships, offering to purchase more retail, and by sharing their love of Bar. I even had one special client advance her six months membership to help ensure our studio survive these uncertain times.

Surround yourself with beauty they say and that definitely includes beautiful people. But I have to say my proudest moment is still to come. It will be when we reopen our doors stronger and better than before. It’ll just be us, a bunch of women and a few enlightened men who seemingly have their shit together, but still strives to be better by surrounding ourselves with those who want the same thing.

Exercise and movement is medicine. I think it’s actually better than medicine, it’s this magical elixir that transforms you from the inside out. It reminds us that we are human because sometimes we forget. The Bar Method specifically reminds us what is truly important. Remember, pictures can be deceiving…should you really be worried about a few rolls all the while losing your ability to stand up straight? Learn how to listen to your body, workout safely but with stamina to explore your edge and everything else will fall into place.

If you have been searching for a new perspective to exercising, check us out. Honestly, I don’t really consider our studio a gym. It’s more than that. You are literally walking out of every class smarter, taller, and ready to take on the world. And the beauty of it is the more consistent you are, the better form you’ll have, the faster the results. I know not everyone wants to commit to that level of discipline, but if you can stick with it, what you gain is truly priceless.

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Image Credit:
Jessica Moncrief and  Joanna West

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