The Dailey Method To My Madness

This is the first of three posts I am writing about my month-long trial of The Dailey Method. I am so excited to be able to share my experience with you!

I love working out.
I’m not an exercise addict by any means, but I really love it.

Many people (especially those who don’t make exercise a regular part of their routine) think I’m a weirdo. I’m not. It’s just that over the years I have found activities that I enjoy, and because I enjoy them I have a higher level of motivation to exercise.

If you’re a regular reader, you already know that Zumba is my most recent love. I tried it for the first time at a fitness conference two years ago and have been doing it ever since. (Three times a week for the last few months!) It shouldn’t have been a surprise to me that I fell in love with it: I’ve always loved dancing, and I love group dances (as in the kind you do at receptions). This class comes naturally to me.

The disadvantage of my workout routine as of late is that I have not been doing much where resistance and toning is concerned. I had been taking one resistance class every week, on Tuesdays, but let it go in March when I got busy because of the “Listen To Your Mother” show. I have weights at home (uh, okay, and a Bowflex home gym) but I really don’t like to lift weights at home, alone. (Total understatement)

That’s why I was over the moon when I was offered a chance to try The Dailey Method for a whole month.


I can’t describe it better than what’s on the website:

The Dailey Method® is a unique combination of ballet barre work, core conditioning, muscle strengthening, yoga, and orthopedic exercises.

This challenging one-hour class effectively strengthens, tones and lengthens the entire body. All movement is controlled and very focused, effective, and safe. Proper alignment is our primary focus. Then each set of exercises is followed by a series of active stretches to develop more sculpted and supple muscles. The entire body and mind is constantly working throughout class. Through this process ones body, posture, and physical awareness will be transformed.

For a visual, check this out:

When I looked at the video I was pretty excited, because The Dailey Method combines two of the things I love the most: group fitness classes AND the idea of personal training.

I registered on the website, and chose my location. (The Dailey Method currently has 40 studios, and they’re in Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, Canada, and France.) Reservations for classes are required, which I like. To me, the two biggest advantages of making a reservation for a workout are:

1. You are guaranteed a spot (and equipment!) in a room that will not be too crowded, meaning you’ll be able to do the exercises fully, in your own space.
2. Making an appointment for working out is what many people need in order to follow through. If you know you have signed up for an 8:30 class on Monday, you’re going.

“Principles” is the class that a beginner to The Dailey Method should take first. In fact, it is recommended that one take ten Principles classes before moving onto the “Mixed” level class.

I, perhaps losing my mind for a few moments, really wanted to take my first class on Friday, and the Mixed level class was the only one that fit into my schedule…because I wanted to take Zumba first. So I booked it.

I left Zumba a couple minutes early (The Dailey Method’s beautiful studio is not too far from where I take class) and headed over. When I walked in the door, the studio manager greeted me–by name–and then gave me the lowdown on where to put my stuff. She also gave me the choice of borrowing or purchasing a pair of the special socks they use in class (they have grippy things on the bottom so you don’t slide around). I went ahead and purchased them.

Once I put my socks on and put my purse away, I went into the studio and met the instructor. She was expecting a newbie and showed me what equipment I needed to get from the front of the room at the beginning of every class (a ball, a pair of light weights, and a strap). I also met the co-owner of the studio, who happened to be taking the Mixed class as well. She set up next to me and said that she would be my model for the day so I could have a little extra help with the positions.

Within minutes of the start of class, I realized I should not have done a Zumba/Dailey Method combo, one right after the other. This was a tough, tough workout both physically and mentally. In the Mixed class, the instructor cues like wildfire, and although I feel like I did fine in paying attention and doing what I was supposed to do, it was a lot to take in for my first time ever.

What’s great (even though it doesn’t seem so great in the moment if you’re crabby because it’s a hard workout) about The Dailey Method is that the instructors, who are VERY, VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE about the names of muscles and how the body works–they have to be because they’re talking to you about it all through class–walk around and reposition you if you’re not holding a pose or a stretch *just right*. More than once I thought I was doing something exactly right until the instructor came and pushed my hip down or brought my arms back or moved some other body part in such a way that made all the difference. Throughout the class she used positive reinforcement and names (For example, “Great correction, Melisa!”). That was really impressive, from both the class participant part of me as well as the group fitness teacher part of me. She was amazing.

Once class was over, I was complimented by the owner and the instructor. I thought I did a pretty good job considering I lost my mind and chose to start with a Mixed class, and one right after Zumba. Apparently they thought so too. I appreciated the kind words. I told them that I would be trying the Principles class the following day, and then I grabbed my stuff and walked out, pondering what had just happened and feeling very, very accomplished.

This was quite possibly the hardest workout I’ve ever done, and yet that kind of thing doesn’t scare me. In fact, it energizes me and makes me want to conquer it. For me–a regular exerciser–it was relatively easy to keep encouraging myself mentally during the workout. If I just physically couldn’t do something, I didn’t do it. I took a quick break (even just a split-second muscle release) and then came back. I can imagine, though, that for a non-exerciser who is just beginning a program, this workout might be a little frustrating because it’s so challenging. That said, I think anyone who is determined enough to succeed (and push self-doubt out of the brain) can definitely do the classes. The instructor was very, very encouraging and welcoming, and truthfully that’s half the battle once you get to a class.

On the way out, I spoke with the girl who was on my other side in class. She has been doing The Dailey Method for three years. It’s the only workout she does now, and she looks (and says she feels) amazing.

The following day I got out of bed, ate some oatmeal, and headed out for the Principles class. The class was in the small studio and there were only six of us. The idea of the Principles class is not to be any less challenging than the Mixed class (it was JUST as challenging!); rather, there is more attention paid to your form and the exercises and stretches are longer. The pacing of class is slower. I had a really, really hard time with some of the class–but still loved it. I was tired–but still kept going. I left the class understanding completely why they recommend that you take ten Principles before moving on to Mixed, and why they also recommend Principles for the seasoned Dailey Method attendee who wants to refocus on her (or his!) form.

After the two classes, my muscles couldn’t decide if they were sore, tired, or energized. They felt like they were waking up (of course I’m the unusual type of person who LIKES soreness after workouts because I feel like I’ve really done something).

I have signed up for four classes this week, and am on the waiting list for a fifth. I am not taking a bit of this Dailey Method opportunity for granted, and want to be able to give you some great feedback about how it really and truly works out (pardon the pun) for me after being a regular participant.

I hope to interview the owner for my next Dailey Method post in a couple of weeks. If you have any questions about the Dailey Method program or you want me to elaborate more on something I wrote about today, leave it in the comments!

Disclosure: In exchange for writing three posts about The Dailey Method, I have been given a complimentary month of Unlimited Classes. I was asked to give an honest account of my own experience with The Dailey Method program, and to that end–and as usual–all opinions are mine.