The barbell is a specific strength-oriented tool – one, our co-Founders (and program designers) used frequently in their sport-specific training years.
But…it's by no means the ONLY tool in the strength-building toolbox, and - while we respect the hell out of it - it has its limitations, so we choose not to use it.
Risk vs. reward
Moving the barbell well requires more technique and progression than any other strength-driven tool.
Even with an adequate on-ramp program in a 1:1 environment, the barbell can still be unforgiving. Furthermore, without the barbell, we are able to place a MAD newbie on the same exact training floor as a seasoned MAD member on day one without compromising safety.
With respect to a group fitness environment, putting 20-25 people under a barbell in the same class produces more risk of injury than we are willing to tolerate.
It’s no secret the barbell takes up a substantial amount of space. Space you simply don’t need to occupy in order to get a great strength workout in.
By removing the barbell in favor of more compact pieces of equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, medalls, and plates, we take advantage of more opportunity when it comes to program design variability and spatial efficiency from a sheer square footage perspective.
Additionally, trainers are able to maintain a clearer line of sight on all clients moving under load, have quicker lanes and points of access to those clients, and can thus more effectively triage problematic movers.
Strength and stability
Dumbbells, kettlebells, and medballs allow for additional unilateral positioning and planes of motion (unlike the fixed structure of the barbell). Not only do these tools train unilateral power, but they also help reinforce a wide range of strength and stability: critical components to aging athletically.
In short, if you are training for the Sport of Fitness, you're probably familiar with the barbell, and should be.
If you are pursuing the sport of life, the barbell is not required.