City Guide: Barre & Soul! Meet: Andrea

How did you get your start in fitness?

I started teaching barre classes part-time in 2007, because it was something I really enjoyed doing and I wanted a side hustle to bring in some extra money. I always thought it would be great to work in fitness because it would help me make fitness a priority. It would create a bit of healthy peer pressure to keep me motivated and active.

Were you always a lover of working out and barre?

I was not always a lover of working out necessarily, I wasn’t an athlete in high school, I didn’t consider myself a terribly athletic person, but I discovered barre classes when I was 26, when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I just fell in love with them immediately.

It was really the first workout that I ever really truly loved and looked forward to. I knew within a few months that I wanted to teach barre, and my teacher actually approached me and asked me if I had ever thought about teaching. It just really resonated with me.

After a few years of teaching barre, I started to have a longing to share more than just physical fitness and motivation with my students. I wanted more of the kind of relationship that yoga teachers have with their students, where they can be inspiring and empowering and that led me to start to embrace yoga more and led me to go down the yoga path as a student and then as a certified teacher. I love them both.

Eventually I decided to bring that spiritual side of the yoga class to barre classes when I created my barre and soul classes and started my own business.

What is your biggest motivation when it comes to pushing yourself past your limits?

We only have to push a little tiny bit past our limits each time in order to make incredible progress. So, one of the things that motivates me is looking at everything I’ve accomplished already and realizing that it just took one little baby risk after another to create incredible progress.

I call it: Taking the Biggest Risk that you can Stomach for Today.

My biggest motivation is my WHY (see below.) :)

What made you want to open up your own barre studio?

I had a drive in me to connect with my students on not just the physical level. I was excited about helping them get physically stronger, but I was super excited about creating an environment that helped people get stronger in ways they weren’t even expecting.

I majored in women studies and I’m really passionate about women’s empowerment and what made me want to open my own studio was realizing that I could create an environment where people could get both physically stronger and internally stronger as well as creating community bonds to help support them!

What's been your greatest success and struggle with running a business?

The success has been having the financial and time freedom that every entrepreneur dreams of and getting to make an impact on not only the thousands of students we serve, but also the team of managers and teachers.

The greatest success is when someone comes up to me after a class and says, “I just want you to know how much this studio has meant to me and how much it has changed my life coming here.” That is really the most valuable part of my job as an entrepreneur and that is really the greatest reward I could ask for.

The biggest struggle is having patience, because my vision is always bigger than what I am doing. So, giving myself credit for what I’ve accomplished already is a struggle for me and having patience that the bigger things that I’m working on are coming in time. And just learning to not take things personally. The more you put yourself out there, the more public you become, you’re not going to be for everybody and you’re every creation, idea, though, self-expression is not going to resonate with every person, and learning to be okay with that.

Who or what inspired you to write your book?

I have always wanted to write a book! When I graduated with my women’s studies degree, I had thought about going onto a PhD in women’s studies because I wanted to be publishing books, reaching as many women as possible and spreading a feminist message. SO, I had a blog called, FitFeminist, that I used to do when I was teaching and writing the book was just a continuation of that need to express myself and connect with my students. It has allowed me to pay my story forward and to serve my mission.

Is there a move in barre that you haven't totally mastered yet?

The funny thing is, I haven’t “mastered” any of them. It took me a while, being a barre student, to realize that there is no such thing as “mastering” barre. As a teacher, what I now know is, if your class can perfectly execute all the reps of a particular exercise -- for example, if we’re doing push-ups -- if everyone in class is completely able to finish that whole set, I’m going to give them more. Because the point of the barre class is to push to the edge, where you find your fatigue threshold and bumping up against that in every section of class.

So, yes, I still take breaks during thigh work, which is the hardest part of the barre class, and I know that it doesn’t mean that I’m failing, it just means that I’m working to the extent of my ability in that moment.

How would you describe a barre class to someone who has never taken a class and might be a little timid to try?

Picture a group of the most friendly ladies, getting together and doing a workout that is safe and accessible for whatever is going on in their bodies and getting the best workout they possibly could at their appropriate level together.

Put out of your mind any of the stereotypes about everyone being perfectly fit, or cliquish or snobby. In my experience, our community is outstandingly friendly and welcoming. Everyone remembers what it was like when they first started and when they were nervous and when it was there first time.

Every teacher will absolutely welcome you with open arms and help you get yourself set up for the class. And given every exercise, there will always be options to modify the work, so that it is appropriate for your level. In any given class, I might have a pregnant woman, a college athlete, and someone in their seventies. Every single one of them is going to get a phenomenal workout that is safe and appropriate for them individually.

I can only speak on behalf of Barre and Soul, but I will say this: Our studios pride ourselves and prioritize being warm and welcoming to all students that walk in our door. Whether you’re a beginner who’s nervous to try out a new community, or an advanced barre practitioner. We invite everyone from every walk of life to step through our doors and be a part of the community.

What is your mission statement as a business owner and total girl boss?

My business exists to help empower women. Everything I do, whether it’s hosting a yoga workshop or a book club or a barre teacher training, the mission is always the same.

The thing that gets me excited to put my feet on the floor when I get up every morning, is knowing what I’m doing is helping women empower themselves and feel strong and capable to reach their full potential and full self-expression.

What is your number one tip to staying healthy and fit?

My number one tip is to do the bare minimum. Meaning, you have to let go of perfectionism.

There is always going to be someone richer, fitter, more successful with a bigger house, or more impressive things on their resume, or with better pairs of shoes than what you have in your closet. There’s always someone who is going to have more, do more, and we try to be so amazing at so many different things that it is really overwhelming and exhausting at times.

So, my advice is: What is the least, least amount that you would be able to accept for your health and fitness? Maybe that is literally, one hour a week of exercise, maybe it’s 4 hours a week of exercise. It’s going to look different for all of us. Maybe it’s making sure that you pack a lunch at least 3 out of 5 days on your way to work. But it has to be something ridiculously attainable; a complete polar opposite of perfectionism, because the nice thing about bare minimums is that they allow you to check that “box” and get on with your life and all the other important things that you’re up to rather than dwelling and obsessing and trying to be so amazing and outstanding at every little thing.

In a world where life is always on social media what is something you do to stay grounded, positive or protect yourself from negative thoughts or comparison to others?

I struggle with this just as much as anyone else. Some of the boundaries that I have created are using a screen time setting on my iPhone to stop me from checking my social media accounts all day, so I set it for about 35 minutes a day. Anything after that, a little pop-up comes up and I have to say that I want 15 more minutes on that app. And sometimes I might take 15 more minutes, but it will shut me down 15 minutes later if I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of mindless scrolling. So, that’s really helpful.

Another thing that I do is that I mute any accounts that I’m following that bring up “yucky” feelings.

So, it might not mean that they’re doing anything wrong, it’s my reaction, but I wouldn’t necessarily unfollow the person if I think there’s any chance that they could get their feelings hurt. But if what they’re posting doesn’t leave me feeling more empowered when I look at it, I don’t owe it to anyone to be their audience and I very regularly will mute any accounts that don’t help me feel like my best self.

Staying grounded is staying connected to your community- going to yoga or barre at my studio has really helped keep me present to all the good in my life and the great relationships in my life. As opposed to getting caught up in materialism and trying to look good online, which is kind of a “fake life”.

If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be and why?

Tenacious, because I will never give up.

What is one thing you hope everyone encounters when going to barre & soul?

One thing that I hope everyone encounters at Barre & Soul is feeling like they found their people. Feeling like they have been welcomed, that the people that they interact with are totally down-to-earth and that they’re now part of a community that is going to have their back and want the best for them, both in their health and wellbeing, as well as in their life and their goals.

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